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Backyard astro photography

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Sceadwian

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This is one of the most fascinating hobby fields I have ever run across on the Internet, backyard astrophotography.
Just a few links I found that I think the geeks and engineers here might appreciate.

A photo of the International Space Station taken from someone's back yard.
Oplanets Image 2009/03/20(UT)

Some more general examples of "wow Bob did that" kind of images.
CCD Astrophotgraphy by Darin E. Fields
 
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AllVol

New Member
Some more general examples of "wow Bob did that" kind of images.
CCD Astrophotgraphy by Darin E. Fields
Bob has some big bucks to spread around. These most successful photos involve some highly sophisticated equipment, ideal viewing conditions for extended periods of time, absence of "light pollution" and, the bottom line, a fist-full of Ben Franklin portraits.

My hat's off to the guys that can do it!
 

Sceadwian

Banned
AllVol, is that any different than any other hobby?
 

HiTech

Well-Known Member
Here's a pic I took with my CCD camera. I used the 7" Meade Apochromatic Refractor pictured below. I have nice photos of Hale-Bopp taken thru a 16" reflector-- that experience was so eerie yet wonderful. I felt insignificant in this huge universe when looking at it thru the eyepiece. It was stunning and beautiful.
 

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Mikebits

Well-Known Member
That must have set you back a good bit. Sounds like you need expensive stuff for such a hobby. Lenses alone cost hundreds. Cam adapters hundreds more.. Ooowee golly sounds pricey, but very cool Hitech... :)
 

Mikebits

Well-Known Member
Does the telescope have to move and track while the camera is shooting? How do you control the camera? Does your telescope hook up to a pc or something? I have no idea how you do all this stuff, but I think it is neat.
 

Sceadwian

Banned
Hale Bopp huh, did you find any of the cultists on it? =O
 

HiTech

Well-Known Member
Does the telescope have to move and track while the camera is shooting? How do you control the camera? Does your telescope hook up to a pc or something? I have no idea how you do all this stuff, but I think it is neat.
The telescope is a clock motor equatorial mount all mounted on an isolated concrete pad to minimize foot vibrations, etc. It has a CCD camera attached to the eyepiece or I can also install optical ones. It's a costlier apochromatic design which yields corrected colors over the typical achromatic lense types. It has a Messier library in the auto-finder and a PC connected to it as well for controlling the CCD cam. The software provides layering and processing of images taken over time which is how most spectacular celestial objects are captured. This is a serious scope at around $9,000.

Here's another pic of Hale-Bopp at full magnification thru the 16" Meade reflector I borrowed back then... this is the shot that really had me feeling tiny and insignificant against the majesty and power behind this one little celestial object in our neck of the solar system, let along our galaxy and the rest of the universe.
 

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Mikebits

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Wow, nice shot. I am just wondering, how did you talk your wife into letting you buy this very expensive rig? :)
 

Mikebits

Well-Known Member
I once made a scope out of PVC pipe and a Copier lens, worked sorta kinda okay, the astigmatism was bad though.
 

AllVol

New Member
I once made a scope out of PVC pipe and a Copier lens, worked sorta kinda okay, the astigmatism was bad though.
Homemade scopes once were a big thing. PVC pipe and a hand-ground mirror produced reasonable results. Edmund Scientific was a big supplier of parts, grinding materials, etc.
 

tcmtech

Banned
Most Helpful Member
My telescope is nowhere near what you are playing with. I dont understand most of the terms used to discribe it. I do know I can see the key hole on my neighbors back door clearly from a half mile away. It does super moon views and I can pick out some of the bigger stationary satillites with it!

Its good enough for me!
 

Sceadwian

Banned
tcmtech, if you wanna play around one day make a mounting bracket to feed the eyepiece into a cheap digital camera. Adjust the focus on the telescope till you get some kind of image. Then on a clear light with as little light around you as possible point it up and take the longest exposure the digital camera can take and set it to take as many of those pics as you can. Then you use something like photo shop (Or GIMP for you opensource fans) to ADD the images together, you're not gonna get professional results but you'd be surprised what long exposure times on even cheap optical scopes can see.
Visiting my Mother in law last year I took some super close up photo graphs of birds from their back patio and they were absolutly stunned that you could even do that.
All I did was slap one lens of binocular on the front of the camera. Not the greatest image quality but I could have tweaked the camera settings a bit more, it also didn't help I was manually hold the binoculars in front of the camera =)
 

Sceadwian

Banned
Just in case anyone cares. It's a bit dark at one edge, and the uncropped photo you could actually see a black circle around it, but that's only because to get the binocular any closer to the camera I would have had to remove the eyepiece. This was also done simply holding the binocular and the camera together freehand.

There are even methods of removing the camera noise from long exposure by takeing an exposure with the lens cap on of the same length, this will record only the noise the cmos sensors pick up which you can use as an image subtraction layer.

The pic is really bad, I had the ISO up too high and it was cloudy at times.

Photography is one of those things I know just enough to be dangerous with but don't have the money or time to spend on for a hobby =)
 

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Mikebits

Well-Known Member
Not such a bad pic. The poor mans telephoto, pretty clever. :)
 

Mikebits

Well-Known Member
Here is a couple pics I took with my microscope and a digicam using an adapter I made on my lathe.

The pic on the left is some type of rotifer. The right is an amoeba.
 

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HiTech

Well-Known Member
My telescope is nowhere near what you are playing with. I dont understand most of the terms used to discribe it. I do know I can see the key hole on my neighbors back door clearly from a half mile away. It does super moon views and I can pick out some of the bigger stationary satillites with it!

Its good enough for me!
Believe it or not, the telescope cost is primarily in the lens quality and mount. Color correction is important for good photos so false colors aren't introduced into the final image. The quality of CCD camera makes a big diff too. This scope doesn't collect near as much light as large reflector types (like the 16" Meade I used for Hale Bopp) but it excels on deep space objects and its clarity often surpasses many larger sized reflector scopes. Last year I built a small refractor scope 80mm objective. I made my own eyepieces as well from a myriad of lenses I had lying about. I take it with me on camping trips cause it's portable. I can easily see 4 of Jupiter's moons and the Great Red Spot of the planet.
 

tcmtech

Banned
Most Helpful Member
I have thought about milling out an adapter to be able to fit my digital camera on it but never seem to find the motivation to do so.
My telescope is one of those middle priced ones from eBay. Its surprizingly well built but the only thing I think I would like to do is replace the main mirror on the end of it.
It has a 4 inch but the body could fit a 6 or 7 inch real easy. I am just not sure where to get a bigger one.
I used to work on copier machines so I do have some good practical experiance with setting up rather complex optical systems. (I couldnt tell you the correct names for half of that stuff though!)
I dont think that changing the mirror out would be that hard. I assume a bigger one with the same focal length (1 meter I think) is all I would need.
By having a larger mirror I should get better resolution and clarity at higher powers.

Or am I way wrong on all of this?
 

Sceadwian

Banned
The mirror would probably be the single most expensive part of the telescope =) And difficult to replace. But I think you're about right.
 
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