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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:52 am 
Hi

I was wondering how for beginners like myself , who has zero knowledge in astro-photography except what I pick up here, what are the tools required that are actually needed for star astro-photography. I mean for some real decent shots like what Bob has done with the stacking and Nebulae, and Gordon with his 'eclipse of the moon' .

What I figured so far is..

1. T-mount - to connect the camera to the telescope
2. A tripod with equatorial mount fitted with dual axis motor - to offset the earth's rotation - so that the distance objects stay 'fixed' long enough to get decent shots
3. piggy back bracket - if one intends to use prime lenses instead of the telescope
Refractor telescope - for easy maintenance ? Bigger = better = more costly ?

What else ? Filters - i have heard of moon and solar filters what are these ? What about the F/number of these telescope , the higher the better or reverse as in lens ?

Anyone ? Hopefully with these knowledge - I would not look like a fool and get conned into buying something I don't actually need.

Thanks
DavidL

edited - Subject


Last edited by DavidL on Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:49 pm 
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Hi DavidL,

It's great that you are thinking of getting into astrophotography. As you know the sky's the limit :roll: when it comes to cost but you can also get fine results on a budget. Your equipment list is a good starting point. Having a dual axis motor drive is a slight luxury as for most work only the polar axis needs to be driven to counter the Earth's rotation. However, the cost of adding that second drive motor is pretty small and it's nice to have.

The issue of refracting telescopes (where the optics are lenses) versus reflecting telescopes (where the main light gatherer is a mirror) is a bit more complex. Refracting telescopes are pretty low maintenance but reflecting telescopes are, everything else being equal, cheaper for a given light gathering power. I prefer refractors for casual use but if I wanted to get into serious deep sky work then an 8"/20cm or larger reflector would be my instrument of choice. As for focal length and focal ratio, with a modest budget choice is pretty limited. If you intend to shoot the Moon at a telescope's prime focus then a focal length of at least 500mm is good to have. Bear in mind that you can add a Barlow lens (or equivalent) to the eyepiece end of the telescope to magnify the image on your camera's sensor so shorter focal lengths aren't a real deal breaker. An objective of 70mm diameter or greater is enough to get started but, unfortunately, bigger is usually better.

If you are just starting astrophotography then specialised filters aren't a priority. You must use such a filter (in front of the telescope) for solar observations because viewing the Sun through a telescope without such a filter is a great way to lose your eyesight. Doesn't do the camera much good either! I note you are a Nikon owner: be sure to read my post here if the Nikon automatic noise reduction needs to be stopped with your camera. On another tack, don't forget that webcams have been used with great success at the end of telescopes and have the advantage of being relatively cheap.

There is a huge depth of information on the Net about astrophotography so here are a few links to get you started:
    Astropix - This site is a great resource. In particular, it has an excellent Astrophotography Techniques page with lots of advice on choosing telescopes, mounts, cameras and much else.

    Sky & Telescope - There are some useful starter articles on astrophotography as well as guides on choosing equipment and a wide selection of articles and news items.

    Astro Adventure - A fun site with some videos (watch out Gordon) and a few introductory articles.

    Adventures With High Resolution Webcam Lunar Mosaics - Webcam astrophotography is a big subject in its own right. This article shows why and includes some astonishing images.
On a lighter note, the astronomical icon here in the U.K. is a gentleman called Patrick Moore. As well as being the author of many books and being responsible for getting generations of youngsters enthused about astronomy he has also been presenter since day one of the Sky at Night which is the BBC's longest running series, now in its fiftieth year. Visit the Sky at Night site and you can watchsome of the episodes online (hopefully this link works for browsers outside the UK).

I hope the above has been useful. For all budding astronomers and astrophotographers I also strongly recommend getting in touch with a local astronomy club. If the club is any good then it should welcome the opportunity to introduce newcomers to the hobby and it should provide a great resource of information specific to your own country.

Bob.

_________________
Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8, Lumix 7-14mm f/4, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8, M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8.
Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:42 pm 
Thanks Bob for the wealth of information.
It will definately keep me buzy for the next few days / weeks / months ! 8)
DavidL


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 5:29 am 
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I'd just add to Bob's excellent post that you can also grab some nice shots with your DSLR and nothing more than a kit lens and a steady spot. See this thread:

http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=206


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:48 pm 
Gordon Laing wrote:
I'd just add to Bob's excellent post that you can also grab some nice shots with your DSLR and nothing more than a kit lens and a steady spot. See this thread:

http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=206


This is perfect! I'm just getting into DSLR photography, and this is a great place to start. Thanks for the link!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:01 pm 
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Hi John, welcome to the Cameralabs forums - looking forward to seeing your astro shots, and if you have any Qs, just shout...

Gordon

PS - you may also find this video on photography through a telescope interesting...


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