Astrophotography

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Buddy, Jun 13, 2016.

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  1. Buddy

    Buddy Member

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    For the last few months I have been getting in to astrophotography and I thought I would share a few of my pictures for anyone that is interested.
    Most images that you see online are done by telescopes but I have just been using a DSLR which is still surprisingly capable of imaging distant objects.

    Most pictures below have 4+ hours of work in to each of them and I think I have been making some improvements.
    Basically, you take a bunch of .RAW shots of an object and stack the images which are then processed in software to bring out the data in the image.
    I also use a mount to attach my camera to. The mount has a motor that counteracts the Earths rotation so that the object appears to not move during an exposure. This allows you to make longer exposures. So far I have been capable of 30 second long exposures but I need better equipment to improve on that.
    I am currently using a Nikon D3000 which is a very basic camera from 2009. A newer camera would greatly improve the ease of capturing the data.
    Most of these images are of a patch of the sky about the size of your fingernail and look like empty blackness to the naked eye.
    It is crazy when you see the amount of stars in that tiny little part of the sky.

    Here is my first attempt at an object which got me excited about this hobby. It is called the Orion Nebula or M42.
    This Nebula is about 1300 light years away and is actually visible to the naked eye as a small blur in the sky if you are away from the light pollution.
    This was with a 200mm lens and about 5 minutes of data.
    m42.jpg
    This one is the Carina Nebula which is one of the brightest objects in the night sky. It is around 6500 - 10000 light years away.
    I shot this one with a 300mm lens and I think there is about 30 minutes of data.
    Carina02.jpg
    I decided to try something different here and got a wider view of two objects. This was done at 170mm.
    On the right is Omega Centauri or NGC 5139, which is a globular cluster (bunch of stars close together) and the biggest of its type in the Milky Way. It lies about 15800 light years away and contains roughly 10 million stars.
    On the left is the first galaxy I have imaged. It is called Centaurus A or NGC 5128. This galaxy is about 13 million light years away and it blows my mind that I can see this with my cheap camera! You may need to zoom in to see it better.
    I plan on imaging these separately at 300mm which will bring out more details.
    Omega Centauri Centaurus A.jpg
    I took the chance to image this one as it is the only one that I think I can see with my camera this year. 300mm lens.
    It is called comet c/2013 X1 PANSTARRS. It is a chunk of ice traveling at 180000km/h at a distance of 95 million km from Earth at its closest approach but will fade away as it gets further away from us in its orbit.
    This one was quite a challenge as you can imagine it is not a massive object. Online it is described as a "fuzzy ball of cotton candy" when viewed through a telescope. I am pretty intrigued by this one and glad that I took the time to image it. I can't wait until the next bright comet rolls around, maybe next year.
    X1.jpg
    My favourite so far would probably be this one because the colours are so vibrant. On the left is the Trifid Nebula or M20, which is about 5200 light years away. The contrasting red and blue looks really striking.
    On the right is the Lagoon Nebula or M8 which is about 4000 light years away. These two are fairly close to each other so makes a great image.
    Trifid-Lagoon.jpg

    If you want to see more then let me know and I will update as I go :) The clear nights a far and few between at the moment though!

    I plan on upgrading my camera later on which will make setting up and focusing on objects far quicker. I will also need to get a more stable tripod so I can get longer exposures.
    When I get better at this then I might get a telescope which will be a whole new ball game.
    I recommend you google the objects above and see some professional images as they are amazing!

    Thanks for looking :)
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  2. MagicJ

    MagicJ Moderator

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    Great pictures Luke.

    You are right about the clear nights - I was out about 10 times in the last 3 months of 2015 taking pictures of Aurora Australis but haven't had one chance so far this year.

    What lens are you using for these shots?
  3. Wrangy

    Wrangy Member

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    Wow they are absolutely amazing!! :D
  4. Buddy

    Buddy Member

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    I am using a 55mm - 300mm Nikor Lens. Nothing too special about it!
    I want to get some widefield shots of the Milky way with my 17mm lens but its way too light polluted here. I will have to travel for a couple of hours for that.

    Thanks :D
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  5. MagicJ

    MagicJ Moderator

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    Luckily I have a place not far from me (15 minutes by car) where there is minimal light pollution - one of the benefits of living in a small city :)

    I bought myself a Samyang 14mm at the start of the year but haven't had a chance to use it yet.
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