The desire to take stunning images of the night sky is an irresistible attraction for a lot of people who discover the joys of astronomy. Astrophotography equipment has advanced enormously over the last decade or so. With the help of all the digital technology that surrounds us these days it is relatively easy to take amazing photos of astronomical objects that are on a level with professional astro images of just 6 or 7 years ago.
To take shots like this one of M33 by Jim Keller, which you can see on his flickr stream, you need 4 things:
1 – A telescope on a motorised mount that tracks the movement of the stars across the sky
2 – A camera or other image capture device like a CCD or webcam to attach to the telescope
3 – Imaging software on your computer to ‘stack’ your image data. Data from several images are combined to create the final shot.
4- Lots of patience!
The dobsonian telescopes do not have motorised mounts. Dobsonians must be manually handled (albeit gently!) to track the stars as they move across the night sky. This does place limits on the type of astrophotography you can enjoy with dobsonians. That said, you can still image brighter objects simply by holding your camera lens to the eyepiece and snapping away.
This image of the moon was taken with a Canon S2 5.0MP bridge camera just by holding it to the telescopes’s eyepiece. The camera was mounted on a tripod to limit handshake. All that was required was a decent focus at the eyepiece and the camera lens – and a little bit of experimentation with exposure length. You can easily do the same (and much better I’m sure!) by just holding your camera, iPhone or mobile phone camera to the eyepiece we supply with our telescopes and snapping away. It’s pretty easy really.
For more of a challenge you could try capturing some or all of these with your camera at the eyepiece of one of our telescopes:
- Jupiter and her moons
- Saturn’s rings
- The phases of Venus
- Bright star clusters like M45 Pleiades
- Bright double stars like Albireo
If you’d like some astrophotography help one of the best places to find it is on http://www.stargazerslounge.com