Weekend astrophotography

It was a beautiful weekend here in Canberra. We’re heading into summer, the nights are clear, and warming up nicely.  I took one look at the sky on Friday night and decided that I’d spend some time brushing up on my photography skills!  I love observing and taking photos of what I see – but I’m not a fan of standing out in the cold trying to keep the frost and dew off the telescope and camera with various dew shields and heaters!

My set up is a Celestron CPC800XLT (8″) with a Canon EOS600D.  For the first lot of shots I wanted to image the moon through the scope – so I attached the camera to the telescope with a camera adapter – as shown below.  One of the benefits of the 600D is the live view mode – which makes focusing much easier!!

Scope and Camera setup

Scope & Camera setup

I wanted to keep the moon in the centre of the screen so I set the scope up to track the moon – no matter what I was doing the moon stayed in my FOV. Generally the moon is a pretty bright object, at least from our perspective, so I kept the ISO as low as possible, which is 100 on my camera.  I then tested a few exposures, but settled on 1/60 second – just enough to not over expose the image, but also avoid it being too dark.

Fortunately the moon was a first quarter moon, so although it was bright, it wasn’t as bright as a fuller moon, and it showed some nice cratered areas around the lunar terminator.

I did very little post processing – just basic cropping and a little sharpening.  I was generally pretty happy with these images, I like the clarity and sharpness.  With such a bright object it’s easy to over or under expose, but these pictures, least to me, came out well.

Moon Pic

Moon Pic 1

Picture 1 shows my favourite area of the moon, where you can see the wide plains of Mare Nectaris, Tranquilliatis, Crisium, Fecundatitis, and Serenatits.  Of course  Mare Tranquillitatis was the landing site of the first manned landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969 when Apollo Lunar Module, ‘Eagle’ touched down.  The landing area (0.8° N, 23.5° E) has been named Statio Tranquillitatis, and three small craters to the north of the base have been named Aldrin, Collins and Armstrong – in honour of the Apollo 11 crew.

Pictures 2 & 3 are a variation of image one, just a little closer in – if I recall correctly I used an extender tube (a hollow tube that allows you to attach a camera to your telescope, with an eyepiece installed which can increase the scope’s effective focal length.  My favourite craters that you can see include: Theophilus, Cyrillus, and Catharina.

Moon Pic 2

Moon Pic 2

Moon Pic 3

Moon Pic 3

I took several dozen images of the moon, and moved on to imaging my first deep sky object, NGC 6752! That’s a story for another day….