A DSLR now serves as my dedicated camera for astrophotography, which may be used with typical camera lenses for wide-field shots of celestial objects, or may be mounted onto a telescope for closeup shots of galaxies and nebulas.
Canon 450D with 18-55 mm zoom lens
Canon 45D with 50 mm prime lens
Below are some wide-field images taken using only the kit lenses supplied with the camera (i.e., without a telescope). It is interesting to note that there are actually a number of astronomical objects than may be captured even without a telescope.
Image of the Milky Way galaxy taken shortly after sunset using a DSLR camera and a tracking mount. Canon 450D DSLR camera, 18-55 mm lens set at 18 mm, f/3.5, 79 sec exposure, ISO 1600, November 3, 2012, Camarines Norte, Philippines. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano
Wide-field image of the Andromeda Galaxy taken with a Canon 450D DSLR and a 50 mm f/1.8 kit lens, ISO 1600, 12 x 30 sec exposure, on November 11, 2012 under the dark clear skies of Boso-boso, Rizal, Philippines. The Andromeda Galaxy, even at a distance of 2.2 million light-years, is still visible to the naked eye and shows up well with any DSLR kit lens. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano
Wide-field image of the constellation Orion taken with a Canon 450D DSLR and a 50 mm f/1.8 kit lens, ISO 1600, 12 x 30 sec exposure, on November 11, 2012 under the dark clear skies of Boso-boso, Rizal, Philippines. The Barnard’s Loop, the Flame Nebula, the Orion Nebula, the Running Man Nebula, as well as the Horsehead Nebula are visible in this photo. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano
I also use the camera with my telescope through an imaging technique called prime focus imaging. The DSLR is attached onto a telescope by means of a special type of adapter which I will illustrate below. For prime focus astrophotography, the camera lens is replaced by the telescope itself. First we remove the camera lens and expose the lens mount (consult the user’s manual).
Canon 450D with lens removed
Since each brand has a different type of lens mount (i.e., Canon lenses have different lens mounts to Nikon, and so as with Pentax, Sony, etc.), connecting it to a telescope would require a special type of camera-to-telescope adapter called a T-ring and a T-adapter. A T-ring is simply a metal adapter with one end that fits nicely to your lens mount and with the other end that attaches to any T-adapter. The T-adapter is the one that attaches any T-ring to a telescope. The end result would be a DSLR camera with an excessively long and excessively large lens.
The DSLR, the T-ring, and T-adapter assembly
The DSLR, the T-ring, and T-adapter assembly
The DSLR, the T-ring, and T-adapter assembly ready to be attached to a telescope
Each camera brand has a specific T-ring design and varies from one brand to another. This is usually supplied by the manufacturer or a third party-supplier. The Canon EOS T-ring shown in this setup is produced by Celestron. Some telescopes however, have threaded focusers that may accept a T-ring directly, thus, eliminating the need for a T-adapter. The T-adapter is usually available in telescope shops, but being a fan of do-it-yourself (DIY) stuff, I just fabricate my own adapters.
Canon 450D body attached onto a lens (telescope) with focal length of 900 mm and a diameter of 100 mm (f/9).
Below are some images taken with a DSLR mounted on to a telescope. Note that long-exposure images of deep-sky objects require precise tracking.
Located 1500 light-years from Earth, the Orion Nebula presents a cross-section view of a galactic bubble of gas and dust. This image was taken under the dark clear skies of Basud, Camarines Norte, Philippines, using a Sky-Watcher 4-in f/9 refractor, Kenko NES mount, a Canon 450D DSLR, and a home-built autoguider. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano
A lunar eclipse occurs during rare occasions when the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, at times when the Sun, the Earth, and the moon form a straight line. The deep red hue of the moon is caused by sunlight refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere where most of the blue light has already been scattered, leaving only the red light to fall on to the moon’s surface. The image shows a fully-eclipsed moon during totality, taken with a 4-inch f/9 refracting telescope and a Canon 450D DSLR at ISO 1600, 2-sec exposure. This photo was featured as December 10, 2012’s Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day (AAPOD). Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano
Image of the International Space Station (ISS) as it passes 450 km above Manila at 4:59:01 am, March 15, 2012. The main body and the solar panels of the satellite are visible in this photo. Image taken with a 4-in f/9 refractor, Canon 450D, ISO 1600, 1/100 sec exposure. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano
The camera is powered by 2 lithium cells. Using an accessory called battery grip, 6 AA rechargeable batteries may also be used. For imaging sessions in remote observing sites, the camera may be powered as well by a field battery.
For extended use, investing on extra batteries (battery grip) is recommended
For questions and queries, feel free to leave a comment. Clear skies!
DIY Phone Camera-To-Telescope Adapter
Universal Camera Adapter
Other Types of Camera-To-Telescope Adapters (For Advanced Users)
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)