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How long does it take for good astro pics?


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:) Hi folks,

Just thought i could start this thread to get an understanding on how long it has taken you to be able to produce decent AP pics??? As one day I would like to give it a try, so far ive been reading up on the basics and it seems a mamoth task! But i see peoples pics up here that are amazing! and they have said they've been at it 1year, 2 years etc..

So how long did it take you to get your first good'n!? ;)

Thanks,

Michael

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After fifteen years I thought I'd got the hang of it.... then technology changed from film to CCD and I had to start all over again.:)

You can be lucky and get a very nice decorative image on your first night! but to fully understand and appreciate the variables involved in regularly achieving success.... well, that goes on...and on....and on....;) Allow at least 6 to 12 months......

Ken

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It is a continuous process with highs and lows (I am currently on a low!) but for deep sky imaging, provided you have a driven equatorial mount and a minimum of a DSLR camera, you should be able to take satisfying images within four or five sessions.

The first image that I took that really gave me that 'wow' feeling was my third session, taken with a DSLR on a non-GoTo but driven equatorial mount - it still gives me a tingle when I see it!

Remember that this is very much a two part process - just as much time must be allotted to the processing of your data.

Go on, have a go, you know you want to!!

This is the image I am talking about, I know it is an obvious target but that is the best way to get your first wow moment ....

orion141104copy2.jpg

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Within a few sessions you will be amazed at the differences... A methodical approach certainly helps... and you will Always get those nights when everything seems to go wrong...

Whilst everything is "critical" FOCUS is something that can make huge differences to you images...

Edited by Psychobilly
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What fascinates me is how you can be happy with an image when you take it then a year later you see nothing in it but blunders. It will be nice when - if - I ever reach a semi plateau and last year's stuff looks at least okay!!

Olly

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Taking the images is a matter of being really thorogh and getting your gear working correctly, making sure focus and tracking are spot on etc.

The thing that's a never ending learning process is processing.

I've been at it since the end of 2006, and still have a long way to go...the more you learn the more you realise that there is to learn :)

Cheers

Rob

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Decide on a budget..

Get the best kit you can for as close as possible to that budget....

and then try and get the best you can out of that kit...

Once you feel that soemthing is "holding you back" try and decide if you want or need to go around the next "spending round"...

Get what YOU want out of the "hobby" and try and avoid the pressure to jump on the upgrade bandwagon...

Peter...

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It takes people varying lengths of time to get into it, personally it took me about 1 year to get to the point that I thought my images were about average, and another year after that I'm gradually getting better and learning loads but I'm still constantly trying to improve what I'm doing.

The problem is that there is no limit to what you can experiment with, purchase or develop so it's a constant learning curve but it's a fascinating journey.

The best thing you can do is come on here and read, read and read some more. Just about every topic you could ever think of has been covered on here, and if it's not just ask

Good luck :)

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Something else to bear in mind during this journey, no matter how good an image you may produce - and I have moved on somewhat from the image above - YOU will never be entirely happy with your work! This is human nature and what drives us to improve all the time but although after a while the improvements will become subtle, you will notice them and that is what really matters. Never be put off by the apparent excellence of other people's work, use their images to aspire to rather assume that you could never do the same.

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no matter how good an image you may produce ... YOU will never be entirely happy with your work! This is human nature and what drives us to improve all the time

Too true, too true. I feel I've got to the limits of my solar observation kit (taken a couple of years to get there) & the next significant upgrade is £8,000 ....

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& the next significant upgrade is £8,000 ....

Scary isn't it? I really need to move on from my Skywatcher ED 80 if I am going to get those really small star sizes that I yearn for but although not as much as £8,000 I reckon £4,300 (for a Takahashi FSQ-106ED) is where I want to be!

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So based on the last two replies its not just how long... but how much as well ?

Absolutely not!! I have been very pleased with using the same (original) gear for the last five years - the smaller stars would be nice, of course but they can wait (in fact they will HAVE to wait)!

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Another thing that we sometimes miss is that a "good" astro pic is not necessarily a pretty one.

You can try and do science with your images instead. Research images rarely look pretty but they've answered long-standing questions. In science images, your aim is control and knowledge of the size of the uncertainties in the image which enables you to know if you've captured a physical phenomenon.

This one, by Christian Buil, will not win any conventional competitions (it's deliberately defocused and the Dumbbell Nebula looks awful) but it was used to detect an exoplanet around star HD189733 by monitoring its brightness.

photo_exo3.jpg

He did this with a DSLR and a Canon lens.

photo_exo2.jpg

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With a little help from his spectroscope!

No. With a rig like that - and defocused images - and helped by the high altitude site & pristine skies - measurement of stellar magnitudes to ~0.001 magnitudes is feasible, which is more than sufficient for time series photometry of exoplanet transits.

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Scary isn't it? I really need to move on from my Skywatcher ED 80 if I am going to get those really small star sizes that I yearn for but although not as much as £8,000 I reckon £4,300 (for a Takahashi FSQ-106ED) is where I want to be!

If you go for the Baby Q it's more than a grand off and no slouch...

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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With a little help from his spectroscope!:)

Actually that was a different detection, based on Doppler shifts. The one I am referring to was based on straight photometry with no extra gizmos.

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