Jump to content
Holidays
Local
Radar
Snow?

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Osbourne One-Nil

Astrophotography With A Dslr

Recommended Posts

I treated myself to a special sort of camera mount the other day called an Astrotrac. It's basically a way of having a camera track stars or planets for up to two hours, very accurately. This enables long exposure photos of the night sky to be taken, which captures very faint stars, nebulae, galaxies etc.

There was a clear patch tonight, so my son and I quickly set the mount up, pointed the camera at what we hoped would be the Pleiades, and then directly overhead, set the mount running, and took a one minute exposure of each view. The mount will track for up to two hours, but until I receive my remote shutter release, I can only manage one minute. Quite pleased with the results really, considering they were taken at ISO1600 and have only received very basic editing in Photoshop to remove the worst of the noise.

You can just about make out some nebulosity around the Pleiades and some darker lanes within the Milky Way.

post-717-0-64804500-1327263266_thumb.jpg post-717-0-64109100-1327263297_thumb.jpg

Can't wait to be able to spend some proper time outside with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow that's much better than I expected on clicking what looks like a black thumbnail.

I'm impressed by the mass of faint stars you captured.

http://www.astrotrac.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's not a rude question, how much is the Astrotrac? Also, can it be used with a normal heavy duty tripod?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was amazed too - just 60 second exposures....can't wait for a stack of lots of 20mins etc!

The Astrotrac itself is about £400 and I took that photo on a Manfrotto tripod. The Astrotrac is rated at 15kg, which is far above the tripod, so that's the limiting factor. If you've already got a tripod and head, the only additional thing you'd need would be a ball mount for the camera itself. The set-up takes some getting your head around (or at least it did me) but I got those photos within minutes of pressing the button, so it's a very shallow learning curve.

In the near future, I'll be putting my Televue refracting telescope on the mount (but on an astronomical tripod) and shooting through that...in effect a 600mm lens. Should be good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow OON amazing sahll have to ask for one for christmas!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

One advantage of living in Westmorland is the obvious lack of light and other polution which we get in our night sky down here on the outskirts of London which obscures probably the majority of stars which could otherwise be seen - I just love it when I have the opportunity to view the night aky in its grater splendour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's great stuff OON. Looking foreward to the longer exposures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heading out in a moment and going to aim to get a 5 min exposure of the Pleiades and directly overhead where to double cluster is in Perseus. That's assuming it stays clear and I can find a way to hold the shutter open for a few minutes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yes, but I don't have one. It's on order though and should be here tomorrow. Tonight, therefore, I'm still restricted to 1min exposures, but have already managed quite a nice one of the Pleiades again, and one very quick one looking towards Orion with a 28mm lens and trees in the way, but you can still see the Orion Nebula (M42). I'll zoom in later and try again once it's cleared the trees.

post-717-0-36643600-1327349249_thumb.jpg post-717-0-95867800-1327349258_thumb.jpg

I've also attached a 1min exposure of the Pleiades without the mount tracking, to show what a difference it makes, even over a short time-span.

post-717-0-15042600-1327349241_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've found OON's lurking thread. On a serious note I watched Stargazing live last week and this is something both myself and my little boy would love to get into. Love photography. I'm going to have to save up some money as this looks like an expensive hobby, although I suppose once the initial outlay is out of the way, it won't be so bad. I've already got a decent Digital SLR so just need a telescope now and the attachments. Nothing too fancy or expensive to start with. Anyway look forward to more photographs OON.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't need a telescope for photos like this though. In fact, I'm tempted to sell one of my big telescopes. I bought a very compact, collapsible 10" reflecting telescope a couple of years ago, mainly so my son and I could walk out of the village and have an evening out in the surrounding fells. However, my new mount and camera is even more compact and transportable, and you come home with a momento. I could invest that money into a lovely nice prime lens....or I could keep it all and be greedy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No way can I afford an Astrotrac sadly....maybe a second hand one. Will probably get my little boy a telescope anyway for his birthday though. Nothing too fancy though. Just to get him started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can get some fantastic telescopes for far less than the Astrotrac - you'll get him hooked.

Here's the Orion Nebula....quite pleased seeing as I haven't learnt to focus properly yet, the exposure's all wrong, I don't know how to process and was limited to the worst possible settings on the camera. Looking forward to getting out of the village with it.

post-717-0-91693000-1327356067_thumb.jpg post-717-0-53915800-1327356094_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any recommendations? Max budget £100. I've seen one on Amazon for £75 which gets good reviews as a starter telescope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For less than £100, I don't think you could do better than this. The single most important factor of a telescope is its aperture; the larger that is, the more light it collects, the more detail it will resolve and the more is will show you. That scope gives you a 3" aperture (the telescope I use the most is "just" a 3.5"), and will show the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's moons and cloud belts, bright nebulae and the Moon will look stunning. Almost as importantly, its mount is stable and if the mount isn't stable, you can't see a thing. The main downside is it doesn't look like a "proper" telescope, but it is! Everything but the moon will look very small through it, but then most things look very small through any telescope - the photos you see on TV are very misleading.

If there's any money left over, I'd also recommend this book. It aimed to accompany a small telescope and describes what you're looking at in a way which actually allows you to comprehend what you're seeing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can get some fantastic telescopes for far less than the Astrotrac - you'll get him hooked.

Here's the Orion Nebula....quite pleased seeing as I haven't learnt to focus properly yet, the exposure's all wrong, I don't know how to process and was limited to the worst possible settings on the camera. Looking forward to getting out of the village with it.

post-717-0-91693000-1327356067_thumb.jpg post-717-0-53915800-1327356094_thumb.jpg

Looking good OON. I assume you are focused on infinity. I think you might find it very interesting with long exposures then I suspect you know that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There isn't an infinity marking on the lens, and it goes on to focus beyond infinity. The only way I can do it is to try and focus on Jupiter and check the result - the stars are just too faint to focus on in the viewfinder, and it hasn't got live view, so it is a problem. Longer exposures are going to bring out all the nebulosity. Even last night I took an exposure directly overhead (towards Perseus) and there were tiny faint clouds which aren't even in the Messier catalogue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For less than £100, I don't think you could do better than this. The single most important factor of a telescope is its aperture; the larger that is, the more light it collects, the more detail it will resolve and the more is will show you. That scope gives you a 3" aperture (the telescope I use the most is "just" a 3.5"), and will show the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's moons and cloud belts, bright nebulae and the Moon will look stunning. Almost as importantly, its mount is stable and if the mount isn't stable, you can't see a thing. The main downside is it doesn't look like a "proper" telescope, but it is! Everything but the moon will look very small through it, but then most things look very small through any telescope - the photos you see on TV are very misleading.

If there's any money left over, I'd also recommend this book. It aimed to accompany a small telescope and describes what you're looking at in a way which actually allows you to comprehend what you're seeing.

Cheers OON, that is one of the telescopes I was looking at. I have had a good look around and have found the telescope and accessory set (inc moon filter) as part of a bundle all for £53.47 inc p&p. Tesco books online have the book for £16 and I can also buy a Hama T2 adapter for my Canon EOS for £17. So I'm well under my £100.budget.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's amazing value. That scope will have far better quality optics and a far strudier mount than one costing £300 with a fancy computerised mount. It'll also teach your son to learn where things are, rather than relying on a computer to tell him. Just remember that the only things you'll be able to photograph on a mount that isn't driven is the Moon and the brighter planets, but that's a great start.

As for you Canon camera, they're by far the best for astrophotography - something to do with the type of sensors they use. Bung it on a tripod, point it towards Polaris, open the shutter for an hour, and see what you get!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah bargain or what! Park cameras have it on sale for £39.99 and the accessory set was around a tenner so saved myself about £50!

I inherited the Canon EOS off my partner when he upgraded to a Nikon but to be honest I think the Canon is a better camera so think I've done ok out of it :winky:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I inherited an Olympus E400 and sold my Canon as a result, which turns out to have been a mistake because Olympus now seem to be running down their four-thirds range and lens choice is now very limited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's amazing value. That scope will have far better quality optics and a far strudier mount than one costing £300 with a fancy computerised mount. It'll also teach your son to learn where things are, rather than relying on a computer to tell him. Just remember that the only things you'll be able to photograph on a mount that isn't driven is the Moon and the brighter planets, but that's a great start.

As for you Canon camera, they're by far the best for astrophotography - something to do with the type of sensors they use. Bung it on a tripod, point it towards Polaris, open the shutter for an hour, and see what you get!

The moon and brighter planets sound good to me as a starting point. Baby steps and all that. I know my way reasonably well round a camera, just the astrology side I need to swot up on as some things are a bit fuzzy.

I remember as a little girl my dad taking me out on the park to look at the stars and him taking me and my sister to the Planetarium in London which used to be next to Madame Tussauds. Once that seed is planted it's with you for life.

My Canon is the EOS 300D which is a good 8 years old now and I think the equivalent now is the 600D. Think it's classed as an entry Level camera for the enthusiast but having said that it cost £735 8 years ago. My partner has the Nikon D300 and you won't get much change from 2 grand if you bought that. However as you say Canon have a fantastic range of lenses.

I still have and use a 40 year old Konica S3 SLR. Fantastic little camera with a great lens. I don't think many were sold so I think ones still in working order are fairly rare.

Anyway I'll let you know how we get on. Have you ever used Stellarium by the way?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's surprising what you can do even with a compact, shots of the moon are always rewarding (mind you don't over expose!)

Somewhere I have a shot of Jupiter which I didn't realise till I zoomed in on the computer - that you could see two of the moons quite easily.

This is with my Canon Powershot SX200

6318921571_7ed17f5839_z.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best way to take photos of planets is actually to slip a webcam into the bit where the eyepiece goes, take a video and use some free software to stack the individual images. People obtain some incredible results that way,

just the astrology side
Calling astronomy "astrology" is like referring to a steam locomotive as a "train"...everyone knows what you mean, but it upsets the nerdy pedants (ie. myself).

Stellarium's great, and there's another good free one called Carte du Ciel...really helps you see the stuff you want to see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...