Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shooting The Night Sky With A Nikon D3000


This is M13, the great globular cluster in the constellation Hercules. The photo doesn't do it justice. It's much prettier looking through a small-magnification lens. All photos in this post were taken with a Nikon D3000 hooked to the back end of a Celestron 11 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope in prime focus, 30 second exposure and ISO 1600.


A spiral galaxy on the right side and a binary star in the upper left. This was in the constellation Virgo. Virgo has a pile of galaxies in it.


Another spiral galaxy in Virgo. The little red dot in the lower-left is a "hot" pixel. Hot pixels really come out when you push the ISO to its limits.


This is the Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra. It's very faint, so I pushed the brightness as far as I could in Photoshop.

30 second exposures are about as long as I can take shots before I start to get "star trails". The motors that guide a scope are never perfect, so there's always get some drift unless you get an autoguider. More money and complicated instructions. Perhaps this summer if I'm working I'll get one.

Just viewing is great, but being able to take photos makes astronomy more fun. The camera, with long exposures, can bring out the colors and size of nebulas, so you can see more than you would normally. When it comes to clusters and stars, just viewing is better than photography.

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