After playing around with odd astronomical photos over the last few years (lunar eclipse, comet Neowise, various planetary conjunctions) I decided that I needed to make things a bit easier.
Mainly I wanted a tracking mount for the camera, so that was the first idea. Here it is in daylight with the camera mounted.
Here’s the front view – the camera is mounted on a bracket which fits into the standard telescope mounting dovetail slot.
The mount is a Sky-Watcher Star Discovery “go-to” mount, which came with a WiFi dongle for control. However you don’t need to drive it for short exposures, and I have played around with a few wide field photos. Here’s Orion; I have posted the full size photo (though a jpeg to keep it small) which can be selected to get the full resolution. It’s this image that the header photo was taken from. It’s not ideal in that it was a full Moon, it’s taken from the city (neighbour’s telephone line through the field of view), but it was for practice. I think I now have satisfactory camera settings and I am playing with software; this image is a stack of five 1 second exposures (f/1.8 35mm lens on the Nikon D3100) aligned and stacked using the RegiStax software package.
The mount can take a 5kg load, so I realised it could also be used with my old “three inch” (75mm aperture) telescope. Here it is – it’s a bit low so I will be adapting the tripod to fit on a much taller old wooden tripod.
When I first had this telescope, Dad and I made a home made tripod and mount for it; here it is in the garden a long time ago.
You can see that the telescope is now supported on a more sturdy metal cradle to fit the dovetail slot on the mount.
These days with modern technology you can do some amazing things very easily. I have not looked through that telescope for years, so it was fun to see the Moon through it again. It’s also possible to take a photo simply by using a mobile phone, since the lens is so small. You don’t even have to make something to help hold things together – you can buy an adaptor to attach to the telescope eyepiece!
Here’s a view of a local TV antenna as seen by the phone. The eyepiece restricts the field of view, but it allows reasonable photos to be taken. It’s quite tricky to align in the dark though!
I did take a photo of the Moon with this; you can see the bright crater Tycho with its bright rays, and some craters in shadow near the south pole (at the top).
This is going to keep me entertained for a while!