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What is the best way to go about "space photography?"

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posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 06:33 PM
(mods, if this topic belongs somewhere else, please feel free)

I just purchased a very nice Canon DSLR (I'm something of an amateur photographer) and I've always been into astronomy.

I kind of want to combine the two. Does anyone here do just that, and can give me advice?

I literally don't know anything about how to go about photographing things observed with a telescope, but I'm willing to pick up a fairly nice scope if there's one that can be used with a camera (just don't know how that works).

If I can get this going, I'd be happy to share some pics with everyone down the road.

Even though I've looked at the Messier objects a hundred times over, I'd love to take my OWN pictures of them. I can't think of something more primally beautiful.

posted on Aug, 19 2010 @ 06:54 PM
Well, this is just a suggestion but you could try what this guy did...

It all sounds very Heath Robinson but a digital camera, a GPS device, some duct tape and a balloon were all that was needed to take some breathtaking pictures of Earth that had Nasa calling.

Robert Harrison, 38, used a collection of cheap parts costing £500 to create a balloon-mounted camera that can travel up to 21.7 miles (35km) above the surface of the Earth. The result is a series of pictures taken from a height that only a rocket or weather balloon can reach. Mr Harrison, an IT director from Highburton, West Yorkshire, has launched 12 high-altitude balloons (HABs) since 2008.

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 01:09 AM
It depends on what you want to take pictures of. A lot of astro-photography (especially wide field) is done with regular lenses not telescopes. You can get some ideas and methods by going through the Astronomy picture of the day archive. Many of these images are done without a telescope. Following the links provided there to the photographer's website will often show how the images were produced.

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 01:43 AM

i gave this link to mbluver earlier,
but I think youll find it really useful.

What kind of astrophotography do you want to do?
Deep sky i guess?

Here is a link emailed to me by a friend at the observatory awhile back,
it tells the different kinds of AP and how to get started.
Pretty basic page, but lots of good info.

You might also want to check out your local bookstore, or order it online, whichever, for this book~

Here is another good one~

I dont own them, but have borrowed them from one of the astro society members, so i have a basic Idea of what is needed... but Im by no means an AP myself. lol

The most I have done is piggyback my camera to my scope,
and attaching and pressing the buttons on the 20" scope computer at the observatory using a CCD camera on the scope.

If you have a wife~ She better watch out!

Some of the guys i know who do this sit out in their own little personal spaces, sheds, home observatories, night after night after night until the sun rises..
and even after it rises some of them still keep observing., switching gear and observe and photograph Sol. lol

It's a sweet hobby though,
One day when I can manage it,
I want to have my own setup also,
little personal backyard observatory and AP lab. lol

Have Scope(s) out there, computers, a dome, you name it. lol

Oh, here is the DSLR section of the cloudynights site~

Youll find all kinds of home setups on this site,
some really genius stuff to.

one more, this guy has a sweet setup with a DSLR and niice scope..~
Some great info here.. pics to! lol

Good luck man,
Im excited for you!

[edit on 20-8-2010 by Ahmose]

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 09:40 AM
My big thing lately has been video astronomy, but a Canon dSLR is certainly a better way to go for high resolution high quality images. When I use my Canon, I use an 8" LX200 classic and autoguide with a Meade LPI strapped to the viewfinder. It's a poor man's setup, but it works. Here's an auction on used 8" LX200 similar to mine:
I don't know how high it will go, but generally you should be able to find one for about 1200-1500. Brand new they cost closer to 3000. You will need a wedge for polar aligning though and you'll need a remote cable release for the camera to do very long exposures (>1 minute). The whole process can get quite complex if you're not familiar with telescope operations. A more turn-key type setup would be to buy a telecope already on an equatorial mount:
(ATS breaks this link):

Astrophotography with a dSLR is somewhat tricky for a beginner no matter what scope you use. It's a TON easier than the old days of film, but it still requires a lot of technical know-how. You have to know how to accurately polar align the scope, either autoguide or *shudder* manually guide the scope, and then you have to learn how to stack and process the raw images into a single beautiful picture. Here's a great book about the whole process:
You may decide you want to get a telescope like an LX200 where all you have to do is mount it in Alt-Az configuration which is much easier to do, and then put it on a wedge, polar align it, and start doing astrophotography once you get comfortable in operating the scope.

[edit on 20-8-2010 by ngchunter]

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 07:24 PM
Thank all of you for fantastic responses.

I'm going to look into all of these recommendations and get going on this as soon as I can.

I am fairly technologically inclined, I don't think any of the ideas presented would be too challenging, and I'm very open to taking the time to learn as I think the payoff would be huge.

Seriously, the two things I love most in life (hobbies, etc) are astronomy and photography. If I can get this going, I'm going to be spending a lot more time outdoors.

Thanks again. I really appreciate taking the time to give me some great advice.

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 07:29 PM

Originally posted by Ahmose

What kind of astrophotography do you want to do?
Deep sky i guess?

[edit on 20-8-2010 by Ahmose]

That's some awesome information, I really appreciate it man.

Yeah, I'm primarily looking to attempt some deep-sky imagery, as nebulae and galaxies are, as I mentioned, what I consider to be among the most beautiful things in nature. I'm good with a camera, can work a telescope, so now it's just how to go about combining the two!

I'm actually getting engaged soon, but the wonderful woman that puts up with all my "hobbies" actually thinks looking up at the sky is as beautiful as I do.

I think she'll be out there with me

[edit on 20-8-2010 by SaosinEngaged]

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 07:31 PM
reply to post by ngchunter

I might be putting a bid on one of those telescopes. You would definitely recommend it?

Also, the DSLR I have is the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Do you feel that camera has enough "oomph" to make this work?

It doesn't have as strong of low light performance at higher iso as some of the more expensive DSLRs, but it's what I could afford right now.


[edit on 20-8-2010 by SaosinEngaged]

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 11:35 PM

Originally posted by SaosinEngaged
reply to post by ngchunter

I might be putting a bid on one of those telescopes. You would definitely recommend it?

I can personally vouch for the LX200, I've seen most of the rest in action at some star party or another. My desire has always been the LX200, I'm kind of a fanboy for the thing, but any of the scopes I recommended would be good enough to get started in deep space astrophotography. The flexibility of the LX200 is why I love it; you can choose to polar align it if you're doing a night of astrophotography, or you can choose to alt-az align it if you're doing short exposures for things like the planets, moon, satellites, or even video astronomy which uses exposures only a few seconds long to make a deep space image. You get the best of both worlds. The tradeoff is that cheap wedges for polar aligning can be a pain in the rear to deal with (patience is a must) and the whole system is more susceptible to vibrations.

Also, the DSLR I have is the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Do you feel that camera has enough "oomph" to make this work?

Oh absolutely, I use a mere XTi. If anything, the T2i might have a bit too much oomph; 18 megapixels is going to be a bit overkill on an APS-C size chip when it comes to astrophotography. I find that even 12 megapixels is a little more than what I actually need. If you overkill it too much the exposure time you need to adequately saturate the pixels with enough light increases. Just make sure you use a good focal reducer designed to thread onto the visual back of the scope and you should be ok. Something like this if you get a schmidt-cassegrain like the ones I recommended:
The live view that yours has will make worlds of difference in focusing the telescope. That alone makes it perfect for astronomy. Later you may want to send it to hutech to have it modified for enhanced hydrogen-alpha sensitivity to bring out more of the red in nebulae and galaxies, but it's not mandatory.

It doesn't have as strong of low light performance at higher iso as some of the more expensive DSLRs, but it's what I could afford right now.

Provided you use autoguiding, you should be able to take up to 5 minute long exposures anyway, so I wouldn't worry about that too much. If my XTi can do this, I'm sure your more modern model can do just fine:

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