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Questions and answers
Your editor has asked me to deal with some of the more common astronomy questions as he has been getting emails from readers who are basically beginners and would like some simple explanations. So here goes...
John Freedman from Doncaster asks: “How do I use my camera with a telescope?”

Answers Paul

Paul: “This is probably one of the most common questions I am asked by beginners in astro observing and there are several answers. So where do I begin?”

“Well, firstly, I am assuming that you intend using a single lens reflex camera, and here you might think that just pointing your camera up into the sky would be sufficient in some cases. Well, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ is the answer here. In its simplest form you can attach any SLR (or DSLR) camera to your telescope, a sort of ‘piggy-back’ arrangement, simply pointing and shooting along the top or side of the ‘scope. This works well for general overall views of the sky, but is not totally specific and most modern mountings on telescopes usually have a provision for this 'complete sky' imaging”.

“You can remove the camera lens and then attach the camera body in place of the eyepiece of the telescope, using the latter’s focusing mechanism to make the viewed object sharp: this method is termed the prime focus system. In other words the telescope itself acts as a camera lens”.
(Photo: camera with its own lens removed and replaced by the telescope. Mounting rings are readily available for this method)

“Or, slightly more complex, you can use what they call ‘eyepiece projection’ where a standard telescope viewing eyepiece is retained and the camera body is introduced behind this in order to obtain a more highly magnified image”

“Now it will be obvious from the above that the first system is the easiest to use but this will, of course, limit your results to what can be seen through the cameras own lens. The second method increases the versatility of the set up. And the third takes it a stage further. If you are a beginner I would, initially, recommend Method One until you become accustomed to setting exposure times etc”.

“Next time I will deal with getting the right exposure. But remember that astro exposures can take up to 2 hours or more and this, in turn, introduces other problems”.


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