Saturday, February 2, 2013

Enlightenment

The clouds cleared, the wind died down, and I couldn't sleep, so I set up a scope to look at the moon. These two moon pics are taken with a Nikon D5100 attached to a Celestron CPC1100, 11" Schmidt-Cassegrain, as a prime-focus lens. ISO 800.
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Focus was not sharp. "Seeing" was not good--atmospheric turbulence. Some nights are like that. While I was looking here, the image was shimmering like heat waves over hot pavement, even though it was a chilly 50°. The above was taken with a shutter speed of 1/125 second. Added note: In this shot I put a 2X Barlow Lens in between camera and scope for increased magnification. No Barlow in the shot below.
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This one I took with a shutter speed of 1/500 second. Both of these moon shots are right out of the box, no cropping or sharpening or other tricks. I always take several pictures at different settings, because even though you can do a lot of fixing with PhotoShop or "camera raw" programs like Nikon Capture, any fix usually produces "artifacts" like fringing or spurious ghosts. Fixing a photo is kinda like those medical commercials--Side affects may include ED, fatal nose warts, etc...
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I took the camera off the scope and took some shots in the dark. Above, what it really looked like to the north. Below, lightened up in Nikon Capture. I had to screw the camera onto a tripod because the shutter speed was 5 seconds, and it's hard to hold the camera still that long holding it by hand.
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Same pic brightened up. The upward light pollution to the left is from one of the casinos in Laughlin, Nevada, which our house mostly blocks. Still, I can't get a decent astro-pic in that direction. The darkest part of the sky here is to the southeast, and that is where I take most shots.
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This is toward the southwest. You can see the lights of the "big city," Mohave Valley, Arizona. 5-second shot.
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Same shot, brightened up. Those obscene lights to the left are from an RV park to the south. It's 1/3 mile away, and trashes my view to the south. Grrr!
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View to the west. This is a 10-second shot.
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Same shot, just lightened up a bit.

In Nikon Capture, and also in PhotoShop, you can look at something called "metadata". It's the info on what camera took the shot and every setting including the shutter speed. It goes with every picture--you can't erase it. You can add info like copyright or comments that will stay with the photo no matter how many times it's passed around the Innertubes.

Posted by Dave

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