Astronomy Stuff

I’ve always been interested in astronomy. In 2013 I started taking an active role in the hobby when I got my first telescope. It was an Orion SkyQuest XT8, and it was a lot of fun. I remember the first time observing Saturn with my own eyes, on a cold winter evening from my parents’ backyard. And Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, the Moon, Andromeda, the Pleiades… etc.

And while the XT8 is a great scope for observational astronomy, with a lot of aperture for relatively little money, it also has a couple of downsides. Its form factor is the most obvious one. You’re essentially lugging around a long metal tube.  Living in an apartment has made me painfully aware of how unwieldy it is. My choices are either moving onto the balcony (where there is little space) or dragging it 9 floors down and into the street. It was fine when all I had to do was take it out into the yard, but ever since I’ve moved into my own place, my old scope hasn’t seen a lot of use.

My lazy desire to do astronomy from my own balcony has led me searching for more… compact solutions. I’ve been experimenting with astrophotography lately, using my DSLR to take wide-field images of the night sky. I’m using this page as a collection of my results so far.

2 July 2016: Cassiopeia

My first sort-of-successful attempt was a spur of the moment thing, as I only realized around midnight that there was a good seeing outside. I have barely any idea what I’m doing at this point, both with my shooting and my postprocessing. The most obvious failure is that the picture is out of focus. Still, the resulting image is nice and shows a bunch more stars than I was expecting. View Results

17 July 2016: Andromeda

Using equipment beyond my skill level (a borrowed beast of a professional telezoom lens), I set out to take a closer look at one of my favorite Messier objects: M31, the Andromeda galaxy. The seeing wasn’t great, and I definitely suffered from some light cloud interference. The resulting image isn’t half bad though, especially considering my setup is not suited for shooting DSOs like this. The structure of M31 is just barely visible, the two large dust lanes being the most recognizable features. M110 and M32 are also visible in this image, so we’re really looking at no less than three galaxies today. Not bad. View Results

4 December 2016: HIP 30520

I shot some no-name region of space to try out my new SkyTracker setup. I shot at 200mm to really test out the polar alignment and tracking, and see how long I could make my exposures. It turns out I have to worry about light pollution long before I have to worry about star trails now. Afterwards, it took me some puzzling to figure out what part of space I had actually captured. The two main stars in the frame are called HIP 30520 and HIP 30247. Fancy! View Results

5 December 2016: Polaris

What better way to celebrate my new SkyTracker than by shooting Polaris, my all-important guide star for better astrophotography? I shot at a lower ISO and didn’t bring out as much stars in post as I could, in an attempt to reduce the noise in the picture. The result is cleaner, but also doesn’t contain that many stars. I’m not sure if this is an improvement. View Results