The mounting of the ccd camera and SLR lens to the telescope can be
tricky depending on the mount being used. If you're using an equatorial
mount with tube rings which have a
piggyback camera adaptor, it's a simple task to attach the ccd
camera and SLR lens to the telescope. To the left is how I was able to
attach the camera and lens to my telescope. On the other hand, if the
mount doesn't use tube rings with a camera adaptor you will have to use
ingenuity to figure out how to mount the camera and SLR lens to your
how I mount the camera and SLR lens on my telescope when using the
Altazimuth GOTO mount.
Some time back I modified my SLR camera
mount to allow for up and down as well as side to side adjustment. As
can be seen on the image to the left, with the old mounting system I
could only move the SLR camera left or right. This posed a problem when
I tried to adjust the SLR camera to point at the same place the
telescope was pointing. My solution to the problem can be
here. I used an inexpensive laser level tripod mount which uses a
ball type swivel to give me the full range of motion I was looking for.
So long as all the parts are well tightened the mount works great. One
drawback of having the camera so high above the telescope is that more
counter weight will be required.
I recently did some experiments using my
Fujica ST-701 35mm film camera and wide angle lenses. My goal was to
image large portions of the Milky Way. I have long wanted to achieve
breath taking shots of the Milky Way like the ones I have seen on
the Internet. I knew this to be possible as most of the ones I have
seen are from amateur astronomers like myself.
So I set out to see if I could succeed
in this endeavor. I used my equatorial mount which is now atop my
homemade pillar. I attached the film
camera to the mount in the same way as I attach my ccd cameras. I
used my 28mm Avitar wide angle lens. I pointed the camera towards
the galactic center which was a bit low in the Western horizon and
took a number of exposures ranging from 2 minutes to 5 minutes. I
used 800 ISO FujiColor Superia,
and had it developed at the local WalGreens. I asked for the pictures
to also be put into a CD for easier post processing of the images.
Without any post processing the images
looked washed out due to light pollution and vignetting.
I used PixInsightLE and the
DynamicBackgroundExtraction process to salvage the best images.
To the right is one such image. This is actually three 5 minute exposures of the
galactic center of the Milky Way stacked in Registax4 before putting
the image through PixInsightLE. The galactic center is to the right
and slightly below Jupiter (the bright object left center). In this image M8, M24, M17
and M16 are all visible. As can be seen, the use of 35mm film and a
wide angle lens does allow for true wide angle capabilities. I can't
achieve this level of visibility with my CCD imagers.
Using 35mm cameras in this way minimizes
the issues of poor tracking and alignment of your equatorial mount
which is such a killer when it comes to film. I didn't start
to see star trails until I exceeded 15 minutes in my exposure times.
Even then, I know I can go over this limit so long as the motor is
tightly attached, and the mount well aligned. I have taken images of
other portions of the Milky Way as well with more to come! They can
be viewed in the gallery.
The addition of different focal length SLR lenses to your
astrophotography arsenal is indispensable. These lenses give you the
flexibility to photograph many more objects in the sky. If you're going to
photograph the Ring nebula or a planet you will probably need to use
your telescope. If you want to get a full shot of the Moon or
photograph the Horsehead and Flame nebula region all at once, a 135mm SLR
lens will do the job nicely. Again, experimentation is going to be your
best friend here, so get out there and start experimenting.