Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Stargazing Astrophotography Question

  1. Feb 12, 2006 #1
    I have a Meade ETX70. Is it possible to photograph anything but the sun and moon with it? If so what would be the best method? My Canon Digital Rebel SLR is too heavy for it. What about a color ccd like the Meade Deep Sky Imager II? I would really like to get some good pictures of Saturn and galaxies/nebulae.
    I am also considering upgrading my telescope. Would love the LX200gps but am concerned about lugging it in and out without damaging it or me and I am not sure I want to spend that much money.
    Any input is greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You may want to Google on webcam astrophotography. Most webcams are very lightweight, and people have successfully taken some pretty nice shots with them. They seem to be popular with people who do planetary photography, since the exposure times can be short and multiple images can be stacked to improve the final image.
  4. Feb 23, 2006 #3
    Larkspur! lol! O.T.

    "And he watched, as the pretender faced that black void that every actor knows, and fears, and makes his sacrifices to..."

    MAN do I miss Adams & Brooks!

    Great screen name bro.
  5. Feb 23, 2006 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Check out the astrophotography thread at the top of the main astronomy forum....

    Yes, you can take decent pictures of the planets and the brigher deep-sky objects with that telescope. The DSI goes in the place of an eyepiece, and will give you somewhere in the neighborhood of 3/4 degree of field of view, which should yield particularly good photos of the Orion Nebula. For planets, you will need a 2x or higher Barlow lens to get any kind of detail (much higher magnification is needed).

    The DSI II is a lot of money compared to the cost/capability of the scope. You may want to start with a webcam as suggested above, and see what you can do with that (the moon, Jupiter, Saturn...) before moving on to a more expensive camera. There is a significant learning curve to astrophotography...

    Also, check out my website! www.russsscope.net
  6. Feb 24, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I should also mention that you should completely avoid "prime-focus" astrophotography for a while, in which you physically connect the camera to the telescope and use the telescope like an enormous telephoto lens. This is by far the most difficult kind of astrophotography.

    I suggest that you instead attempt "afocal" coupling between the telescope and camera. This just means you set the camera up on a tripod and put the camera lens where your eye would be, peering into the eyepiece. The weight of your SLR won't be an issue, since it'll be supported on a tripod. Focus won't be a problem, because you'll focus the telescope with your eye first, then put your camera's focus to infinity. There will be some vignetting, and you'll need an eyepiece with adequate eye relief, but afocal astrophotography is about as easy as it gets.

    - Warren
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2006
  7. Feb 24, 2006 #6
    Wow! Great photos!
    Thanks so much!
  8. Feb 24, 2006 #7
    I have taken some afocal shots of the moon and the sun(with filter) and have some nice photos but not much luck with the planets. My eyepiece lenses are not the highest quality...perhaps that is where I should begin my upgrade.

    Thanks for the info!
  9. Feb 24, 2006 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  10. Feb 24, 2006 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Really? For me, prime focus astrophotography wasn't all that tough to start with except for being able to keep the subject centered at high magnification. That takes a little bit of practice, but it isn't too bad. I can think of a handful of issues I would think make afocal coupling difficult:

    - I would think that the alignment between camera and eyepiece would be difficult for afocal coupling.
    -Doesn't the size of the SLR camera's objective create an image scale problem? Ie, a tiny image in the middle of a black field?
    -How do you focus the camera (or is it just set at infinity?)?
    -With afocal coupling, it is difficult to stack lots of images.

    One possible benefit (not really sure) is it might help overcome the short focal length of the telescope. For prime focus photography, larkspur will need at least a 5x barlow lens and maybe stacking multiple lenses to get enough magnification to see anything.

    For webcam astrophotography, you remove the lens assembly of the webcam, glue a 35mm film canister (with the bottom cut off) or some other 1.5" tube to it, and put it in place of the eyepiece.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2006
  11. Feb 24, 2006 #10


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Thanks. I put it up over Christmas and intended to do some more tutorial-type-stuff, but I haven't gotten around to it. Hearing the experiences of others is the best way to get up that learning curve.

    Another forum with a good astrophotography section:

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Astrophotography Question
  1. Astrophotography photos (Replies: 315)