Astronomy without a telescope

These are just a few shots I’ve taken of astronomical objects you can capture without a telescope. While some objects can obviously be better captured with a telescope, there are some objects that are too large to capture in a telescope. This is where a camera only senario can pay off. I have had various camera during the past 4-5 years. These have included FujiFilm S9500 and my current camera the Nikon D90.

The kind of objects you can capture well with only a camera and tripod include:

  • Moon
  • ISS
  • The Planets (well some)
  • Stars
  • Galaxies

Moon Shot
ISS
The ISS (International Space Station) is a wonderful, and quite easy, object to capture. There are plenty of web sites that will show you where, and at what time, the ISS is passing over your locale. Some of these include:
twisst
Heavens Above
If you’re on twitter, once you have told twisst where you live, they will send you an twitter message when it calculates when the next viewing of the ISS is. Due to the nature of the orbiting space station, the viewings tend to appear in clumps (sometimes lasting 2 or 3 a night for a few weeks), and tend to occur at sunrise or sunset.

5 Composite images of tonights ISS Pass

Second composite of tonights ISS pass

Planets
Here is an image of Jupiter and 3 of its Galilean moons, taken with my Nikon D90 and my 70-300mm zoom lens
Jupiter plus 3 moons?

Galaxies
Just as some people forget that the Sun is our nearest star (NEVER use a camera to take direct images of the SUN), people sometimes forget that our nearest Milky Way is our closest galaxy. Due to the size of the Milky way, some stunning shots (and much better images than mine) of our nearest galaxy can be captured with a fairly modest SLR camera. By selecting different aperture and ISO (how senstive the camera is to light) settings some startlingly different types of shots can be captured.
Milky Way
Milky Way
Combination images
Sometimes you can even combine two categories of objects, as in this image of the Milky Way and the passage of 2 satellites. Neither is the ISS. I was only aiming to capture the Milky way in this image, and didn’t spot the satellite tracks until post production.
Milky Way, Clouds & 2 satellites passes

While no expert on this subject (as yet), my aim is to provide some hints and tips to allow you to take similar shots to these with your SLR camera.


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