Ten Years of Astrophotography

2013-08-10-2013 (311)b

I bring you the stars, the planets, and the moon! And a few other celestial bodies as well. Astrophotography, in case you don’t know is defined: n. photography of the stars and other celestial objects. Simple, right?

If you’ve ever thought that you need expensive equipment to get some good shots, then you’ll be surprised to learn that isn’t completely true. You’re not going to be able to capture the rings of Saturn in crisp detail with an iphone, of course. Just knowing how your camera works and what it is good at can help a great deal.

Grab your camera’s manual (check online if you’ve misplaced it) and find out what the longest exposure can be. Most DSLRs have a bulb mode which lets you press the shutter release for how ever long you want. Even with a tripod the photos can come out blurry since you usually have to keep your finger pressed down. The simplest solution to this is buying the remote control for your camera. I got mine for about 20 bucks. You can even make your own remote shutter trigger (they claim for $3). The self-timer and time-lapse setting also work well if your camera has the option. Most newer cameras have a time-lapse (or interval timer) option. This comes in really handy when you’re trying to capture a meteor shower or star trails. Look for the links at the bottom of this post for more info on astrophotography, making star trails, what you can see in the night sky tonight, and a few other helpful sites.

Most photos that are shot through the telescope and photos of the moon need to be crisp, so you want to use the fastest shutter speed you can get away with. An important thing to take into consideration: when shooting photos of the sun, do not look at it because you’ll burn your eyes and I read that it can possibly damage your camera’s sensor. I’m not 100% sure of the accuracy of that statement, but I’d be cautious anyway. Sunrises, sunsets, and the sun covered by clouds should be generally okay to shoot.

When I first started learning about Astrophotography, I didn’t have anything but a cheap telescope and a point and shoot Kodak digital camera. At the beginning of February 2006 I got my first Nikon DSLR . I created some pretty cool shots with what I had available. It took a lot of time and practice to figure out what worked best. Granted, most of these shots would never appear in a magazine or make anyone think they were in space looking down on Jupiter. It is really hard to make your own Hubble. If you want to try, you can visit the Hubble website for instructions.

Here are 75 of my photos from October 2004 to August 11, 2013:

(Click each image to view full size)

October 27th, 2004 Lunar Eclipse

October 27th, 2004
Lunar Eclipse

January 2nd, 2005 Sirius

January 2nd, 2005
Sirius

January 2nd, 2005 The Moon: waning gibbous with 60% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.

January 2nd, 2005
The Moon: waning gibbous with 60% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated

January 26th, 2005 The Moon: Waning gibbous with 98% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated

January 26th, 2005
Saturn

January 26, 2005 The Moon: Waning gibbous with 98% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated

January 26, 2005
The Moon: Waning gibbous with 98% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated

January 30th, 2005 Betelgeuse

January 30th, 2005
Betelgeuse

January 30th, 2005 Sirius

January 30th, 2005
Sirius

January 30th, 2005 Sirius

January 30th, 2005
Sirius

January 31st, 2005 The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 88% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.

January 31st, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 88% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

March 3rd, 2005 Jupiter

March 3rd, 2005
Jupiter

March 5th, 2005 Mercury

March 5th, 2005
Mercury

April 22nd, 2005 The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 96% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.

April 22nd, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 96% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

May 15th, 2005 Jupiter

May 15th, 2005
Jupiter

May 15th, 2005 The Moon

May 15th, 2005
The Moon

May 22nd, 2005 The Moon: waxing gibbous with 98% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated

May 22nd, 2005
The Moon: waxing gibbous with 98% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated

May 22nd, 2005 Jupiter

May 22nd, 2005
Jupiter

06-24-05 (152)

June 24th, 2005
Jupiter and one of its moons

June 25th, 2005 Venus, Mercury, and Saturn

June 25th, 2005
Venus, Mercury, and Saturn

June 25th, 2005 Venus

June 25th, 2005
Venus

June 26th, 2005 Venus, Mercury, and Saturn

June 26th, 2005
Venus, Mercury, and Saturn

July 19th, 2005 The Moon

July 19th, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 95% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

July 19th, 2005 The Moon

July 19th, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 95% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

July 19th, 2005 The Moon

July 19th, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 95% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

July 19th, 2005 The Moon

July 19th, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 95% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

July 20th, 2005 Arcturus

July 20th, 2005
Arcturus

July 20th, 2005 Jupiter

July 20th, 2005
Jupiter

July 20th, 2005 The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 99% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated

July 20th, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 99% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated

July 20th, 2005 The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 99% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated

July 20th, 2005
The Moon: Waxing gibbous with 99% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated

February 5th, 2006 Part of Orion

February 5th, 2006
Part of Orion

February 5th, 2006 The Moon and Pleiades

February 5th, 2006
The Moon and Pleiades

February 13th, 2006 The Moon

February 13th, 2006
The Moon

February 13th, 2006 Mars and Pleiades

February 13th, 2006
Mars and Pleiades

May 3rd, 2006 The Moon: Waxing crescent with 35% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated

May 3rd, 2006
The Moon: Waxing crescent with 35% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated

May 3rd, 2006 The Moon: Waxing crescent with 35% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated

May 3rd, 2006
The Moon: Waxing crescent with 35% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated

July 22nd, 2006 Moon & Venus Sunrise

July 22nd, 2006
Moon & Venus Sunrise

July 22nd, 2006 Moon & Venus Sunrise

July 22nd, 2006
Moon & Venus Sunrise

October 6th, 2006 Sunset Moonrise

October 6th, 2006
Sunset Moonrise

January 23rd, 2007 The Moon & Venus

January 23rd, 2007
The Moon & Venus

January 25th, 2007 Orion

January 25th, 2007
Orion

May 10th, 2007 The Sun

May 10th, 2007
The Sun

February 20th, 2008 Lunar Eclipse

February 20th, 2008
Lunar Eclipse

October 18th, 2008 The Moon

October 18th, 2008
The Moon

January 10th, 2009 The Moon

January 10th, 2009
The Moon

January 10th, 2009 The Moon

January 10th, 2009
The Moon

October 21st, 2009 Stars

October 21st, 2009
Stars

November 20th, 2010 The Moon

November 20th, 2010
The Moon

November 20th, 2010 The Moon

November 20th, 2010
The Moon

November 20th, 2010 The Moon

November 20th, 2010
The Moon

November 20th, 2010 The Moon

November 20th, 2010
The Moon

November 20th, 2010 The Moon

November 20th, 2010
The Moon

November 20th, 2010 The Moon

November 20th, 2010
The Moon

December 21st, 2010 Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010
Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010 Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010
Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010 Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010
Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010 Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010
Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010 Lunar Eclipse

December 21st, 2010
Lunar Eclipse

March 9th, 2011 The Sun

March 9th, 2011
The Sun

March 9th, 2011 The Sun

March 9th, 2011
The Sun

March 19th, 2011 The Megamoon!

March 19th, 2011
The Megamoon!

May 5th, 2012 Super Megamoon!

May 5th, 2012
Super Megamoon!

July 4th, 2012 The Moon

July 4th, 2012
The Moon

July 26th, 2012 Part of the Galactic Plane of the Milky Way

July 26th, 2012
Part of the Galactic Plane of the Milky Way

July 27th, 2012 Part of the Galactic Plane of the Milky Way

July 27th, 2012
Part of the Galactic Plane of the Milky Way

August 17th, 2012 Stars

August 17th, 2012
Stars

October 7th, 2012 The Moon

October 7th, 2012
The Moon

October 21st, 2012 A meteor from the Orionid meteor shower

October 21st, 2012
A meteor from the Orionid meteor shower

October 21st, 2012 70 minute time lapse: Stacked star trails of 128 separate photos (15 sec. exposure each)

October 21st, 2012
70 minute time lapse: Stacked star trails of 128 separate photos (15 sec. exposure each)

October 30th, 2012 The Moon

October 30th, 2012
The Moon

2013-01-29 (32)a

January 29th, 2013
The Moon

July 16th, 2013 The Moon and stars

July 16th, 2013
The Moon and stars

July 17th, 2013 Venus

July 17th, 2013
Venus

Perseid Meteor Shower 227 stacked images 1 airplane. 0 meteorites 10 seconds each frame, about an hour total

August 11th, 2013
Perseid Meteor Shower
227 stacked images
1 airplane. 0 meteorites
10 seconds each frame, about an hour total

August 11th, 2013 Stars

August 11th, 2013
Stars – looking north

August 11th, 2013 Stars

August 11th, 2013
Stars – looking north

August 11th, 2013 Stars - looking east

August 11th, 2013
Stars – looking east

Links:

Sky and Telescope Magazine: Astrophotography How-to

Sky & Telescope: This Week’s Sky at a Glance and Planet Roundup – Concise info of what’s going on this week in the night sky

Sky & Telescope: Interactive Sky Chart

StarStaX – Free software to make star trails. “It can be of great use in more general image blending tasks, such as noise reduction or synthetic exposure enlargement.”

Check out the StarStaX Flickr group.

Stellarium – Planetarium for your computer. A great way to learn about what you’ve shot and what you would like to try to find

Interactive Star Chart

Catching The Light – Some good astrophotography tips and techniques for beginners and beyond

Current Moon Phase

View of the Moon

Find your Latitude and Longitude

Sun and Moon Data for One Day

The 26 Brightest Stars

NASA’s Lunar and Planetary Science resources

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