Deep Sky Astro

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Deep Sky Astro

Postby dhruvausster » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:46 pm

During this rough patch of time for the whole world, I really needed to escape to sanity after self-isolating for 16 days. I drove about an hour from home which is tucked in a remote corner of a coastal town in New Zealand. Visions of the outer space has always been my stressbuster. Enjoying the night sky is simple and can be done in many ways – lying down on a blanket, using a telescope or taking photos of it (my most preferred option). These things are more enjoyable under dark skies, far from light pollution.
Capturing the beauty of the night sky is not really a new thing in this digital era. I have been shooting wide-field astro photos since 2016. From last year I wanted to go deeper than the milkyway – on specific celestial objects. That’s where some skill, slightly better equipment and patience comes into picture. Primary challenge shooting deepsky photos is that the Earth rotates at the speed of approximately 1600KMPH. The celestial objects are dim and shooting longer exposures gives a good amount of detail. When you are shooting on a longer lens with long exposures of more than 10-15s, you will end up getting star trails.
To compensate on Earth’s rotation either of these two options can be used: 1) Taking multiple short exposures and stacking them in processing software such as Photoshop, Deep Sky Stacker (paid), Sequator (free). 2) using an equatorial mount or often known as star tracker that uses internal clock rotor and rotates at the same speed our planet does. I recently bought Skywatcher Star Adventurer and have been getting my head around using it. This one costs about $800/47,000Rs. There are cheaper and smaller options such as iOptron and Skywatcher Orion that does wonderful job. The payload will not be same as the more recent and expensive ones but still works fine if you are an amateur deep sky enthusiast like me. Apps for Android and Iphone are helpful to find famous celestial objects.

The other challenge is aligning it to the Polaris (northern hemisphere) or Polaris Australis (Southern Hemisphere). As Polaris is a bright star in the sky, aligning the equatorial mount using the in-built polar scope is not as hard as aligning it with Polaris Australis as it is a very dim star. If shooting wide-field astro photos, even a rough polar alignment will buy you at least a couple of minutes of good tracking before stars start to form trails. Experimenting with different exposure times and ISO and f-stop will result in a definable cloud presence.
Shooting randomly along the surroundings of Milkyway can give you amazing photos of star clusters.

Gear that I use:
Camera – Canon EOS R
Lens – Samyang 50mm 1.8 / Canon 70-200 f/4
Tracker – Skywatcher Star Adventurer
Tripod – Manfrotto 190X with Ballhead.

I am still an extreme beginner in this world of astrophotography but I have made heaps of mistakes and learnt from it. There is no harm in pointing your camera to the stars and clicking a button. I reckon everyone should give it a go.
Yes, it is an expensive hobby but when you really get into the realm of the night sky, you will not regret it.
Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
Southern Cross & Pointers
Southern-Cross1.jpg (108.96 KiB) Viewed 265 times
Stacked -4-2.JPG
LMC - tracked
Stacked -4-2.JPG (393.01 KiB) Viewed 302 times
Last edited by dhruvausster on Fri Mar 27, 2020 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Deep Sky Astro

Postby Ganesh H Shankar » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:33 pm

Thanks Dhruv, for sharing your experience and the equipments you have used. These images make me humble and philosophical. If billions of suns gets reduced to specs of dust then imagine the position of us in this insignificant planet. The word ‘meaning’ has lost its meaning in my mind. Only things that is left is mystery of nature...
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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