Tips for shooting Stars?

Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
2,550
Location
Littleton, Colorado
Hey folks!

Ok, i messed with the search engine on here and did not find much. So its time to post a new thread.

Im going camping up in the mountains in a couple weeks, and im hoping to put some time into star photography.

i am NOT interested in star trails, im hoping to look at a nice pic of the outer band of the milky way.

I know my equipment is probably not optimal, but i want to give it a shot anyways.

I have a D40, Manfrotto tripo, kit lens (non vr), 55-200 afs VR, and the 35mm 1.8 AF-S.

i was thinking of trying it with the 35mm at maybe ISO 200-400 F/2.8 for 5-10 second exposure, using remote shutter release.

Ive never done this before, i shot pics of the moon that turned out allright, but not stars.

Any reccommendations on this? Thanks!
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
416
Location
Centerville, Ohio
To get round star images from a stationary camera these settings will work. You might even lengthen the exposure times and still have round star images. Stars closer to the pole can get an even longer exposure because the Earth's rotation doesn't have them move as much as stars on the celestial equator (or straight up from Earth's equator) -

The Moon is much brighter than the stars and would need a HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing. Light polution (the wasted energy use of having outdoor lighting not illuminating the ground because they are illuminating the sky) will tint you photos red. I limit my exposures to where the light polution just starts to show. Often I drive 25 miles away to find darker skies. Really dark skies are about 200 miles away.

mm - time in seconds for DX

__8 - 30
_14 - 30
_16 - 15
_17 - 15
_24 - 10
_28 - 10
_35 - _8
_50 - _6
_70 - _4
_80 - _3
_85 - _3
105 - _2.5
200 - _1.3
280 - _1
300 - _1
400 - _0.5
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
2,550
Location
Littleton, Colorado
Thanks for the info!

I dont think i will need to worry about light pollution where im going which i one of the reasons im so excited to do this. Were gonna be far up in the mountains, no cell service or anything. Maybe an hour in away from denver.

:biggrin:
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
3,678
Location
St Louis MO
bigdipper.jpg
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and D40
STARS04.JPG
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STARS16.JPG
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do not use ISO 400 to noisye on the d40 for this
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
2,550
Location
Littleton, Colorado
Turbo V6, Thanks for the heads up, ill stick with 200..


To get a clear image of the band of the MW in an image, you need an equatorial mount that will match the earth's rotation. Some are cranked by hand, others run off of a little motor.

Sean

ill look for these, i bet they cost an arm and a leg though. lol.
 
Joined
Mar 23, 2009
Messages
593
Location
Nevada
Thanks for the info!

I dont think i will need to worry about light pollution where im going which i one of the reasons im so excited to do this. Were gonna be far up in the mountains, no cell service or anything. Maybe an hour in away from denver.

:biggrin:

Light pollution has totally destroyed the night skies in most of the country. It will be darker, but you will still be able to see lights from Denver (unless a mountain is blocking that portion of the sky).

I have heard light from Las Vegas can be seen up to 175 mi away. To my naked eye, I notice it any time I'm closer than about 100 mi away from that neon monstrosity. An hour away from a major city is nothing compared to a 3-4 hours. The problem is there are not many places left in the country to get 3-4 hours from a major light polluter.

I just want to see what it looked like before people ruined it!!!
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
2,550
Location
Littleton, Colorado
Light pollution has totally destroyed the night skies in most of the country. It will be darker, but you will still be able to see lights from Denver (unless a mountain is blocking that portion of the sky).

QUOTE]

yeah.... a big mountain too!

Last 2 times i went camping the outer band of the milkyway was clearly visable.

but i agree with light pollution, it must have been incredible to see the stars 200 years ago.
 
Joined
May 18, 2007
Messages
1,034
Location
New Hampshire, USA
Ill be in good shape for shooting! I wont be in the pitchblack sone, but a darker blue area.... anyone east of colorado is SOL.

lol

Well, we still have northern Maine.
I will be taking a trip out that way next month, moving my oldest to Littleton, and I'm thinking of killing some time in N central Nebraska, if the clouds cooperate. I miss the night sky. Used to spend lots of time in the eastern Sierra. On moonless nights, what a view!
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
1,000
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Chris
You won't be able to photograph the Milky Way without that equatorial thingy Sean mentioned. You can find them for under $100 if you are willing to get a non-motorized one, or find a deal on a used one.
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2006
Messages
540
Location
Pacific NW
I was able to get this much of the Milky Way in my driveway using a (very cheap) tripod.

DSC_0134.jpg
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Flash Used: No
Focal Length: 18.0mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm)
Exposure Time: 25.000 s
Aperture: f/3.5
ISO equiv: 2000
White Balance: Auto
Metering Mode: Spot
Exposure: Manual
Exposure Mode: Manual
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2007
Messages
997
Location
Los Angeles, California
Light pollution has totally destroyed the night skies in most of the country. It will be darker, but you will still be able to see lights from Denver (unless a mountain is blocking that portion of the sky).

I have heard light from Las Vegas can be seen up to 175 mi away. To my naked eye, I notice it any time I'm closer than about 100 mi away from that neon monstrosity. An hour away from a major city is nothing compared to a 3-4 hours. The problem is there are not many places left in the country to get 3-4 hours from a major light polluter.

I just want to see what it looked like before people ruined it!!!

Two words: Death Valley.

Darkest night sky that I've ever seen.
 
Joined
Mar 23, 2009
Messages
593
Location
Nevada
Two words: Death Valley.

Darkest night sky that I've ever seen.

I wish you were joking, but i don't think you are. I remember being able to see Vegas clearly when I have been there. It's darker than LA, but its not as dark as the vast majority of the Great Basin.


And there are streatlights in the valley by the "towns"!!!
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2009
Messages
14
Location
Germany(Air Force)
I'd have to say the Darkest night sky i have ever seen was when i was on my way to Iraq. Looking out the window in the aircraft its seriously PITCH black.. you can see camp fires from 30,000 feet. thats how dark it is..

When we finally got to iraq, i have to say that was probably the most beautiful sky i have ever seen, that is When there isnt a sand storm lol.
 
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Messages
590
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
I wish you were joking, but i don't think you are. I remember being able to see Vegas clearly when I have been there. It's darker than LA, but its not as dark as the vast majority of the Great Basin.


And there are streatlights in the valley by the "towns"!!!

There are a few great spots left that are probably better or at least as good as Death Valley. But it is indeed one of the best ones left, particularly in that part of the country. SE Oregon near Steens Mountain, the core of Yellowstone (around the lake for e.g.), and SE CO/N NM all have terrific night skies for the time being at least. In the desert country of the CO Plateau (Arches, Canyonlands, etc.) there are some great viewing locations to enjoy. Even Nebraska has some impressive viewing sites left near the state forest. I've seen the Andromeda Galaxy with my naked eye at Steens, really an amazing place.

Also it is possible with today's higher ISOs and putting up with very slight star streaks/movement to capture the Milky Way without a fancy tracking mount. Here's an example from this summer in Utah at Fisher Towers (F/3.2, 30 seconds, ISO 1600 at 14mm), note the Iridium Flare at center:

3865890798_a0d4e6713a.jpg
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