Astrophotography is tough, it can be truly stated as the hardest form of photography. Even when you try your hardest you would not get satisfying results. It is so tough that many stop this pursuit and call it quits. Passion and determination are what you need to succeed in this genre. If you are really interested in astrophotography and are keen on taking the breathtaking photos of nebulae, star clusters, our milky way, planets, this blog is just for you.
Astrophotography is a wide concept. It has many forms from deep-sky photography to wide-angle photography. But the crux is to understand the focus, long exposure of images and image processing. So here are some beginner’s tips to guide your way towards this amazing hobby.
Select The Right Telescope For Astrophotography:
You can take the picture without a telescope. But if you are really interested in astrophotography then getting the best portable telescope is a must. But before purchasing the correct telescope you must focus on two major things:
Focal Ratio: This can be colloquially stated as the speed of the optics of a telescope. Which is obtained from dividing its focal length with aperture? The lower the focal number the smaller the magnification and the wider the field, the image would be brighter. For example, an f/8 scope would produce double the image than an f/4. But the catch is the image that the f/8 would produce would be 4 times dimmer.
It all depends upon your prime objective. If you want to take the pictures of the planets, which are bright and small then telescope of f/10 or higher would be needed, as they have a high focal ratio. But if you are aiming for nebulae that happen to be dim but large then 4/4 is best because it has a fast ratio. You can also get a focal reducer and borrow lens to decrease or increase the focal ratio. It is not a necessity but an added benefit.
Tracking Mounts Are Really Important:
Astrophotography is all about accuracy and steadiness. Excellent optics need a really flawless tracking mount, which is both steady and accurate. Taking pictures of far faint galaxies need hours of exposing a frame, which should match with the rotation of the earth. This is really important because if your telescope doesn’t match with the rotation of the earth your target would move and this would blur the image. This is the reason why you should only use the best tracking mounts for astrophotography.
In my opinion, the best is to go with tracking equatorial mount. I would suggest you avoid Alt-Azimuth mounts as they cause image rotation and Dobsonians mounts obsolete as they can’t track. The best choice would be a fork mount which has an equatorial wedge or a German equatorial mount.
The only flip side to tracking mounts are they are too expensive. If you want a good tracking mount for your astrophotography you would be lighter in your pockets by about 1500$. Even if you go for a cheap mount which would not last long, would cost you around minimum a 1000 bucks. But for excelling in astrophotography you need a good tracking mount. When choosing the best telescopes, equal weight should be given to tracking mounts also.
Select The Right Camera:
Now that you have sorted out the best telescopes for you and the best tracking mounts for astrophotography the next step is to get a suitable camera. The aim of astrophotography is to capture the breathtaking images that we are seeing in the telescopes. So the camera does this job, even though a mere mobile camera can do this job, yet when we are aiming at mastering astrophotography, a good camera is a must.
DSLR: Decent results can be got from a normal DSLR. If you already own one, then you can save that money. The only thing you need is a T- Adapter which would connect the DSLR with the telescope. These adaptors are easily available and are not very costly.
There is one major flaw with DSLR, which makes not the best suitable camera for astrophotography. They have an inbuilt infrared filter just over their sensor. This results in losing a decent fraction of light, which is not good for astrophotography.
Monochrome Camera: The color filters in DSLR cameras are fitted in the Bayer filter format. This means that the camera sensors light intensity and nor color. They have fixed pixels dedicated to red, green and blue. This results in reduced resolution. Here is where the monochrome camera comes to our aid. This ends your dependency on color filters. It provides narrowband filters, which give you an accurate wavelength.
The Hubble telescope uses this technique. You can take three pictures of different colors of red, blue and green and then combine it makes the perfect image. This is impossible with the moving objects but as the heavenly objects are stationary this is possible.
Planetary camera: If you are more inclined towards taking images of planets then the planetary camera would be the best choice. Because this needs a high-resolution fast camera. These cameras are experts in taking several shots per second. So you only have to select the best image. As planets are bright and are relatively small in size, light is not an issue. The only thing that can spoil its precision is atmospheric distortion.
Select The Right Processing Software:
The astrophotography is a passionate hobby and it needs hours of dedication and patience to get the desired picture. You need a good quality stacking and processing software to produce the perfect picture out of frames. You can use software which is available in the market, or you can also use Adobe Photoshop for this.
Astrophotography is an amazing hobby and becomes a lifelong passion for some. It is due to the passion such individuals we have seen some of the most mesmerizing images of our universe. It is not cheap and requires a good budget. If you have the best portable telescopes and are interested in sky gazing, astrophotography is for you. It is a huge subject and there is something for everyone. So cherish this hobby and take some breathtaking images.