Astrophotography refers to a specialized form of photography that records pictures of astronomical structures and huge sections that appear in the night sky. The fist image of an astronomical object was the moon that was photographed in 1840. By the late 19th century, advances were evident in technology which pushed for further detailed stellar photography. Astrophotography is a well-liked pastime among amateur astronomers and photographers. In this process, pictures that are evident in the sky at night can be taken with digital cameras and most basic film.
This type of photography that incorporates taking images from the sky also records information concerning numerous sky bodies that include the planets and the sun. Besides this, astrophotography has the capability of taking images of structures that cannot be viewed by an individual’s eye such as galaxies and dim stars. This action is executed by a long time exposure because both digital cameras and film can sum light portions and accumulate over a long duration. Photography led to a revolution in this career that deals with research in astronomy. (Linton, 2012 pg. 36). This incorporated a long time exposure in recording numerous nebulae and new stars that were invisible to human eye. As a result, this technology led to specialized and huge optical telescopes that served as big cameras. They were designed to collect light and ensure that it is recorded on a film.
The initial function of direct astrophotography was to classify the stars and survey the sky. As time passed by, direct astrophotography advanced by incorporating sophisticated techniques and equipments. This was intended for specific fields and scientific research that entailed astronomical CCD cameras and film. It became one of the many forms of sensor that played an essential role of taking invisible images to the eyes of human beings. Astrophotography depicts an extension of matters that relate with the field of amateur astronomy that records aesthetically interesting pictures rather than images needed for scientific research. It incorporates an entire range of techniques and equipments that are dedicated to the activity of taking images from the sky (Thorne, 2014 pg. 15).
Astronomical photography is known to employ long exposures that involve both digital images and films that can sum light and accumulate over a long duration. The light that strikes the detector or film increases by extending the length of the initial optics. Urban regions tend to be invaded by light pollution, which affects the procedure of taking images from the sky. In this regard, observatories who engage in astronomical imaging are situated in remote areas to support long exposures. This takes place when a stray of light swamps into the film detectors. As the earth rotates in a constant manner, it means that equipments and telescopes have to be moved round in an opposite direction. This is to follow the apparent movement of stars overhead, a situation that is also termed as diurnal motion.
To accomplish this process, a telescope that is directed by a computer mounts to ensure that the celestial objects are centered while the earth is in rotation. In astrophotography, all telescope mounts systems exhibit induced tracking error. (Russell, 2009 pg 211). To correct these tracking errors, an individual has to keep a chosen aiming point with a brilliant guide star that is situated in the center during the entire procedure. In case of taking images of comets in astrophotography, the objects are always in motion. This implies that the telescope needs to be placed constantly at the center of that structure. The telescope that is used to execute this duty has an optical beam splitter that enables the observer to visualize similar objects. In astrophotography, guiding was manual in the entire exposure whereby the observer stood at the telescope while making corrections. This was to manage the guide star because if it is controlled by computers, this can be accomplished by automated systems professionally using the amateur tool. Astrophotography is the earliest form of scientific photography that is diversified into sub disciplines that incorporate specific goals. This includes objectives such as astrometry, star cartography and stellar classification. It also involves discovery of astronomical objects that ranges from comets, asteroids, variable stars and unknown planets. They all need particular tools such as telescopes that are made for precise imaging to enhance a large section to view. In astrophotography, specific filters record images in various wavelengths.
Majority of business tools are also geared to meet basic and advanced requirements in astrophotography. Amateur telescope makers and astronomers also use modified devices and medical equipments to take pictures in the sky. For instance, object amateur astrophotography techniques include images of star trails that are photographed from the International Space Station in earth orbit (Russell, 2009 pg 114).
Study indicates that astrophotography doesn’t need plenty of equipments and the simpler the kit, the much easier it becomes to photograph an object. Majority of individuals who venture into this field use interchangeable lens camera. In astrophotography, a camera is the most expensive equipment that is required aside from lens. The choice of brand is not significant but cameras such as Nikon are excellent because they consist of huge swaths of expensive online communities and devoted users who contribute via assisting. Other brands that are nice in this field include Samsung and Sonny that work great during this procedure.
In astrophotography, cameras with tilting displays are preferred because it is easier to view through the screen while operating on the low level of the ground. For instance, photographing the Milky Way can be successful with use of wide-angle lens. The Milky Way is huge and can be captured easily with use of wide angle lens to frame a large segment of the sky. In astrophotography, a shorter focal length means wider scope of view. A decent tripod also counts a lot and is essential in taking photos in astrophotography. Tripods that are paired with a ball head are the best in this field. However, tripods that have panheads are not suitable in astrophotography because they make it difficult to frame shots. Furthermore, they have a more limited range of movement contrasted to that of a ball head making them irrelevant in this field.
The equipments especially tripods that are used in astrophotography should be stable and stiff. In addition, such equipments should not be heavy to avoid hesitation while moving from one point to another to get a clear view. Vital equipment that is essential in astrophotography is a headlamp. This is a heads free device that assists to handle the camera in dark conditions. A headlamp is significant because it aids in focusing by ensuring that an individual does not bomb into rocks and bushes during the night. The headlamp has to incorporate a red night vision mode which assists in retaining the night vision (Linton, 2012 pg 86). Petzl headlamps are the best in astrophotography because they are efficient, weatherproof, comfortable and bright. As their batteries go low, they have an indicator line that warns users. At this point, they automatically switch into a power saving mode to ensure that the light is sufficient for additional hours.
In making of the astrophotos, the optional items that are required include the intervalometer. This is a remote timer that the user plugs into the camera to shoot timelapse sequences and form exposures that lasts for 30 seconds. They are handy in astrophotography because they are cheap and reliable. Apps such as the sky guide are also significant items that apply in astrophotography to aid in locating the Milky Way. Smart phone applications simplify such tasks rather than using eyes to identify images in the sky when it is dark. Before engaging in actual shooting, an individual should ensure that the camera battery is charged. Furthermore, it is essential to have a couple of memory cards in handy and fresh batteries as back up tools during astrophotography.
In general, astrophotography can be practiced by starters when taking astronomical images with any kind of a camera. This implies that if an individual has a telescope, he will be in a position to extend further by shooting the moon. To shoot objects such as galaxies that are found in deep sky, there is need for long exposures to capture these faint objects. This implies that the viewer has to use a telescope that is mounted on an equatorial mount. Deep sky astrophotography can be successful when a German equatorial mounting is on motor drives to provide long exposure. In astrophotography, a camera that lacks a manual exposure has to be set into a night mode. In this procedure, focus is vital and this applies to sophisticated digital equipments. After taking images, it is vital to examine pictures by transferring them into a computer.
Naturally, longer exposures record majority of stars that makes interesting pictures. Various astronomical objects can be shooting with help of a simple camera. Advance in astrophotography is evident via the use of a telescope that incorporates a motorized mounting to track the stars. Furthermore, astrophotography has upgraded when it allows astronomers to shoot raw file format objects (Russell, 2009 pg 52). This also incorporates shooting of the dark and flat field support frames that can be used to calibrate these light pictures and improve them in a great manner.
Deep sky astrophotography is currently tangible and can be accessed by more affordable price. Digital cameras can be used for regular photography that is done during the day. Conversely, when it comes to astronomical cameras, they are expensive and can only be used by experts in the field of astrophotography. The basics of deep sky astrophotography require astronomers to use a camera that is capable to make exposure of 8 to 15 seconds. In this case, a computer is not necessary but in deep sky astrophotography, a telescope is used to capture images such as the star clusters in the sky
Linton, M. (2012). Equipments Used in Astrophotography. London: University Press.
Russell, O. (2009). Astrophotography and Technology. Washington: Sage Publication.
Thorne, N. (2014). The BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Chicago: Official Media Publication.