Astrophotography – Milky Way & Star Trails
My interest in astrophotography dates back to the early days of my photography. I began by experimenting with star trails in Old Portsmouth, Hampshire, using the cathedral as a foreground. However, the light pollution was too intense, washing out most of the stars. As I continued to practice in darker areas of the city and around Hampshire, I gradually improved my techniques and experimented with different camera settings.
Depending on the direction you face, star trails can produce various effects. For instance, the photo of Netley Hospital in Hampshire, facing north, features Polaris at the center and produces circular trails.
To create star trails, I use long exposure methods, capturing multiple images and stacking them on top of each other. Typically, I take at least 100 thirty-second exposures to generate enough trails. With a remote shutter, I can program the number of shots, duration of each shot, and intervals between them.
For Milky Way and deep space photography, I use a tracker on my tripod, aligning it with Polaris. This tracker gradually rotates a ball head that I mount my camera to, counteracting the Earth’s rotation and preventing star trails, allowing me to take longer and more numerous exposures. I usually capture data for a few hours, taking calibration frames to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and reduce noise and other visible artifacts, such as dust or vignetting.
After collecting data and calibration frames, I stack them using dedicated software, aligning and removing unwanted artifacts while revealing more data from all frames captured.
Messier 42 – The Orion Nebula
Situated in Constellation Orion (In Orions sword) and only 1,344 lightyears from earth and spanning 24 lightyears across, The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest diffuse nebulae in the night sky.
Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31), our closest neighbouring galaxy, located 2.5million lightyears away. Also in this photo is Messier 32 and 110. Both are satellite dwarf galaxies of Andromeda. What we see in this photo is how the Galaxy looked 2.5 million years ago, that’s how long it took the light to travel to my camera sensor from the galaxy.
Cygnus ConstellationGamma Cygni (Sadr region) in the Cygnus Constellation
Heart and Soul Nebula with the double star cluster.
The Heart Nebula (IC 1805) And Soul Nebula (IC 1871) are around 7500 lightyears from Earth located in the Cassiopeia Constellation. They are emission nebulae that show glowing ionised hydrogen. North America and Pelican Nebula in the Deneb region of Cygnus.
Both nebulae are located in the Deneb region (the tail of cygnus) North America is around 2,202 Lightyears from earth, while Pelican is around 1800 Lightyears away. Deneb is the bright star you can see in the photo above, it’s believed to have a diameter of more than 200 times that of the sun and is about 2,616 light years from earth, it doesn’t sound like a lot… But if interstellar travel at the speed of light (670,616,629 mph) was possible, it would still take us 2,616 years to reach it.
A self portrait taken with the Galactic core, Saturn and Jupiter in Brittany, France