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Thanks to everyone who attended Thursday’s Facebook chat/roundtable on astrophotography! It was great to talk to so many of you interested in shooting images of space and stars.
Our special guest, Jay GaBany, had plenty of advice for iReporters. Here are just a few of the highlights:
1. The basics
“The basic equipment needed for astrophotography is a good tripod and a DSLR camera or a camera that enables you to take long exposures (at least 30 seconds).”
2. Astrophotography is best outside the city
“Light pollution is a big problem and I recommend that you drive away from the city if possible. If that is not practical, then aim for the highest part of the sky. This is where light pollution is at its lowest. Neutral density filters will not remove light pollution. In fact, it will make the stars appear dimmer to the camera sensor.”
3. What about iPhones?
“iPhones are great for taking pictures of people and places you visit, but iPhones are not capable of taking long enough exposures to capture stars. However, it should be possible to hold your iPhone up to a telescope eyepiece and take an image of the moon.”
4. Top telescopes
“I recommend Meade or Celestron telescopes for beginners. They have (relatively) inexpensive instruments that can track the stars as they move through the heavens. You can attach a camera and take pictures of the planets!”
5. When to practice what you’ve learned next
“Here's some night sky events that are coming up.
“October 20, 21 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak.
“November 13 - Total Solar Eclipse. The path of totality will only be visible in parts of extreme northern Australia and the southern Pacific Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in most parts of eastern Australia and New Zealand.
“November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is one of the better meteor showers to observe, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 - 20."
And one more thing…
“Here's a tip for composing your next sky picture- include something on the ground such as a tree or building. It results in a very interesting picture because it gives people some they can recognize.”
Thanks to GaBany for all the great feedback! We look forward to your future shots of the heavens!
I have now moved (in May 2011) from a rural enviroment into an semi urban enviroment and as such have lost the ability to take these types of pictures. This is a shame as I had been able to photograph such things as the International Space Station passing overhead as well as lunar and solar eclipses.
I can't believe I missed the iReport FB chat on astrophotography! I have spent many cold winter nights outside with a 4.5" Meade reflector and an Olympus c-2000 (really basic telescope and point-and-shoot camera) shooting the skies. Don't be deterred by urban light pollution. I was able to get not-bad planetary images and even recognizable images of the Orion Nebula in my back yard close to Atlanta.
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It's incredibly exciting to see an event like the lunar eclipse generate so much excitement about astronomy and astrophotography! I recently became interested in astrophotography myself and have been focusing on primarily using an iPhone as my camera. I'm working on perfecting these techniques now, but the guest's comments on not being able to use an iPhone aren't entirely accurate. While there are some limitations compared to an expensive DSLR, it's possible to get great images of the moon, planets, and even some nebulae and star clusters with just an iPhone. I'm documenting my iPhone astrophotography strategies and experiences at www.iAstrophotography.com
Keep looking up!
Thanks for sharing, @!Astrophoto. We love your enthusiasm!