"A Beginners Guide"
All you need to photograph the night sky is a camera with the ability to take time exposures, A good tripod, A cable release, A few rolls of film, A clear sky and the desire and curiosity to experiment. I hope this page is of some use to those just starting out.


This is one persons experience with simple tripod astrophotography. I by no means impley or profess to being anything other than an amateur photographer. My whole purpose in doing this site is to give you some idea of what it takes to make photgraphs of the night sky. Most of the information is from my own experiences and some information was gather from other sources. Whenever I reference other peoples material it will be dualy noted and if possible a link will be made available. If you notice any mistakes or have ideas that are helpful then please drop me a line. Thanks for visiting and as always Clear Skies...


The Equipment Things To Consider Gallery
  • Camera with "B" setting
  • Cable Release
  • Tripod
  • Film
  • A Subject
  • Light Pollution
  • Exposure Times
  • The Season
  • Subjects
  • Paint Shop Pro
  • Accessories
  • Auroras
  • Comets
  • Satellite
  • Constellations
  • The Moon

  •   Cameras  
    Ideally the camera type best suited for astrophotography is a 35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex) with interchangable lenses. It may be the camera you disreguared after buying one of the new fully automatice point and shoots models. Make sure it has a special "B" setting that allows for indefinite expouse times and requires no battery to operate the shutter. This is not an absolute necessity if you plan to shoot subjects that require short exposure times. I have two cameras one a Cannoe AE-1 that uses a battery and the other a Minolta that doesn't. I use the Minolta to shot things like star trials and I'll use the AE-1 for all other short expouse times. Always keep a spare battery on hand. Cold nights and long exposure times will quickly drain a battery. Here's a list of some of the most popular fully manual (no battery needed ) cameras used for astrophotography. You may luck up and find one of the these at flea markets or yard sales.
    Olympus OM-1 Pentax K1000 Cannon F1 Minolta


      Film  
    The tripod should be sturdy and light weight with the ability to pan the vertical and horizonal axis with little difficultey. A poorly designed tripod can ruin any attemps at producing a quality photograph.


      Cable Release  
    Camera With Cable Release The cable release allows you to keep open the cameras shutter for an extented period of time. A good cable release is a must for properly exposing your photograph. It consists of a flexable tube or wire mesh with a threaded head that attaches to a slot on top of your camera. A push button then ativates the shutter. Some cable releases have a thumb screw on the push button that allows you to keep the shutter open while unattended. This is a must for photographing star trails. The alternative to not using a cable release is to hold the shutter release button down youself. Not a good idea when the shutter speed dail is set to "B". Any movement of the camera during this period will result in a picture something like this.


      Tripod  
    The tripod should be sturdy and light weight with the ability to pan the vertical and horizonal axis with little difficultey. A poorly designed tripod can ruin any attemps at producing a quality photograph.
      Shooting Reference  



    Subject Lens Film - (ISO) Shutter Appature Exposure Time
    Auroras 8mm - 50mm 400 - 3200 f/1.4 - f/2.8 2 - 10 sec.
    Constellations 50mm 400 - 3200 f/1.4 - f/2 10 - 20 sec.
    Metors 28mm - 50mm 400 f/2 - f/2.8 5 - 20 min.
    Planets (Darlk) 50mm - 135mm 400 - 3200 f/2 - f/2.8 4 - 20 sec.
    Planets (Twlight) 50mm - 135mm 64 - 200 f/2 - f/4 2 -6 sec.
    Star Trails 28mm - 50mm 400 f/2.8 - f/4 5 - 50 min.