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Complete Newbie - Taking photos of the Night sky


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Hi All,

I have been interested in getting into astronomy for a few months now. I need help and advice in two areas please:

Telescope

I want to buy a telescope, but don't even know where to start! (a friend told me it would be good to get one with gps bult in, not sure if that's useful advice or not). I would ideally like to get something that I can use to look at as well as take photos with my wife's digital slr (Nikon D3000). Any advice on where to start would be greatly appreciated.

Taking photo's of the night sky

After watching star gazing live this week and watching Mark Thompson's piece on astro photography, I thought,great! I will give this a go! and followed his steps doing the following:

1) Set camera to manual

2) Set exposure/shutter speed to 30 secs

3) Set ISO to 800

4) Set aperture to 5.6

I took my camera tripod and D3000 outside to take photos to get started! :-)

My results however proved a little disappointing.....

Although the steps seemed to work, I found it very hard (when looking through the view finder) to manually focus the stars in view to try and get a clear photo.

Maybe I am running before I can walk so to speak....

Any help, advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Dave1176 :-)

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You need to focus on a very distant object that you can see (maybe a distant light or something?) then without touching the focus set up and start taking pictures with the settings you suggest.

As for astrophotography (I hope you have DEEP pockets!!) I would suggest the book "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards - from FLO - This tells you what you need and what to do. it also tells you what NOT to do - which is important!!

Good luck!

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Many Thanks for the advice, I managed to get a clearer picture now! :-)

As for astrophotography.. maybe I should stick to looking at the moon and maybe planets for the moment. Thanks for the suggestion, I will take a look for the book and start reading up!

Thanks again.

Dave1176

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welcome to sgl i hope you continue with your interest. The telescope doen't need to have gps but it does need a mount that is rock steady and can track well. It also needs to be on either a gem or a wedge so that it can compensate for the earths angle of tilt. The book is an excellent guide to deep space photography and if you read it before buying any equipment will save you a fair bit of money. once again welcome to sgl i hope you enjoy your new hobby.

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dave, if you are interested in moon and planets there is always webcamming, essentially you take a video and use a free software that splits each frame and then stacks one on top of another. it gives very good results probably better than a dslr and doesn't require high end equipment. A dslr on the end of any telescope will give great pics of the moon.

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