Astrophotography – Milky Way & Star Trails
Astrophotography has been an interest of mine since the early days of my photography. I started off trying star trails in Old Portsmouth, Hampshire. Using Portsmouth Cathedral as a foreground, but there was too much light pollution so it washed out a lot of the stars. I then gradually progressed as I practised in darker spots of the city and around Hampshire using different techniques and camera settings.
As you can see, the star trails can have different effects depending on what direction you’re facing. The photo of Netley Hospital in Hampshire is facing North, With Polaris in the centre it creates circular trails.
Star Trails are created using long exposure methods, using multiple images stacked on top of each other. I usually take a minimum of 100 x 30 second exposures to get enough star trails. I use a remote shutter, so I can set it to how many shots, how long each shot will be, and how long the intervals are.
Milky Way and deep space photography are similar, I use a tracker on my tripod which I align with Polaris, and it gradually rotates a ball head that I mount my camera to with the Earth’s rotation, this stops the stars trailing and allows me to take longer exposures, and more exposures.
For deeper photography I take 30 seconds – however many minutes, and can sometimes be imaging for a few hours, this lets me capture maximum data from my subject, I then take calibration frames, to increase signal to noise ratio, effectively making the image alot less noisy with more detail and sharpness, and reduces any visible dust/ vignetting etc.
Once I’ve collected my data and calibration frames I stack them in a dedicated software, this aligns all of the frames and takes out any artefacts that i don’t want, while revealing more data from all of the frames I’ve captured.
Messier 42 – The Orion Nebula
Situated in Constellation Orion (In Orions sword) and only 1,344 lightyears from earth and spanning 24 lightyears across, The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest diffuse nebulae in the night sky.
Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31), our closest neighbouring galaxy, located 2.5million lightyears away. Also in this photo is Messier 32 and 110. Both are satellite dwarf galaxies of Andromeda. What we see in this photo is how the Galaxy looked 2.5 million years ago, that’s how long it took the light to travel to my camera sensor from the galaxy.
Cygnus ConstellationGamma Cygni (Sadr region) in the Cygnus Constellation
Heart and Soul Nebula with the double star cluster.
The Heart Nebula (IC 1805) And Soul Nebula (IC 1871) are around 7500 lightyears from Earth located in the Cassiopeia Constellation. They are emission nebulae that show glowing ionised hydrogen. North America and Pelican Nebula in the Deneb region of Cygnus.
Both nebulae are located in the Deneb region (the tail of cygnus) North America is around 2,202 Lightyears from earth, while Pelican is around 1800 Lightyears away. Deneb is the bright star you can see in the photo above, it’s believed to have a diameter of more than 200 times that of the sun and is about 2,616 light years from earth, it doesn’t sound like a lot… But if interstellar travel at the speed of light (670,616,629 mph) was possible, it would still take us 2,616 years to reach it.
A self portrait taken with the Galactic core, Saturn and Jupiter in Brittany, France