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/commentable: Taking pictures through a telescope
Dinarius = digital interest
10 April 2012

Taking pictures through a telescope

There’s lots of ways to get frustrated. I find adjusting telescope lenses and trying to shoot photographs through them to be a winner. It takes a sick amount of familiarity and having hacked a 6-inch Newtonian together in about 72 hours, I’m a lot more familiar with other things. So I thought I’d practice in the daytime to cut my teeth a little.

Photographs through a telescope

What I didn’t understand at first is that the magnification happens in the eyepiece, which sits snug in the Focuser (that jutting piece of hardware that winds up and down). So a high-powered wide-angle eyepiece is great for your eye, but less so for a camera. The camera becomes the Focuser and, simply, a magnifying lens provides the magnification.

Magnifying lens and centered mirrors
Collimator mirror cell telescope

Before I practiced focusing and shooting trees, I had to re-tool my haphazard telescope mirrors.

Mirror Cell
The Mirror Cell at the back is reasonably well put together and a piece of PVC jammed against it helps to keep things straight.
Since this time, I’ve locked the Mirror Cell down with bolts. It’s a huge difference.
Electrical tape and a 10-cent piece are aligning the 45-degree mirror – I’m addressing that later. The result is that a dead-center gaze through the focuser reveals sparkles of light along the threads at the side-wall since the mirrors are casting a cone of a greater angle than the opening provides for. Purty.

The focuser acquires sparkles when all is well

I’m used to shooting through a magnifying lens. Really. It’s become a fun tool in my bag. I plunk the lens right up against the camera and with the focus set to the nearest setting possible, I sway toward and away from the subject. This technique suits photographing objects through a telescope pretty well. Software in post can turn the digital images 160-degrees (or however much you need) so that up is up.

As a proof of concept, it works. I’ll aim to steady the images, predict outcomes and then transfer all this brainy stuff to 120mm film.

Telescope photographs provide surprise DOF
A 160-degree rotate in post for telescope pics

On closer examination, I estimate these leaves to be not only six light years away, but also moving away from us at about half the speed of light. My telescope kung-fu is strong.

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