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Can we use the Digital Camera to take the nebula's photo?

- dobs (01.12.2001)

Yes, of course. Digital camera nowadays is capable of many aspects in astrophotography. The simplest way is to mount your camera on a tripod and exposure as long as your camera permits. (Recent digital cameras support exposure as long as 1 minute). 

However, there are two things you have to pay attention. Firstly, as the earth is rotating, The star image will be elongated as a short steak. You may minimize the effect by shooting at wide angle. Secondly, as the sky is much darker than daily environment, the noise will be much prominent. Most of the camera have noise reduction program and it is quite effective. If you have knowledge in simple image processing, you may reduce the noise further by taking many exposure on the same object, and stack them together in computer.@

After gaining some experience, you many want to take close-up photos of clusters and nebula. Since the magnifying and light collecting power of the camera lens is not enough, you have to connect the camera to a telescope. You have to acquire or make one yourself a suitable adaptor to fit them together. Moreover, as the star image elongates much faster such high magnification, a equatorial mount is essential. Furthermore, a cable shutter release should be used in order to eliminate vibration. 

If you have taken care of the above steps, a wonderful astrophoto will be added to you album!

Summer Milky Way
2 frame composite, each frame is 1-minute tracked exposure.

Single 1-minute tracked exposure.
Click photo to enlarge




LAU Kai-ip
Asst. Curator, Hong Kong Space Museum