Astrophotography

I've experimented with four different ways of photographing things I see in my telescope. None are ideal but maybe someday I'll buy an eyepiece that connects directly into my laptop.

The first way I tried taking pictures was by simply holding a 35mm SLR camera to the lens and hoping for the best. This was expensive and not very accurate, but I did get lucky a few times which fueled my curiosity. I later improved this method by putting the camera on its own tripod so I could lengthen the exposure time and get brighter pictures. Even though it was a clumsy set up, I was mostly hindered by not knowing how the pictures looked until they were developed.

After I got a digital camera, I made a wooden bracket that mounted onto my telescope's tripod. An arm stuck out parallel to the eyepiece and I made a small platform to hold my camera perpendicular that rode along a sliding dovetail. I then added a few thumbscrews to clamp things down once I was satisfied with the pictures. The main improvement was the digital camera so I could see how my pictures were turning out as I took them.

Finally I bought a bracket that clamps to the eyepiece that holds the camera much better than my homemade version. Conceptually it's the same but it's simply more accurate.


The Moon
My first attempt at astrophotography by simply holding a 35mm camera up to the eyepiece. I believe I was around 13 to 14 when I took this.
The Moon
A better picture of the Moon made with a digital camera and a homemade wooden bracket.
 
Saturn
Saturn. Much more inspiring in real life than this picture captures.
Near Occultation of Mars
The Moon nearly occultating Mars which is in the upper left hand corner.
 

Lunar Eclipse
Here's my feeble attempt at photographing the December 2010 Lunar Eclipse. I really wanted more pictures illustrating the shadow moving across the moon, but my camera is on its last leg and it was freezing cold. :P


2012 Transit of Venus
The 2012 Transit of Venus. I held an exposed 35mm slide over my Panasonic DMC-FZ35 while zoomed all the way in. I'm really glad I got to see this one because it was cloudy during the 2004 transit and the next won't happen until 2117.

2013 Solar Eclipse
I got up at the crack of dawn and went to a local beach to see the November 3rd, 2013 Solar Eclipse. This was a rare hybrid solar eclipse, because the tip of the moon's penumbra is so close to the surface of the earth that some places will see an annular eclipse while other locations will see a total eclipse. I used the same camera and method as I did for the 2012 Transit of Venus. Namely, holding a developed 35mm slide over my Panasonic DMC-FZ35. The slide makes everything purple, so I played with the colors in GIMP to make it look a little closer to what I saw.

2015 Lunar Eclipse
Here's my picture of the September 27th, 2015 supermoon eclipse. It was quite cloudy and I'm lucky I got a picture this good. I used a Nikon D5100 with a 300mm telephoto lens.


Antares CRS OA-5 launch
Here's a picture I took of Cygnus CRS OA-5 that launched to the ISS on October 17th, 2016 on top of an Antares 230 rocket. The launch site was Wallops Island in Virginia and I managed to see it from a beach about 50 miles away. I'm not quite sure if this qualifies as astrophotography, but this seemed like the most relevant section to put it.


2017 Solar Eclipse
Here's my picture of the August 21st, 2017 solar eclipse.