Menu Close

Astrophotography

Photographing the night sky can be challenging and very rewarding. Like most I started with my normal camera gear, photographing the Milkyway during the colder months. With recent events and having to stay home I’ve now taken to photographing deeper into space, and this brings about a whole new set of challenges. As you zoom in the biggest issue you have to overcame is the rotation of earth. Anything longer than 1 to 2 seconds and the stars begin to trail, not ideal when trying to photograph deep space objects. There is only one solution to this problem and that is to use a tracking mount that rotates your camera at the same speed as the earth, effectively making the stars stationary. With a simple tracker and 200mm lens you should be able to get around 30 second long exposures. Quite handy for DSO’s (deep space objects).

The next level is to use more zoom, and this requires even more equipment, a higher end sophisticated mount, a telescope, or a very expensive zoom lens. Also technical additions like autoguiders and a computer connected to everything now become a requirement. There are definetly “levels” with this type of photography, each with an increase in money required to get there. I”m about 1/2 way between starting and the next step. I’m using a Star Adventurer tracking mount, my normal Olympus OMD camera, and a 200mm lens. I have also added an autoguider (more accurate tracking of rotation) along with my laptop into the mix. I can now get between 3 and 5 minute long exposures of my targets. You then take hours of these photos to add together in post. This means I can gather more light, detail and colour, while reducing noise. There is also quite a lot to learn in the post processing side of things. Free software like Deepskystacker become your goto, and Photoshop helps bring out all the feint detail and colour correct.

This type of photography is certainly a learning curve, but extremely rewarding when you get it right. I highly suggest starting slowly, using whatever you have now. Visit websites like https://astrobackyard.com/ and https://www.peterzelinka.com/ as well as their youtube channels to gain an understanding of what is involved at various levels. The next steps for me are to add a 400mm lightweight telescope, and do an astro modification to a camera which allows a lot more red light from nebula to come through.

You can follow my progress on my website https://www.murrayfox.com.au/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/murrayfoxphotography/

Murray Fox

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar