Shooting wide angle long exposures of the sky is always fun, because you never quite know what you will get. On an August night I decided to take a few 20 seconds exposures of the constellation Perseus hoping to catch a few open clusters. However got surprised by the faint glow of Messier 33 (Triangulum Galaxy) in the photos. This is the furthest object that can be observed to the naked eye, located 2.7 million light years away, and part of the Local Group which includes Andromeda and our Milky Way.
Constellations Perseus and Triangulum (Benoit Guertin) – CLICK FOR FULL SCREEN
4 x 20 seconds
August 30, 2019
Most people don’t plan to take photos of the Moon, they just happen. You are outside doing something else and then you spot it over the horizon or high in the sky: “Hey that’s a pretty Moon tonight Maybe I should take a photo!”
I find that normal camera lens, even telephoto don’t do it justice. The setting and focus can be very tricky. The multi-lens setup of telephoto can also cause internal reflections or chromatic aberrations making the resulting photo less appealing.
So just grab the telescope tube and leave the tripod behind. If you have a small APO refractor you can simply hold the tube, but for anything heavier you’ll need to prop yourself up on something like a railing or a car roof.
The photo below is a single shot at 1/250sec and ISO400 with Canon 80D and William Optics Gran Turismo 71 held on the end of my arms.
80% Illuminated Moon on August 31, 2018 [Benoit Guertin]
The setup takes only a few minutes and the results are always worth it.
Campgrounds are offer good occasions to observe the night sky; away from the city lights or industrial parks. And with little more than a camera on a tripod, some fantastic pictures can be taken.
But there are two drawbacks:
1) Campers make campfires that create a haze near the ground.
2) Trailers and vehicles often have lights on that ruin the show.
Mars (left) and the Milky Way – Benoit Guertin
Nothing like leaving the city lights behind and heading to a rural camp ground to check up on our galaxy.
Every summer the galaxy presents itself across the sky in the norther hemisphere, an ideal time to enjoy the view and spot a few open cluster along the way.
Canon 80D 17mm F/4 ISO6400
Stack of 10 x 10 seconds
A few weeks ago after taking some photos of Jupiter, I changed my setup to do some long exposures on an easy target: a globular cluster. Unfortunately I forgot to note down the name of what I had photographed! So a few weeks later when I found the time to process the images I was at a loss to identify what Messier object it was. However, after an evening of matching up stars surrounding the cluster and I was able to correctly identify it as Messier 3.
Globular Cluster – Messier 3 (Benoit Guertin)
The above was taken with my Skywatcher 80ED and Canon 80D. It is a stack of 27 x 10sec exposures at ISO3200 on an unguided and roughly aligned mount.
Looking at my archives I found that I had imaged M3 about 10 years ago with the same telescope, so I decided to align both old and new image and see if anything would stand out. And to my surprise, spotted one star that appeared to have shifted. To help identify the star I colorized one of the photos and subtracted from the other (done in GIMP). All the stars within the field of view lined up except this one; the two colored spots are not aligned!
High PM Star BD+29 34256
To be sure this wasn’t on an error on my part I did a bit of research and found it to be a know high proper-motion star BD+29 34256.
It’s not everyday someone with amateur backyard astronomy gear can show how a star has moved in 10 years.
The last time Jupiter was in a favorable position for good photos was 2010, so while I have photographed the planet a few times since, the results weren’t really satisfactory. So on July 7th, finally took the equipment out and set my mind to image some planets (Venus was also in a good position).
As luck would have it, the Great Red Spot was pointing our way, and landed my best shot of it yet. We may be past the May 2018 sweet spot for opposition, but that doesn’t mean you should not attempt to observer or photograph the Jupiter. Still plenty of good days ahead.
Jupiter with moons Europa (left) and Io (right)
I took about 11 video sequences of the planet, and sure enough the last one yielded the best result. I guess as the evening progressed, the air cooled and provided for better viewing.
Televue 3X barlow
Vesta Webcam with IR/UV filter
Processing with Registax and GIMP.
Last Saturday evening, if you happened to look outside and had a clear view there is no way you could miss the Venus-Moon close encounter in the dark blue sky. But just in case it was cloudy, or you weren’t paying attention here it is.
Moon and Venus within 8 degrees on June 16, 2018
For those curious on the camera setting, the above is cropped from a single frame at 33mm f/4.5 1/30sec and ISO800 with Canon 80D.
Moving up to 85mm gives you the image below, also at 1/30sec and ISO800. Both images were hand-held from a bedroom window. Could a tripod have helped? Sure, but I figured I could do just fine , especially with image stabilization enabled on the lens.
Moon and Venus within 8 degrees on June 16, 2018
To put a bit of perspective on the distance of these two heavenly bodies and their apparent size in the sky I’ve added a bit of information on the above image. While Venus may be nearly 4 times larger in diameter, it looks quite small next to the Moon in the sky.