Astronomy

Equipment and Procedures – Astrophotography

Okay, because people have been asking me lately how I take my pictures, especially those of the Moon, I have decided to create a post detailing my equipment and procedures, etc.

First, my telescope:

Orion Skyquest Classic 6" Dobsonian Reflector
Orion Skyquest Classic 6" Dobsonian Reflector
This is my telescope. It has a Focal Length of 1200mm, of course the mirror is 150mm (6 inches). It’s Focal Ratio is 8.0. The telescope does not track, and because of this, plus its focal ratio, it is not the best telescope to take pictures with! I CANNOT do prime focus on this scope… I wish I could! The focus is too long. I called Orion Telescopes (www.telescope.com) to see if the had a lower profile focuser, but the only ones they had were 2″ focusers, and mine is 1.25″. I could have gotten the 2″ focuser, but I would have had to do some major modifications to my current scope, and since I am new to all of this (been doing this stuff for bout 8 months now) and plus the fact I don’t have a lot of money – to replace my scope when I screw it up! – I decided to play the hand I have been dealt… i.e. just go with what I got!
Next, my Camera:
Canon EOS 350D
Canon EOS 350D
Eyepiece:
Celestron 32mm Eyepiece
Celestron 32mm Eyepiece
Adapter:
Scopetronix DSLR Adapter
Scopetronix DSLR Adapter
Scopetronix Adapter - Open
Scopetronix Adapter - Open
Scopetronix Adapter - 32mm eyepiece inserted into lower half
Scopetronix Adapter - 32mm eyepiece inserted into lower half
Above, the three pictures show the adapter that I use. The adapter separates in the middle, and allows me to insert an eyepiece if I want. I have found, with my scope, the only plausible eyepieces to use are my 32mm and 25mm eyepiece. These are the only ones I can successfully focus – however, the 32mm eyepiece works best. Also not, on the very bottom of the adapter is a lens, similar to one found on a barlow lens. When I use the adapter with my 32mm or 25mm, I remove this lens, and it allows for a better focus. When I use an eyepiece any smaller then 25mm, the lens is necessary to provide focus.
Next, the adapter connected to the DSLR
Scopetronix Adapter connected to Canon EOS 350D
Scopetronix Adapter connected to Canon EOS 350D
The adaper connects by rings etc, and then connects to the camera just like a lens does.
Lastly, the whole thing together!
Adapter in - for wider shots
Adapter in - for wider shots
Adapter Extended - for tighter (closer) shots
Adapter Extended - for tighter (closer) shots

Again, I remove the lens on the bottom of the adapter before I connect it to my scope. Generally, most of my pictures are taken with the adapter fully extended. However, the Moon Background shots and those like it where taken with it in, to produce the wider view and enabling me to get the full half moon in the shot. Saying that, it is harder to focus the “full” moon then it is the closer in shots when the adapter is fully extended – plus, I like the close ups! I believe it is harder to focus because I do not have a flat field eyepiece… but, again, I am new to all of this, so I really don’t know!

I didn’t come up with this set up by myself, both Dr. Michael Covington from the University of Georgia (my school!) – http://www.covingtoninnovations.com and Andrew (my yankee friend from N.H.) at Above the Clouds (on my friends to the right) helped me get this all right. If you have any more questions, or advice, please let me know!!!
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4 thoughts on “Equipment and Procedures – Astrophotography

  1. Great post Jared, I have to use my Meade LX 200r for prime focus, as my dobsonian won’t focus, I like that adapter you have there, may look into getting one. That adapter will help me with the PST, as I can’t bring my slr to focus on it either.

  2. Thanks Bob! I wish I could do prime focus… and I am torn between getting a larger dobsonian – either 8″ or 10″ or getting an imaging scope… either way, I look at spending around 600 bucks… so, anyways! The scopetronix adapter is nice, and I also have the Orion one, which works basically the same, and is a lot cheaper!
    The fact that I cannot track or do prime focus is the main reason I went to doing long exposures of the skies, getting constellations, etc… which I still love, but the Moon and the Sun – as well as Orion’s Nebula, are my loves!

  3. Hi Jared,

    First I want to say thank you for your kind compliment to my simple photography on my blog. I’m glad you liked the shots.

    I’m very impressed with your moon and planetary photography here and I see you have a interesting camera gear for your shootings. It is fascinating to see with what and how you are working. I never have made photos like that, my self. I will read your site with RSS feed from now on and I’m looking forward for more new pictures from the universe.
    Susanne

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