Astrophotography.

Saturn 2004-02-08

Saturn shot with a Meade LX200
telescope and webcam
Philips Toucam Pro II

Some astrophotos
CCD images
Leonid meteorit shower 18-nov-01.
Solar eclips 31-May-03.
Milky way 12 of August 2004.

Image of the moon.
Comet 17P/Holmes
Images of Saturn

Digital astrophotography.

Camera.

Astrophotography with digital DSLR cameras has developed very much lately and I decided to try digital astrophotography with DSLR. Since I have a lot of Minolta gear I began with a Konica-Minolta D5, but this camera didn’t show up as a good camera for astrophotography. I therefore invested in a Sony a700 DSLR which showed up as a very good camera for astrophotography.


Telescope.

I also invested in a new ED telescope, an Orion 80 ED for primary focus astrophotography.


Mount.

A better mount was needed for primary focus astrophotography so I bought a Skywatcher HEQ5 mount. I did rather soon understand that this mount needed some improvement because the stepping motors where not so good, they worked very slow when you had to move the telescope. When Skywatcher came with an update to this mount I bought it and now I have a mount with goto that I’m very pleased with.

Autoguiding.

I rather soon understand that I needed to improve the guiding of the mount so I bought a Qcam5 autoguding camera and a cheap telescope for this purpose.


Analog astrophotography.

Camera.

I use an old mechanic SLR camera  which is independent upon batteries to work. When you take pictures of the night sky the exposure time tends to be very long and if the camera is dependent of batteries it will stop working very fast. It is often very cold when you are outside under a clear night sky and that doesn't improve the situation. The camera should have a B or T setting so you can decide how long the shutter should be open. A lockable shutter release cable is also a must have.

Today the most SLR:s are dependent of batteries to work, so if you want to find a mechanical one, you will have to look at the used market.
 

Film.

Nowadays I only use colour slide films to take pictures of the sky. My favourite is Kodak Ektachrome 1600. It can  be very hard to find because it is a professional film and isn't for sale in the common photo stores.

I have also tested negative colour film but have run into problems. The difficulty is the development and the production of copies which I can't do myself but is dependent on a photo lab. I haven't yet found a  lab which can make good copies. Sometimes you don't even get any copies, they say that there weren't any pictures on the film. Then it can also happen that the film has been cut in the middle of the pictures and there is no way to correct it. Therefore , when you leave the film for development tell them not to cut it.
 

Tripod.

A tripod is necessary when you want to take a photograph of the night sky. The exposure time tend to be very long and it's not possible to hold the camera without movement except for a very short time. The Earth rotates and if the stars are not be lines on the picture you must have some way to follow the stars movement in the sky.

I solved this problem by mounting the camera on my eqvatorially mounted tripod, to which I have built a RA motor drive.


 
© Mats Mattsson Home