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.)
. . .