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Author Topic: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert  (Read 13915 times)

Axilrod

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #45 on: January 27, 2013, 11:50:21 AM »
I have a Vixen Polarie Star Tracker that I bought in the Fall and have yet to try it out.

Axilrod's images excites me to get started.

http://www.astroshop.com.au/guides/vixen-polarie.htm


And I didn't even use a tracking mount!  I'd be excited too : )
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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #45 on: January 27, 2013, 11:50:21 AM »

Crewser

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #46 on: February 01, 2013, 07:14:19 AM »
For those of you looking for dark skies, this light pollution map is great:
http://www.blue-marble.de/nightlights/2010


Thanks Axilrod for posting the light pollution map link.  I will use the map come this spring and summer to try my luck with some local astrophotography.

Here in Ontario where I live we have a protected Dark Skies Preserve, the Torrance Barrens that I will visit as well mid-summer. It is great area in that the few trees that are there are fairly small and stunted in growth due to the harsh growing conditions present. http://www.rasc.ca/content/torrance-barrens-dark-sky-preserve

Steve

tron

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #47 on: February 01, 2013, 08:00:10 AM »
Hmmmmmm.....might want to check your AFMA.  You seem to be front focusing a parsec or two..... :o
I just read this and could stop laughing ...  ;D  ;D  ;D

tron

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #48 on: February 01, 2013, 08:31:16 AM »
Axilrod - the tripod, wedge and drive base are from an 8 inch Celestron I've had for 35 years, the optics are great but it needed to be on a better mount to reach its potential.  The wood is recycled from another project and the tripod head lives either on this mount or my home made slider depending on what I'm doing.  Older Celestron mounts come up for sale on Astromart once in a while when people transplant the scope to a better mount like I did.  There's another used equipment website I've used, I can't find it with Google but I have the link on my home computer, I'll PM you with it.  Orion sells a small equatorial setup as an intro to astrophotography but it just won't handle much weight.  A used CG5 or SkyViewPro mount for a good price would be an excellent setup, you wouldn't need the computerized version of either.  I use my old C8 mount setup for tracking with up to a 300/f4L.  Setting it vertical I can do panning time lapses.  I've even used it with the mount vertical and the camera pointed straight up in my back yard, the trees rotate around the perimeter of the frame while the stars slowly parade through....would be interesting to try in a place like Joshua Tree.  I'm blocked here at work from getting to the link, it's on YouTube, you should be able to find it with search terms 'emagowan' and 'SkySpin'.


Thanks for that info, I figured that thing was a "frankenstein" mount of some sort.  I've been looking into getting one of these Astrotrac tracking mounts: http://www.astrotrac.com/Default.aspx?p=tt320x-ag

Supposedly they work very well and are very easy to transport and set up.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Not so fast with Astrotrac. I do have it BUT: Its polar scope is very loose which means you cannot be certain you have polar aligned it perfectly. Second, even with best possible alignment you get about a 10fold increase in exposure (10x the seconds you could expose without it). It seems a lot but actually it is only with short focal lengths. Third, no tracking device can do the trick for astrophotography landscapes since to photograph the landscape camera has to be still on tripod otherwise you will have no star trails but blurred landscape.

So it is still tripod and the 600/(focal length) rule for these cases ( 500/(focal length)  if you want to be more strict).
« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 07:00:45 AM by tron »

Axilrod

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #49 on: February 03, 2013, 12:26:18 PM »
Not so fast with Astrotrac. I do have it BUT: It's polar scope is very loose which means you cannot be certain yo have polar aligned it perfectly. Second, even with best possible alignment you get about a 10fold increase in exposure (10x the seconds you could expose without it). It seems a lot but actually it is only with short focal lengths. Third, no tracking device can do the trick for astrophotography landscapes since to photograph the landscape camera has to be still on tripod otherwise you will have no star trails but blurred landscape.

So it is still tripod and the 600/(focal length) rule for these cases ( 500/(focal length)  if you want to be more strict).

Ahhh I didn't even think about that aspect.  Thanks for your input, may not get this thing after all.
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CarlTN

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #50 on: February 15, 2013, 11:53:28 PM »
Axilrod, your pics from the front page are nice!  I think I could do as well, or better, though...especially after I get a better camera.  Post some more of your work if you can.

Axilrod

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #51 on: February 19, 2013, 01:22:10 PM »
Axilrod, your pics from the front page are nice!  I think I could do as well, or better, though...especially after I get a better camera.  Post some more of your work if you can.

Thanks, and I'm sure you can do as good or better, I'm no expert and this was my first time, and I rarely shoot stills.  As for the "better camera" it doesn't matter how great the camera is if you can't get to the right spot, with the right conditions, during the right time of the year.
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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #51 on: February 19, 2013, 01:22:10 PM »

CarlTN

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #52 on: February 19, 2013, 04:15:01 PM »
That's certainly true!  I'm not exactly a world class expert either, of course.  I just love Milky Way pictures!  I'm thinking the galaxy in your shot, is Andromeda.  It's the closest galaxy, and is on a collision course with us.  Will take a little while to get here though.

tron

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #53 on: February 20, 2013, 06:19:32 AM »
That's certainly true!  I'm not exactly a world class expert either, of course.  I just love Milky Way pictures!  I'm thinking the galaxy in your shot, is Andromeda.  It's the closest galaxy, and is on a collision course with us.  Will take a little while to get here though.
Yes! It is indeed Andromeda  :) You can enjoy viewing it even with binoculars...

eyeland

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Re: Don't just shoot; look and really see.
« Reply #54 on: February 20, 2013, 09:22:48 AM »

To the OP: thanks for posting those literally awesome pictures.
...if you're a city or suburban bred person, just look. When one hasn't seen it before, it is a revelatory experience like few others you may have in your lifetime.

I grew up in the LA area and then on Long Island - near NYC - and then settled in the suburbs around Detroit. I had never thought much about the night sky at all, except that it was a little better to sleep with less light coming through my widow than during the day.

I remember, when I was about 26 years old, going with an old girlfriend to visit her artist friend who lived in the woods, waaaaay off the beaten track, in the vast empty Michigan Upper Peninsula, in a couple of small sandwiched together mobile homes with the adjoining walls broken down to form a sort of fiberglass and plastic hillbilly castle. We all three sat on the steps leading up to his doorway one chilly November night, and I, certainly not expecting much, had a near religious experience when I looked up to see what seemed to be literally millions of visible stars. I was shocked, astounded. I just silently sat there, open mouthed, and stared for over an hour and a half without uttering a sound. Wow!

I repeated that same experience when out working in the deserts of California, Arizona and Utah. Shooting cars at sunup and sundown brought me to places where light pollution was almost non-existent. Sometimes, when setting up for a dawn shot, we would work on the cars and camera positions until just after the end of "nautical" dusk and then stay the night in vehicles or in sleeping bags until the just-before-dawn call time. My whole crew would typically barbeque some food, drink beer and then smell the occasional burning cigar or wafting bouquet of an assistant's trusty blunt break up the nearly perfect lack of anything from the city . After scaring the new guys with tales of scorpions and rattlers under the tarps and hearing an occasional coyote or other small critter break the otherwise eerie silence, we would all look into the sky and see the miracle of the universe right there before us, in the real world 3-D that makes those plastic glasses and Imax screens seem puny and uninteresting. I kind of wished that someone of us could play some mournful tune on an old harmonica, just to compliment what I felt were the faint voices in the desert wind of the ghosts of all those lonely cowboys of the American West who really had lived under the stars and loved it so much that they stayed living there, in the insufferable deserts and on the desolate prairies, as long as "progress" allowed.

Sometimes, pictures are not enough. Sometimes, you should just put down the camera, to not just record the world, but to live in it. The brilliantly adorned night sky, as countless generations of our long past forbears in song, story and legend saw it, is one excuse to sometimes do just that.
+1
Great shots, great story, I am officially inspired :)
Thanks for the advice and techniques, will give it a shot next week as I am heading into the Negev desert to do some location research for a video shoot.
Guess I better get started on that diy slider :)
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eyeland

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #55 on: February 20, 2013, 09:26:05 AM »
Btw, any reason to use the 2010 map rather than http://www.blue-marble.de/nightlights/2012 ?
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Alex

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #56 on: February 20, 2013, 09:38:13 AM »
At first glimpse it looked like a Vivitar camera

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #56 on: February 20, 2013, 09:38:13 AM »