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  1. #1

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    Shooting the night skys.

    While making supper I heard on the radio that Mars will be a great position for trying some astro photography. Won,t be this close again until the year 2018.
    Having never been successful shooting skywards I thought it prudent to ask if any members could give me a few hints. I have lots of lenses and film (B&W / color print). Maybe f11 or 16 and 1/125th? I really don,t know.
    I will now do some surfing to get more information on this subject.(The dishes can wait,more important things at hand)

    Mike

  2. #2
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Never done it myself, but you might try:

    http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/astromenu.html

    Good luck

  3. #3
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Mike,

    This is a bigger question than you might realize. What kind of photos do you want: wide angle shots of constellations, close-up views of the planet mars itself, star trails, long exposures of deep sky objects, etc? There are many types of astrophotography that require different films, equipment, and techniques, and many require a fair bit of trial and error learning to become competent. The topic takes a book to cover decently, and several books to cover extremely thoroughly.

    Covington's book, see the web site mentioned by David Brown, is an excellent resource and will take you from beginner to advanced techniques. Robert Reeves' Wide Field Astrophotography is also great (search for a reference to it on another thread here on APUG) for photographing with regular lenses (no telescope). Wallis & Provin "A manual of advanced celestial photography" is out of print, but superb.

    This is not a topic that any single post can begin to describe. Tell us more specifics about what you want to do and we can give you some more info and perhaps pointers.

    For starters, to track the stars with your camera during long exposures search on "Trott drive", "scotch drive", "scotch mount" or "barn door drive" in google. You'll find something useful that you can build yourself without too much trouble.

    Lee

  4. #4

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    Hi Lee,
    Just after I posted my question I realized it was like asking "How do you build a boat?".
    Guess I would like to focus on Mars and capture a few nearby stars to show a size perspective. If I can,t get outside the cities "light pollution" the shots can,t be exposed for more than 30sec.

    "Space. The Final frontier"

  5. #5
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Mike,

    A back-of-the envelope rough calculation of the maximum size of Mars at its closest in a couple of days:

    maximum diameter about 20 seconds of arc, or .0055 degrees

    angle of view of a 500mm lens = about 4.125 degrees on the long axis of a 35mm frame

    So on 35mm film with a 500mm lens, you can get about 645 Mars diameters along the 36mm dimension, giving a size of about .0558 millimeters for the diameter of Mars on the film.

    In other words, Mars is small, even if it appears bright, and you'll need special equipment to get it to appear large enough for a perspective on size. Even with enough focal length, capturing a moment of still air with good enough "seeing" for detail on the planet is very elusive, and one of the reasons professional observatories are built on high mountains with still local pools of air.

    For a wider angle view with distinctive Mars and star colors (i.e. reasonable expectations for your situation), shoot with a barn door drive, a Fuji 400 ISO print film or Elite Chrome 200, and bracket your exposure times widely. A well aligned barn door drive can give you a few minutes of good tracking with a 135mm or shorter lens, and a really well aligned drive (experience and knowledge required) with no tangent error will get you up to 180mm to 300mm for up to 15 minutes or so.

    You should also be able to get star trails for Mars and surrounding bright stars (such as the Pleiades and Hyades) with either of the above films and a fixed tripod. Bracket your exposures. Colors will show here as well.

    Lee



 

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