how to photograph asteroids

Started Jun 9, 2006 | Discussions
ehosca Regular Member • Posts: 150
how to photograph asteroids

i want to photograph the Perseids this august with my 5D.

i would appreciate any tips on the subject as i'm a complete noob when it comes to astrophotography ...
techniques, equipment ...

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keith_dc Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: how to photograph asteroids

You would have a very difficult time photographing asteroids with your 5D, especially considering that most and rather small and are found in a belt between Mars and Jupiter.

You meant to say meteoroids, which burn brilliantly when they enter earth's atmosphere. Check out some of these sites for tips:

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/leonids_photographing.html

http://www.spaceweather.com/meteors/leonids/phototips.html

http://www.telescope.com/content/learningcenter/content2main.jsp?iContentID=638&CCNavIDs=19,20,82
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NeilJones
NeilJones Veteran Member • Posts: 5,455
Do you own a spaceship? (nt)

no text

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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Malcolm L Senior Member • Posts: 1,251
Pray for incredible luck

Good luck!
Malcolm

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The Davinator
The Davinator Forum Pro • Posts: 24,707
Easy....

To catch the meteor trains, aim slightly away from the radiant of the shower. Use a wide angle, 1/2 or 1 stop closed down. Try different exposures beforehand to figure out where sky glow from light pollution becomes a problem. Do some exposures at 400 or 800 iso for a few minutes to 10 or 15....depending on the amount of light pollution.

Have fun!

AperturePro Veteran Member • Posts: 4,221
Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3

ehosca wrote:

i want to photograph the Perseids this august with my 5D.

i would appreciate any tips on the subject as i'm a complete noob
when it comes to astrophotography ...
techniques, equipment ...

Others mentioned settings and lenses. Another useful tool is a timer so
you can set up some exposures and let the camera take pictures in
a cycle of exposures. You can then walk away and let the camera cycle
for (example) 30 minutes and come check what it has captured. In Jpeg
mode you have hundreds of possible captures. You can bulb mode for
very long exposures etc.

Blending a series of shorter exposures can be useful too. With a timer you
can lower the noise by taking shorter exposures and then blending many together
for one image.

Try various methods and see what your best results would be.

Steve Lathrop Forum Member • Posts: 59
Re: Easy....

Assuming that you may have actually meant what you said, you can photograph asteroids.

Some asteroids approach the earth fairly closely. The brightest may even achieve naked eye visibility, or possibly I mis-recollect. Back issues of Sky & Telescope magazine at your local library will provide a wealth of information about asteroids, observing asteroids with small telescopes, and photographing asteroids, most likely by using a small telescope.

Unfortunately, for wow-factor pictures of asteroids, you have to be there. There are some photos in back issues of Sky & Telescope taken from spacecraft which have approached asteroids.
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splathrop

The Davinator
The Davinator Forum Pro • Posts: 24,707
Re: Easy....

Steve Lathrop wrote:

Assuming that you may have actually meant what you said, you can
photograph asteroids.

Some asteroids approach the earth fairly closely. The brightest may
even achieve naked eye visibility, or possibly I mis-recollect.
Back issues of Sky & Telescope magazine at your local library will
provide a wealth of information about asteroids, observing
asteroids with small telescopes, and photographing asteroids, most
likely by using a small telescope.

Unfortunately, for wow-factor pictures of asteroids, you have to be
there. There are some photos in back issues of Sky & Telescope
taken from spacecraft which have approached asteroids.
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splathrop

I'm talking about recording a meteor shower....which is what the original poster meant.

OP ehosca Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: Do you own a spaceship? (nt)

i appreciate the subtle jab

as i said a earlier i'm a complete noob for this ...

i would like to capture photos like these if i can and hopefully better too
http://www.spaceweather.com/meteors/gallery_13aug01.html

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Ken Phillips Forum Pro • Posts: 16,364
Actually, there are several you can photograph [nt]
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Paul-UK Regular Member • Posts: 247
Get a very tall tripod (nt)

(nt)

OP ehosca Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: Get a very tall tripod (nt)

any recommendations ?

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The Davinator
The Davinator Forum Pro • Posts: 24,707
Erhan....

As it appears you are primarily attracting moronic responses to a good question, feel free to email me off line where some genuine information can be shared. We'll leave the 2 year olds to come up with their playground wit on this thread.

Harry J Regular Member • Posts: 121
Re: how to photograph asteroids

Erhan,

it's good that you are planning this early. I will go though my experience on both photographing meteors (shooting stars) and on the other hand quite an interesting thing - photographing asteroids.In both of these you will be phtographing nothing else but a spot of light with shooting stars moving fast and asteroids typically slow.

First the shooting stars. In the time of film I burned dozens of film rolls and got only a couple of these on the film. It was expesive. In the digital time it is easier as one can "burn film". It will take a while to go though them all. On the other hand you can speed up this proccess by watching the same area with your eyes, and recording the time and brightness of the shooting stars.

I think the main point you need to remember in photographing shooting stars is that they are fast. This means that the trail crosses many pixels, and the light coming to a single pixel is very short. So quite a bright shooting star will produce quite a faint trail. For this reason the faster the lens the better - so you get more "beams of light" per pixel. Remember that with a faster lens you will also increase the brightness of the background. So this is a trade off. The background will limit the length of your exposures, which I would keep down to 30sec - 2 min anýway.

Shorter focal length helps you also as the shooting star stays longer in one pixel of the image (relative movement along the CMOS chip is slower). The thing you pay for going to a very short a focal length is that the trail of the shooting star is shorter. Also at least in Finland the combination of more Perseids will bring up also may satellites.

Do you need a mount to track the stars? If you want point like images of stars then yes. I have not. I have pointed my camera to fields close to the pole star (quite high up in Finland) and the stars stay quite pointlike. Also the polestar is at a good distance from the radiant of perseids.

But you need a sturdy shakeless tripod and a timer/computer control/remote control. (Note that the computer control cannot expose in bulb mode). Also lifing the mirror up befoe exposure is useful - read the camera manual for details.

Then about the multiple exposures. I think it was a 1DMarkII I used last year for Perseids. There was one fumble. I was taking something like 30 or 60 second exposures. One after another. After some time the camera buffer became full and the sequence was then braked by the chip been read. Also if you have noise reduction set on - leave enought time to empty the buffer/do noise reduction immediately after each image. This will make your set more homogenous. And if you see something odd in the sky such as a slow moving fireball, you could get a series of pictures on that.

The hit rate I had with a sigma 3.5-105 f2.8 was something like 4 shooting stars in a couple of hundred frames over 4 hours of darkness.

So that it is for shooting stars. Then about (nonspacecraft) asteroid photography. This requires usually at least a mount to track the stars. The bightest of the asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, Juno) are visible with binoculars and are easy to photograph with a 100 mm lens mounted on a telescope. If you take another photograph later the same night or the next night you can see that it has moved. It's quite cool.

Then there are these Near earth asteroids that just miss the Earth. A couple of years there was one quite bright one called 2002 NY40. It was amasing to see it moving against the stars. It was so fast! In a five minute you could get quite a long trail with a 300 mm lens. This lens had to be mounted on a telescope.

Enjoy your meteor photgraphy. You may want to have a mock trial run before the actual perseids nights.

Harry J

hartog Forum Member • Posts: 54
Re: how to photograph asteroids

If you choose to use the Canon Remote Controle with which you can program your exposures, you might want to choose to use short exposure times and make a lot exposures (I'm sorry if this has already been mentioned). Select then only the ones with meteors and stack them. You'll get a great image. If you want a foreground you have to do some more work, but also this can work. You might also want to add some images without meterors to have a nicer starfield.

Good luck!

Peter

OP ehosca Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: how to photograph asteroids

thank you very much .. this was very informative indeed...

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OP ehosca Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: Erhan....

Thank you very much for your insightful post.

My research indicates that Perseids this year will be on or around August 11, visible from Long Island, NY

i'm looking forward to it. my personal e-mail is my_firstname@my_lastname.com

thanks again.
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erhan hosca
http://www.hosca.com

Dick Thomas Senior Member • Posts: 1,559
Get Ready to DUCK !!!

On July 3rd, an asteroid will pass the earth at about the distance of the moon. That's pretty close, but nothing to worry about (much, heh, heh, heh). It will be readily visible through small telescopes.

Check here for more information:

http://spaceweather.com/

I don't think I will be in a position to try to capture any images, but I would love to see any that forum members have to offer.

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Dick Thomas
Kalamazoo, MI

OP ehosca Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: how to photograph asteroids

that is exactly how i intend to go about this ... 20 ~ 30 second exposures untill i run out of space on a 4Gb CF card .. and stacking the good ones ...

excellent idea.. thank you very much ...

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