Photographing the Milky Way #howto

Phil - KM6NFS

In tonight's meeting someone asked about equipment for photographing the Milky Way. I've been trying this with some simple gear and the results have been pretty rewarding. They aren't great images - if you look closely, they are grainy and the some of the stars are a little oblong because of the rotation of the Earth, but it's still fun to do. Here's what's worked for me.

Find a dark sky. One of the best places is Lassen Volcanic NP, but I think anywhere in the high Sierra is good.
Pick a time with no moon.
Use a tripod.
I use an SLR with a crop sensor (Canon Rebel).
I have a couple of "fast" (f2.8) lens. One is 11-16mm zoom, and the other is a 24 mm "pancake" lens.
Manually set the aperture to f2.8.
Manually focus the lens - this can be difficult on some lenses that focus "beyond infinity".
For the 24mm lens, I set the exposure to 15 seconds. You can go to 30 seconds on the 11mm lens.
Set the ISO to 6400.
Set the camera timer delay to 3 seconds.
Take the lens cap off (I always forget this step).
Press the shutter release!

I think this has been a good way to start exploring astronomy.




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