Monday, October 10, 2011

Astrophotography with Point and Shoot Camera

Place the mouse pointer over the image to see the consterlation lines and labels

I recently tried to click some celestial picture with my new Sony Cyber-Shot Hx9V. Taking snaps of stars and planets is really challenging because very less amount of light reaches us and the lights generated from earth (specially at urban locations) act as hindrance. I played around with ISO and shutter speed settings to capture enough light from stars and making the camera as sensitive as possible without letting the noise to dominate. I found for stars with half moon shining in the sky ISO 200 and 15 second exposure worked as optimum setting. If I use optical zoom, the exposure time had to be reduced further to avoid trails. For 1x zoom trails does not dominate  even at 20 second exposure but picture of sky becomes very bright with 200 ISO. and reducing ISO further (e.g 100 )is not a good idea as it makes camera less insensitive to capture such faint object. I manage to capture a aeroplane trail as follows .
how do you make gifs
How do you make gifs

I tried to take picture of  Jupiter and its moons. I knew moons were visible at 15x zoom using my binocular with 70mm aperture. My camera has 16x zoom but problem is aperture which is F3.3 maximum for the camera. So despite good resolving power my digital camera may not able to gather enough light to display the Galilean moons. To overcome this problem I again used the long exposure technique but with such a high zoom trails are inevitable even at 10 second exposure. So I increased the ISO to 800 and decreased the exposure way down to only 3 second to avoid trails. I got the following picture

Finally I also tried to piggy back the camera on the telescope mount. However afocal photography (picture taken through the lances of telescope) is not yet much productive yet for me.  I will try later with a stable tripod.  Jerry from helped me creating this where you can mouse over and see the constellation lines and star labels  added by me  later using GIMP. Laving you with the album of raw pictures from my camera.