Staying home – Time for Astrophotography

Well the world has gone crazy and many changes have come into effect and many people are suffering. For myself we are as safe and secure as we can be. We only visit the outside world for work and necessities, the rest of the time we are at home.

This means, no landscape photography for a while that’s for sure. And it’s the start of astro season when I normally go chase the milky way core. No more. So instead, I’ve sold some gear, made some quick purchases (while we still can) and setup to shoot deeper space objects from my backyard using the cameras I already own. Add to the mix a few old lenses out to 210mm and I’m actually starting to get some results.

Gear Used : Skywatcher Star Adventurer Tracker, Manfrotto Tripod (solid aluminium I already owned), Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II (already owned), Canon FD 70-210mm Lens @ 210mm (already owned, equivalent field of view to 420mm on a full frame camera).

I used some of the great features of my Olympus that allowed me to view the stars in live view for framing up, finding targets and getting polar alignment of the mount correct. If you put the camera to one of the bulb modes, it enhances the live view and lets you see in the dark pretty much. Very cool. I also used the built in intervalometer that allowed me to set a shutter speed up to 60 seconds, how many photos to take and the time between shots. This is awesome as it means I don’t need to connect a trigger, adding weight and potential vibration to the setup, critical when shooting DSOs.

I ran this for an hour and got 58 very good photos of the stars (light frames). I then put the lens cap on and took another 15 photos at the same time so sensor was at the same temperature (dark frames). These dark frames are used in software to remove noise and hot pixels from the final photo.

I stacked the tracked photos using Deepskystacker, a free program that does a great job. From there I did my editing in photoshop to get this final image, the Carnia Nebula :

There are many more targets to shoot in the night sky, I’m using Stellarium to find these and plan my shoots. Stay safe everyone, I’ll be posting here and on my facebook page as often as possible, happy to answer any questions.

Murray

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