I recently unpacked my telescope for the recent lunar eclipse:
The sweet sight of a lunar #eclipse from #McLarenVale in a perfectly clear night autumn sky filled with stars. pic.twitter.com/3JmQPbSTDt
— Angela Brown (@angela_brown) April 15, 2014
and had been to a planetarium movie with my daughter. That was me enchanted again.
Having had a few interesting attempts at astrophotography back in 2005 with a point and shoot camera and my telescope, for a bit of quick self- inspiration, I managed to get a fuzzy rings of Saturn on my mobile phone camera through my 90mm Sky Watcher scope.
It’s not fantastic quality, but this is another world, a ringed planet, the most beautiful and amazing of icon of the vastness of our universe, via a phone camera. It’s sort of cool. This has now inspired me to to go a bit further and hook up my DSLR with my scope, and use a laptop to control some of the exposure and press the shutter remotely, to avoid wobbling the telescope.
I already had the telescope and camera, and just needed a relatively cheap ($AUS 30) t-ring which connects the camera, and I new Barlow lens which had a removable magnification piece ($70).
You then attach the t-ring and the Barlow lens to the camera (make sure you remove all the covers first – I had a bit of a dumb moment) and then attach the camera into the telescope eyepiece. I then dusted off my archived IBM T20 Thinkpad (I knew I had been keeping this for a special occassion). I also downloaded the Canon EOS Utility software, because my CD was long lost, hooked up a cable and this gives you the functionality to take photographs and change exposure from your laptop.
What spacey photographs to try first
The most straightforward guide that I have found is Phil’s Astronomy Blog and his simple Tips and Tricks for Astrophotography. I’m basically going to try capturing exactly what he suggests :
1) stellar dust, star clusters and smaller nebulas in the Milky Way
2) some star trails
Both of these approaches teach you something about exposure for the night sky and a little go at stacking multiple images, which is pretty key to some of the really cool star trail photos you see around.
Now I just need a clear night and some time!