WELCOME TO MY AMATEUR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY BLOG - NATAL SPITERI

My First Telescope - 2015
My 50th birthday took place December 2015 when I received my very first telescope.
 
Celestron SkyProdigy 130
130mm Reflector - Fully computerized Altazimuth mount - StarPointer finderscope to help with alignment and accurately locating objects - Compatible with 2" eyepieces
 
Photography Equipment
With the aid of various adaptors, "T"-Ring etc. I was able to attach my NIKON DSLR D3200 camera to the Celestron Telescope.
 
I had to buy a fitting from China to allow the DSLR to connect into the x2 Barlow Lens and any Eyepeice / Filter.
 
For a low budget start this setup got me started into the world of Astrophotography.
My Astrophotography Gallery
I've mainly created this blog to keep track of information I've found on the internet, through books & magazines and through friends.
 
All the pictures I post will have detailed explanaitions of the conditions, locations, camera settings, telescope settings and my own trial and errors in order to improve and get the best pictures possible for me.
2015 Solar Eclipse - England, North
This is my first ever astrophotography picture of the Solar Eclipse March 2015 from the North of England.
 
I used my Nikon DSLR D3200 with 300mm zoom lens set to AUTO mode (ISO, SHUTTER SPEED & FOCUS all automatic).
 
The picture quality on the camera was set to RAW which should be the norm when taking any professional or likewise picture. RAW allows the DSLR picture to be manipulated and improved upon using photo-editing software such as LIGHTROOM (see adjacent picture).
 
 
The same RAW picture (adjacent) edited in LIGHTROOM software to give better detail and colour depth.
 
Not to everybody's liking but this was edited to show the extent at which a RAW camera picture can be altered to.
 
My first play with LIGHTROOM editing software which can be downloaded and trialled for 1 month from ADOBE.COM.
 
 
JANUARY 2016 The Moon - England, North
This was the first time I connected the camera to the telescope with just the x2 Barlow lens attached (no eyepiece).
 
I used my Nikon DSLR D3200 with a "T" Ring adaptor (no lens) and everything set to MANUAL. ISO was set to 100 and the SHUTTER SPEED set to BULB so that I could use the remote shutter release and not disturb the camera.
 
If I remember correctly I left the shutter open only for a second or two.
 
The moon appeared too bright in the picture so I guess more playing around with the camera settings are needed.
 
When I get the camera adapter piece from China delivered I can use the eyepieces and get right into some of the moon craters.
 
 
Same picture as opposite but altered and improved massively in LIGHTROOM.
 
The software feature Exposure allows to brightness of the moon to be reduce thus bringing out the detail of the moon surface. A bit of saturation editing to give the moon a slight blueish tinge and hey presto!
 
 
FEBRUARY 2016 ORION NEBULA - England, North
This was JUST my DSLR camera with a 300mm zoom lens.
I was taking 400 "light" pictures to stack in Deep Space Stacker, this was just 1 of the pictures enhanced in LightRoom software.
 
Using the "600" rule (see calculation across for details) the camera settings were as follows:-
 
CAMERA = NIKON D3200
REMOTE SHUTTER CONTROL
ISO = 1600
FOCUS = f5.6
LENS @ Full 300mm
SHUTTER SPEED @ 1.3 Seconds
 
This was taken at 22:00 UTC in y back garden with medium light pollution from street lights and house lights.
 
 
 
 
"600" RULE USED TO CALCULATE SHUTTER
Each camera manufacturer has whats called a sensor croping factor which is needed to calculate the shutter speed setting on your camera.
 
NIKON camera has a sensor croping factor of 1.5.
 
So we have the following variables required to calculate the optimum shutter speed:-
 
- Lens size (L)
- Camera Sensor Crop Factor (CF)
- 600 Rule (R)
 
Formula:- Lens Size (L) x Camera Sensor Crop Factor (CF)
                         = (L x CF)
 
Then 600 Rule (R) / (L x F) = SHUTTER SPEED (S)
 
E.G. 300mm Zoom Lens on a NIKON D3200
 
Formula:- 300 x 1.5 = 450
 
                   600 / 450 = 1.33 Seconds
 
SHUTTER SPEED WILL BE SET TO 1.3 Seconds
 
 
 
 
MARCH 2016 SIRUS - England, North
Nikon D3200 DSLR camera with a 300mm zoom lens.
This was just 40 "light" pictures stacked in Deep Space Stacker, then enhanced in LightRoom software.
 
Camera settings were as follows:-
 
CAMERA = NIKON D3200
REMOTE SHUTTER CONTROL
ISO = 1600
FOCUS = f5.6
LENS @ Full 300mm
SHUTTER SPEED @ 2.0 Seconds
 
This was taken at 23:30 UTC in my back garden with medium light pollution from street lights and house lights.
 
 
 
 
MARCH 2016 MOON - England, North
Nikon D3200 DSLR camera connected directly to my 5" 650mm focal Celestron telescope with a x2 Barlow.

I didn't have the telescope on auto tracking as I didn't have time to auto align the scope as it was still light outside (aprox. UTC 18:45).
 
Camera settings were as follows:-
 
CAMERA = NIKON D3200
REMOTE SHUTTER CONTROL
ISO = 100
FOCUS = N/A (no lens on the camera - connected directly to telescope)
TELESCOPE @ 650mm PLUS x2 BARLOW
SHUTTER SPEED @ 1/50 Seconds
 
This was taken at 18:45 UTC in my back garden.
 
 
 
 
MAY 2016 JUPITER - England, North
Nikon D3200 DSLR camera connected directly to my 5" 650mm focal Celestron telescope with a x2 Barlow & 15mm Eyepiece.

Camera settings were as follows:-
 
CAMERA = NIKON D3200
REMOTE LAPTOP
ISO = 100
FOCUS = N/A (no lens on the camera - connected directly to telescope)
TELESCOPE @ 650mm PLUS x2 BARLOW with 15mm Eyepiece
SHUTTER SPEED @ 10 Seconds (Telescope Autotracking ON)
 
This was taken at 23:00 UTC in my back garden.
 
 
 
 
My New Mount & Telescope - July 2016
Managed to bag myself a bargain on EBAY in July 2016.
 
Equatorial Mount - EQ5
200mm Reflector - Skywatcher 200

Added a dual axis motor for RA & DEC and for long exposure deep space pictures:-

Orion 60mm Auto Guide Scope with CCD
EQ5 - Polar Alignment
As he EQ5 mount isn't a GOTO type mount like my Celestron - a polar alignment procedure is required in order to have a HOME position pointed directly at POLARIS (North Star).

After watching dozens of videos and reading lots of forums I created the diagram below to assist me with ensuring the polar finder in the EQ5 mount is accurate and how to ensure my mount is perfectly setup.
Additional Upgrade Equipment - August-September 2016
Found a web site for buy & selling astronomy and astrophotography equipment and found 2 major bargains.
 
ATIK Main Imaging CCD - ATIK 314L+ Mono CCD
SX Filter Wheel - 7 Channel
BAADER FILTERS:-
H-ALPHA
O2
SIII
LUMINANCE
RED
GREEN
BLUE

To compliment the CCD I sold the RA and DEC motor kit I purchased back in July 2016 and invested in a SynScan GoTo Motor & Hand Held system which allowed me to connect to the laptop and AutoGuiding system.
ATIK 314L+ MONO CCD
SYNSCAN GOTO EQ5
SX Filter Wheel
Baader Filter Set