Broccardi ’24 Combines Love of Science and Art in Astrophotography

By Caitlin T. Burns | October 20, 2020

One night last summer, Computing Technology major Paul Broccardi ’24, while bored, started photographing through his telescope in his backyard. Just four months later, he invested in a computerized telescope and software to help improve his astrophotography skills.

Andromeda Galaxy., by Broccardi

Astrophotography, also known as astronomical imaging, is photography of astronomical objects, celestial events, and areas of the night sky. So far, Broccardi has captured images of the moon, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Orion Nebula, and more.

“I have expensive hobbies,” Broccardi admits, including antiquing, astrophotography, and esports, which he plays on the Arcadia Esports Overwatch team. “People usually see photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, but there’s lots of amateur astrophotographers out there taking pictures of the planets and other things.”

Broccardi’s interest in astronomy started as a child, when he received his first telescope from his parents. He started with visual photography, staying up until 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings and identifying planets and stars on the horizon. In July, he became frustrated with not being able to see all the colors and detail through visual astronomy and decided to try astrophotography.

“It’s so much more than just looking at it,” Broccardi said, showcasing a dark spot the width of China on Saturn’s rings called the Cassini Division, which he captured in a photo. “You can bring out a lot more detail, and see more color than what you would see through a telescope.”

North America Nebula, by Broccardi

Broccardi has invested in a high-end telescope that enables him to place coordinates, and the telescope will automatically move to the position. Next, he’s planning to purchase a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera and mounts for the telescope. His photos are currently captured through his cell phone rigged to the telescope.

With the exception of antiquing, Broccardi’s interests revolve around his first love of computers, which his sister’s boyfriend helped him build in 2012. Since then, he’s loved technology and hobbies that offshoot from it.

“I’ve always been into technology,” said Broccardi. “I figured it would be something to focus on as a career path.”

Broccardi has been playing Overwatch since 2016, but as a member of Arcadia’s Esports teams it’s his first time playing with a group. The Arcadia Esports program launched in the Fall 2019 semester, opening with a brand new 1,500-square-foot arena space equipped with 46 high-end gaming computers. The team continued their 2019-20 season despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as esports competitions are held online. 

This fall, the program added Rainbow 6 Siege, a 5v5 team-based game, and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, a 1v1 fighting game, to its roster of competitive games. The program also began streaming its competitive matches on Twitch this year.