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ASTROPHOTOS
 

Astrophotos are photographs that show the starlit sky and the objects found on it. 

 

Upon reworking the photographs, care must be taken to present an approximately realistic image of the planets. No content is added to or removed from the pictures. Astrophotography normally requires the use of a telescope.

 

Astrophotography can be divided into two major fields: a distinction must be made by all means between photographing the objects of the Solar System and deep-sky objects.

To publish an impressive image, one needs to make videos of the objects of the Solar System containing several thousand frames, while pictures of deep-sky objects must be made from the addition of long exposure photographs with exposure times lasting several minutes.

SKYSCAPES

 

A skyscape (or astro landscape) is any photograph that was made of the starlit sky or celestial objects, and also includes terrestrial elements. They are basically simple landscapes that also have astronomical aspects. 

 

Skyscapes are clearly distinct from astrophotographs, as their key objective is not only showing the sky; the location where the picture was taken is likewise dominant content.

 

Photographs of such subject allow the creation of compositions with, among others, the Moon, atmospheric formations and the Milky Way. No expensive apparatus is needed for this genre of photography; a simple tripod and a single lens reflex camera are enough.

OTHER PHOTOS

 

The key topic of my website is the publication of my astronomical photographs, therefore other areas are seldom presented. In many cases though, I often take out my camera in the daytime, capturing the world that surrounds us. 

 

Under “Other photos” I prepared a selection of my finest pictures covering miscellaneous topics. I have grouped these thematically to make browsing easier. 

 

Starting from the skyscapes, I mostly present landscapes and our constructed environment, but I have also tried other areas.

 

The locations where the pictures were taken are highly diverse. Several photographs were taken from where I live, but I have also enriched the galleries with many pictures taken abroad.

How is an astrophoto made?

How is a skyscape made?

Astrophotography is divided into two areas, because different techniques have to be applied in the following cases:

Objects in the Solar System (bright celestial bodies well visible to the naked eye):

1. Preliminary analysis of the celestial position of the object
2. Aligning the telescope to the polar axis
3. Start of sky tracking, finding the object, setting the sharpness
4. Connection of a high frame rate camera (at least 50 fps) to the telescope
5. Connection of the camera to the computer
6. Saving the unencrypted video recorded on the camera
7. Processing the video by selecting the best frames and their addition
8. Sharpening, reworking and publication

Deep-sky object and other celestial bodies hardly or not at all visible to the naked eye:

1. Preliminary analysis of the celestial position of the object, designing the field of view of the camera
2. Aligning the telescope to the polar axis
3. Connection of a coma corrector to the camera to reduce the distortion at the edges of the image seen through the telescope
4. Connection of the camera to the telescope with the help of adapters
5. Start of sky tracking, setting the sharpness and finding the object
6. Fine tuning of sky tracking, start of guiding the mechanism with the help of the autoguiding camera, guide scope and a software.
7. Preparation of long exposure time RAW files, usually using the value of ISO 800 (the exposure time is at least 30 seconds and not longer than 10 minutes)
8. Taking correction pictures: flat (to correct the darkening of the edges), dark (to correct noise) and bias (to correct sensor errors)
9. Downloading RAW files on computer
10. Addition of the images with the help of a software (adding material taken over several hours will sharpen faint details and significantly reduce noise)
11. Improvement of the added picture with the correction images, rework and publication

Preparation of skyscapes is a considerably simpler process than astrophotography, but, similarly to the latter, it also has two distinct techniques:

Single exposure:

The main principle is taking a single picture that shows everything as seen during the exposure.

Advantage: less work
Disadvantage: a noisier photograph with more rework leaving marks on it

1. Planning the location of the exposure and its composition
2. Camera mounted on tripod
3. Adjustment of sharpness and widest aperture value, above ISO 1600
4. Preparation of a RAW image with exposure time of no more than 20-30 seconds
5. Rework on computer: white balance, detail enhancement, sharpening, noise filtering and publication

Multiple exposure:

In contrast with single exposure time, the sky and the landscape are photographed separately from a single location and setting, but with a maximum time difference of a few minutes. This little “cheating” is acceptable, in order to get a better image. It is however not ethical to consider a composition of landscapes and starlit skies of different locations or times an astro landscape.

Advantage: clean, attractive images
Disadvantage: more work under the sky and in front of the computer

1. Planning the location of the exposure and its composition
2. Camera mounted on tripod - in this case, it may even have a star tracking mechanism
3. Adjustment of sharpness and widest aperture value, between ISO 400-1600
4. Preparation of at least 2 x 30 second exposures
5. Rework on computer: white balance,  detail enhancement, sharpening, addition of the sky and the landscape, publication