How to image comet Lovejoy with a DSLR camera

CometLovejoyDec12,2015_C2014 Q2
C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy imaged on January 12, 2014 from Cavite, Philippines, using a Canon 450D DSLR and an f/1.8, 50 mm lens. The photo was a stack of 10 images, with each one exposed for 6 seconds at ISO 1600, processed using Deep-Sky Stacker. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano. For other images of comets, click here.

Here are simple steps to image comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2 ) using an entry-level DSLR camera:

1. At around 7 pm to about 1 am tonight (your local time), look at the sky and try to match the patterns in this finder chart (from Sky and Telescope) with the actual stars in the sky. You should be able to spot Orion (a prominent constellation) and then estimate the general location of the comet.
2. Mount the camera on a tripod.
3. Focus the camera lens at the stars by pointing it at any bright star and then adjust the focus manually by rotating the focus ring.
4. Point the camera to the general direction of the comet.
5. Set the camera to manual shooting (M) mode.
6. Set the ISO to highest value (ISO 1600 is recommended).
7. Set the aperture to its widest setting (e.g., f/1.8 is preferred instead of f/8).
8. Experiment with various exposure time. Try 1 or 2 seconds exposure and then adjust accordingly. In my 50 mm f/1.8 lens, I used 6 seconds exposure. The exposure time must be long enough so that the image of the comet would register, but not too long so as to avoid over-exposure and star trailing.
9. Once ready, take a photo using the camera’s remote shutter or time-delay function to minimize vibrations.
10. Check your images for any hint of the comet. It should show up as a fuzzy green patch in your photos. Adjust framing as necessary.

The comet will show up nicely in photos and may also be bright enough to be visible to the naked eye, especially if viewed from the province. To see the comet visually from a city, you need at least a decent pair of binoculars. For queries, kindly leave a comment.

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

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DIY Phone Camera-To-Telescope Adapter

phone to telescope adapter
DIY phone camera-to-telescope adapter built from scrap wood, rubber bands, screws, and a hose clamp.

Just finished building this cheap mobile phone camera-to-telescope adapter. It’s a very simple solution for those who usually take images of the moon and planets using a mobile phone camera and a telescope. The adapter allows any mobile phone camera to be mounted directly onto any telescope. It only takes an hour to build, requires simple tools, and costs just less than a dollar ($1)! This adapter will also work with other optical instrument such as binoculars and microscopes.

Being able to take astro images using only a phone camera and a telescope setup could inspire an astro-enthusiast to pursue astrophotography. If you feel you are now ready to try out a more complicated imaging setup (instead of using phones cameras, you’ll be imaging using digital cameras), try to building your own version of a Universal Camera Adapter :) This setup will most likely yield better photos and will enable you to take advantage of digital cameras’ zoom (optical) capability, which is useful for up-close shots of the moon craters and planets.

For other DIY projects useful for astrophotography, click here.

Related links (for advanced imagers):
DSLR for Astrophotography
Other Types of Camera-To-Telescope Adapters

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Astrophotography Lecture and Workshop (March 12, 2014)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One of the photos taken during the astrophotography workshop held in UP Diliman on March 12, 2014, hosted by the UP Photography Society (UP OPTICS). Photo Credit: Jodel Cuasay. Image taken with an Olympus Pen EP-3 camera mounted on a telescope with a focal length of 900 mm at ISO 400, f/2, 1/100 sec exposure. Published with permission.

Congratulations to all the participants! For more astrophotos taken during the workshop, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

UP OPTICS Astrophotography Workshop

up_optics_astrophotography_workshop_march12_2014_poster
Image Credit: UP OPTICS

The UP Photography Society (UP OPTICS), a duly recognized photography organization of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, will be holding an Astrophotography Workshop as part of the UP OPTICS Photography Workshop Series 2014.

The workshop will be held on March 12, 2014, at 6-8 pm (venue will be announced later) and is open for both UP students and non-UP participants. Learn the basics skills in astrophotography and find out how to capture the Milky Way using just an entry-level DSLR!

To register (limited slots), click here.

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For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Lunar Halo September 27, 2012

A lunar halo observed in Quezon City, Philippines, on September 27, 2012 Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano

A 22-degree lunar halo visible in Quezon City last night was captured with a Canon 450D DSLR, 50 mm prime lens at f/1.8, 1/3 sec exposure, ISO 1600. The halo surrounding the moon is caused by the refraction of moonlight through the edges of six-sided ice crystals in high-altitude cirrus clouds. Since blue light refracts more than red, it is always colored blue on the outside and red on the inside. Such phenomenon may also be observed around the Sun.

Related link: Lunar Halo

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Venus Now Visible as a ‘Morning Star’

Venus is now visible as a ‘morning star’, seen as a very bright naked-eye object in the eastern horizon 1 to 2 hours before sunrise from August until early November of 2012. This planet is so bright that even a mobile phone camera should be able to capture it.

This image was captured on August 19, 2012, in Zambales, Philippines, with a DSLR camera-on-a-tripod with a 50 mm lens, set to ‘Auto’ mode.

Related link: Venus Visible in the Western Horizon (December 2011)

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For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Daytime Moon (Surprise Moon)

While the moon is naturally visible at daytime for approximately 10 days in each lunar cycle, most of us are not accustomed to the idea of seeing the moon during the day. Seeing it for the first time always brings a surprise to the unwary observer, thus, this phenomenon is also called by astronomers as the “surprise moon.” Image taken with a mobile phone camera on April 4, 2012 at around 3 pm looking east. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano. For more images of the moon, click here.

IR-modified Canon PowerShot S3IS

The modification involves physically removing the “hot plate”, a kind of filter that blocks infrared light. Manufacturers install it in cameras in order to correct for the reddish hue inherent to CCD or CMOS sensors. Removing such filter makes the camera more sensitive to IR and as well as H-alpha wavelengths, which is particularly useful in deep-sky photography.

Canon S3IS point-and-shoot camera modified for astrophotography (afocal imaging)

Read more.

Jupiter, Moon, and Venus Planetary Grouping February 26, 2012

Jupiter (top)-Moon(center)-Venus (lower left) alignment February 26, 2012, facing west at sunset, Tagaytay, Philippines. Image taken with a Canon PowerShot S3IS.

Related images: Planetary Grouping

For featured photos, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)