Astrophotography Tips

We are going to touch on astrophotography in this article and few tips that could be helpful if you want to get into astrophotography. First, astrophotography is the astronomical photography of the night sky – stars, planets, comets, nebulae, clusters, and galaxies. You can get great shots that are usually too faint for the human eye to see.

Equipment – Hardware

Telescope w/finder
Eyepieces
reticle
batteries
small flashlight
focusing aids
laptop/pc
camera and adapters for telescope
chair
leveller

You will also need software for astronomy like sky maps, focusing, remote shooting, stacking and image processing.

Be dressed accordingly.

A good camera I would suggest would be the Canon EOS Rebel XS.

Next is choosing your site and this is probably the most important. Wherever you choose the skies need to be as dark as possible. If you live in a populated city you will want to fet as far possible from the city and especially on the weekends. The country serves best if you have the oppurtunity. You will also want to check the weather report and the humidity for the night you plan to go. If humidity is high at the ground level visibility will be affected more or less but the worst will be fighting dew all night. Wind is also something else you want to consider so check the direction and have some shielding if need be. Be as far off the road you can get to avoid unwanted vibrations.

For long exposures you will need to compensate for the Earth’s rotation to avoid trailing. The best way to avoid this is to use an equatorial mount. For deep sky objects your exposures usually will last several hours so be prepared.

You are now ready to start. Make sure you have everything in proper order and I would suggest having a list of steps you need to go through in setting everything up. Keep your equipment outside for a couple of hours to allow the optics and the tube to adjust to the environment.

A few more steps to consider is polar alignment and check your focus. If these are good to then go ahead and test your setup to check for trailing. Once you start shooting leave your telescope alone and check it every 30 mins. or so to make sure everything is going as planned. I would suggest shooting 5 minute exposures and then stacking the images. You can use specialized software to align every start and stack.

After that you can the final image processing.

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