COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — On a cold, dark cloudless night in the foothills of Colorado Springs, conditions are just right for Kara Marcus to take a look around her backyard.
But Marcus is looking way over the fence line. She’s looking millions of miles into the endless sky above.
“It’s so exciting to have a little window, a little glimpse into space," Marcus said.
She is a deep space photographer, targeting locations far beyond our solar system.
Marcus uses an eight-inch telescope mounted on a computer system that tracks celestial bodies as the earth spins. Using a specialized camera, Marcus shoots long exposures over a period of hours — sometimes many, many hours.
“A lot of people will track their target for two hours to eight hours," she said.
When the shooting is over, the outside work is done, but the work developing the image from the stars is just beginning.
“My focus looks pretty good, the tracking looks pretty good, so everything is going pretty good so far," she explained during a demonstration on how she shoots the skies.
The editing can take nearly as long as the exposing, but the results are out of this world.
She has quickly become a standout in the mostly male-dominated field of astrophotography.
“I can play with the boys just as well, if not better,” Marcus said. “Men in this field are like, ‘Woah, nice shot!’ ‘Woah, that is a woman that took that shot!’ I like being that person.”
Marcus encourages other women to reach for the stars.
“I think it’s a good example for young women. I think it’s a good example for anybody interested in imaging to see someone in this position doing it as a woman," Marcus said.
She says the upcoming launch of a new deep space telescope could open up a whole new world for aspiring photographers.
“I think the images we are going to see from it are going to be some of the best. I think the images we see from it are going to be the best images we have ever seen of our universe,” Marcus said.
Till then, she will keep her feet on the ground, and her eye to the sky.
The James Webb Telescope’s launch is scheduled for Dec. 24, according to NASA. It could take several days or weeks before images are beamed back to earth.