Monday, February 3, 2014

Astro photos are easy

Astro-photography doesn't require expensive equipment. These photos all taken in a single day using an OLD Sony alpha DSLR (The ISS pass) and a relatively new Canon HS50 which has a great zoom. The only really must equipment is a sturdy tripod which will enable you to stable the camera for long star exposures.

 The sunspots photo requires a solar filter, and it is dangerous not to use one. Here is a detailed article about how to photograph sunspots

This huge sunspot is AR1967, and I am following it for many days. On February 3 2014 it was almost in the middle of the sun

Sunspot AR1967
Sunspot AR1967
 The next photos are from the sunset and the sunspots are seen easily
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
The perfect round is a swanning ball on a high voltage power line, but it remind me the great Venus transit from two years ago.
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset

Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset

Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
Sunspot AR1967 during sunset
The next photo is a great ISS pass in the well known constellation Canis Major (Great dog). The pass was very low and the light pollution is visible. however the entire group is visible and in the full photo I was able to detect the open cluster M41. Also I caught the extinction of the pass and you can clearly see the graduate extinction in the pass color from white to red.
ISS pass in Canis Major
ISS pass in Canis Major

Even f your camera doesn't have much zoom power to get good photos of the moon or the sun, you can still get nice photos of the constellations. You will need to experiment but even 1 second of exposure will show many stars. If you are in a rural area you can take longer exposures. Be aware that the longer the exposure time, the stars will create small trails as the Earth keep rotating around its axis. Also notice that it might be hard to see stars on the camera small LCD and you might need the help of a laptop to compose the photo. Also try to use manual focus and set it to infinity.
Here is Orion Constellation
Orion Constellation
Orion Constellation
And Orion constellation with the ISS. This is a 20sec shot and the light pollution is clearly visible.

The ISS in Orion
The ISS in Orion
And finally the moon
The moon
The moon
Conclusions: Even with simple equipment there is plenty to do! Good luck

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