how to photograph asteroids

Started Jun 9, 2006 | Discussions thread
Fritz Byle Contributing Member • Posts: 532
Re: how to photograph asteroids

Yes, you meant meteors, which are the light trails produced by meteoroids as they are heated upon atmoshperic entry. A meteoroid that survives and is found on Earth is a meteorite.

Definitions out of the way, what you want to do is to shoot from a very dark area. Google "dark sky map" for a tool that will help find a dark area near your location. You can choose two ways to shoot:

  • Track the stars so they appear stationary (requires a telescope mount or barndoor tracker). Foreground objects will be blurred.

  • Let the stars trail and keep foreground objects stationary.

Whatever strategy you choose, you want to use a wide angle lens (a fisheye works wonders), pointed roughly in the direction of the radiant; if using a mount to track star motion, be sure to align the mount. You'll want a lens that is reasonably fast (f/2.8 or better) and is sharp at f/2.8. Set the aperture to f/2.8 and focus manually by trial and error until you get pin-sharp star images.

Now you're ready to shoot. Using a remote, open the shutter for several minutes, being careful to avoid any camera vibration during the exposure. You should capture multiple meteors, and you're also going to get lots of star images. If skies are light-polluted, the results will be very bad.

Wide angle astrophotography is moderately challenging, and can be extremely rewarding. Good luck!

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'Life is pleasant, death is peaceful; it's the transition that's troublesome' - Isaac Asimov

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