Tag: Astrophotography On A Budget

How To Do Astrophotography On A Budget

Astrophotography On A Budget

Why should you think of doing astrophotography on a budget? Because in my humble opinion you do not need to spend a fortune on kit to achieve impressive images of deep sky objects – hopefully the images I reproduce on this website will bear that out. Oh, and also because I don’t have much money!

So, if you are interested to do astrophotography on a budget, I would recommend you  reading the following 3 great resources from trusted sites I have shown you.

Astrophotography on a Budget

Astrophotography can seem like a daunting hobby to jump into. Indeed, there are definitely learning curves to overcome, but if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing, our astronomers are always happy to help you along in your goal to capture some deep sky objects with your camera. To help you get started, I’ve written up a simple guide to help you get going!

THE CAMERA (OF COURSE!)
Naturally, the first thing you’ll need is a camera to photograph the night sky with. Though many options exist, we’re going to stick to the more budget-minded route since that’s where most people will be coming from. The most accessible option would be to get a DSLR camera, such as a Canon Rebel. Under normal, daylight circumstances, both Canon and Nikon reign supreme in the field of photography. With deep space photography, however, Canon has embraced the market much more noticeably than their competitors. This is primarily because Canon sells a modified version of their 60D camera called the 60Da. What’s the difference? (Besides the ‘a’?) Every camera comes with a filter that covers the sensor that makes the sensor more sensitive to visible light. The 60Da comes with a modified filter that is able to “see” more light than the standard filter (or your eyes), specifically Hydrogen-alpha particles. Hydrogen-alpha particles are important to astrophotography because they make up a significant amount of matter in many deep space objects. If you already own a camera in the Canon line, you can have that custom modified to have that filter replace the standard filter since the process is relatively simple and routine (though very tedious). Keep in mind though that this will void any warranty on the camera. Read More…

‘Astrophotography on a Budget’ Startrails – Software

Star trail images are beautiful to look at and they are captivating because they make time visible. These images can be made either by exposing one single image over a very long period or by taking many shorter exposures and combine them afterwards. Digital cameras deliver images as electronic files, making combining very easy – particularly with software that does all the combining work automatically. One of these software tools is the program Startrails. This software has been developed by Achim Schaller, and he did an outstanding job. Not only is his software really easy to handle, but it comes with powerful features – and it is free. Startrails can be downloaded at Achim’s website.

The Program
Startrails is designed to automate star trail image processing by combining a series of input files into one final image. It is Microsoft Windows based and runs on Windows XP and later versions. Microsoft .NET framework has to be installed on the computer. Simplicity is a key attribute that sticks out immediately. Only 6 buttons maneuver through all functions of this software. It processes input files in JPEG, TIFF and BMP format and stores results also in these formats. Read More…

Astrophotography on a Budget

I was thirteen when I received my first telescope, a Polarex (Unitron) 50mm achromatic refractor. It was a present from my maternal grandmother and I remember clearly how impressed I was with its beauty and quality. Both my parents were supportive of my new hobby, but whereas my dad would take a quick look at Saturn and continue whatever he was in the midst of, I could not get enough of it – I spent hours and hours behind my little telescope, never tiring of the ever changing views that the moon would offer, the rings of Saturn and the four largest moons of Jupiter.

I soon began taking pictures through my scope, first by simply holding my camera behind the eyepiece, and later with an inexpensive Russian reflex camera (Zenith B), using a special adapter for eyepiece projection (see photo). This technique uses the same eyepiece you look through to project an image on the film or sensor of your camera. It is a great way to shoot the moon and the planets.

By that time, I had also built my first darkroom and I started to experiment with specialty film developers (like Acufine and Diafine) to push my Kodak Tri-X film to ISO 1600. The results were actually quite decent (see samples), considering the fact that it was only a 50mm refractor without motor drive or anything. I exposed the film by opening the camera shutter and then moving a black piece of cardboard in front of the telescope, briefly uncovering the lens, so vibrations from shutter and mirror would be minimized. I cherish that little telescope to this day and last year completely refinished its beautiful wooden case (which over half a lifetime was pretty badly beaten up). Read More…

 

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