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How would I take a photo of a scene like this?

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Ive got a 'Skywatcher 150pl' reflector through FLO for Christmas, and on a particular website I saw this photo, which they said is an example of a photo taken with this scope....and this photo looks fantastic!

I am new to astronomy, and I know to take a photo like this you would require im guessing a lot of new kit and experience.

However, I was wondering what kit you would need and how you would take a particular photo like this. If anyone could shed any light on this it would be much appreciated!

I would also like to take photos similar to this where you can see the star trails? Do you need a motor to take pictures of star trails?

Sorry if these questions have been asked a million times already but thanks in advance!


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I might be mistaken but thats 2 images merged together. The stars and nebulas are Bernards loop in Orion I think and a seperate foreground photo then merged over the top.

To obtain an image like this needs a very widefield scope most proberly a refractor, also a reducer to make it faster, a very good camera and at a guess 10 hours of exposure.

Then at least 10 hours processing it.

If this was taken by a 150PL I'll eat my hat if I had one.

Edited by Doc
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Hi Musrol,

Could you give a link to this website ?

The photo has a look of E200 about it.

I'm guessing it could have been a camera mounted on that scope with a wide angle lens.

If not, I want one for Christmas !


Edited by davew
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Taken from the OVL website :

Photo taken with 15075PEQ3-2 (Explorer-150), piggybacking a 50mm lens, f2.8, Kodak Elitechrome 200 ISO slide film, exposed for 12 minutes.

4,800 feet above sea level, in the desert south of Tucson Arizona.


At least I don't have to eat my hat :D

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That's a fantastic picture for sure, but it wasn't taken with a telescope. The large red semicircle is called "Barnards loop" and requires a lot of exposure time to capture with such definition, even in a dark sky.

To capture a scene like this, you would need a tracking mount, or an astrotrac, and a DSLR capable of long exposures, and a good wide angle FAST lens. There are some similar, perhaps not quite so spectacular pics in the widefield section of this forum, just go back 12 months or so, and they have details of the equipment used and exposure times etc.

It would also help if the camera was modified by removing the filter which blocks the kind of red light that comes through in that loop and other red areas.

You would then need to do a single longish exposure just of the foreground, with no tracking, and then bascially cut and paste it over the background. The background in this picture is very likely a whole series of shots, stacked together, to give a combined exposure time much greater than just one exposure.

You could take this kind of pic, it is entirely doable by the amateur with modest equipment.



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An image almost identical to this (but without foreground) was featured on the last page of Dcember's Astronomy. It does not say what it was taken with, but it states it is a guided exposure with a special filter that slightly diffuses the bright star images. My Canon DSLR fixed 50mm lens has a similar FOV. The blurb you quoted makes clear it is taken with a film camera & 50mm lens - so that is your answer. You could take an image like this with a Canon EOS 1000 body (appx £330) and a canon 50mm lens (about £120) - so it would cost £450 unless you have such camera. You could buy the EOS 1000 packaged with a zoom lens for about £400 instead. However, the 50mm fixed focal length lens is much superior to the stick zoom lens, and delivers a very sharp image, and more stable focusing; it is a lovely lens, and quite cheap compared to what you can pay for lenses. I have no idea what the filter is used in the image in the magazine - but I can't tell whether the same process has been applied on the image you have linked to (too small). I guess having the stars diffused gets round the potential overexposure of some of the stars for the length of the exposure needed - although I can't say I'm keen on big fat stars.


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I think this fascinating image has to be two images to have captured that much nebulosity. The following image of Orion was taken with a 50mm Canon prime lens and an APS sized one shot colour sensor and required 8 X 100 second exposures and some serious processing to extract the nebulosity!

So, in summary, I think you would need to make a two frame composite to match your example.


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