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A look at Astronomical photography - Never Seen Star Wars? (or the Milky Way) - part 5 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

by Mike McNamee Published 01/12/2016


Images - Rob Devenish Canon EOS 1Dx 17mm TS 30s f5.6 at 1600 ISO. Stellarium used to identify the stars that are visible.

There are some other practicalities to consider before you start. If you are having a practice session in your garden make sure that the family donít turn on the lights and open the curtains to check you are OK!

Also turn off your security lights; the last thing you want at the end of a long sequence is the local Macavity turning up and triggering the PIR spotlight.

Unless you are very well versed in the stars, you are going to need a star field map or mobile phone application so that you can find your way around. After trying a couple of things, we came across Stellarium which is free for the PC and a couple of pounds for the iPhone. It is superb, works in conjunction with your phone GPS and also has an optional red interface to preserve your night vision. A compass on your phone is also useful if, for some reason, the allimportant North Star (Polaris) is obscured.


Image - Rob Devenish Baseline exposures: Canon EOS 1Dx 17mm TS 60s f4.0 at 1600 ISO - 80 minutes total exposures. Assembled using tarStaX

Finally donít forget warm clothes; it can get very cold standing around, especially on the preferred frosty nights when things are crystal clear!

Exposure Settings For star trails you can choose a single long exposure or multiple shorter exposures. For the latter you will need a stacking program which can be Lightroom, Photoshop or one of the free utility programs that are available from the web. A sturdy tripod is a must and for single frames the exposure must be limited to prevent the m o v e m e n t of the Earth creating an e l o n g a t e d blur for all your stars except Polaris (which does not move as it is directly above the North Pole). The exposure limit may be calculated using the Ď500 Ruleí which teaches that the exposure in seconds should be less than the number 500 divided by the lens focal length (that equates to 36s for a 14mm lens and 21s for a 24mm lens).

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1st Published 01/12/2016
last update 30/01/2018 12:09:32

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Updated 30/01/2018 12:09:32 Last Modified: Tuesday, 30 January 2018