Astro Photography

Occasionally I like to go out and try my hand at Astro Photography.  I even have a nice device called an Astrotrak, which allows one to track the camera at the same rate as the earth rotates.  Of course alignment with the south celestial pole is somewhat tricky as we don’t have a polar star like the northern hemisphere.  There is an app for the iPhone that works very well if and this is a big if one can calibrate the app with the sun or moon.  Alignment is then so close that one can track for several minutes without star trails.  Of course being able to calibrate with the sun means a long wait until dark, with a moon calibration one gets flare from the moon during the exposure.

Despite this it is often worth the wait.  Now as I live in Melbourne and light pollution is quite high one has to travel some distance to get away from the flare.  I have one location that is 45 kms away from home but even there there is some flare. Getting a decent shot still eludes me.  However I am still working towards getting a shot that makes me happy.

Below is last nights effort,  it is better than some I have done but still nowhere near what I would like.  In this shot it is 20secs at ISO 6400 f/2.8 with a 16 -35 mm lens at 16mm, and no tracking equipment.  Taken about 7:30 pm, I should wait till much later in the night but that would mean waiting around until the wee hours of the morning,  and last night was not one of those nights that I wanted to do that.  Other factors that dramatically affect the image are moisture in the air,  colder is better,  dryer climate is better.



4 thoughts on “Astro Photography

    1. johnholding Post author

      Thank you, pick a nice clear night away from city glow and try it, high ISO, no more than 20secs duration, in JPEG and it should be ok.

      1. Digitally Loved

        Do you know what is a good walkaround lens? I have a Canon EOS 60d. I’m looking into getting a wide angle lens. 🙂 Any suggestions?

      2. johnholding Post author

        The 60d is an aps-c sensor so the crop factor influences what a good wide angle lens is. I would suggest that the Canon 10-55 will give you nice wide angle at the 10mm end whilst the 55 end will provide for reasonable general purpose photography. To convert for the crop factor multiply the lens size by 1.6, e.g. 10mm becomes 16mm, equivalent to the Canon 16-35mm without the very hefty price tag. The 55mm end becomes 55*1.6 which is 88mm, effectively a telephoto lens. I don’t have a 10-55 as I use a full frame 5D Mark 11 and the 10-55 just won’t work on the camera. However from what I have read it is a fairly good lens. Hope this helps.

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