Astrophotography: Sagittarius and the Galaxy

The challenge of learning astrophotography, and photography in general, is two-fold.  There’s the work you do at the eyepiece, requiring you to choose the right settings for the right shot.  Then there’s the work you do at the computer screen, the post-processing and adjustments.  Ultimately the more important one is the camera work.  If you take a bad photograph, no amount of post-processing will help you, even if you are an expert at it.  It’s like the image is the cake, and the processing is the icing.  No matter how much icing you cover it with, a bad cake is...

Astrophotography: First go at Luna

The Spring has been a bit slower than I would have liked in terms of astrophotography.  I have seen a lot of fantastically clear evenings, but have been plagued by a lack of time and a few technical issues that have kept me from getting the many hours of practice needed to become competent.  I did manage to purchase an inexpensive adapter to use my camera with my telescope, giving me a ton of new options for photography, as well as a ton of new challenges. The two main problems I had, and need to address in the future, are...

Relative Time: Photography Year 2

Last year after getting a Canon DSLR camera, I spent as much time as I could doing some basic astrophotography.  I took photos of stars, planets, the Moon, and even did some star trails.  One thing I quickly realized is that there are limitations if you don’t have a tracking mount or a telescope adaptor.  The tracking gives you a method for taking longer exposures, and the telescope adaptor as expected gives you the ability to zoom in on distant objects. Even with these temporary limitations (I hope to invest in them someday) there are still a lot of options...

Falcon Flight to the Galaxy

In the APOD photo from May 14th, it is easy to imagine the rocket launching far away into the galactic disk.  Sadly the rocket can’t traverse the thousands of light years to reach the distant stars, and is restricted to orbiting the Earth. Another beautiful part of this image is the technique involved in producing it.  It required combining two exposures. The first, with low sensitivity to capture the orange rocket trail of the Falcon 9.  The second with high sensitivity and a longer exposure time to capture the faint light of the Milky Way galaxy beyond.  The result is...

Narrowband Spaghetti

I’ve written many times about the power of looking at different wavelengths of light to study different properties of the universe.  From a visualization standpoint, there are other techniques that give you additional power when imaging.  More than just the wavelength of light you’re using to show the detail, you can choose the range of wavelengths to bring forward certain features while suppressing others. The aptly-named spaghetti nebula, shown above, is a great example of this.  A supernova remnant that covers the constellations Taurus and Auriga, the nebula is very large in the sky, covering three full moons worth (love that unit...

Very Long Exposure Photography

Since diving into astrophotography last year, I’ve discovered that I love the concept of time-lapse, and not just with respect to astronomy.  It’s amazing to see the changes that can occur over long periods of time, and time-lapse photography is a way to record the changes and see how they unfold.  In astronomy the best time-lapses give you a sense of the Earth’s motion through space, show satellites zipping overhead, and show aurora dance along with weather patterns. Large amounts of time with slow incremental changes produce incredible results when it comes to time lapses. Science communication is about how to...

Ancient Faint Galaxy Discovered

If you look up into the sky on a clear night, you would see thousands of stars.  There are surely many more that you would need a telescope to see.  But there are not stars everywhere.  You can zoom in further and further with bigger and bigger telescopes, until eventually you find gaps where you simply don’t see stars.  For a long time it was thought that the gaps were empty, until the Hubble telescope peered through the darkness by taking a 200 hour exposure of a supposedly empty patch of sky.  What it revealed was a universe full of...

Thanksgiving Astrophotography

In the midst of cooked turkey and a plethora of sides, I have been reaping the benefits of clear skies and doing my best to learn the skills of astrophotography.  I spent a good 6 hours from sunset to just past midnight this past Sunday to see what kinds of shots I could get, and document the latest photos and tricks I’ve learned. I’ll start with my latest time lapse video, since that is what I took first.  I started as the sun was about to set, and kept the exposure time very low, along with the ISO.  I also...

Astrophotography – New Timelapses and Planet Shots!

I’m addicted.  I love astrophotography.  I find myself spending a lot of time working no the photos, being outside trying to get the perfect shot, learning how to use my camera and other equipment, and putting together a wish list of equipment that will let me do even more!  I went outside before sunrise yesterday and managed to snap an hour’s worth of images, adding to an hour from the night before, where I attempted some star trails over the city of Toronto.  All I’ve done so far today is play with the photos and learn to make them look...

Morning Launch

Nothing like a rocket launch in the early morning to inspire and wake you up.  The 4 Million Newtons of thrust and a weight of over 500 tons gives a nice blast of power to your morning that coffee never could.  I am talking about the Atlas V rocket that launched on September 2nd, carrying a US Navy communications satellite up into orbit. There is a lot happening in this medium exposure photo.  The rocket blasts off in a bright flash, then climbs into the atmosphere, where its exhaust plume becomes a noctilucent cloud, illuminated by the Sun that hasn’t...