Saturday, September 29, 2007

30 sec. Milky Way Photo

Some of you have commented on the star and cacti picture I posted on Sept. 21. I'm still scheming as to how I can get a picture with nice crisp cactus silhouettes on it. I could always make a composite picture on the computer, but I'd like to capture a real life image if I can.

I was out in our back yard last night to see an Iridium satellite produce a -6 magnitude flare of reflected sunlight. While I was waiting for the Iridium flare, I pointed my camera to the southwest over our house and Kaya G.N. Debrot and snapped a shot of Jupiter hanging out by Antares and the other bright stars of Scorpius.

I was surprised at how many stars turned up in this 30 second exposure. Now I had to work it over in Photoshop quite a bit, and there is a good deal of digital noise compared to images made up of a stack of longer exposures, but I'm still pleased. That is the roof of our house in the lower right corner, and it isn't that blurred.

So it looks like these settings of 30 seconds, at F2.8 and ISO 400 might also bag me a good cacti and stars picture. I'll have another go at it soon, if I can. Some of the newer cameras produce less noise than mine, so 15 seconds at ISO 800 or even ISO1600 wouldn't be out of the question. It seems to me that a 15 second exposure with a 28mm lens could be made from a stationary tripod instead of sitting on top of a star tracking telescope. Hmmm, Milky Way over Brandaris... that would be a cool picture. :)

That black blob at the bottom of the picture is the tube of the telescope I had the camera sitting on. The big white blob in the upper middle part of the picture is Jupiter. Antares is the bright red star to Jupiter's lower right. A little above the left end of the telescope blob is a pair of stars that make up the stinger of the Scorpion's tail. To their upper left are M6 and M7, a pair of open star clusters.

The spout of the teapot is a little way up on the left edge of the picture. A little above half way up on the left side of the picture are the Lagoon and Triffid Nebula, and some more star clusters can be seen above them on the left edge of the image. The WEB power plant would be just off the left side of this picture.

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