Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Broken Truck and photographing stars!!!!

Good afternoon interweb, me again. Currently sitting in my office eating gourmet jelly beans drinking coffee and listening to Alison Krauss/Union Station live whilst reflecting on my day so far.
Well for your information it has not gone well so far and thus I can but hope that it will improve.
You see on my way to the gym The Truck decided that it wasn’t very well and was going to try it’s best impression of an old VW Beetle by packing up using one of it’s cylinders and restricting the flow of fuel. Bollocks. I continued to the gym and set a personal best time for doing 30K on one of the bikes probably because I was so pissed about the broken Truck.
It managed to get me home and down to the garage where Chris the mechanic will work his magic and make it all work again, hoorah!.
Last night brought the first of three shows about star gazing with prof Fox and Dara, brilliant show and very informative.
It is with this in mind that I would like to share with you some tips on photographing the night sky. I dealt with photographing the moon last week but what of the stars, constellations and comets etc.
First off your gonna need a good sturdy tripod to fix your camera too.
Your gonna be turning the camera into manual mode again and start out with the following settings,
Iso 800 / shutter speed between 20 and 30 seconds / f_stop as open as you can get it which on most lenses will be 5.6.
Switch the lens to manual and focus at infinity. If you have a cable release it would be a good idea to use it but if not get yourself a piece of card big enough to cover the lens.
Right then, now point your camera skyward to the stars, place the card over your lens and press the shutter (or use your cable release) after a second or so (to give the camera time to stop moving due to any motion from pressing the shutter) remove the card from over the lens and wait.
It will probably take around twenty or so seconds for the camera to write the information to your card with it being such a long exposure.
Some things to take into account is your location, if in a city you will probably get some light pollution creeping in but you can use it to good effect.
If your unsure of what the hell you are looking at there are some great apps that you can download (some are free) I use Sky View, they do a free version but its under £2.00 for the full version so a no brainer really.
(click on image for bigger version)
 Jupiter can been seen in the above shot just left of centre with the constellation of Taurus top left just visible.

After putting the photographs onto your computer and adjusting the levels and curves etc it may be worth running them through some noise reduction software to smooth them out a bit, you can find free ones online that should be up to the job.
 The international space station making an appearance over High Storrs with the orange glow of the light pollution from Fulwood.
The constellation of Cassiopeia  above was shot at 20 seconds f-5.6 iso 800
Venus and Neptune almost inline.
If your really lucky during your long exposure you may even get a meteorite or comet streak across the sky which will look very impressive.
Another thing to keep in mind is maybe a warm drink although I much prefer to quaff a few large glasses of red wine whilst star gazing.
Have fun, and remember Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
Cicero once said “Be sure that it is not you that is mortal, but only your body. For that man whom your outward form reveals is not yourself; the spirit is the true self, not that physical figure which can be pointed out by your finger.” Far too deep man,
Peace out y'all THE BAGSTAXXX

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