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Photographing The Milky Way


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Ladies & Gentlemen,

My immediate requirement is somewhat different from your usual requests. I have my telescope(s) for viewing but what I would really like to do is take images of the milky way using my canon 550D and a Samyang 2.8/14mm lens. I have had reasonable success using 20-25 second exposures but would like to extend this. I've got the chance to get a EQ5 with synscan mount but I'm not too sure if this is under / over kill or even suitable. As I say, I have no interest in adding a telescope to this, it would purely be for photography.

Should I buy the mount or consider something else?


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The mount you mention should be fine but possibly a little heavy if you decided to get out to a dark site with a fully portable setup where Milky Way shots would be best.

The most effective shots that I have seen do have some foreground interest in the image so this complicates things if you want to capture both with an eq mount some of the camera trackers do allow for half speed tracking that gives you reasonable results.


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Hi mart1nw.

You should not take what i say as a roule, because i'm a beginner too.

As my apsulute first attempt at taking a picure of the sky was of the milkyway i have tought about what i can do with my new acuptment.

If you think about the math. If you use the rool of 500's that i found on a yotube channel you can get about 33 sec exposure @ 15mm with a standard lens.

Likewise you can get about 1.25 sec expousure with a 400mm telsescope without tracking. As you only need the traking capabillity of the mount " as you

probably wont use a autoguider for milkway", you dont need a mount with any options other than tracking. If you have a good polar alignment in a 400mm

scope you can get about 60 sec exposure without guiding. Then 33 / 1.25 = 26.5 "the ratio between the 15mm lens and the 400mm scope". Then thinking the

scope can go from 1.25 to 60 sec by tracking then devide 60 by 1.24 = 48. Now you can multiply 26.5 * 48 = 1272 and devid by 60 = 21.2 minutes.

No this is a theoretichal appriximation, and i'm not a mathmatichian. The rule of 500 can be inacurate and the "fact that you can take 60 sec exposures with

a 400mm scope with tracking can be wrong". The only thing i'm trying to say here is that a normal lens at about 15mm with tracking will give you werry long

exposures. If i were you and had no plan of a scope, i would go for a werry simple "and inexpencive" mount.

Also as Ailen 13 sad. It will be a issue if you want to take picrures with a foreground with a eq mount as the ground wil "rotate" as you expose. But you can always

take a picture of the forground and point your camera higher in the sky to shoot the milkway, and make a composit in post prosessing.

Hope you have good luck in your tracked camera shots, but don't blame me if the math is off :)

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Have you looked into an iOptron or Astrotrac? You would need a very sturdy tripod with these, but they're very portable. I have a friend who uses the iOptron and he finds it easy to set up. I use an Astrotrac and find the polarscope (expensive and necessary!) quite hard to use, but it's a great bit of kit.


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Thanks guys.

@Alexxx, I had't seen the iOptron. I'll investigate more.

I've also stumbled upon the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer. If I can find anyone with stock, I might take a look at that.

I've decided to let the EQ5 go, so I'm now back to basics.

Thank you all once again


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This is exactly what i have been trying to achieve, I bought the star adventurer but I have had better results with just a normal tripod if im honest even at half sidereal rate, reason is when i am just using my tripod I tend to compose my shot better if i am using a tracking mount im faffing about pointing it at the north star and then i cant move it unless i want to re align it again. Then theres the tendancy to do longer exposures which blur the landscape. I went out a few nights ago and took some single subs and they turned out alright, I then went out again last night using the tracker and they are not half as good as I,m trying to do too much with it and the whole thing gets lost its neither one thing or the other, I have even thought of trying bracketing three shots and running it through a HDR to see what turns up

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The iOptron doesn't take as much load as the Astrotrac, but it'll be fine. The Star Adventurer looks good. I forgoten about that.

I've heard that people take long exposures of the sky and short ones for the landscape then combine them in photoshop (or other), although I've not tried it myself.

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I'd chuck in the Ioptron SmartEQ as an option. Goto and potential guiding in a £450 airline portable package. I've managed 2min subs unguided at 12-24mm and 50mm. It'll also take a small frac if you decide that you do want a scope.

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the milky way was my second target after the moon, i have used the 18-55mm kit lens set at 18mm, f3.5 and a fixed alt/az mount and i was very happy with the results.

I managed to get about 20s exposures with very little trailing. they were taken in a small town so no much LP to deal with

this is the result i got stacking 25 x 20s pictures with 10 darks.

With your lens i guess you'll get much more data depending how well it performs wide open or stepped down a bit.

Clear skies :)

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