Skip to main content

Inexpensive Solution to Widefield Astrophotography

Resources to build your own widefield astrophotography mount

Both of the images below are multiple images "Stacked" using DSS.
Stacking allows us to "see" colours and details that we can't see with the naked eye.

Here is an Image of the area around Orion. It is multiple images that have been "Stacked". You will notice that the stars are for the most part round, there are no "Star Trails" towards the outer portion of the image.

 This is an image where a regular tripod was used and no tracking was involved.  It is approximately the same amount of exposure as the other image with multiple images stacked.  Note as you get towards the outer portions of the photograph that the stars blur and  are starting to develop "Star Trails".  

The reason the second photograph has the trailing is due to the Earth's rotation.  A regular tripod does not align with the Earth's Axis so every time you take a photo of the stars (even if you move the tripod head) it will be a tiny bit off axis from where the last photograph was taken.  Hence the reason the outer stars don't look correct.

There are multiple ways to correct this problem.  Most are also very expensive.  German Equatorial Mounts are designed to align with the Earth's axis and follow the stars perfectly, unfortunately the starting price for these and other devices that align with the Earth are several hundred dollars.

If like many people you don't want to jump right into spending huge dollars on a mount that weighs a ton, and costs a small fortune you can build what is commonly called a Scotch Mount or Barn Door Mount.  These can be made at home and do a relatively good job at tracking the stars if you are using smaller focal lengths.

I have never personally built one, but I have several links that I will post that show you how to build one for yourself.  The nice thing is that they can be built for under $50 dollars (usually) and like I said, you can build one yourself. 

If you decide to build one, I am in no way responsible for any damages to yourself and or your equipment!  Continue at your own risk 
(Had to insert this for obvious reasons)

Here are the links to sites that I feel give the best overview and instructions on how to build your own.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make the Stars POP!

If there is one thing I've learned about processing night shots.

There are as many opinions and as many ways to do things as there have been sunrises! With that being said, I thought I'd share another technique that I've employed a couple of times

This technique is very simple and very effective.  The nice thing about my tutorial is that I show you how to do it yourself.  I’m not a fan of “presets” that take the adjustment factor out of your hands.  I’d rather show someone how to do it for themselves.  That way you can actually expand your knowledge and learn to help yourself and others around you.

In this particular “How to” we will be increasing the size and brightness of the larger stars.  This technique can also be used to bring out the natural colour of the stars or any other adjustments you may want to use.

Like most of my tutorials, I take the approach that you have a basic knowledge of photoshop.  If you don’t and need some further assistance with this tutorial, please…

How to Reduce Star Trails

600/(18x1.5)= &%*@!*$

So, you either didn't follow the 600 rule, you're bad at math, or you made a mistake! Now you've got a shot that you absolutely love but the stars look like eggs, or worse yet, they are mini trails!
Don't scrap that photo without at least trying this little know trick of the trade.
In this tutorial I will teach you how to remove small trails to make your stars look crisper.
****  Does it always work??  Nope ****
But heck, why not at least give it a go before deleting that photo.
The Original Image
Here is my original image opened in Photoshop.  You will notice that the stars look like mini trails. This particular image was exposed for 43 seconds (23 seconds longer than I usually expose an image).

The Original Image Magnified
Here you will notice how the stars are trails and not as crisp as they should be. Normally most people would throw this image out.

Stars Layer Selection
Start off by selecting the sky.  I used the marquee tool but you can use an…

How to stop camera lens fog

How to stop camera lens fog
Astrophotography, Landscape Astrophotography, and just plain old Night Shooting are difficult enough.  Using the right lens, setting the ISO correctly and getting the exposure time correct are all issues that plague photographers shooting at night (and other times of day).  
Never mind the fact that fact that "playing" in the dark has several dangers, from wild animals, to wilder people, and even police that thing you're up to no good.  Mother Nature figured she'd have a go at you also. If you have ever gone out shooting night scenes, wide-field astrophotography, or landscape astrophotography, you've probably experienced the dreaded lens fog.
What causes lens fog
The easy explanation To explain this issue in simple terms, your camera's lens will fog most times when the lens is colder than the air surrounding the lens.
The more in depth explanation When the air near the lens is cooled by the lens, the relative humidity of the surrounding a…