Imaging.. not imagining.. the Universe.
The technology we see today would have been uneard of a half century ago. Imagine what the capabilities of today would seem to those such as Galileo or Kepler centuries ago. Would it be facinating, or down right frightening? I suspect a little of both.
Advances in science and technology in recent years have brought the power of advanced digital photography, computing, and image processing into the hands of mere amateurs. Where in just a few years past, such tools were only available to scientists/researchers/universities. Namely those with equally astronomical budgets to match their advanced scientific degrees. A few years before that. such things were but a spark in the fertile minds of brilliant individuals with a motivation to match.
As with any 'hobby' however, one can quickly run from dabbler, to hardcore aficionado with an empty bank account to match.
Astronomy related sites such as this one are popping up all over these days. Its great to see so many people partaking in the hobby and excelling at it. My goal isn't to be the best at this hobby however. My goal is to observe, image, enjoy, and share with others. If I can ultimately contribute to the body of science, then I will gladly do so.
What is Astrophotography? It is the 'art?' of taking photographs of the universe. There are many ways to do this, and I won't even attempt to explain it. Suffice to say, there are PLENTY of resources on the web on this topic. There are many types of photography. Boiled down to these, and probably some other fundamentals
-making pretty pictures
In all of these aspects, it's ultimately for some sort of self fulfillment/satisfaction. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
Get your head out of the clouds.. go even further!
... but remember to keep your feet on the ground.
Its often easy to get lost in day to day life. We have our priorities, our work, our families. We all too often forget that there is more to the universe than just our immediate perceptible surroundings. As humans, we have the capability to wonder and strive to comprehend what we ourselves would consider incomprehensible. Yes, we may gain in knowledge, but there is an ultimate barrier. That barrier is the limitation of the human mind. In time however, we may ultimately break that barrier and come to know 'all'.
That wouldn't be much fun in my opinion. Our desire for knowledge and our curiosity is what drives us. The day humanity 'knows all' and ceases to question him/herself and existence, is the day we cease to be human. Or as many of the thousands of Earthbound mythologies (past and present) would consider, such a state of existence would equate to our ascendence to the pantheon of deities. Either that, or it marks our ultimate destruction as a result of our own ignorance.
I'd say either ultimate result is just as likely due to the innate unpredictability of human nature.