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Author Topic: Any astrophotographers out there?  (Read 4410 times)

Niterider

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Any astrophotographers out there?
« on: April 10, 2013, 02:55:08 AM »
I was hoping I could get some advice regarding using a camera for astrophotography. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! I am not looking for exceptional pictures of nebulas, but something that can take pictures of some of the larger planets and the moon.

Unfortunately, my budget is rather limited. As much as I would love a star tracking telescope system, I am hoping to settle for a dobsonian reflector.

What I am looking at is as follows:
Orion SkyQuest XT8 - F/5.9 @ 1200mm (build a scope version)
Orion 2" low profile focuser
Canon T-mount adapter and Orion 2" Zero-Profile Prime Focus Camera Adapter
And a kit of 2" eyepieces for when I want to do viewing rather than imaging

I read that refractors are considerably better for astrophotography, but ouch are they expensive. I am always open to suggestions though!

I am hoping to get into astrophography, but fear spending money on a system that isnt compatible or wont give good results at all (I have heard focusing issues is a common problem).

Thanks! Feel free to post pictures you have taken or of the setup you use to photograph the night sky!

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Any astrophotographers out there?
« on: April 10, 2013, 02:55:08 AM »

Apop

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2013, 04:41:06 AM »
Hi,

I think for  planets a webcam is more often used than a DSLR (those are more suitable for DSO).
I don't know if there is an astronomy club close to you?, you could go out there to get some information and possibly ''play'' with some of the gear available before purchasing any.

I have a dobson telescope and used it with an adapter to take pictures of the moon and saturn/jupiter.
Results of the moon are great, but a full frame body for planets is not putting enough pixels on them.

Also for planets / nebulas (basically anything but the moon), you combine many images to get a far better result.

For DSO's you want longer exposures and need a good tracking system, then afterwards you correct each image before combining them to 1 image ( ideally you use different filters: for example for a galaxy a R V an B filter, take multiple exposures (different lengths) in each filter to reach a certain number of counts that reach your sensor, then you correct each image for a : flat field/dark/bias and combine the different images to one nice image).

This requires a good tracking system, ccd and software.

There are lots of people who make beatiful images with their DSLR (they also correct for dark i think), and us tracking system with follow scope(to ensure the tracking keeps tracking correctly).

Last time i checked tracking systems (even simple ones) were quite expensive (eq5 and eq6 were 600-1200 dollars), a good dobson telescope for DSO is another 1000.

For planets a ''simple'' refractor and 20$ webcam (modified) will yield better results than a dslr!, you take hundreds of images and combine them afterwards with software.

I think you dont need a good tracking system for that either , a bit more work on aligning the images afterwards maybe but it should be doable.


The moon is the most easy to do, but you will want more, where i live there is an astronomy club(not 2 many members), where for 50 euros/year you get membership and access to the telescope ( +- 24 inch/60cm reflector with a great tracking system, where you can connect your dslr with an adapter).
Alternatively you could visit a university for more information!, most people who are into these kind of things love to share knowledge and give advice/tips etc.

If you got something like that close to you, there would be no need to spend a lot of money , and you can photograph different objects ( moon/planets and dso's). Or at least orientate a lot better before spending the money!

Hope it was of any use.


paulv1958

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2013, 06:01:26 AM »
Hi
 You will really need a tracking scope. I have a Meade 8" lx90 and mount 5D & 500D via an dos adaptor directly to the scope and can only get away with 30 sec max exposure without suffering rotation issues ( the sky rotates as well as moving e - w ( Tracking only covers direction Not rotation) for that you need whats known as a derotator) At 30 sec you can get decent images and stack them for exposure. Here is a image of the keyhole nebula. Not brilliant but gives you an idea ( it was 30  x 15 sec exposures stacked).

The beast advice I can give is to do a lot of research on the net and borrow some equipment.

cocopop05

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2013, 07:03:50 AM »
Took this photo of a near full moon, two weeks ago using an old Meade small refractor telescope (900mm focal length, 80mm glass). 

Used a 5D Mark III, photo is cropped from the original and did some post production in Photoshop CS6 to improve contrast and sharpness.

Apop

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2013, 07:51:31 AM »
An equatorial mount also corrects for the earths rotation?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equatorial_mount
http://www.modernastronomy.com/mounts.htm#eq6trek

It is however quite costly and at high magnification/long exposures(several minutes) a guide star tracking system(seperate small telescope with webcam+software) is used to keep aimed correctly during long exposures.



Hi
 You will really need a tracking scope. I have a Meade 8" lx90 and mount 5D & 500D via an dos adaptor directly to the scope and can only get away with 30 sec max exposure without suffering rotation issues ( the sky rotates as well as moving e - w ( Tracking only covers direction Not rotation) for that you need whats known as a derotator) At 30 sec you can get decent images and stack them for exposure. Here is a image of the keyhole nebula. Not brilliant but gives you an idea ( it was 30  x 15 sec exposures stacked).

The beast advice I can give is to do a lot of research on the net and borrow some equipment.

weixing

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2013, 08:20:21 AM »
I was hoping I could get some advice regarding using a camera for astrophotography. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! I am not looking for exceptional pictures of nebulas, but something that can take pictures of some of the larger planets and the moon.

Unfortunately, my budget is rather limited. As much as I would love a star tracking telescope system, I am hoping to settle for a dobsonian reflector.

What I am looking at is as follows:
Orion SkyQuest XT8 - F/5.9 @ 1200mm (build a scope version)
Orion 2" low profile focuser
Canon T-mount adapter and Orion 2" Zero-Profile Prime Focus Camera Adapter
And a kit of 2" eyepieces for when I want to do viewing rather than imaging

I read that refractors are considerably better for astrophotography, but ouch are they expensive. I am always open to suggestions though!

I am hoping to get into astrophography, but fear spending money on a system that isnt compatible or wont give good results at all (I have heard focusing issues is a common problem).

Thanks! Feel free to post pictures you have taken or of the setup you use to photograph the night sky!
Hi,
    Orion SkyQuest XT8 is a visual scope and not for Astrophotography. If you want to go into Astrophotography, you need a good equatorial mount and a good mount is very important... If you are starting into Astrophotography, I suggest you get a good equatorial mount first and use your existing camera lens to shoot first. Get a feel of it and learn the image processing software.

    Have a nice day.

   

Mr Bean

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2013, 08:34:52 AM »
I was hoping I could get some advice regarding using a camera for astrophotography. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! I am not looking for exceptional pictures of nebulas, but something that can take pictures of some of the larger planets and the moon.

Unfortunately, my budget is rather limited. As much as I would love a star tracking telescope system, I am hoping to settle for a dobsonian reflector.

What I am looking at is as follows:
Orion SkyQuest XT8 - F/5.9 @ 1200mm (build a scope version)
Orion 2" low profile focuser
Canon T-mount adapter and Orion 2" Zero-Profile Prime Focus Camera Adapter
And a kit of 2" eyepieces for when I want to do viewing rather than imaging

I read that refractors are considerably better for astrophotography, but ouch are they expensive. I am always open to suggestions though!

I am hoping to get into astrophography, but fear spending money on a system that isnt compatible or wont give good results at all (I have heard focusing issues is a common problem).

Thanks! Feel free to post pictures you have taken or of the setup you use to photograph the night sky!
Back in the 70's and 80's I did a fair amount of astrophotography, using film. And I was involved in the making of telescopes, mainly reflector types. While times have changed, the basic techniques are still the same.

As a rule of thumb, a refractor is a good telescope for planetary use. High magnification, and good contrast. Reflectors are better suited for deep space use (the secondary mirror tends to reduce contrast a little). That said, they both can be used for general astronomy.

For tracking, an equatorial mount is best, although, I believe an alt-azimuth mount can be used with todays computer controlled systems. Dobsonians are really best used for visual observations, as they tend to be set on a simple alt-azimuth mount, which is manually controlled. I tended to use an equatorial mount in the field, and use a small guide scope to keep things on track.

From a camera perspective, the Canon 60Da is designed for astrophotography. It has the IR filter removed and a number of other enhancements. In the film era, it was common to run exposures (for deep space objects) for up to 2-3hrs. In the digital era, its more likely to take a great number of short exposures, then combine them later. This is done to cope with sensor noise, as long exposures tend to get very noisy.
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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2013, 08:34:52 AM »

niteclicks

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2013, 10:34:08 AM »
 You really need an equatorial mount, as good of one as you can afford plus some extra. As with any tripod, to light and even a slight breeze will ruin a long exposure. $1500 will get a pretty decent mount (atlas EQ-G is very heavy) . I find on a crop body 800 mm is almost to long, but I the deep space stuff and a lot of it is larger than you think. save for the mount 1st and I think you be glad you did and save money in the long run.
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lilmsmaggie

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2013, 02:29:39 PM »
Long exposures are going to require a equatorial mount.  As several have mentioned, you need to account for the earth's rotation.  You'll need a polar scope to do a polar alignment for tracking.

Stark labs has freeware available for guiding (PHD Guiding) and Nebulosity for image capture that is reasonably priced:   http://www.stark-labs.com/index.html


I kinda went off the deep end trying to get into astrophotography.  I actually bought an Astro Physics Mach1GTO but sold it on Astromart.  I have a Stellarvue 90mm f7 630mm APO which has yet to see first light.

Astrophotograhy can get crazy expensive but its possible to keep the costs down buying used.  If you're interested in DSLR astrophotography, let me suggest Jerry Lodriguss:  http://www.astropix.com 

There is also a Canon DSLR Astro Yahoo group moderated by Michael Covington author of Astrophotography for the Amateur.

For used gear, try Astromart: http://www.astromart.com, or Cloudynights: http://www.cloudynights.com

Cloudynights is also a good resource for gear reviews, and getting answers to questions.

Good luck and Clear Skies
 
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Niterider

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2013, 03:08:14 PM »
Hi,

I think for  planets a webcam is more often used than a DSLR (those are more suitable for DSO).
I don't know if there is an astronomy club close to you?, you could go out there to get some information and possibly ''play'' with some of the gear available before purchasing any.

I have a dobson telescope and used it with an adapter to take pictures of the moon and saturn/jupiter.
Results of the moon are great, but a full frame body for planets is not putting enough pixels on them.

Also for planets / nebulas (basically anything but the moon), you combine many images to get a far better result.

For DSO's you want longer exposures and need a good tracking system, then afterwards you correct each image before combining them to 1 image ( ideally you use different filters: for example for a galaxy a R V an B filter, take multiple exposures (different lengths) in each filter to reach a certain number of counts that reach your sensor, then you correct each image for a : flat field/dark/bias and combine the different images to one nice image).

This requires a good tracking system, ccd and software.

There are lots of people who make beatiful images with their DSLR (they also correct for dark i think), and us tracking system with follow scope(to ensure the tracking keeps tracking correctly).

Last time i checked tracking systems (even simple ones) were quite expensive (eq5 and eq6 were 600-1200 dollars), a good dobson telescope for DSO is another 1000.

For planets a ''simple'' refractor and 20$ webcam (modified) will yield better results than a dslr!, you take hundreds of images and combine them afterwards with software.

I think you dont need a good tracking system for that either , a bit more work on aligning the images afterwards maybe but it should be doable.


The moon is the most easy to do, but you will want more, where i live there is an astronomy club(not 2 many members), where for 50 euros/year you get membership and access to the telescope ( +- 24 inch/60cm reflector with a great tracking system, where you can connect your dslr with an adapter).
Alternatively you could visit a university for more information!, most people who are into these kind of things love to share knowledge and give advice/tips etc.

If you got something like that close to you, there would be no need to spend a lot of money , and you can photograph different objects ( moon/planets and dso's). Or at least orientate a lot better before spending the money!

Hope it was of any use.

Thanks for the very informative reply! I was hoping that I would be able to get started for around $600 or less, but it looks like I was dreaming! Better start saving I guess. I will definitely look into astronomy groups or using the telescopes at the local university until I have enough saved up.

I was hoping I could get some advice regarding using a camera for astrophotography. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! I am not looking for exceptional pictures of nebulas, but something that can take pictures of some of the larger planets and the moon.

Unfortunately, my budget is rather limited. As much as I would love a star tracking telescope system, I am hoping to settle for a dobsonian reflector.

What I am looking at is as follows:
Orion SkyQuest XT8 - F/5.9 @ 1200mm (build a scope version)
Orion 2" low profile focuser
Canon T-mount adapter and Orion 2" Zero-Profile Prime Focus Camera Adapter
And a kit of 2" eyepieces for when I want to do viewing rather than imaging

I read that refractors are considerably better for astrophotography, but ouch are they expensive. I am always open to suggestions though!

I am hoping to get into astrophography, but fear spending money on a system that isnt compatible or wont give good results at all (I have heard focusing issues is a common problem).

Thanks! Feel free to post pictures you have taken or of the setup you use to photograph the night sky!
Back in the 70's and 80's I did a fair amount of astrophotography, using film. And I was involved in the making of telescopes, mainly reflector types. While times have changed, the basic techniques are still the same.

As a rule of thumb, a refractor is a good telescope for planetary use. High magnification, and good contrast. Reflectors are better suited for deep space use (the secondary mirror tends to reduce contrast a little). That said, they both can be used for general astronomy.

For tracking, an equatorial mount is best, although, I believe an alt-azimuth mount can be used with todays computer controlled systems. Dobsonians are really best used for visual observations, as they tend to be set on a simple alt-azimuth mount, which is manually controlled. I tended to use an equatorial mount in the field, and use a small guide scope to keep things on track.

From a camera perspective, the Canon 60Da is designed for astrophotography. It has the IR filter removed and a number of other enhancements. In the film era, it was common to run exposures (for deep space objects) for up to 2-3hrs. In the digital era, its more likely to take a great number of short exposures, then combine them later. This is done to cope with sensor noise, as long exposures tend to get very noisy.

I got carried away with the wide apertures and long focal length of the dobsonians, so I didnt give too much thought to a refractor. Maybe picking up an astrotrak and using my 70-200mm may be a cheap alternative given the cost of the equatorial mounts?

I am hoping to grab a 60Da the next time lens rentals does a promotional sale and lists that camera. Hopefully that will be soon because I just found a wonder spot away from all of the city lights!

Niterider

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2013, 03:10:05 PM »
Rather than quote everyone who responded to this forum, I would like to thank everyone who responded! This was the information I was having a hard time finding on the internet and learned a lot from all of the responses.

Thanks again  :)

emag

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2013, 08:37:18 PM »
A good place to begin is an equatorial mount and a decent telephoto.  You have a much better chance of achieving pleasing results without too much frustration than you would trying to use a telescope as you're learning, plus the telephoto is good for general photography.  Most bang for your limited bucks.  My personal opinion is to forget the Astrotrak, your 70-200 will work fine on this mount:

http://www.telescope.com/Mounts-Tripods/Equatorial-Mounts-Tripods/Orion-Adventures-in-Astrophotography-Bundle/pc/-1/c/2/sc/34/p/27154.uts

For cameras, a good place to look is astromart.com   You will often find modified Canons for sale at a good price.....much less than a 60Da.  For planets you'll want a telescope and webcam, the mount mentioned above may not be beefy enough.  You don't need a large scope but you do need a good mount.  The mount above, with an older, modified camera would set you back well under $1,000.  You could get a refurb 60D from Canon for cheap and have it modified to be the equivalent of a 60Da for far less than the price of a 60Da, but for that matter a T2i has the same sensor and will work the same when modified, a T3i would also give you the articulating LCD.  I've done planetary work with the crop video mode on the 60D through a telescope - it works, but isn't quite as good as a webcam type imager.  (I use a Philips SPC900NC).  A non-modified camera will work and get you on the learning curve, it just won't work as well as a modified camera.

The three images below were taken ~9 years ago with a Digital Rebel (300D) and a Sigma 70-200/2.8, the M42 image with a Kenko 2X telextender attached. 

http://www.pbase.com/emagowan/image/23602641     Pleiades w/sigma

http://www.pbase.com/emagowan/image/23602643     Orion w/Sigma

http://www.pbase.com/emagowan/image/24363684     M42 w/Sigma and 2X


In this discussion thread is a photo of a camera platform I put together from an old Celestron drive base and a tripod head.  Looks like a cross between Frankenstein and Rube Goldberg but it does the trick.

http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=12499.30

These mounts and others similar to it can often be found for reasonable prices at:

http://www.astronomy-mall.com/astro.parts.outlet/list.htm


If you have a local astronomy club, by all means join it.  The one I belong to has a number of loaner scopes that people can check out for a month, great way to get your feet wet for cheap.  You'll also find a bunch of folks who will be more than happy to bend your ear if you have questions.  We have a potentially spectacular comet headed our way late this year, get some practice in now and you'll be able to capture some fine images when it arrives.

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Re: Any astrophotographers out there?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2013, 08:37:18 PM »