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My first photos of Saturn

February 25th, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 3,979 Views

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Well today the sky finally cleared up, and I could get to the telescope early enough after work. The moon is rising 3 hours after Saturn does today. Saturn is very far, and it looks like a tiny star to the naked eye. Even in my telescope it looks tiny. When the image if focused, the view is amazing: the moment I saw the planet and the rings for the first time I was so excited! Well, it looks like someone has cut its silhouette in the black satin sheet – beautiful.

I tried to add the 3x Barlow lens, and with some focus adjustments I can even make up the curvature of the Saturn, but of course the shake is also tripled.

The photographs are here:

Many photos didn’t come out and were deleted, mostly for two reasons:

  1. Once I point the telescope to the planet and center it, I have to flip the mirror to be able to use the camera attached to the rear accessory port. I need to adjust focus, but now I can only do it through the viewfinder of the Canon 20D camera. At this point it becomes a best guess because it’s virtually impossible to focus a tiny dot through the tiny viewfinder. I take several shots with different focus settings hoping that at least something will work out.
  2. The planet moves across the sky so fast, it moves out of the view in seconds. One has to work very fast.

I’ll try again tomorrow. (Update: mirror lock feature really helps to reduce shake. For those who don’t know, it’s possible to set “user function” on Canon 20D so first time you press shutter release it will just flip the mirror, and to take the picture you need to press shutter release button second time. Because of magnification ration, even the tiny shake produced by mirror being flipped up ruins the picture of far planets and stars. With this feature on I can use remote to flip the mirror up first and then press the shutter on the remote again to take the picture a few seconds later).

Here’s the result (cropped):Saturn (cropped)

Meanwhile, a friend recommended me these books:

Digital SLR Astrophotography (Practical Amateur Astronomy)

CCD Astrophotography: High-Quality Imaging from the Suburbs (Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series)
Digital SLR Astrophotography (Practical Amateur Astronomy) Digital Astrophotography: A Guide to Capturing the Cosmos CCD Astrophotography: High-Quality Imaging from the Suburbs (Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy Series)

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