Astrophotography

DaveH

Striker
Was decent weather last night so I had my first stab at star trails. I'm usually doing things to stop the stars trailing:


I didn't quite have the camera timer working properly, which give 80 second gaps between frames, which is why they look grainy. The few 'fixed stars' are noise on the camera sensor.

To do it, I played around with settings to give the longest exposure I could without too much noise. 80 second exposure, f/5.6 aperture (the widest it will open) and ISO400. I then used a remote shutter release to keep taking pictures and went back in the house leaving it. This shutter release:
You also need a tripod.

I didn't do a delay between images to give the camera time to save, should have had a 10 second interval. What I should have done is half a dozen 'dark frames' at the end, where you take images in the same way with the lens cap on. This will give you only your fixed sensor noise. The two dotted lines going past are planes. With reduced air travel, now is a really good time to do this sort of thing!

There is a free application StarStax which will take the images and combine them into the trails. You can also load in your dark frames and it will try to subtract the hot pixels.

I'm pleased but hopefully my second attempt is better. General advice is to make the trails behind an interesting foreground image. The bit of my guttering in the corner of the shot does not really count as interesting.
 
Got a few i've taken, all using my Huawei P20 Pro Phone.

1. ISS - long exposure over haggerston castle caravan park



2. 30s Long Exposure of the stars, laid my phone onto of the car and left it to do its thing, taken outside the house in Bishop Auckland IIRC



3. Startrails, only done this once and this was the result, will probably have to give it another go at some stage

 

DaveH

Striker
Got a few i've taken, all using my Huawei P20 Pro Phone.

1. ISS - long exposure over haggerston castle caravan park



2. 30s Long Exposure of the stars, laid my phone onto of the car and left it to do its thing, taken outside the house in Bishop Auckland IIRC



3. Startrails, only done this once and this was the result, will probably have to give it another go at some stage

Those are really impressive for a mobile phone. Do you know what time of year the middle one was taken? I mainly know the night sky from the brightest stars. It is hard when you have the ‘noise’ of all the other stars you can’t normally see unless you get away from light pollution
 
Those are really impressive for a mobile phone. Do you know what time of year the middle one was taken? I mainly know the night sky from the brightest stars. It is hard when you have the ‘noise’ of all the other stars you can’t normally see unless you get away from light pollution
Looking at phone info, it was taken Tuesday 17th December at 19.08
 

DaveH

Striker
Looking at phone info, it was taken Tuesday 17th December at 19.08
More precision than I was expecting! I can't work out what bit of sky it is, I've compared it to stellarium for those dates and nothing leaps out. I did wonder if that brown shading on the right was part of the milky way or just a camera effect.
 

DaveH

Striker
Something people might find useful are some of the astro weather apps. I find AstroPanel on Android the best, but also have ScopeNights (paid for) and Xasteria on iOS.

On AstroPanel, it not only gives the cloud cover but what the 'seeing' is like. For example tonight the cloud is set to clear but the seeing is rated poor. When it has not rained for a while, dust builds up in the air which scatters light, mainly from light pollution, and makes the sky lighter. A humidity build up also scatters light. The best conditions are clear skies on a cold night, with no moon, a few hours after sunset, when it has been raining recently. By then, a lot of moisture in the air has condensed and fallen as dew and rain has flushed a lot of the dust out the air.

I still fancy trying to get out even though the conditions are not the best.
 

Roker Mackem

Striker
Got a smartphone adaptor for my Dob and pleased with it. Very tricky to line up with a phone on mind.

Tried venus and got some decent videos of it. Trial and error messing with the iso and shutter... wondering if I can get better than I have but Venus is a pretty boring planet.
 

DaveH

Striker
Got a smartphone adaptor for my Dob and pleased with it. Very tricky to line up with a phone on mind.

Tried venus and got some decent videos of it. Trial and error messing with the iso and shutter... wondering if I can get better than I have but Venus is a pretty boring planet.
Venus is a really difficult planet to image anyway. I tried earlier in the year without much success and didn't find many other people who had done decent images either. I think the brightness along with being in the early evening sky when the air is more turbulent makes it hard. When there are no features to check your focus against either, you get a blob.
 

Roker Mackem

Striker
Venus is a really difficult planet to image anyway. I tried earlier in the year without much success and didn't find many other people who had done decent images either. I think the brightness along with being in the early evening sky when the air is more turbulent makes it hard. When there are no features to check your focus against either, you get a blob.
Yeah very true. Pretty much the only thing I can look at in the evening sky until the moon comes back round next week.

I have seem some lovely images of Venus but of people with a lot more expertise than me and stacked images.
 

DaveH

Striker
Yeah very true. Pretty much the only thing I can look at in the evening sky until the moon comes back round next week.

I have seem some lovely images of Venus but of people with a lot more expertise than me and stacked images.
It is a shame Jupiter and Saturn are going to be in poor positions for a while.

If you use a timelapse mode to take repeated widefield shots, you might capture a lyrid meteor.
 

Roker Mackem

Striker
It is a shame Jupiter and Saturn are going to be in poor positions for a while.

If you use a timelapse mode to take repeated widefield shots, you might capture a lyrid meteor.
Yeah Jupiter is my fave.. was great seeing the red spot last year.

Not looked into timelapse
 

Cow

Full Back
Yalright gents,
Soooo, been getting to grips with this star shooting stuff, my experience so far...

focusing was a major problem for me, to sort this I now use these settings: ISO3200, f3.5, 30s shutter speed...point the camera at the brightest star I can find, use live view finder and zoom into x5, sharpen the shot until the star is a small speck, then zoom into x10 and do the same. I’ve found this works for me.

to take a photo, I’ve found shooting at ISO1600 lowest f stop possible (3.5-4 on my 35mm stock lens) and between 15-30s shutter speed. It’s quite nice playing about with different exposure times to get different results.

Apps I use are Starwalk 2, PhotoPills (awesome), clear outside (shit location search function), Stellarium +, Satellite Tracker, Light pollution map, Find Starlink and SAM Console (for the tracker). Find that starwalk2 isn’t very accurate all of a sudden, anyone else Found this?

i took the plunge two days ago and bought a secondhand tracker, star adventurer pro. Set it up last night on a weak as piss tripod (rated max weight 3kg). Spent ages aligning with what StarWalk 2 told me was Polaris only to find out half an hour later that what I’d just aligned up was Vega. Tried playing with the tracker anyway but couldn’t work out how to move the camera about to where I wanted to shoot and I kept losing my already wrong alignment cause of the weight and shit tripod.

tracker was packed away rather quickly, new tripod had arrived today with a 26kg rating which should take my heaviest combo of gear, tracker, DSLR and 600m

I’ll hoy some pics up once I clear out photo bucket
 

DaveH

Striker
Yalright gents,
Soooo, been getting to grips with this star shooting stuff, my experience so far...

focusing was a major problem for me, to sort this I now use these settings: ISO3200, f3.5, 30s shutter speed...point the camera at the brightest star I can find, use live view finder and zoom into x5, sharpen the shot until the star is a small speck, then zoom into x10 and do the same. I’ve found this works for me.

to take a photo, I’ve found shooting at ISO1600 lowest f stop possible (3.5-4 on my 35mm stock lens) and between 15-30s shutter speed. It’s quite nice playing about with different exposure times to get different results.

Apps I use are Starwalk 2, PhotoPills (awesome), clear outside (shit location search function), Stellarium +, Satellite Tracker, Light pollution map, Find Starlink and SAM Console (for the tracker). Find that starwalk2 isn’t very accurate all of a sudden, anyone else Found this?

i took the plunge two days ago and bought a secondhand tracker, star adventurer pro. Set it up last night on a weak as piss tripod (rated max weight 3kg). Spent ages aligning with what StarWalk 2 told me was Polaris only to find out half an hour later that what I’d just aligned up was Vega. Tried playing with the tracker anyway but couldn’t work out how to move the camera about to where I wanted to shoot and I kept losing my already wrong alignment cause of the weight and shit tripod.

tracker was packed away rather quickly, new tripod had arrived today with a 26kg rating which should take my heaviest combo of gear, tracker, DSLR and 600m

I’ll hoy some pics up once I clear out photo bucket
Get a ball head mount for the camera then you can point it to where you like
 
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Cow

Full Back
Get a ball head mount for the camera then you can point it to where you like
Just been sussing that out, got one on the new tripod!

here’s a newbie question, say I do a polar alignment at dusk, I can’t start shooting for a couple of hours...do I switch the tracker on at dusk and let it track until I’m ready to shoot a couple of hours later?
 

DaveH

Striker
Just been sussing that out, got one on the new tripod!

here’s a newbie question, say I do a polar alignment at dusk, I can’t start shooting for a couple of hours...do I switch the tracker on at dusk and let it track until I’m ready to shoot a couple of hours later?
Yes. Have you got one of the supporting apps?

Polaris is not actually dead centre on the celestial pole. Even viewed through the low magnification of the alignment scope, it will trace a small circle. To be correctly aligned, polaris needs to be on the right part of that circular gauge at the right time. If you don’t turn it on then it will have drifted by the time you use it.

However it will drift a bit anyway unless your mount is perfectly level and perfectly aligned, so it might be better to get polaris aligned and leave the mount turned off, then perform a final adjustment just before you start your imaging.

I know I found when I was out last, it would have been worth having the mount assembled, the camera in the right shooting mode etc ready to nip out late on. It took so long to set up, it was getting late before I started imaging.
 

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