Agenda Overview of Astrophotography Tools and Techniques Basic types of Astrophotography Advanced Tools and Techniques
Overview of Astrophotography Astrophotography is the use of photography in astronomy; the photographing of celestial objects and phenomena. Why astrophotography?
Tools and Techniques There are four basic techniques Tripod photography Piggyback/Tracking photography Prime focus with Telescope Telescope eyepiece projection The tools required depends on technique and desired outcome A camera (point and shoot, DSLR, iPhone, Droid, CCD, web camera, etc.) Tripod/Mount A star chart A clear night A plan Telescope with appropriate mounts (optional) Tracking device (optional) Post Processing Software (optional)
Tripod Photography Tripod photography facilitates the use of a camera stabilized on a tripod for steady imaging capabilities – remote shutter preferred Pros Least amount of equipment necessary Great starting point to get into the hobby Cons Images may need some post-processing for best results Less Magnification = more concentrated noise Cannot account for star trails and rotation/movement
Piggyback/Tracking photography Involves mounting a camera ‘piggyback’ to a tracking telescope or other tracking device to account for rotation of the Earth Pros Can take prolonged exposures Relatively simple once setup Cons Requires tracking device (telescope/other)
Prime focus with Telescope Involves replacing a telescope’s eyepiece with a T-mount adaptor to directly connect a camera to a telescope Pros Greater magnification Less noise Cons Requires telescope and mount adapter Tracking device nearly a must for deep space objects
Telescope eyepiece projection A camera replaces the human eye to look through a standard telescope eyepiece to capture an image Pros No adapter necessary Alignment can be tricky Cons Requires telescope
Basic Types of Astrophotography Wider Angle Constellations Comets Galactic Center Deep Space Photography Messier Objects Planets Galaxies Moon Sun etc. Other Nebulas Asteroids Etc.
Wider Angle Example No need to for 0 light pollution but the less is better. Before Processing Before Processing After Post Processing After Post Processing Post Processing sample How to edit the Milky Way - Photoshop Tutorial
Advanced Techniques Advanced techniques build upon the basics Often require advanced filters, cameras, lenses and mounting equipment Often requires post processing Stacking, contrast, color correction are just a few of the post processing actions
Stacking What is it? Early Astronomy usage and Brief History Early Astronomy usageBrief History Frames Dark Frames Light Frames Bias Frames Astrophotography without a star tracker Astrophotography without a star tracker
Process Setup Light Frames (typical exposures) Dark Frames (same as light but with lens cap on) Bias Frames (same as light but with fastest possible speed) Dark Flat Frames, Offset Frames Deep Sky Stacker
Deep Space Example Light Frame Light Frame Cropped Sample Cropped Sample Final Output Final Output
Deep Sky Stacker Free to download and use Advanced features Best overview I found https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0JSTF8SGi4
Deep Sky versus Local Solar Objects Stacking Methods are different Deep Sky Stacker is for deep space objects (nebula, galaxies, etc.) Registax is proclaimed to be one of the more popular stacking programs for closer objects (i.e. planets) http://www.astronomie.be/registax/ http://www.astronomie.be/registax/ Fitswork is another http://www.fitswork.de/software/softw_en.p hp http://www.fitswork.de/software/softw_en.p hp
Interesting Side Note I am certain you could imagine Eastman was somehow involved in imaging and astrophotography right? Brief History of Astronomical Photography Kodak plates were used longer than you might think and had a great impact leading to many astronomical discoveries. The discontinuation of them in 1993 as well as the advancements in digital technology has drastically driven the rise of CCD cameras in place of Kodak emulsions (reference).reference
In Conclusion No need for expensive telescope, mount, camera, etc. to get started You can even just use the internet!!! (Rent and shoot online)Rent and shoot online Post processing although helpful is not necessary For canon RAW format I needed the Deep Sky Stacker version 3.3.4 at http://deepskystacker.free.fr/download/Dee pSkyStacker334.rar else there was an issue processing the Canon RAW format http://deepskystacker.free.fr/download/Dee pSkyStacker334.rar
A Few Learnings Focus can sometimes be tricky Use Live View for precise focusing Focus rings can be purchased to assist as well ISO / Exposure time balance can be tricky Don’t use less ISO just to reduce noise Tracking can compensate for trails Facebook groups have been very informative and useful!!
Recommended Reading http://www.astropix.com/GADC/GADC.HTM http://www.astropix.com/GADC/GADC.HTM I have a few books you are more than welcome to borrow Digital SLR Astrophotography – Michael A Covington – More applied learning Digital SLR Astrophotography The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer – Charles Bracken – Good Technical resource The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer I also highly recommend joining the Facebook group ‘Telescope Addicts-Astronomy & Astrophotography Community’ – finding this sooner would have saved me time, money and given me some better ideas.