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Thread: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    So, the universe is a "ball", according to the link. What lies outside of the universe "ball"?

    Not sure how to relate to that with a photograph, but I am thinking about it.
    Not really - it's just that we can only see a little over 13 billion light years in every direction because that's how far light has been able to travel since the Big Bang. That's an *observable* sphere with a radius of 13 billion light years (which is believed to much larger "now" because the expansion of the Universe is believed to have continued while the light was traveling to us) centered on your very own eyeballs. There may be stuff outside that sphere, but we will *never* be able to see it because at those distances the Universe seems to be expanding so fast that the light will never get here (unless the Universe starts collapsing at some point, which is not currently believed to be the case but has certainly been proposed as one possible fate of the Universe). Think of that stuff as being "over the horizon" for photographic purposes. Or outside your light cone (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_cone). Or whatever works for you.

    And, of course, most of the stuff in the observable universe seems to be made of something we *can't* see (and therefore can't photograph) - because the estimated mass of the visible stuff is way too small to have kept galaxies from flying apart long before we got here. Whatever this "dark matter" is, it's , well, *dark* (as in "it doesn't seem to interact with electromagnetic radiation at all and only seems to interact with ordinary matter via gravitation"). Sort of like Greta Garbo after she retired. Only without the sunglasses. Or the accent.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by sog1927 View Post
    Hence my careful use of the weasel words "believed to be".
    Looking at my original post again, I see that I used an insufficient quantity of weasel words. My apologies. For all I actually *know*, the Universe suddenly sprang into existence a little over 63 years ago. All else is speculation.

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Just in case you don't have your credit card fully locked up...

    High Point Scientific (sort of a B&H of telescopes) has the Celestron AV-X mount on sale for $699. It's a very good entry level equatorial mount which is the type needed for astrophotography. https://www.highpointscientific.com/...al-mount-91519

    The examples here (Andromeda Galaxy, The Pleiades, Orion Nebula) were taken using:

    Celestron AV-X mount
    Sky Watcher 8 inch Quatro reflector telescope (800mm focal length @ f/3.9)
    Baader MPCC coma corrector
    Celestron SkyPortal WiFi wireless adapter
    iPad with Sky Safari Pro app.
    Sony a7r2 with an appropriate adapter
    Velo intervalometer

    Note that post processing is just as important and involved as the photography itself. Generally you take many short exposures (30 to 60 seconds each) and stack them together to reduce noise which allows you to bring out subtle dark details. These are probably three of the easiest targets because they're big and bright (about the size of the full moon).

    I plan to pick up a Canon adapter and try some with my Cambo / IQ4-150 but with the current live view design I don't think I'd be able to focus. I also expect to get a lot of vignetting so it's more of a curiosity at this point.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Omg...

    Stunning!!!!!!
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."
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    Thumbs up Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    The examples here (Andromeda Galaxy, The Pleiades, Orion Nebula) were taken using:
    Outstanding, Craig.

    - Leigh
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Craig,

    Where were you? When I lived in Southern California, there were dark skies within an easy drive. But now I'm in NYC, and it's hopeless.

    Gorgeous work!

    Matt

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by MGrayson View Post
    Craig,

    Where were you? When I lived in Southern California, there were dark skies within an easy drive. But now I'm in NYC, and it's hopeless.

    Gorgeous work!

    Matt
    Thanks. These were taken in my front yard about 30 miles from Peoria, Illinois. I have a dark enough sky I can set up the telescope and then go inside and watch TV while it's doing its thing.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Craig,

    Do you sell prints of your work? I am interested in possibly having one of your prints hanging on my wall.
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    These were taken in my front yard about 30 miles from Peoria, Illinois.
    Which direction from Peoria?

    I grew up in Danvers, and attended Bradley Univ.

    - Leigh

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    Thumbs up Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    Craig,

    Do you sell prints of your work? I am interested in possibly having one of your prints hanging on my wall.
    Same here, but all three.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    Which direction from Peoria?

    I grew up in Danvers, and attended Bradley Univ.

    - Leigh
    About half way between Peoria and Lincoln. I also went to Bradley.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    Craig,

    Do you sell prints of your work? I am interested in possibly having one of your prints hanging on my wall.

    Yes I do. Orion is available at https://craigstocksarts.smugmug.com/...ro/i-sPXxhMN/A printed on aluminum or you can order prints on paper directly from me. I can add the other two for aluminum as well.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    I envy those living in the south with warmer climate. This relates to astrophotography because here in Finland almost the only time to watch the stars is in January and February with crystal clear sky. The problem is that these conditions only appear when it is -15 C or -25 C. This makes my face numb and my fingers, and at least it is not fun enough or comfortable. Usually we have overcast skies from October to January and simply no stars. It's very unusual to see the stars at all and here in southern Finland we don't see the Northern lights. Light pollution is not a big problem, but what to do with overcast skies. My experience of skywatching was from a holiday to the Canary islands with every night giving a spectacular view.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    Yes I do. Orion is available at https://craigstocksarts.smugmug.com/...ro/i-sPXxhMN/A printed on aluminum or you can order prints on paper directly from me. I can add the other two for aluminum as well.
    These are absolutely splendid, Craig.
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    Lightbulb Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    I just found out that B&H Photo has a number of educational pages on Astrophotography here:
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora...trophotography

    - Leigh
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Leigh,

    Thank you, that will keep me busy for awhile.
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    Leigh,
    Thank you, that will keep me busy for awhile.
    Hi Dave,

    You're welcome. Hope you find them useful.

    Over the years I've found B&H educational stuff to be just that, not thinly-veiled ads.

    - Leigh
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    Hi Dave,

    You're welcome. Hope you find them useful.

    Over the years I've found B&H educational stuff to be just that, not thinly-veiled ads.

    - Leigh
    Leigh,

    You are another example of the helpful membership on this forum.

    I am now committed (maybe that is a bad choice of words) to Landscape/Astrophotography.
    With a little help from my friends, I may even make a decent image or two by the end of the year....
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    Leigh,

    You are another example of the helpful membership on this forum.

    I am now committed (maybe that is a bad choice of words) to Landscape/Astrophotography.
    With a little help from my friends, I may even make a decent image or two by the end of the year....
    Thank you, Dave.

    Don't get overly optimistic.
    I've been shooting for over 60 years, and have yet to make a decent image.

    - Leigh
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    This thread will be updated periodically as time goes on in regard to my own journey into the nocturnal world of photography.

    Gear is presently being re-organized, sorted, sold and acquired. As if that doesn't keep me busy, I have been practicing in the backyard with both the H5D and my 10-yr old Leica X1. Given the constraints at the moment, I am already getting a feel for what has been posted above.

    The results so far are narrowing my search for good locations to shoot with Landscspes in the foreground.

    Next up is to shoot images and blend them... this will require more hours of reading and videos along with shooting. Thanks, Dante. I didn't need that much sleep anyway.
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    What to do when the gear is all ready to go, and the clouds set in for days on end?

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    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    And thanks to Greg (and Peter Z.).... Without Greg's help, there would not be a possible pathway to Landscape/Astro work.

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    Last edited by dave.gt; 19th February 2019 at 14:54.
    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    OK, time for a quick update.

    So far, I have spent a lot of hours at night over the past several weeks trying to find a dark sky, while learning as much as possible about landscape astrophotography and new gear. Many lessons learned and still I have yet to find adequate dark skies even though we are well south of the megalopolis known as Atlanta.

    In the spirit of endeavoring to persevere, I have been working in the back yard and at the soccer field in our neighborhood, just to get a feel for the gear in the dark. At the moment, I am severely restricted by the lack of dark skies within a reasonable distance, and the lack of a shutter release cable because the D850 only goes to 30 seconds. The H5D is much better at long exposures measured in minutes, but, I do not have a wide angle lens for it.

    The D850 is amazing in many ways but I have yet to get everything set to properly get the exposures I need. Processing is a whole different matter but the consensus is that I can only do so much with the level of light pollution here.

    Ah, well, artistic pursuits should never allow difficulties to stop the creation of something, right?

    The Milky Way is just beginning to rise and is barely visible in my backyard (I decided to embrace the noise for textural character...):
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    *Note: Jupiter is on the right, and Saturn is to the left, both bright and highly visible.
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    To be perfectly honest, the process of learning Astrophotography is a bit frustrating. It is not really so different from the photographic problem-solving involved with other pursuits, except that there are so many things like the weather, the Moon and the Sun, and light pollution that constrains and affects the creative spirit. There are so many huge factors that cannot be controlled. Patience becomes all important.

    Putting it all together is proving to be a longer process than I initially thought...still, it is inspiring to see the work of others. Keep sharing your experiences!

    *A friend from Sydney sent me this link to some very inspiring work so I would like to share it with everyone here:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/martin...re-2019-03-18/
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Has anyone used a wide angle lens with a Hasselblad H camera for Astrophotography?

    Having square cropped the image above from a 14mm image, I rather like the magnification and the composition. I am now wondering how the H5D would perform with the widest possible lens I can rent... and framing the image with the square mask.
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    To be perfectly honest, the process of learning Astrophotography is a bit frustrating. It is not really so different from the photographic problem-solving involved with other pursuits, except that there are so many things like the weather, the Moon and the Sun, and light pollution that constrains and affects the creative spirit. There are so many huge factors that cannot be controlled. Patience becomes all important.

    Putting it all together is proving to be a longer process than I initially thought...still, it is inspiring to see the work of others. Keep sharing your experiences!

    *A friend from Sydney sent me this link to some very inspiring work so I would like to share it with everyone here:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/martin...re-2019-03-18/
    Hi Dave,

    With the advancements made in sensors and glass my recent years' experiences in astro-photo work continue to be even more rewarding and hopefully some of my comments from my experiences will help provide some alternative perspectives to reduce your frustrations....

    Consider that other than the weather, everything is controllable b/c if the primary subject is the night sky then all of its content at every second are known in advance - I use Sky Safari app on my phone and Mac to figure out what the sky will look like at any time in any location. This really helps with the planning. If the moon or sun are not intended to be a part of your image, then you can know in advance when they won't be around at any location at any time. But sometimes they and even the weather can work to your advantage as shown in the first image below.

    In June 2015 the Trinity River that runs through Dallas was nearing peak flood stage due to a full month of rain. I knew it would be levee to levee (which doesn't happen often) and when its like that the section adjacent to downtown offers a nice reflection. I was standing outside in my yard and noted the moon was nearing full. So it became apparent that the river would peak when the moon was full and might make for a nice image. I used Google Earth and Sky Safari to scout possible locations that would include downtown Dallas and the moon. When I arrive at the general area I had chosen, while the sun was setting to my back, I used Sky Safari on my phone to dial in where the moon would rise, this to help me compose. I planned in advance to shoot a pano and used the still lit sky to fire off some tests to get the lens, overlap, and swing determined in advance before it got dark. As the moon rose I watched its path and had to move the tripod a few feet when I realized I could capture it at the apex of the Calatrava-designed bridge. But, I also noted there was a thin layer of high clouds that were beginning to drape the entire scene. While I was concerned about how that might impact the clarity of the moon, for the final print it actually resulted in a stronger image due to the diffused glow of the moon. Had it been crisp and clear it would have been lost in the bridge and confusing with the Reunion Tower ball. The result is a 7-shot single row pano using a P1645, IQ180, S-K 110mm (sorry I don't have the exposure specs on me). The final full size print is 96" wide and hangs in a number of offices and homes around Dallas.

    The goal in the second image, which I made in September 2016, was to compile a pano with both sunset and Milky Way. I used the Sky Safari app to help me with the timing relative to the Milky Way, moon and sun, and chose a location that would offer some substance and composition to the foreground. I took shots when the sun was still up to determine my final composition, then once I staked my tripod, around 630pm I shot 7 overlapping images for the first row when the sun was still up but setting and providing the Golden Hour light, then the same series at 730pm after the sun had set and my camera began to see the Milky Way (my naked eyes couldn't), and then 2 series of images at 930pm to again capture the bottom row and another the capture the upper 1/2 of the dark but starry sky. So the final is a 21-shot 2-row pano with 7 images across each row, whichI started planning for weeks in advance and then spent time wandering around Southwestern Colorado looking for the location. I used a Canon 5DSR, 35mm, f1.4 and the exposure specs vary a lot due to the changing light, but the latest/darkest were shot at ISO 800, 8", f1.4.

    Sorry for the long post, but its intended to convey (along with examples) that while not everything is controllable, so much is and this opens up the opportunity to be creative

    Cheers,
    Robert

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    I normally shoot the milky way with a Nikon d850.
    But this weekend tested the Hasselblad X1d and 21mm XCD lens.
    This image from Lanikai on Oahu is looking over Waimanalo and Makapuu.
    Taken just before sunrise through a fair amount of light pollution so a bit colorful.
    This is a four image stack at f/4, 8 seconds, iso 6400.
    The starburst in the middle is Jupiter.
    Overall, not bad

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    ........................................
    Joe Marquez
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Why is it that when we finally get clear weather, there are other obstacles like Supermoons that take up the whole night?

    It appears that Astrophotography can be as frustrating as herding cats. Except for the fact that you can control cats with a little enticing... not so with the rare Windows of Opportunity for night sky shooting.

    My respect deepens for those of you who have patiently mastered the "Art of Astro".
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Last night I had a brief window of opportunity before the moon was up too high to try using the IQ4150 on my 8" telescope. Here is a single frame of the Pleiades.

    An obvious issue is vignetting and image circle size. Normally I use a Sony a7r2 with the scope which crops out most of the vignetting. The IQ4150 gives me more image to work with as well as higher resolution. The IQ4150's live view is not nearly as robust as the Sony's so it's much more difficult to focus. I had to use the Sony for alignment and rough focus and then switch cameras and do a final focus on the brightest star I could find. It does appear that the IQ4150 renders colors differently but I can't really say much else about the comparison based on last night because of the moonlight. I hope to try again tonight when there should be a half hour or so of dark sky before the moon rises.

    For those curious about the configuration: SkyWatcher Quatro 200 scope (800mm focal length, f/4 aperture) with a SkyWatcher coma corrector and Canon mount adapter on a Celestron A-VX mount. IQ4150 attached to a Cambo tech camera with the Canon lens adapter. I used a Vello intervalometer and PocketWizard trigger cable to control exposures. This frame is a 30 second exposure at ISO 1600.

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    Last night I had a brief window of opportunity before the moon was up too high to try using the IQ4150 on my 8" telescope. Here is a single frame of the Pleiades.

    An obvious issue is vignetting and image circle size. Normally I use a Sony a7r2 with the scope which crops out most of the vignetting. The IQ4150 gives me more image to work with as well as higher resolution. The IQ4150's live view is not nearly as robust as the Sony's so it's much more difficult to focus. I had to use the Sony for alignment and rough focus and then switch cameras and do a final focus on the brightest star I could find. It does appear that the IQ4150 renders colors differently but I can't really say much else about the comparison based on last night because of the moonlight. I hope to try again tonight when there should be a half hour or so of dark sky before the moon rises.

    For those curious about the configuration: SkyWatcher Quatro 200 scope (800mm focal length, f/4 aperture) with a SkyWatcher coma corrector and Canon mount adapter on a Celestron A-VX mount. IQ4150 attached to a Cambo tech camera with the Canon lens adapter. I used a Vello intervalometer and PocketWizard trigger cable to control exposures. This frame is a 30 second exposure at ISO 1600.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Craig, your images mesmerize me.

    Thank you for sharing those and I was just thinking about that small window last night before the Moon rise. I may try again this evening.

    How in the world do you get those stars to flare line that? Simply beautiful!

    Dave
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    The flares are diffraction spikes caused by the four support arms that hold the secondary mirror in place. Theyíre common with reflector telescopes.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    The Orion Nebula, my favorite night sky feature.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    The Orion Nebula, my favorite night sky feature.
    Whoa!!! That is so beautiful.

    Amazing and completely a huge surprise to see that kind of image not from an observatory. I had no idea!

    Extremely well done, Craig!
    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Shooting dark skies can be a real PIA and offer suchrewarding images. Iíve found three factors effect shooting at night; light pollutionis a major factor in getting the image as is weather. Iíve found the mooncooperates about 8-days a month when it sets early and/or isnít very bright;some months can be spread out a couple days more. Then thereís the peskyclouds; some nights are perfect if it werenít for 50% or more cloud coverage.
    I use weatherunderground.com to plan out the nights as itgives an hourly detail of temp, wind, and cloud coverage. You can plan out daydays in advance checking every day for any changes.

    Iíll be in South Lake Tahoe the first week of April duringnew moon. Iíve got 2-places picked out now if the weather will only cooperate.(Going 10-days out it shows snow showers, 28 degrees with 77% cloud coverage)Of course this is for March 31 and new moon is April 5th so thereísstill hope.

    Then again thereís always Death Valley on the way homeÖ.

    Dave(GT) how do you like the SkyGuider Pro? Iím thinking ofupgrading form the much older unit to this one using the GFX and the GF250.

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Hi, Don,

    You have a Plan A, Plan B and a Plan C...,

    The SkyGuider Pro is really a nice instrument. The quality is apparent and it is really quite simple to use. Instructions not so much, but once set up, it only takes a couple of minutes to mount it on the tripod and sight in on Polaris, then you are good to go. I am wishing I had a smaller ballhead than the BL55, though.

    As it stands now, I need an extra weight, a shutter release cable and that is about all. Works like a charm.
    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    As it stands now, I need an extra weight, a shutter release cable and that is about all. Works like a charm.
    If possible get a release with a timer/intervalometer capability. One you start stacking exposures to reduce noise youíll want one.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    If possible get a release with a timer/intervalometer capability. One you start stacking exposures to reduce noise you’ll want one.
    Great advice!!! Thank you for that!

    Any specific recommendations for a D850 would be appreciated.

    Maybe this?

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...BI%3A514&smp=Y
    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    Great advice!!! Thank you for that!

    Any specific recommendations for a D850 would be appreciated.

    Maybe this?

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...BI%3A514&smp=Y

    This is what I use. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ..._II_Timer.html

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Stocks View Post
    Perfect! And affordable!!!! Thanks, Craig...

    Going outside in a minute to play with the ROKINON 14mm in the dark before the moon comes up.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Done... just finished shooting Orion in the backyard. A total of 65 frames with the Rokinon 14mm and the Nikon 50/1.8. Processing will have to wait until tomorrow, and I think this test will be very helpful.

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Captured Friday night before the moon came up. This is about 15 frames averaged to reduce noise. The dark sky allows a lot more detail in the dust clouds surrounding the Orion Nebula.

    SkyWatcher Quatro 200 telescope (f/4) with IQ4150 back. ISO 1600 for 30 seconds.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by rsinclair View Post
    Hi Dave,

    With the advancements made in sensors and glass my recent years' experiences in astro-photo work continue to be even more rewarding and hopefully some of my comments from my experiences will help provide some alternative perspectives to reduce your frustrations....

    Consider that other than the weather, everything is controllable b/c if the primary subject is the night sky then all of its content at every second are known in advance - I use Sky Safari app on my phone and Mac to figure out what the sky will look like at any time in any location. This really helps with the planning. If the moon or sun are not intended to be a part of your image, then you can know in advance when they won't be around at any location at any time. But sometimes they and even the weather can work to your advantage as shown in the first image below.

    In June 2015 the Trinity River that runs through Dallas was nearing peak flood stage due to a full month of rain. I knew it would be levee to levee (which doesn't happen often) and when its like that the section adjacent to downtown offers a nice reflection. I was standing outside in my yard and noted the moon was nearing full. So it became apparent that the river would peak when the moon was full and might make for a nice image. I used Google Earth and Sky Safari to scout possible locations that would include downtown Dallas and the moon. When I arrive at the general area I had chosen, while the sun was setting to my back, I used Sky Safari on my phone to dial in where the moon would rise, this to help me compose. I planned in advance to shoot a pano and used the still lit sky to fire off some tests to get the lens, overlap, and swing determined in advance before it got dark. As the moon rose I watched its path and had to move the tripod a few feet when I realized I could capture it at the apex of the Calatrava-designed bridge. But, I also noted there was a thin layer of high clouds that were beginning to drape the entire scene. While I was concerned about how that might impact the clarity of the moon, for the final print it actually resulted in a stronger image due to the diffused glow of the moon. Had it been crisp and clear it would have been lost in the bridge and confusing with the Reunion Tower ball. The result is a 7-shot single row pano using a P1645, IQ180, S-K 110mm (sorry I don't have the exposure specs on me). The final full size print is 96" wide and hangs in a number of offices and homes around Dallas.

    The goal in the second image, which I made in September 2016, was to compile a pano with both sunset and Milky Way. I used the Sky Safari app to help me with the timing relative to the Milky Way, moon and sun, and chose a location that would offer some substance and composition to the foreground. I took shots when the sun was still up to determine my final composition, then once I staked my tripod, around 630pm I shot 7 overlapping images for the first row when the sun was still up but setting and providing the Golden Hour light, then the same series at 730pm after the sun had set and my camera began to see the Milky Way (my naked eyes couldn't), and then 2 series of images at 930pm to again capture the bottom row and another the capture the upper 1/2 of the dark but starry sky. So the final is a 21-shot 2-row pano with 7 images across each row, whichI started planning for weeks in advance and then spent time wandering around Southwestern Colorado looking for the location. I used a Canon 5DSR, 35mm, f1.4 and the exposure specs vary a lot due to the changing light, but the latest/darkest were shot at ISO 800, 8", f1.4.

    Sorry for the long post, but its intended to convey (along with examples) that while not everything is controllable, so much is and this opens up the opportunity to be creative

    Cheers,
    Robert

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    Beautiful work, Robert!! Thanks for sharing!

    Would you mind if I ask a few questions about your settings and processing when I have time to write it down?
    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave.gt View Post
    Beautiful work, Robert!! Thanks for sharing!

    Would you mind if I ask a few questions about your settings and processing when I have time to write it down?
    Dave,

    I'd pleased to answer and thanks for the comment

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by rsinclair View Post
    Dave,

    I'd pleased to answer and thanks for the comment

    _RS
    Cool! Thank you so much, I will be in touch soon.

    Heading out for a drive in the country in search of a tree for the Milky Way Season.
    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    I need to work on my technique for sure but here's a couple of tries.

    Joel

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    Joel
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Still working through images made over the past few weeks. Slowly getting to the point that will be the highest bar, learning to shoot foregrounds separately and blending. Just not ready for that yet.

    D850 Rokinon 14mm:
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    While still trying to get my head around this whole Astro thing....

    I find this cool project regarding the Galactic Center:

    Chandra :: Photo Album :: Galactic Center :: March 21, 2019

    All in all, it seems a bit more than time and circumstance allow me at the moment. It is extremely interesting and beautiful, no doubt, but I could use a beach somewhere.

    It is time for a break...maybe a very long walk with my FM2n loaded with something different, like Ektachrome or simply TriX as soon as I finish my roll of TMax...
    Dave (GT)

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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    MartinN - That is known as the H2O nebula, it is typically a very large object

    I got bitten by the astrophotography bug in the film days and used a medium format film camera for years (500CM and P67). There were a number of somewhat dangerous methods that could be used to hypersensitize B&W film including Ether or Hydrogen and Nitrogen and then cooking the film (or maybe it was the other way round?) - I vaugely remember the process, it was inovled. The Lumicon Hypering chamber was the tool of the day. Some refractors will cover a 6x7 image circle such as Astro-Physics refractors - they also make a complete set of 6x7 adaptors.

    Having moved a while back I'm still unpacking, I'll try and dig up some samples. I'm hoping to get the X1D attached via the adaptors and try some work this summer.

    On the iOS software front I like SkySafari best for iOS and Mac OS use. Another few interesting iOS applications are Scope Nights, which gives you very good weather predictions for observing sites, Clear Outside, which is similar and presents a lot of data, Moon Calendar (to track the wherabouts of the GLP = Great Light Polluter), Polar Align or PS Align Pro both can help with poalr alignement, Astro Locator can be useful for rough polar alignement aiming the mount North (azimuth) and setting the latitude offset (altitude), Observer Pro or DS Browser are both good object catalogs, what's up and observing planners. Finally on my list is Dark Sky Meter which will roughly measure SQM (sky quality)

    A lot can be done with an interchangable lens camera (DSLR, mirrorless, APS-C, full-frame or medium format) using camera lenses (I prefer manually focused older lenses, however the XCD lenses seem to work fine OR using a telescope. After one explores camera lenses some folks want to move to the next level, I've seen the best luck starting with a refractor in the 450-650mm focal length range, f4 to f5.6 or f7 f-ratio, and anything from 60mm to 130mm objective size will do fine (in the telescope world that is called aperture). Refractors can be easier than reflectors but both have advantages and disadvantages. I've seen folks try and start with a Schmit-Cassegrain like the venrable Meade 8" or Celestron C8 (or Celestron 800 EdgeHD for pinpoint flat feilds), however at 2000mm focal length and f10 f-ratio these f10 aperture scopes require a really good mount or a good auto guiding system (that is another level of complexity but a significant leap in capability). You can add a focal-reducer to get these f10 systems to f7, f6.3 or even f3.3 (I never got this last option to work), however a good wide-feild refractor is easy.

    Craig Stocks is doing some beautiful work with his fast newtonian reflector!!!

    I use the Celestron AVX mount a lot for visual and astrophotography and it is a great entry-level mount if you keep well below it's weight capacity limits. It's engineered well and cost efffective and works well with autoguiding. Skywatcher has a solid mount with the EQ6-R. A step up might be the Vixen SXD2 or SXP2 mounts. My favorite high-end mount is the Astro-Physics AP1100GTO with absolute encoders (Dante in full swing here). We are lucky today to have so many mount choices (10Micron, Losmandy, Avalon, SB Paramount, etc.) and as mentioned earlier the mount is really important once you want to go beyond tripod and tracker - the 3 most imporatant things in astrophotography are 1 - mount, 2 - mount and 3 - mount

    I won't even wander down the telescope choices list, although you'll soon be thinking aperture fever or APO fever, etc.. I'll just add that some manufacturers have such long waiting lists that you might pass away before your name comes up for an instrument (think Astro-Physics where used instruments often sell for a lot more than when new). There are so many choices today it is amazing.

    Once Dante really gets a hold of your soul you want a cooled CCD or CMOS camera - cooling is key and makes a huge diffeence for smaller feild work (deep sky objects). The CCD and CMOS debate rages here as well, they both have advantages and disadvantages, however my experinece is CCD currently wins and there are a lot of CCDs still bieng made for scientific and astronomical imaging. You tend to pick a sensor first and then pick a camera vendor. In the CCD world the chips are 3200, 8300, 16200, 11000, 16802 and 50100 from small to large (there are others but these tend to be the key choices for amatuers making pictures rather than doing science). I used a 11000 for years and just unpacked it a few days ago, I will fiind out if it still works maybe this weekend. The 16200 (APS-H) and the 16802 (MF) are two really popular chips these days. In the CMOS world Sony and Panasonic rule and there are many 1", 4/3 and APS-C choices (lots of choices it is hard to follow). You can even get the 36 megapixel D810 sensor in a cooled dedicated camera by QHYCCD.

    On the affordable end is ZWO (I've not had luck with their cameras YMMV), QHYCCD (they are very cost effective and work), Starlight Express and QSI (they've had some hard times lately). Meade and Celestron have offerings but since that is a side accessory for them I'd avoid them, YMMV). As you move up the food chain and into Dante's lair you find Moravian (good but hard to get since its made in the Czech Republic and they lost their US Distributor), and at the top SBIG and FLI. A lot of vendors have exited the business (Apolgee?) so these are the main suppliers today, apolgies if I've left off someone's favorite. Oh, I forgot Mallincam makes some interesing "live view" video oriented cameras which are fun (that's a segment called EAA).

    Cooling is the key and how far you can cool below ambient is the competitive spec - CCDs are easy to handle here, avoiding frost is the challenge for which there are solutions (dessacants, argon chambers, etc.). CMOS can be cooled as well but that is a harder enginerering problem since they tend to want to fracture if not cooled evenly. -40C below ambient is a good goal. Some folks have tried to add water cooling (I've done that and I don't recommend it). So sensor size, cooling and interface (USB, Ethernet, etc.) and CCD or CMOS are the key factors - besides price.

    Oh but wait, I forgot color versus monochrome!!! Color or OSC One Shot Color uses a Bayer Matrix and can produce interesting results. Monochrome is just that and that's where I would point folks who want a dedicated cooled astro-camera. If you want to make color images then you use a filter wheel and filters - filter wheels can have 5, 7, 8, 9 or 10 slots (some can do more). Then you have a big decision - broadband (LRGB) or narrowband (Ha, OIII and SII). Broadband or LRGB is traditional tri-color imaging, luminance, red, green and blue: 4 sucessive images and then combined in post processing that cover pretty much the entire visible spectrum. Narrowband uses dichroic filters with very narrow passbands (or even multiple pass bands) centered on Hydrogen-Alpha, Oxygen III and Sodium II passbands - again 4 sucessive images (including L) and combined in post processing. But wait there's more you can do Hydrogen-Beta, Nitrogen and Red Continium - all varients to extract the most data. The Narroband Ha, OIII and SII is how the Hubble Telescope images and is essentially false color.

    Broadband imaging is limited by light pollution and is hard to do when the Moon is up, but it can be done. Narrowband imaging can be done from highly light polluted areas. Look up work by Richard Crisp or Robert Gendler (sorry typing this on an iPhone so don't have their links). Filter wheels aren't cheap but the real hold Dante has on you will be the filters, which range from about $600 to $4,000 for a full set (or more). Chromix is cost effective and good, Baader, Astronomik, Custom Scientific and Astrodon are the high quality players.

    Then you'll want some form of automated focusing, so a focus motor adapted to your telescope, preferably with a termperature probe and that guide camera I mentioned earlier, which can either be built into your main camera or often a separate camera (albiet lower cost) and a separate small telescope for it. ZWO, QHYCCD, Orion SX, Lodestar and SBIG all make great guide cameras. The guide scope hooks to a computer, which watches a star you or the system picks move and as that star moves the computer guiding software sends adjustments to the mount to speed up or slow down to compensate - it is very cool, complex and takes some work to get running well. If you don't want to use a computer SBIG has a nifty device the SG-4 which is a self-contianed auto-guider for $1,000

    Finally (well actually early on) you'll want some software to control all of this and agian the choices and price ranges are astonishing. There is a lot of software for both PCs and Macs and even Raspberry Pi's. Here are some to check out SB The Sky, Kstars/Ekos (my current favorite), CCDWare, ACP (and it's author is a truly wonderful person), APT, Sequence Generator Pro, PHD2/Nebulosity - I'm sure I've forgotten someone important and here I'm talking about software that can control the entire process - imaging, guiding, focusing and the filter wheel, etc.

    Then there is the post-processing software, you can use Photoshop but you might also want MaximDL, Pixinsight, Nebulostiy, Starstax, etc., etc., etc. - there is a lot of great softawre to chose from and for some the learning curve can be steep.

    Finally when Dante goes for the final 5% of your soul that's left you'll want a permenant observatory - dome or roll off roof (RoR) and a cloud and rain sensor to decide if it is worth even opening the observatory or knowing when to quicly shut it down in case the H2O nebula makes an appearance. I'm not at this stage yet, but hope springs eternal!!!

    There are a number of websites to help you find dark sites or rate your own site - Scope Nights the iOS app I mentioned earlier includes a feature to get a light pollution map for your site - amatuer astronomers use the Bortle scale to describe a site from a 9 which is red (heart of big cities) to a 1 which is grey (middle of no where). I'm lucky to now live in a 3 to 4 area so I need to get off my duff and get all this stuff setup again. I used to image in an 8 area (Northern California in the hills above Redwood City).

    So you might as well spring for that dedicated SQM meter approx $450 (Sky Quality Meter) so you'll really know your situation

    Oh and I forgot to mention dew control (a small industry segment in itself), eyepieces for visual astronomy - yes it is still fun to look at the grey faint fuzzies in person - those Televue Ethos 100 degree at about $850 each are nice, solar filters from the simple white light to exotic Hydrogen-alpha filters (not to be confused with the earlier Ha Narrowband filters), planetary photography is a whole different animal, spectroscopy, a never ending array a mechanical adaptors all machined to NASA standards and pricing, mouting plates, counterwieght and balance systems, power supplies or lithium-ion batteries, and the list goes on. You live in a light polluted city? No problem just rent time on a remote telescope (several choices for this) or better yet locate your gear at a remote site hosting facility like New Mexico Skies or Deep Sky West, etc.

    You can of course do stunning work with very little and you can easily spend $50,000 or even $100,000 - Dante is waitng and grinning horn to horn!

    Apologies this was long, the advice so far in this thread has been excellent and the work excellent as well - I hope you all either got a chuckle or enjoyed this quick trip through Dante's levels of astrophotography. Now get out there, look up and shoot!

    Kind regards, Glenn (apologies for the typos they are the iPhone's fault)




    Quote Originally Posted by MartinN View Post
    I envy those living in the south with warmer climate. This relates to astrophotography because here in Finland almost the only time to watch the stars is in January and February with crystal clear sky. The problem is that these conditions only appear when it is -15 C or -25 C. This makes my face numb and my fingers, and at least it is not fun enough or comfortable. Usually we have overcast skies from October to January and simply no stars. It's very unusual to see the stars at all and here in southern Finland we don't see the Northern lights. Light pollution is not a big problem, but what to do with overcast skies. My experience of skywatching was from a holiday to the Canary islands with every night giving a spectacular view.
    Last edited by glennedens; 28th March 2019 at 16:08.
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Quote Originally Posted by glennedens View Post
    MartinN - That is known as the H2O nebula, it is typically a very large object

    I got bitten by the astrophotography bug in the film days and used a medium format film camera for years (500CM and P67). There were a number of somewhat dangerous methods that could be used to hypersensitize B&W film including Ether or Hydrogen and Nitrogen and then cooking the film (or maybe it was the other way round?) - I vaugely remember the process, it was inovled. The Lumicon Hypering chamber was the tool of the day. Some refractors will cover a 6x7 image circle such as Astro-Physics refractors - they also make a complete set of 6x7 adaptors.

    Having moved a while back I'm still unpacking, I'll try and dig up some samples. I'm hoping to get the X1D attached via the adaptors and try some work this summer.

    On the iOS software front I like SkySafari best for iOS and Mac OS use. Another few interesting iOS applications are Scope Nights, which gives you very good weather predictions for observing sites, Clear Outside, which is similar and presents a lot of data, Moon Calendar (to track the wherabouts of the GLP = Great Light Polluter), Polar Align or PS Align Pro both can help with poalr alignement, Astro Locator can be useful for rough polar alignement aiming the mount North (azimuth) and setting the latitude offset (altitude), Observer Pro or DS Browser are both good object catalogs, what's up and observing planners. Finally on my list is Dark Sky Meter which will roughly measure SQM (sky quality)

    A lot can be done with an interchangable lens camera (DSLR, mirrorless, APS-C, full-frame or medium format) using camera lenses (I prefer manually focused older lenses, however the XCD lenses seem to work fine OR using a telescope. After one explores camera lenses some folks want to move to the next level, I've seen the best luck starting with a refractor in the 450-650mm focal length range, f4 to f5.6 or f7 f-ratio, and anything from 60mm to 130mm objective size will do fine (in the telescope world that is called aperture). Refractors can be easier than reflectors but both have advantages and disadvantages. I've seen folks try and start with a Schmit-Cassegrain like the venrable Meade 8" or Celestron C8 (or Celestron 800 EdgeHD for pinpoint flat feilds), however at 2000mm focal length and f10 f-ratio these f10 aperture scopes require a really good mount or a good auto guiding system (that is another level of complexity but a significant leap in capability). You can add a focal-reducer to get these f10 systems to f7, f6.3 or even f3.3 (I never got this last option to work), however a good wide-feild refractor is easy.

    Craig Stocks is doing some beautiful work with his fast newtonian reflector!!!

    I use the Celestron AVX mount a lot for visual and astrophotography and it is a great entry-level mount if you keep well below it's weight capacity limits. It's engineered well and cost efffective and works well with autoguiding. Skywatcher has a solid mount with the EQ6-R. A step up might be the Vixen SXD2 or SXP2 mounts. My favorite high-end mount is the Astro-Physics AP1100GTO with absolute encoders (Dante in full swing here). We are lucky today to have so many mount choices (10Micron, Losmandy, Avalon, SB Paramount, etc.) and as mentioned earlier the mount is really important once you want to go beyond tripod and tracker - the 3 most imporatant things in astrophotography are 1 - mount, 2 - mount and 3 - mount

    I won't even wander down the telescope choices list, although you'll soon be thinking aperture fever or APO fever, etc.. I'll just add that some manufacturers have such long waiting lists that you might pass away before your name comes up for an instrument (think Astro-Physics where used instruments often sell for a lot more than when new). There are so many choices today it is amazing.

    Once Dante really gets a hold of your soul you want a cooled CCD or CMOS camera - cooling is key and makes a huge diffeence for smaller feild work (deep sky objects). The CCD and CMOS debate rages here as well, they both have advantages and disadvantages, however my experinece is CCD currently wins and there are a lot of CCDs still bieng made for scientific and astronomical imaging. You tend to pick a sensor first and then pick a camera vendor. In the CCD world the chips are 3200, 8300, 16200, 11000, 16802 and 50100 from small to large (there are others but these tend to be the key choices for amatuers making pictures rather than doing science). I used a 11000 for years and just unpacked it a few days ago, I will fiind out if it still works maybe this weekend. The 16200 (APS-H) and the 16802 (MF) are two really popular chips these days. In the CMOS world Sony and Panasonic rule and there are many 1", 4/3 and APS-C choices (lots of choices it is hard to follow). You can even get the 36 megapixel D810 sensor in a cooled dedicated camera by QHYCCD.

    On the affordable end is ZWO (I've not had luck with their cameras YMMV), QHYCCD (they are very cost effective and work), Starlight Express and QSI (they've had some hard times lately). Meade and Celestron have offerings but since that is a side accessory for them I'd avoid them, YMMV). As you move up the food chain and into Dante's lair you find Moravian (good but hard to get since its made in the Czech Republic and they lost their US Distributor), and at the top SBIG and FLI. A lot of vendors have exited the business (Apolgee?) so these are the main suppliers today, apolgies if I've left off someone's favorite. Oh, I forgot Mallincam makes some interesing "live view" video oriented cameras which are fun (that's a segment called EAA).

    Cooling is the key and how far you can cool below ambient is the competitive spec - CCDs are easy to handle here, avoiding frost is the challenge for which there are solutions (dessacants, argon chambers, etc.). CMOS can be cooled as well but that is a harder enginerering problem since they tend to want to fracture if not cooled evenly. -40C below ambient is a good goal. Some folks have tried to add water cooling (I've done that and I don't recommend it). So sensor size, cooling and interface (USB, Ethernet, etc.) and CCD or CMOS are the key factors - besides price.

    Oh but wait, I forgot color versus monochrome!!! Color or OSC One Shot Color uses a Bayer Matrix and can produce interesting results. Monochrome is just that and that's where I would point folks who want a dedicated cooled astro-camera. If you want to make color images then you use a filter wheel and filters - filter wheels can have 5, 7, 8, 9 or 10 slots (some can do more). Then you have a big decision - broadband (LRGB) or narrowband (Ha, OIII and SII). Broadband or LRGB is traditional tri-color imaging, luminance, red, green and blue: 4 sucessive images and then combined in post processing that cover pretty much the entire visible spectrum. Narrowband uses dichroic filters with very narrow passbands (or even multiple pass bands) centered on Hydrogen-Alpha, Oxygen III and Sodium II passbands - again 4 sucessive images (including L) and combined in post processing. But wait there's more you can do Hydrogen-Beta, Nitrogen and Red Continium - all varients to extract the most data. The Narroband Ha, OIII and SII is how the Hubble Telescope images and is essentially false color.

    Broadband imaging is limited by light pollution and is hard to do when the Moon is up, but it can be done. Narrowband imaging can be done from highly light polluted areas. Look up work by Richard Crisp or Robert Gendler (sorry typing this on an iPhone so don't have their links). Filter wheels aren't cheap but the real hold Dante has on you will be the filters, which range from about $600 to $4,000 for a full set (or more). Chromix is cost effective and good, Baader, Astronomik, Custom Scientific and Astrodon are the high quality players.

    Then you'll want some form of automated focusing, so a focus motor adapted to your telescope, preferably with a termperature probe and that guide camera I mentioned earlier, which can either be built into your main camera or often a separate camera (albiet lower cost) and a separate small telescope for it. ZWO, QHYCCD, Orion SX, Lodestar and SBIG all make great guide cameras. The guide scope hooks to a computer, which watches a star you or the system picks move and as that star moves the computer guiding software sends adjustments to the mount to speed up or slow down to compensate - it is very cool, complex and takes some work to get running well. If you don't want to use a computer SBIG has a nifty device the SG-4 which is a self-contianed auto-guider for $1,000

    Finally (well actually early on) you'll want some software to control all of this and agian the choices and price ranges are astonishing. There is a lot of software for both PCs and Macs and even Raspberry Pi's. Here are some to check out SB The Sky, Kstars/Ekos (my current favorite), CCDWare, ACP (and it's author is a truly wonderful person), APT, Sequence Generator Pro, PHD2/Nebulosity - I'm sure I've forgotten someone important and here I'm talking about software that can control the entire process - imaging, guiding, focusing and the filter wheel, etc.

    Then there is the post-processing software, you can use Photoshop but you might also want MaximDL, Pixinsight, Nebulostiy, Starstax, etc., etc., etc. - there is a lot of great softawre to chose from and for some the learning curve can be steep.

    Finally when Dante goes for the final 5% of your soul that's left you'll want a permenant observatory - dome or roll off roof (RoR) and a cloud and rain sensor to decide if it is worth even opening the observatory or knowing when to quicly shut it down in case the H2O nebula makes an appearance. I'm not at this stage yet, but hope springs eternal!!!

    There are a number of websites to help you find dark sites or rate your own site - Scope Nights the iOS app I mentioned earlier includes a feature to get a light pollution map for your site - amatuer astronomers use the Bortle scale to describe a site from a 9 which is red (heart of big cities) to a 1 which is grey (middle of no where). I'm lucky to now live in a 3 to 4 area so I need to get off my duff and get all this stuff setup again. I used to image in an 8 area (Northern California in the hills above Redwood City).

    So you might as well spring for that dedicated SQM meter approx $450 (Sky Quality Meter) so you'll really know your situation

    Oh and I forgot to mention dew control (a small industry segment in itself), eyepieces for visual astronomy - yes it is still fun to look at the grey faint fuzzies in person - those Televue Ethos 100 degree at about $850 each are nice, solar filters from the simple white light to exotic Hydrogen-alpha filters (not to be confused with the earlier Ha Narrowband filters), planetary photography is a whole different animal, spectroscopy, a never ending array a mechanical adaptors all machined to NASA standards and pricing, mouting plates, counterwieght and balance systems, power supplies or lithium-ion batteries, and the list goes on. You live in a light polluted city? No problem just rent time on a remote telescope (several choices for this) or better yet locate your gear at a remote site hosting facility like New Mexico Skies or Deep Sky West, etc.

    You can of course do stunning work with very little and you can easily spend $50,000 or even $100,000 - Dante is waitng and grinning horn to horn!

    Apologies this was long, the advice so far in this thread has been excellent and the work excellent as well - I hope you all either got a chuckle or enjoyed this quick trip through Dante's levels of astrophotography. Now get out there, look up and shoot!

    Kind regards, Glenn (apologies for the typos they are the iPhone's fault)
    Glenn!

    AMAZING!!!!
    Thank you for the hour(s) it must have taken you to type all of that! Amazing information... wow!
    Dave (GT)

    Best quote of the day: "Always be kind to others, behind every face is some kind of pain."

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    Senior Member JoelM's Avatar
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    Re: Astrophotography - 101: How to get started.

    Back in the day, I used a Schmidt camera. Talk about old school You would load one frame of film at a time though I did have a roll holder. You had to open the lightproof door on the Schmidt camera and then reach in and guess as to a frame of 35mm to advance to the next shot. Either that or load them in one at a time. I had a small 5.5" camera, but there were 8" cameras as well. As fast as they were, the new digital cameras do better. I'll try to dig up a pic, about 25 years old and could do with a new scan and processing. This about Photoshop 25 years ago and pity my attempt.

    Joel

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