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Untracked astrophotography targets

Astrophotography Beginner DSLR DSO
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#1 _.lightworks._

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 04:56 AM

Hello, I am new here and I'm not sure if this is the correct place for topics like this. Anyway, I was looking for targets that are possible to shoot untracked. I live in a Bortle 6-7 area, and have only a cheap camera (Canon EOS 1500D) and lens (75-300 F4-5.6). I have shot M8, M31 and M42 so far. What else can I shoot (20° North)?

I can get about 30-45 minutes of integration at 75mm (2.5" subs) or about 15 minutes at 300mm (1" subs).

I am planning to shoot Orion at 75mm and hopefully get the flame nebula too (I'm pretty sure Horsehead Nebula won't be visible), but am also looking for some advice.

Edited by _.lightworks._, 10 December 2023 - 08:32 AM.


#2 EPinNC

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 08:48 AM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!

 

I started out just like you, and I had some success:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-camera-images/

 

Open clusters can make for good targets for short-exposure, untracked imaging.  Maybe some of these will give you something good:

  • NGC 869 and 884 (Double Cluster)
  • Hyades Cluster
  • Messier 35
  • Messier 45 (Pleiades) -- It's hard to go wrong with this one
  • Messier 46 and 47

Most of these were rather poorly processed -- I had little idea of what I was doing at the time .  (And even today I'm still learning...)

 

You might be able to get something of the Flame Nebula, but yes, the Horsehead may be a bit out of reach.  It's pretty faint.  But hey, you can always try!

 

Best of luck!


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#3 _.lightworks._

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 09:58 AM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!

I started out just like you, and I had some success:

https://www.cloudyni...-camera-images/

Open clusters can make for good targets for short-exposure, untracked imaging. Maybe some of these will give you something good:

  • NGC 869 and 884 (Double Cluster)
  • Hyades Cluster
  • Messier 35
  • Messier 45 (Pleiades) -- It's hard to go wrong with this one
  • Messier 46 and 47
Most of these were rather poorly processed -- I had little idea of what I was doing at the time . (And even today I'm still learning...)

You might be able to get something of the Flame Nebula, but yes, the Horsehead may be a bit out of reach. It's pretty faint. But hey, you can always try!

Best of luck!

Pardon me for not using forum features properly, I am using a forum for the first time.

I have already shot M35, M45, M46, M47 and double cluster to varying degrees of success.

I will retry double cluster again, as I had shot it when it was very low on the horizon and was quite inexperienced (I still am, just not as much as before).

M45- I tried it at both focal lengths. At 300mm there was absolutely no nebulosity visible. At 75mm I had tried framing it with the California Nebula. The framing did work, but after stretching the image to the limits there was very small nebulosity present in M45 and California Nebula was nothing more than a smudge.

M35-The shot I took was alright.
M46 and M47- Same as before, passable but nothing spectacular.

I'll give a go at Hyades, but to be honest, it never seemed too interesting to me. It really sucks to so be limited. Even 60s exposures through narrowband look so great (I've been processing some Telescope Live data to understand the process).

Thanks for the suggestions!
Clear skies,
Nik.

Edited by _.lightworks._, 10 December 2023 - 10:10 AM.

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#4 CharLakeAstro

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 11:00 AM

Other than deliberately imaging star trails, there isn't much reason to shoot untracked.

A double arm barn-door tracker can be made or bought very inexpensively. A tripod costs more.

 

https://davetrott.co...arn-door-drive/



#5 _.lightworks._

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 11:14 AM

Other than deliberately imaging star trails, there isn't much reason to shoot untracked.
A double arm barn-door tracker can be made or bought very inexpensively. A tripod costs more.

https://davetrott.co...arn-door-drive/


Unfortunately, I am in no position to build anything, being a school student. Even if I did want to build it and had the required money, the parts and equipments required are not very conveniently available at my country. Secondly, quite a significant part of my Northern sky is blocked by a large building. So, polar alignment won't be possible. Thanks for your suggestion though!
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#6 EPinNC

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 02:26 PM

Unfortunately, I am in no position to build anything, being a school student. Even if I did want to build it and had the required money, the parts and equipments required are not very conveniently available at my country. Secondly, quite a significant part of my Northern sky is blocked by a large building. So, polar alignment won't be possible. Thanks for your suggestion though!

I understand completely!  My only advice is to do the best that you possibly can with what you have.  It sounds like you know a lot already about finding things in the night sky, capturing images, and processing the images.  Regardless of what equipment you have, those are all valuable skills.

 

Unfortunately, there is no magic that can change the physics involved.  You are trying to capture light that is extremely faint and overwhelmed by other sources of light.  You are also using equipment that was not designed specifically for this purpose.  It is a very difficult situation.  I am certain that everyone here wishes you could have better equipment to work with!

 

Just do your very best with what you have.  You will learn a great deal more in the process.  And then, in the future, you may be able to buy some kind of tracking mount that lets you get longer exposures.  You would not need a large, expensive telescope.  Many people here take beautiful photographs using little more than a tracker, a DSLR, and a basic lens.  Some day you will do that too, and you will have an excellent understanding of the basic problems.  (I felt that way myself.  I could plainly see why I wasn't getting spectacular images, and thus I had a good idea of what equipment would allow me to do better, even though I could not afford it yet.)

 

Others here may have more ideas.  As for me, I wish you the best of luck!
 

Perseverance (noun) -- persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success



#7 SteveInNZ

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 08:15 PM

Good for you doing what you can with what you have.

 

One project that you could try is wide angle constellation shots if you have the kit lens for your camera.

If you use a fog or diffusion filter, brighter stars will appear bigger and will have color. Search on Google for easy ways to make such a filter.

 

Steve.



#8 bedrock

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Posted 10 December 2023 - 08:49 PM

+1 for the constellation shots. A shot of Orion with good framing and low noise always brings a smile to my face. Take lots of images to stack for low noise and good dynamic range, and you can really crank the levels and bring out lots of faint detail. I haven't personally used a fog filter myself, but it might be an interesting project.



#9 _.lightworks._

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Posted 11 December 2023 - 05:34 AM

Good for you doing what you can with what you have.

One project that you could try is wide angle constellation shots if you have the kit lens for your camera.
If you use a fog or diffusion filter, brighter stars will appear bigger and will have color. Search on Google for easy ways to make such a filter.

Steve.



I understand what you mean, and I actually have tried it once on Cygnus. The result: I absolutely hate it (I'll link all my shots at the end). While the idea itself is nice, my 18-55mm kit lens doesn't really cut it. I am not entirely sure if it's my lens's problem, but whenever I have tried astrophotography with it, there are a lot of coma shaped stars at the corners (quite visible in the Milky Way shot despite significant cropping), and for some reason the top left part of it looks extremely blurry. It happened three times: Cygnus widefield, Milky Way, and Andromeda widefield (which I hate so much I deleted it).
Anyway, here is the link:
https://drive.google...mof2JRC5Ws-GpWd

Suggestions and advice are much appreciated!

Ps: All of these images were taken while my camera was propped up on a brick (or my camera bag if the angle was too much). Recently got a tripod, Orion should be my first shot with it, since that was my first astrophotography target.

Clear skies,
Nik
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#10 _.lightworks._

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Posted 11 December 2023 - 05:36 AM

And then, in the future, you may be able to buy some kind of tracking mount that lets you get longer exposures. You would not need a large, expensive telescope. Many people here take beautiful photographs using little more than a tracker, a DSLR, and a basic lens. Some day you will do that too, and you will have an excellent understanding of the basic problems. (I felt that way myself. I could plainly see why I wasn't getting spectacular images, and thus I had a good idea of what equipment would allow me to do better, even though I could not afford it yet.)


Yeah, honestly astrophotography is my main motive now to work hard and get a good job.
Thanks!

#11 EPinNC

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Posted 11 December 2023 - 03:10 PM

I understand what you mean, and I actually have tried it once on Cygnus. The result: I absolutely hate it (I'll link all my shots at the end). While the idea itself is nice, my 18-55mm kit lens doesn't really cut it. I am not entirely sure if it's my lens's problem, but whenever I have tried astrophotography with it, there are a lot of coma shaped stars at the corners (quite visible in the Milky Way shot despite significant cropping), and for some reason the top left part of it looks extremely blurry. It happened three times: Cygnus widefield, Milky Way, and Andromeda widefield (which I hate so much I deleted it).
Anyway, here is the link:
https://drive.google...mof2JRC5Ws-GpWd

Suggestions and advice are much appreciated!

Ps: All of these images were taken while my camera was propped up on a brick (or my camera bag if the angle was too much). Recently got a tripod, Orion should be my first shot with it, since that was my first astrophotography target.

Clear skies,
Nik

Those images are really quite good considering your limitations!  Well done!  Individual stars in M13, the Flame Nebula, etc.  I really like the Lagoon/Trifid Nebulae shot. waytogo.gif

 

I agree that some nice wide-field shots could work well.  At a 75mm focal length, you could possibly use a shutter speed of 2, 3, or maybe even 4 seconds.  That would help capture fainter features.

 

One thing about zoom lenses, as I'm sure you know, is that they can have some optical defects (coma, chromatic aberration, and others).  You can sometimes reduce those by using one aperture stop smaller than the widest aperture.  Of course, that reduces the amount of light getting to your sensor, requiring longer exposure times and possibly more star-trailing.  It's a balance.

 

Nice results!  Keep trying, and you'll get better. smile.gif  And make sure you're using calibration frames (darks, bias, flats).  Good calibration frames can really help you extract the best image from your data.



#12 SteveInNZ

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Posted 11 December 2023 - 08:55 PM

I understand what you mean, and I actually have tried it once on Cygnus. The result: I absolutely hate it (I'll link all my shots at the end). While the idea itself is nice, my 18-55mm kit lens doesn't really cut it.

That's a shame. I've been pleasantly surprised with the results from the kit lenses I've tried. Maybe I was just lucky.

 

Here's an example of a tripod shot with a diffusion filter. It's 30 seconds @ f/2.8, ISO1600. The stars aren't that great at the edges but you can see the effect of the filter. It's the Southern Cross (Crux) with Alpha and Beta Centauri (lower left).

 

Steve.

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#13 _.lightworks._

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Posted 11 December 2023 - 09:19 PM

Those images are really quite good considering your limitations! Well done! Individual stars in M13, the Flame Nebula, etc. I really like the Lagoon/Trifid Nebulae shot. waytogo.gif

I agree that some nice wide-field shots could work well. At a 75mm focal length, you could possibly use a shutter speed of 2, 3, or maybe even 4 seconds. That would help capture fainter features.

One thing about zoom lenses, as I'm sure you know, is that they can have some optical defects (coma, chromatic aberration, and others). You can sometimes reduce those by using one aperture stop smaller than the widest aperture. Of course, that reduces the amount of light getting to your sensor, requiring longer exposure times and possibly more star-trailing. It's a balance.

Nice results! Keep trying, and you'll get better. smile.gif And make sure you're using calibration frames (darks, bias, flats). Good calibration frames can really help you extract the best image from your data.


Yeah, I'm trying my best! (while trying not to kill the shutter)

#14 _.lightworks._

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Posted 11 December 2023 - 09:22 PM

That's a shame. I've been pleasantly surprised with the results from the kit lenses I've tried. Maybe I was just lucky.

Here's an example of a tripod shot with a diffusion filter. It's 30 seconds @ f/2.8, ISO1600. The stars aren't that great at the edges but you can see the effect of the filter. It's the Southern Cross (Crux) with Alpha and Beta Centauri (lower left).

Steve.

Whoa that's an awesome shot!

Yeah that 18-55mm is somewhat decent for normal photography, but sucks hard at astrophotography. However, my 75-300mm is pretty decent at 75mm, though at 300mm it's soft and has pretty bad CA.

By the way about that diffusion filter, is it morally or ethically wrong to add some glare in post?

Edited by _.lightworks._, 11 December 2023 - 09:26 PM.


#15 SteveInNZ

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 12:14 AM

By the way about that diffusion filter, is it morally or ethically wrong to add some glare in post?

Everyone has their own opinion on that one.

I never found a method in post that gave results I liked. You get nice stars with film but that's whole new area of pain.

 

I don't see it as any different to people putting diffraction spike on stars. If you want to do it, then go for it. Do what you enjoy and don't do the things you hate.

 

Steve.



#16 _.lightworks._

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 06:50 AM

Everyone has their own opinion on that one.
I never found a method in post that gave results I liked. You get nice stars with film but that's whole new area of pain.

I don't see it as any different to people putting diffraction spike on stars. If you want to do it, then go for it. Do what you enjoy and don't do the things you hate.

Steve.


Alright! Thanks! I have already shot the Orion yesterday and am processing it now, will have to see what looks good.

#17 _.lightworks._

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 08:36 AM

Well, if anyone cares, I finished processing m42. Definitely my best shot of the region.

Even Horsehead Nebula is somewhat visible in the starless version.

500*2.5" subs

Attached Thumbnails

  • Orion75mm_compressed.jpg
  • Orion75starless_compressed.png.jpg

Edited by _.lightworks._, 12 December 2023 - 08:51 AM.

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#18 EPinNC

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 08:37 AM

Yeah, I'm trying my best! (while trying not to kill the shutter)

Yes, that is unfortunately a problem.  It took a used Nikon D7000 from a shutter count of about 30,000 to about 90,000 in a year and a half this way.  Choose your targets carefully smile.gif

 

Whoa that's an awesome shot!

Yeah that 18-55mm is somewhat decent for normal photography, but sucks hard at astrophotography. However, my 75-300mm is pretty decent at 75mm, though at 300mm it's soft and has pretty bad CA.

By the way about that diffusion filter, is it morally or ethically wrong to add some glare in post?

For most of us here, this is all some combination of hobby and art.  There is no right or wrong.  It's all about what we like or not.  Have fun doing what you like!
 



#19 EPinNC

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 08:40 AM

Well, if anyone cares, I finished processing m42. Definitely my best shot of the region.

 

Even Horsehead Nebula is somewhat visible in the starless version.

Those look really nice!  I'd love to see some slightly larger versions.  In any case, I like the framing. waytogo.gif   Excellent work!



#20 _.lightworks._

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 08:50 AM

Those look really nice! I'd love to see some slightly larger versions. In any case, I like the framing. waytogo.gif Excellent work!


Thank you so much! Really appreciate it.

You can find the full resolution versions at the same drive link. (I'm linking it again nonetheless)

https://drive.google...mof2JRC5Ws-GpWd
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#21 Mike W

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 10:39 AM

Hello, I am new here and I'm not sure if this is the correct place for topics like this. Anyway, I was looking for targets that are possible to shoot untracked. I live in a Bortle 6-7 area, and have only a cheap camera (Canon EOS 1500D) and lens (75-300 F4-5.6). I have shot M8, M31 and M42 so far. What else can I shoot (20° North)?

I can get about 30-45 minutes of integration at 75mm (2.5" subs) or about 15 minutes at 300mm (1" subs).

I am planning to shoot Orion at 75mm and hopefully get the flame nebula too (I'm pretty sure Horsehead Nebula won't be visible), but am also looking for some advice.

Get some older fast manual prime lenses off E-bay or Craigslist. Canon FD with an adapter.

 

https://www.ebay.com...:Bk9SR9qgkuuLYw


Edited by Mike W, 12 December 2023 - 10:45 AM.


#22 _.lightworks._

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 11:29 AM

Get some older fast manual prime lenses off E-bay or Craigslist. Canon FD with an adapter.

https://www.ebay.com...:Bk9SR9qgkuuLYw

As a student from a developing country where hobbies are barely given any importance to by parents, I unfortunately can't afford it. And, the shipping costs are higher than the price of the lens. This is why I asked for targets that would be possible using my current gear.

Edited by _.lightworks._, 12 December 2023 - 11:48 AM.


#23 nsblifer

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 07:10 PM

Hopefully this isn’t offensive but if I hadn’t already gotten rid of my old gear (star adventurer + tripod and ball head) I would’ve just sent all of it to you free of charge and covered the shipping. Surely there are people on this forum that have plenty unused gear collecting dust.
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#24 _.lightworks._

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Posted 12 December 2023 - 08:01 PM

Hopefully this isn’t offensive but if I hadn’t already gotten rid of my old gear (star adventurer + tripod and ball head) I would’ve just sent all of it to you free of charge and covered the shipping. Surely there are people on this forum that have plenty unused gear collecting dust.


Haha, no worries, I appreciate the thought. Thanks!

#25 _.lightworks._

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 09:22 AM

Pardon me for reviving a thread that I probably should have let to rest. I need some advice again.

Is the M33 possible untracked at any of the focal lengths I mentioned earlier? [300*1.6=480mm {F4} (1" per sub) and 75*1.6=120mm {F5.6} (2.5" per sub)]

I searched up for untracked shots, and most of them were taken at 135mm at 1.5" per sub.
I will be content with just about being able to see the arms of the galaxy.

Do you guys have any suggestions?

Thank you.


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