Saturday, 29 October 2011

The amateur astro-photographers hit list...

When first starting out you may be wondering what would be some good things to photograph in the night sky so I thought I would give you a run down of planets nebula galaxy's stars etc that I have been imaging for the last year.

1. The moon

Never underestimate the wonders of the moon! It is a great starting place for taking photos and you should certainly take time to learn all about the moon its amazing craters and valleys. I started off capturing images of the moon with my mobile camera stuck to my eyepiece with a rubber band and got some great images with this ridiculously simple method. I then started taking videos with my mobile camera and stacking them in the free software registax. A great cheap way to get started and learn loads about our nearest neighbor.


The above shot taken by simply holding my digital camera to the eyepiece and then taking a short video. Next stacking that video in registax again no fancy gear just a digital camera held to the eye piece. However if you buy yourself a webcam for about 40 quid from here you can do even better images.

3. Saturn

Once again the mobile phone method was used a video taken and stacked to get this image

I hope I am convincing you that this is not impossible or difficult to do..
So onto the very exciting Orion Nebula

4.Orion Nebula

This is an amazing sight in the night sky but to get it you will have to use an SLR Camera or a webcam. In the above shot I used my SLR camera and the free software deep sky stacker along with Photoshop to finish the editing. The process is to take as many shots of the Orion nebula as you can experimenting with exposures and setting then to take Darks flats and bias shots to remove artifacts from you final image you will find details of this in my blog in the Lets do astrophotography now sections.

5. M31 or the Andromeda Galaxy

I love M31 its such a fantastic Galaxy and quite a challenge to photograph I have given a detailed run down of how to capture it in my Lets do astrophotography now sections so give it go you will have a lot of fun with this one.

6. The Ring Nebula

This was a bit tricky to find when I first started off but with a bit of practice it gets much easy'er to find it and now I can find it very quickly. If you have a fancy "go to set up" your cheating.. try finding it on your own you big girls blouse..
Photographed with the same methods as were used for the Andromeda Galaxy. But and I must stress this point it is very important you chose a dark sky with good viewing conditions as this makes a great deal of difference.

7. The Dumbbell Nebula

Now this is a real treat once you find it and photographed in a dark sky it comes out pretty good. I was very pleased with my first attempt at this one and I'm sure when you do the same you will be very proud of your efforts. Its like finding treasures in the sky.

8. M13 the great globular cluster

There are quiet a few Globular Star Clusters in the sky but this has to be one of the best ones and when you first see it you will most certainly go OH WOW that is amazing, like I did.

9.The Milky Way

On a good dark night away from light polluted streets the Milkyway stretches across the sky for this you dont need a telescope just a tripod and a timer control for you camera.

10. The Seven Sisters

One of my favorites and an easy target to photograph such a glorious sight in the night sky best looked at with binoculars I think but you can get in close with your telescope.

11. The Whirlpool Galaxy

This is a bit hard to find but once you find it using the camera will bring out the details you cant see with the naked eye.

12. NGC884 & 868

Amazing star cluster in the constellation of Perseus

13. Mars in the beehive cluster

You will have to get up early to catch mars most times but it a wonderful sight in the telescope and easy to image better with a webcam like most of the planets.

14. Lunar Eclipse
When you get a chance at a Lunar Eclipse timing and preparation are important but so so worth it.

15. The Triangulum Galaxy M33

This is one tricky Galaxy to see yet alone photograph you will need a very dark sky and perfect conditions but its well worth the effort.

16. Galaxy M101

This was hard to find so would suggest very dark sky's for this one.

17.M81 and 82 Galaxys

A wonderful pair of galaxy's to image tricky to find but well worth the effort.

18. Galaxy G891

Again not too easy to find most Galaxy's are tricky little blighter's to find though so keep at it.

19. M77 Galaxy

Small but good looking Galaxy in the constellation of Cygnus the swan

20. Horse head and flame nebula in Orion

Very lovely nebula this and worth having a go at when Orion is in the sky in the winter months.

21. Galaxy M109

This is a very cool galaxy but not that bright so choose a good dark night and look for it in the constellation of Ursa Major where there are many good galaxys to image.

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