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My name is Giovanni Benintende; I was born in 1960 and live in Sicily. Usually my family and my friends call me Gianni.

At 13 whilst looking at some pictures in a book, I discovered the fascination of the Universe.

When I was on summer holidays, the countryside was still illuminated only by the light of the heavenly bodies and, I'd spend hours and hours observing the magic of the firmament.

Having received excellent school reports, my dad decided to reward me with a beautiful present and invited me to choose between a film movie camera, a telescope and a camera with a zoom lens.

Naturally I chose the telescope, but it never arrived because the local photographer, the only person in those days who was in a position to procure one, dissuaded my dad from buying me one by saying that a small boy would never get to see anything. To my disappointment I had to take the film movie camera and put my dreams on the back-burner.

At the age of 40 during the last few days of a holiday by the sea at Ragusa, a friend showed me Jupiter and its moons with a small telescope. That led me, in less than a month to decide to buy myself my first telescope!

In a few years I changed my instruments several times, until I reached the point, with a lot of work, where I could try and capture the images that had captured me as an adolescent.

I'm not a professional astrophotographer, and neither do I pretend to be one. The few photos I've taken are the results of passion and patience.

I took my first CCD picture, the M51 galaxy in the constellation of Canes Venatici, in April 2003.

Partly due to luck, and partly thanks to the volcanic ash caused by the 2002 eruption I did more theory than practice, and thus I was well prepared and I managed to get a good result straight away, for a beginner.

I owe a lot to Rich Jacobs, a great friend and a great astrphotographer who lives in Arizona, who helped me put together my instruments and who supported me patiently with his teaching, not only in the field of astrophotography!

After a year and a half's experience, I started writing brief articles that gather together and condense my experience in the field. Here I have published the articles in the following pages, thinking that perhaps they may be of some use to those who would like try their hand at taking photo's of the stars with a CCD camera.

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