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Astronomical Camera

Astronomical Cameras: A Guide to Astrophotography

Astrophotography is a hobby that is easy to fall into and quickly you find you are overwhelmed with a consuming passion! It may begin innocently by grabbing your digital camera and snapping a picture of the full moon framed between some trees, or the moon rising across your favorite lake. However it starts, that one innocent photo leads you on a quest to discover what other big-sky images you can capture and you are on a quest for any information you can glean to discover tips, tricks, and techniques to adding images to your own personal gallery.

While you can purchase books, videos, and equipment to learn about astrophotography, eventually your budget is going to become a concern. Thankfully, there is a ton of free information available online. Reviews can help you decide which equipment is worth investing in while online forums, articles, and how-to-guides offer all the information you need to get started and even advance your skills to the next level. As you explore online astrophotography galleries and admire the breathtaking images, you will notice many galleries encourage feedback and questions from visitors. Taking advantage of the offer to contact these photographers may well lead you to invaluable resources simply by asking a few questions! The resources here are just a few examples of many options available on the web. Enjoy exploring the growing field of astrophotography.


History

  • History of Astrophotography Timeline 1800-1958 (PDF) - This is a timeline of astrophotography from the early 1800s through 1958. The first images on leather deteriorated rapidly but the search was on to capture the images in the skies.
  • Brief History of Astrophotography – Published by the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia, this brief overview begins with the creation of the first semi-permanent images in in the 1830s and explains the importance of photography to recording astronomical findings.
  • A Short History of Emulsion-Based Astrophotography – The advances in photographic technology has opened new possibilities for astrophotography for pleasure as well as scientific study and research. This report discusses the progress of technology with the use of emulsion-based astrophotography.
  • Stars to Pixels: Astrophotography in the Southern Hemisphere (PDF) – From the first photos of the moon in 1941, using the newest technology to see through space dust and gases, this document gives a lot of information on the progress made in astrophotography. Includes highlights of the Milky Way made possible with technology and equipment now available.


Equipment

  • Deep-Sky Imaging with Digital Cameras - Digital cameras are affordable and offer the high resolution, versatility needed to take good quality astronomy images. Single shots of bright images can easily be accomplished by holding the eyepiece to a telescope and clicking, for wide-angle shots, a tripod to hold the camera steady and a set exposure makes it easy for anyone to take impressive pictures. This article also gives tips for overcoming electronic noise.
  • Taking Your Astrophotography to a New Realm – This PDF publication from Celestron, manufacturers of astrophotography cameras and equipment, gives good information regarding equipment from basic setups to advanced professional cameras and programs.
  • 2012 Best Beginner Astrophotography Telescopes (Reviews) – With so many options on the market, review various models of telescopes before making a purchase to avoid the expense and frustration of finding out the model you just spent hard-earned money on does not meet your specific applications or needs. Here are reviews for the best beginner telescopes this year.
  • Remote Astrophotography – Investing in the latest telescopes and equipment to capture deep-sky images is not possible for many. With the use of remote astrophotography services, it is possible to ‘rent’ the use of telescopes set up at various locations and control the views and images you wish to capture from your computer! This not only saves you the money of investing in equipment that can quickly become outdated, but you also do not have to worry about transporting, setting up, and taking down equipment to capture so amazing images.
  • Remote Imaging Setup (at home) – This article gives tips and instructions in setting up a remote imaging station to control your own telescope and camera from inside your home.
  • Web Cam Imaging with Small Telescopes (PDF) – According to the information in this document, poor software, or equipment is not to blame for many poor images using a web cam. Rather, the problems are often a lack of understanding imaging capture techniques. There are great tips and information for anyone using web cam imaging and wishing to refine their photos to be found here.
  • Get Started in Astrophotography using a Web Cam – This article provides a list of basic equipment needed for using a web cam in astrophotography. Also included are tips for setting up and capturing images.
  • Getting Started Using a Digital Camera for Astrophotography (PDF) – The affordability of high-resolution digital cameras means more people are becoming interested in astrophotography. This is a discussion of tips both beginners and some intermediate photographers will find useful when using a digital camera to capture good images using a point and shoot type digital camera.
  • Free Astrophotography Software – Free software found here includes an almanac to calculate sunrise, sunset, moon phases, and constellation visibility. Other tools available include exposure calculators, jpeg software, and file management.
  • Freeware for Web Cam Astrophotography – This resource is provided by the Kitt Peak National Observatory Imaging workshop. Essential free software for web cam astrophotography is available as downloads from this site.
  • Pixinsight Software for Astrophotography – This is not a free software program however, there is a free timed trial available before you purchase to see if this program is what you need for your astrophotography applications. The site includes some great images in a slideshow presentation.


Methods

  • Astrophotography 101 – Are you ready to move from star trails to other types of astrophotography imaging? This article gives set up information and tips for expanding your portfolio of deep-sky shots using equipment from a simple point and click cameras to expensive professional setups.
  • Deep Sky Astrophotography for Amateurs –Discussions on the use of a tripod, piggyback set ups, tracking, prime focus, and storing and protected your images is cover in this article.
  • Astrophotography with a Single-lens Reflex Camera – YES! You can take great astrophotography shots with a 35mm camera! The biggest issue is making sure the 35mm camera you choose has the ability to manually set shutter exposure for extended periods without draining a battery. More tips that are useful are included in this article at the Astronomy magazine site.
  • Imaging the Deep Sky – In addition to great images, this site by George Greaney, contains valuable articles on CCD and film Imaging.
  • Astrophotography Methods – Here you will find information regarding cameras, piggybacking, afocal method, and prime focus. This site also includes an image section.
  • Astrophotography Techniques – In addition to many articles containing information covering a wide range of astrophotography subjects, this page also contains links to recommended books on astrophotography.
  • Astrophotography and the HDR Image Processing – This a discussion of the use of HDR processing to overcome challenges involved in astrophotography.
  • Astrophotography Tutorials – These tutorials involve the use of digital cameras to capture images and then how best to process the images for optimal viewing.


Picture sites

  • StarMatt: Astrophotography - In addition to an online gallery of deep space images, you can also purchase prints of these images from Starmatt here.
  • Russell Croman: Astrophotography –Russell Croman takes many of his photos from his backyard observatory in Texas. In addition to some breathtaking images, he also shares his equipment choice, setup, and additional resources on his site. Croman invites visitors to his site to contact him with any questions.
  • Fera Photography: Astrophotography – This site has been recently updated to include new images. All images have been taken by bob and Janice Fera and are available as prints by contacting the photographers through their website or by email.
  • Castleman Astrophotography: Pictures and Videos – In addition to some outstanding single shots, this gallery also includes videos!
  • One of the First Known Photos taken of the Sun (1845) – Taken in 1845 by Jean-Bernard-Léon this is one of the earliest known images of the sun.
  • Deep South Astrophotography – Beautiful images of the Aurora Australis are featured on this site of southern hemisphere images.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day – A new picture is featured on this site each day and includes explanations from professional astronomers.
  • Hubble Space Telescope Photos – This is an archive of the best of the Hubble Space Telescope images. There is also a link to FAQ about the Hubble images at the top of this page.
  • CICLOPS – Photos of Saturn – Lightning flashing Saturn’s dayside, the swirling of Titan’s southern vortex, and more is found on this site filled with images from Saturn.
  • Alex Mellinger-Astrophotography – A unique panoramic view of the Milky Way can be seen on this site. Images for this panoramic view were obtained from observatories in South Africa and Texas.


General Astrophotography Resources

  • A Guide to Astrophotography with DSLR Cameras – This is not a traditional book about astrophotography and digital cameras. This resource is a CD Rom that uses a mouse over feature on the images to show you the before and after comparisons of images. Another helpful feature with this resource is a built-in search that allows you to immediately link to pages with the term or information you are seeking.
  • Astrophotography Narratives & Lessons –Willis Greiner Photography offers narratives surrounding some of their more memorable astrophotography times and lessons given in an informal narrative setting.
  • Landscape Astrophotography Tutorial (video) – This is a tutorial on landscape astrophotography taken during a night of photo taking.
  • Astrophotography Basics – This basic resource involves a lot of material discussing everything from simple camera setup to sky mapping and exposure calculations.
  • Extensive Listing of Astronomy Clubs and Organizations – Looking for others with your passion for star gazing and capturing deep-sky images? This page offers an extensive list of astronomy clubs and organizations organized by states.
  • Advanced Astrophotography – This article discusses the use of mono cameras and external filters for advanced astrophotography. This is part six in a series by the Sky at Night magazine.

This article was written by , co-founder and managing partner of CCTV Camera Pros. If you found it useful, please share it.

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