Posts Tagged ‘MacBook’


Astrophotographers capturing the heavens

March 7, 2012

by yaska77

Space pics are cool, no argument from us there. Since we started this blog we’ve brought you enough images to fill a photo album (and have slipped in quite a few of our own along the way).

A lot of people think you need in depth knowledge or mega expensive gear to take astro photos, but from our time spent in the “twitterverse” we’ve learnt that not only are there thousands of enthusiasts eager to get stuck in, but a multitude of talented people who do extraordinary things with a range of equipment!

The Moon

The first point of call for most night sky snappers is our beautiful Moon. We first started imaging the Moon using handhelds and camera phones (held up to the eyepiece of the telescope), but there are a variety of ways to get great images!

This waning Moon image shows great colour! (click to enlarge) - Credit: CJ5ive

If you don’t have a telescope, a DSLR can capture superb images all on its own. Twitter user CJ5ive used a Nikon D200 to grab this shot, and it looks great! Having a sturdy tripod helps remove any camera shake caused by the shutter opening, and with good seeing conditions you can get crystal clear shots.

Moon crater details are well defined in this iPhone 4s image (click to enlarge) - Credit: Phil Hammond

Don’t have a DSLR but have a telescope? With a steady hand Phil Hammond took this great example of afocal photography, using an iPhone 4s and a Sky-Watcher Evostar 102 Telescope. It can take a little patience to get it lined up, but you can get some great close up images.

Using a CCD camera you can capture superb detail, as demonstrated in this image of the Clavius crater (click to enlarge) - Credit: Paul Wharton

Want to get even closer? By using a CCD Camera (like a webcam) you can record video of your target and then stack the individual frames to bring out the details. Paul Wharton provided us with this great close-up of the Clavius crater on the Moon, taken using a Sky-Watcher 200P Telescope and a Trust webcam from eBay bought for 99p!

The Planets

Getting a close up look at the planets through a telescope can be awe inspiring, so imaging them can be very rewarding.

Using a webcam attached to a telescope you can get great images like this great view of Jupiter (click to enlarge) - Credit: John Mason

Jupiter is always a good target as through a telescope you can see clear details. John Mason‘s image shows Jupiter as a beautiful marble in space, captured using a Nexstar 6SE SCT Telescope and a SPC800 webcam (compiled using the stacking software Registax).

The superb clarity of this image of Jupiter (complete with two Moons) by Paul Wharton shows the beauty of the planet (click to enlarge) - Credit: Paul Wharton

The brilliant clarity of this image of Jupiter (complete with two Moons) highlights the beauty of the giant planet - Credit: Paul Wharton

Getting even closer to Jupiter this shot from Paul Wharton shows the different bands, the famous spot and two of Jupiter’s moons. You can even make out the shadow of a moon transiting the disc of the planet! This fantastic image was captured using a Sky-Watcher 200P Telescope and a Philips webcam.

Saturn is another must see through a telescope, and Jamey imaged it incredibly clearly (click to enlarge) - Credit: Jamey Erickson

There’s also nothing like the feeling of viewing the rings of Saturn with your own eyes. Very little compares to seeing it live (as it were) but the picture produced by Jamey Erickson comes awfully close! Created by stacking 40 light frames (with no dark frames) using a Celestron CGE-1100 SCT Telescope, a Canon 5D Mk II remote via MacBook Air, all guided with an iPad via SkySafariPro. That’s quite a setup!

Stars and a Nebula

Most of the time clouds are an astrophotographer’s nemesis, but they can help provide great atmosphere to a photo of the stars.

Cloud movement in a long exposure shot can create a beautiful ethereal feel when in front of a clear star filled background (click to enlarge) - Credit: John Mason

Orion is one of the most easily recognisable constellations in the night sky, and John Mason took this great shot of it framed by clouds using a Canon 1000D at 18mm on a 7 second exposure.

A similar shot of the fantastic Orion, with added International Space Station goodness (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sarah (purpleface)

The ISS frequently passes over the UK, an example of such a pass can be seen in Sarah’s image featuring Orion and the Hyades cluster above. Taken using a Canon 7D with the 18-55mm kit lens, 15 second exposure at ISO 400 (f/3.5). It also helps demonstrate just how far the space station travels across the sky in 15 seconds when moving at around 17,500mph.

It’s about 73 miles, the equivalent driving distance from Peckham in London to Dover by the English Channel!

Using a good zoom lens you can clearly capture the dusty shape of the Orion Nebula (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sarah (purpleface)

Using the same camera but this time a 90-300mm lens, Sarah’s shot of the Orion Nebula shows clear definition of its familiar shape, taken at an exposure time of 3.2 seconds, ISO 5000 (f/5.6).

Stacked shots taken via a telescope can provide far more detail than a single exposure alone, as this fantastic image demonstrates (click to enlarge) - Credit: Jamey Erickson

This jawdropping picture of the Orion Nebula from Jamey is the result of stacking 50 light frames and 50 dark frames (with the same equipment as his Saturn image above). Both images were stacked in Nebulosity and processed in PixInsight.

If you’d like to have a look through more of our contributor’s photographs, click on their name below and you’ll be transported to their snaps or Twitter feed. This is just a small example of what our friends on Twitter are doing, so they’re well worth a look through!

Come and join in the fun 🙂


CJ5ive on Flickr
Phil Hammond on Twitter
Paul Wharton on Flickr
John Mason on Twitter
Jamey Erickson on Flickr
Sarah (purpleface) on Flickr

All images are copyright their respective owners

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