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Parade of Planets At Starfest

planet star party astrophotography dslr tripod


Alen Koebel

Parade of Planets At Starfest

Here is a composite photo of the Milky Way taken on August 10, 2018 from the Starfest star party north of Mount Forest, Ontario. It is a mosaic of nine 60-second, overlapping images @ ISO 1600 taken with a Pentax K-3II DSLR on a tripod and a 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M lens @ f/2.8. I would have used a wider-angle lens to get this shot without needing a mosaic but I don't have one. Normally, the longest exposure possible using a 28mm lens on a tripod mounted APS-C DSLR without obvious trailing would be roughly 7 seconds at best. But the camera's Astrotracer feature functions as a built-in sidereal tracking platform, allowing much longer exposures; theoretically up to 5 minutes with such a lens. Microsoft's Image Composite Editor (ICE) was used to construct the mosaic. The unusual aspect of this photo is the fact that it has captured three planets: Mars on the left, Saturn in the middle near M8 and M20, and Jupiter near the right edge. Earlier that evening Venus was also visible near the western horizon, making four planets simultaneously visible across the sky. Notice also the red and green banded air glow, which is most obvious to the right of the Milky Way. (This was, btw, my first astro-mosaic.)

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