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Author Topic: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert  (Read 14298 times)

Axilrod

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Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« on: January 22, 2013, 01:47:16 PM »
Finally got somewhere dark enough worth shooting some long exposures.  So we headed an hour east of Lubbock, Texas, to where it is virtually pitch black.  The moon was 1 day past new so it was ideal.  Only thing that could have been better was the time of year, the brightest part of the Milky Way is only visible during the summer (in the Northern Hemisphere anyways).  And it was in the 20's with wind chills near zero, but for 5 hours me and a buddy shot almost nonstop.  I shot a time lapse with the 5D3/14LII/Dynamic Perception Stage Zero dolly, still working on that.  Set up my friend with the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8/5D2, adjusted settings and he took it from there and actually got some great shots.  I was shooting with another 5D3/24LII and 16-35mm f/2.8.  Keep in mind these are individual exposures, most of the really insane pictures of the Milky Way you see are a bunch of stacked exposures, but I don't have a tracking mount yet so I couldn't do that.

Here are a couple of ones I liked from the first batch of shots I processed:

24mm f/1.4L @ f/2, ISO3200, 20 Seconds (That little bright disc to the left is a Galaxy!)


16-35mm f/2.8L II @ 22mm, f/2.8, 30 seconds (Little bit too long for focal length, but it turned out ok)


I know alot of astronomy buffs may be sickened by these, but the general public love shots that look like this.  It was a learning experience and I'm thrilled to have had the chance to finally get some shots like these.  I'm going back in the summer since that's when the brightest part of the Milky Way is visible.


Edit: I posted these a few pages up, figured I'd move them here:

16-35L II, ISO3200, f/2.8, 30 seconds (Used a Night Sky preset and exported to show you, post processing a bit too much for me, but you get the idea).


Here is one with nothing in the foreground, so kinda boring, but lot of cool stuff is visible
24LII, ISO3200, f/2, 20 seconds.

« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 11:26:25 AM by Axilrod »
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Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« on: January 22, 2013, 01:47:16 PM »

RobertG.

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2013, 02:24:49 PM »
Hi,
Thank you for these great shots! I'm living in the largest city of central Europe (Berlin) and so I never saw the Milky Way myself. It never get's dark enough here.... No village or town is further can dozen miles away :(
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R1-7D

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2013, 02:32:23 PM »
Absolutely beautiful shots!

20 seconds, hey? That's all it takes to get all the stars like that without a dolly?

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2013, 03:03:39 PM »
as a member of the general public, I say fantastic!
I would love to try this but its hard to find any dark sky here in L.A.
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RS2021

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2013, 03:24:52 PM »
Very nice. The galaxy especially.

So the top picture is off a fixed tripod and not on a equitorial mount? Is 20 secs not long enough to produce star trails?
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serendipidy

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2013, 03:46:35 PM »
Beautiful...I'd love to take some photos like that. :)
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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2013, 03:53:03 PM »
Wonderful use of a 24mm lens for astronomy photos. Now I want that lens.

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2013, 03:53:03 PM »

Axilrod

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2013, 05:04:39 PM »
Absolutely beautiful shots!

20 seconds, hey? That's all it takes to get all the stars like that without a dolly?

Not sure what you mean about the dolly, I guess maybe you're referring to a tracking mount?  Yeah this is what you get from 20 seconds when it's pitch black, that's the crucial part.
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Axilrod

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2013, 05:05:44 PM »
as a member of the general public, I say fantastic!
I would love to try this but its hard to find any dark sky here in L.A.

Thank you very much!  Yes LA is littered with light pollution as is Atlanta (where I am).  But lucky for you, you are much closer to dark skies than I am, pretty much the entire state of Nevada is pitch black, as is Utah.  Take a road trip, it's absolutely worth it!  Just make sure you go when there is a new moon!
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 05:15:09 PM by Axilrod »
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Axilrod

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 05:07:04 PM »
Wonderful use of a 24mm lens for astronomy photos. Now I want that lens.

Thanks!  Yes it's great to have a lens that fast but that wide.  At the same time when you shoot wide open the stars on one side will start to turn into a weird shape, it even did it a bit on this one (at f/2) on the right side.  But it's still an amazing lens for all kinds of stuff!
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Axilrod

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 05:09:50 PM »
Very nice. The galaxy especially.

So the top picture is off a fixed tripod and not on a equitorial mount? Is 20 secs not long enough to produce star trails?

Yes, they are both just static tripod shots.  I had a motion controlled time lapse running separately with my 14L that was doing 30 sec exposures, but the way that works is that it shoots, moves a fraction of an inch, then shoots again.

As for the star trails, you divide the focal length by 600 (some say 500 just to be safe) and that's the number of seconds you can do before the stars start to turn into a oblong shape.  So:

600/24 = 25, so max exposure for 24mm is 25 seconds.
600/14 = 42.85, so you can go really long with a 14mm before the stars start turning into trails

Of course with a tracking mount you can do 5 minute exposures, or multiple exposures and then stack them (that's how you get really crazy results).


The key is getting somewhere with no light pollution.  I mean where I was there wasn't a major city for miles.  I could see more with my own eyes than I could in pictures I took in the southeast (even after processing!).  You could see the faint outline of the spiral arm with the naked eye, it was breathtaking.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 05:14:13 PM by Axilrod »
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emag

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2013, 05:32:08 PM »
Hmmmmmm.....might want to check your AFMA.  You seem to be front focusing a parsec or two..... :o

Excellent work, I'm jealous of those skies.  I have 5 scopes, two cameras (one Ha modified), several equatorial mounts and a home made slider.....and the Florida panhandle hasn't had two clear nights in succession since mid-November....particularly on weekends!  Sheesh - I should probably drop the whole astrophotography thing and take up needlepoint.

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 05:42:23 PM »
Wonderful use of a 24mm lens for astronomy photos. Now I want that lens.

Thanks!  Yes it's great to have a lens that fast but that wide.  At the same time when you shoot wide open the stars on one side will start to turn into a weird shape....
Beaut pic's. I've been trying a similar thing with the Zeiss 21mm f2.8. The Canon 24 1.4 suffers from coma (around the edges) when used wide open, as you have suggested. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to get one ;)
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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 05:42:23 PM »

BrettS

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2013, 05:51:57 PM »
Nice. Thanks for posting. Interesting to hear your techniques. I'd like to try this some day.

RS2021

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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 06:05:49 PM »
Hmmmmmm.....might want to check your AFMA.  You seem to be front focusing a parsec or two..... :o


*chuckle*  I am sure some pixel peeping measurbators thought you were bein' serious.
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Re: Spiral Arm of the Milky Way above the Texas Desert
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 06:05:49 PM »