Thursday, 3 January 2008

Orion and Mars

A couple of experiments on a cold, clear night - except for one cloud that decides to obscure Mars. I find useful.

Orion - chosen since I can recognise the 3 stars in the belt. 55-200mm lens used, tripod and remote controller. Experiment was to try and find a decent light level. Seems that the longer I leave the shutter open, the more 'wobble' affects the image. Perhaps atmospherics, but it was a windy night.

f5.6, 1 second IMG_5671-01-1s
f5.6, 4 seconds IMG_5673-01-4s
f5.6, 15 seconds IMG_5675-01-15s
f5.0, 30 seconds IMG_5669-01-30s

I may have caught some of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower (?!) completely by accident, as I was failing to get The Plough into one shot, and captured this with a 5second exposure.


Lessons learnt - photographing space is cold and unforgiving. Automatic focusing is out, and everything has to be manually focused - a few wee dots on a background of other dots, or a dark patch. A still night so as not to cause tripod to wobble. Warm clothing. Have a plan. For some constellations, a wider lens is needed. More warm clothing. Don't do it if you are tired and have to get up early the next day.

So, next time, I'll do some research in to the timings, and see what's around to be photographed. Maybe some sort of map of the sky?


BG! said...

Welcome to the wicked world of astrophotography, Duncan. You've some good starter pics there.

Seems to me that the longer exposures show star-trailing, not wobble. It's due to the rotation of the Earth and techie stuff like that. The are ways around it (tracking with the camera on an equatorial mount, or cheat and blag some astrosoftware that can reduce the trails). Mind you, the effect will be less noticeable with a wider field of view.

One thing to mind is indeed the cold. It's not as if you can keep warm by keeping moving, as you would when winter-walking. I always take extra layers and fleece-lined boots.

If your meteors are Quadrantids, I'll be jealous. I've been given the OK for a sortie this coming morning (3a.m - 6a.m.) to bag the peak of the display on camera, but we've 8/8 cloud-cover here atm and snow's forecast for the morning, so it doesn't look good.

I'll be posting about this matter later.