3 Tips for Astrophotography

As the name suggests, astrophotography involves taking pictures of the night sky. There is no better picture than a picture that features the stars and the moon. If you are just getting into astrophotography, you may want to join an astronomy club or purchase some astronomy books so that you can get an idea of where the various objects in the sky are located. This guideline will go over a few tips for astrophotography, such as which cameras are best for astrophotography, how to focus your camera, and why it is important to use a tripod.

1. Using the Right Camera

The key to astrophotography is using the correct camera. Believe it or not, you actually have four different types of cameras to choose from for astrophotography. Those cameras are digital SLR cameras, CCD cameras, digital snapshot cameras and webcams. If you are looking to take scenic shots, any of those camera types will work, as long as you are using a tripod. For shots that include planets, you are actually better off using a webcam because they can take shots at a rapid pace. If you are more interested in the deep sky aspect of astrophotography, your best bet is a CCD camera, but you can get away with a digital SLR camera, too.

2. Focusing Your Camera

It is very important that you learn how to focus your camera. If your camera is out of focus, you won't be able to capture the fine details of the night sky. You can actually use your eye to focus your camera. To focus your camera by eye, use the viewfinder or LCD screen on your camera to locate a dull star in the sky. You will then need to manually turn the focuser on your camera back and forth until you can clearly see the sky. For best results, you should consider covering one of your eyes with a patch to prevent other lights from distracting you from focusing on the star. If you have access to a magnifier, you can attach one to the viewfinder on your camera to get even better focusing results.

3. Use a Tripod

No matter how steady your hands are, your astrophotography shots will be of higher quality if you use a tripod. Once you locate the object in the sky that you want to take a photo of, you can easily use a tripod to aim your camera at that object. During long time exposure shots, it is very likely that your hands will somewhat move, which will ruin the shot. That is not a concern with a tripod, because your camera is sitting on a stationary item. If you aren't interested in purchasing a tripod, you can actually sit your camera on top of a bean bag. The bean bag should be placed on a very sturdy surface, such as the ground or your car. You will, however, experience better results with a tripod.