Astronomy in Bristol UK

Over the next few months I shall be adding my attempts at astrophotography. To start with I will not be using a telescope but just the camera on a tripod. This is to show what kinds of pictures can be obtained with minimal equipment. I had intended to have quite a portfolio by now but thanks to the great british weather, suitable nights have been few and far between.

The camera used for these photographs is a Canon EOS 450 D.

This picture was taken with a 250mm lens when the moon was 4 days old. I was not using a tripod and so it was difficult to get a good focus.

The picture on the left was taken using a 250mm lens when the moon was 9 days 4 hours old while the one on the right was taken 3 hours later. The exposure settings were ISO 200, f5.6 with 1/125 sec for the picture on the left and 1/200 sec for the one on the right. Both of these pictures are slightly over exposed as as such are lacking detail in the over exposed area.

These are the same pitures as the ones above but they have been procesed using a graphics package to reduce the brightness and contrast. As you can see this reduction is just enough to bring out some of the detail which was obscured, without damaging the image too much.

All the pictures above were taken as JPEG images. When taking pictures for astrophotography you should ideally take the pictures in RAW format. RAW format saves all the detail that the camera's CMOS or CCD chip records. When it comes to processing the images, you have much more control with a RAW format image than you do with a JPEG image.

This picture was taken using a 250mm lens when the moon was 10 days old. The exposure settings were ISO 400, f5.6 & 1/450 sec.

This picture was taken using a 250mm lens when the moon was 11 days old. The exposure settings were f5.6, ISO 200 & 1/250 sec.

This is a picture of Orion taken with a 34mm lens. The exposure was at ISO 800, f4.6 and a time of 6 seconds. As you can see, there is a lot of light pollution.

The two images of Orion above have been created by stacking 30 pictures, each of 6 second exposure time. The picture on the left is the result without any image processing. As you can see the light pollution is terrible.The image on the right has had the brightness and contrast reduced by 15%.

The picture above is the image with brightness and contrast reduced by 15% and also the red removed and the green partially reduced. As you can see, you can process the image to your satisfaction.

Above is Comet McNaught, taken on the 16th (left) and 17th (right) of June 2010. Both pictures show roughly the same area of sky so you can see how far the comet moved against the stars in one day. Click on the pictures for a larger view. Unfortunately in my location, the comet was directly above a street lamp. By the time the comet was visible I only had 30 minutes before morning twilight, so I was not able to take as many photographs as I wanted. Both pictures were stacked from sixty 5 second exposures.

Above is a slightly longer exposure on the 17th where the tail of the comet is easier to see. This pictures was stacked from fifty 10 second exposures. All these pictures of the comet were taken using a 100mm lens.

The pictures above are examples of what can be obtained just from a camera on a tripod. If you have any questions or comments about the images on this page then please contact me by email on the link below.