In this article I discuss the role the imagination plays in the production of what I call artistic astronomical photographs. I examine the entire creative process, which has been defined as “that stretch of mental and physical activity between the incept and the final touch.”[1] I begin with an examination of some of the ways in which the imagination is exercised in traditional artistic photography and in observational painting, in order to tease out the similarities and differences. Following a brief explanation of the way artistic astronomical photographs are produced, I examine these similarities and differences and, in doing so, show the unique ways in which the imagination is exercised in this form of photography. I go on to explain that this is because of the nature of its subject matter. I conclude by demonstrating that, although the imagination plays this unique role in artistic astronomical photography, this does not compromise its photographic integrity.

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