Astro Photos

A little while back I reacquainted myself with a telescope and then promptly wondered how to take photos using it. Who cares that I didn’t really have the best equipment for it and that you’d see better outcomes from even moderately better gear than mine (and simply better photographers) – but that’s not really the point! There are really smart solutions, such as stacking, to the problems I faced which still net decent outputs – for example the image of Carina below looks far more impressive than when looking through my equipment in real time.

Note click images to see larger versions. All images taken from Karori, Wellington NZ. 

Southern Celestial Pole Jan 2013

Stacked image from 2 hours of 30 second exposures using D7000′s intervalometer feature, post in Photoshop.

De-rotated stacked image from 2 hours of 30 second exposures using D7000′s intervalometer feature, post in Photoshop.

Venus, Mars and Saturn converge late July 2010

5 second exposure, Nikon D50, ISO 400, 5 sec f/5.6 42mm. Cleanup/resized in Paint.Net.

Moon, Oct 2009

First attempt at focal projection photography, using Nikon D50 (1/50sec exposure), Meade ETX 80 (80mm, internal 2x Barlow), Meade Variable Projection Camera Adapter, Meade Series 4000 Super Plössl 26mm eyepiece.

Not the best seeing and damn that dust! Definitely more difficult that I’d expected

Carina Nebula, Jan 2009

14 x 5 second exposure, ISO 1600 prime focus on Meade ETX 80 (visual port, 3.15″ aperture @ F5,  400mm focal length) . Stacked in DeepSkyStacker. Noise reduction applied in Paint.Net.


Venus & Jupiter Converge after Dusk, Nov/Dec 2008:

See here for more info.

Dec 2: Venus, Jupiter & Moon, Nikon D50 ISO 400, 1/10 sec f/5.6 70mm.

(Dec 1 rained out)


Nov 30: Moon, Venus & Jupiter. Nikon D50, ISO 400, 1/20 sec f/5.6 48mm.

Nov 30: Venus & Jupiter. Nikon D50, prime focus on Meade ETX 80 (visual port, 3.15″ aperture @ F/5,  400mm focal length). Small amount of post, noise reduction.


Nov 29: Venus & Jupiter, Nikon D50, ISO 400, 1/20 sec exposure, f/4, 70mm.


Moon, October 2008:

Waxing from gibbous to full moon, allowing some contrast to show some of the craters in relief.

If you’re interested to know where the Apollo landing sites are on the moon, check out this useful site.

Nikon D50 1/1250sec exposure time ISO 400, prime focus on Meade ETX 80 (visual port, 3.15″ aperture @ F5,  400mm focal length).

Scorpius, August 2008:

See Scorpius in Wikipedia

1st attempt with unguided Nikon D50, 50mm (f 3.5 ISO 800) 40 images @ 3s (and 20 dark, 20 bias) images stacked, de-rotated, de-convoluted, white balanced and noise reduction in IRIS.


Slightly defocused and obvious convolution – however an interesting enough target that I’ll make another attempt using piggyback guiding and computer-based focusing (50mm lens through camera viewfinder provided no detail on target – and the Nikkor lens unfortunately focuses “past” infinity).

Jupiter near the Teapot, August 2008:

See Sagittarius (for the Teapot Asterism) in Wikipedia

Unguided Nikon D50, 100mm (f/4 ISO 800) 40 images @ 1s (and 20 dark, 20 bias) images stacked, de-rotated in Deep Sky Stacker.

I might look at another attempt capturing Jupiter independently of the constellation and then combining using a mosaic approach.

Large Magellanic Cloud, August 2008:

See Wikipedia for more info.

Second attempt with Nikon D50, 300mm (f5.6 ISO 800) 40 images @ 30s stacked (including 20 dark and 20 bias) frames and de-rotated using Deep Sky Stacker; deconvoluted (RL2), some noise filtering (MMSE) and a final GAUSS in IRIS, resizing/cut in GIMP.

Guided (against NGC 2070) by a small Celestron Nexstar 60m GT (AltAz only) – some convolution and obvious field rotation.


Total Lunar Eclipse, August 2007:

See Wikipedia for more info

Images taken 28 Aug 2007 from Wellington NZ with a Nikon D50 using timed/manual exposure settings as indicated in the JPEG camera settings. Some post NR was done.

The early part of the eclipse was hampered by bad seeing (for timed exposure) due to cloud. Nearing the end however, the moon was easily seen.

Total Lunar Eclipse


Comet McNaught C/2006 P1, Jan 2007:

See Wikipedia for more info

Images taken 30 Jan 2007, overlooking hills at back of Karori, Wellington NZ with a Nikon D50 using various timed/manual exposure settings, mostly indicated in the JPEG camera settings. Some post NR was done.

Images have aberations due to strong street light nearby.

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1)

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1)

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1)


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One Response to Astro Photos

  1. John L. Roberts says:

    Two things:
    1. I was complaining that the ETX-80 AT model I purchased didn’t include a dew shield/light shield. For the edification of others with the same problem, I made one by buying a 4″ to 3″ Soil Pipe Adapter (Nibco Model #CL5805) from Home Depot or Lowe’s. I cut off the reduced section, leaving me with a dew shield with a loose fit, so I purchased some green felt (liner for drawers) and one-inch electrical black tape. I wrapped the objective with two winds of one-inch electrical tape and then cut and added one wind of one inch of the drawer liner on top of the electrical tape for a snug fit of the two telescope components. Works perfectly, no thanks to you Meade, for not selling this much-needed dew shield accessory for this scope but doing so for your backpack version of this scope.

    2. How did you piggyback your Nikon camera to the EXT-80? Please be specific as to where and how you accomplished this before I start drilling holes in all the wrong places!

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