Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nikon D3000 Night Sky Shots

Lots to think about when you plan an evening's stargazing. After a week of solid clouds and rain(I still grieve over missing the lunar eclipse), Christmas eve was the first evening that promised some viewing and a work-less next day. But instead of clouds, we had chem trails which hung on into the evening. Yet another reason for me to despise the airline industry.

The cold, moist air which can form condensation on the telescope is less a problem in the early evening. Also, the half-moon didn't rise with its star-killing luminosity until later in the evening. So early evening Mrs. UC and I set up the Orion 80mm scope with the Nikon D3000 piggy-backed on top. Note that the next photos are taken with a Nikon 55-200mm lens. I didn't shoot through the scope because we were viewing, not shooting. I was mostly just testing how stable the tracking was.

This is Pleides, the Seven Sisters. Technically, a star cluster, but I also consider it a constellation. ISO 1600, f/11, 200mm, 30-second exposure. I tried to take a longer shot, but for some reason I couldn't get the "bulb" setting to work. So 30 seconds was the longest shot I could take.

This is the constellation Orion, the most-easily recognized figure in the night sky and it has plenty-o-bright-stars. ISO 1600, f/11, 55mm, 30-second exposure. (I'm banging my head on the table right now because I just realized I could have "opened-up" the aperture to let more light in. This pic just doesn't "pop" with stars like it should.)

Betelgeuse, the red giant on the left of this shot is in Orion. In the previous shot it's in the lower left corner. ISO 1600, f/11, 200 mm, 30-second exposure. The one success of the evening was figuring out the 3-star alignment to make the scope track the apparent motion of the stars, which is essential to taking long-exposure astrophotos. It took 4 tries and lots of bargle-farging. (Mrs. UC is a saint to put up with my foul language.)

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  1. Beautiful pics. I would have loved to see the eclipse, but staying up 'til 2 A.M. when I have to work at 7 ain't too good on me. Besides, we had cloudy skies too...

  2. Hi Mayberry,

    Thanks for the kind words on my attempts at photography.

    Work is winding down and I have all this week off, so I hope the damn chem trails and clouds leave me alone.

    I'm an early-riser by nature, so getting up at 1 a.m. is no problem. But staying up until 10 p.m. is tough for me.


  3. Hey Dave! I thought I had linked to you a good while back I usually click on ya from Mayberry's,so I have corrected this heinous oversight on my part! Attempts hell man those sunrises and sets are awesome!


  4. Hi China,

    Thanks. I'm still learning about how to take pictures of the night sky. A couple of nights ago I took 150+ photos and none of them were good enough to post.

    Mayberry is one hell of a mother hen, isn't he?



All comments are welcome.