Astronomy without a telescope
Despite the fact that I've been interested in astronomy for over a quarter of a century, in all that time I never bought a telescope. I did make long exposure shots of the nightsky with my camera, the Panasonic DMC-FZ50. I especially selected the Panasonic on that ability to make photo's with exposures longer than a handful of seconds.
Buying a telescope
Like many things in life, with telescopes, the possibilities are endless and confusing. There is a reason why you can find more than a few sites with advices on selecting your telescope. These were my considerations:
1. I want to see much more then with binoculars. Wow me!
2. In Gouda, and certainly in my street, light polution is a problem. So a very expensive telescope would certainly be overkill.
3. It must fit in my car, so I can take it to places with less light polution and astroparties.
The solution was a Dobson telescope: simply said, it's a large tube with two mirrors without fancy motors or heavy tripods. You can rotate this Dobson left and right and the telescope can rotate upward and downward. And it isn't that expensive anymore. My telescope was 300 euro's with 30 euro's for shipment. So I bought a 200 mm GSO Dobson in february 2008.
And don't forget the eye pieces
Anyone who thinks that his wallet can remain closed after this, is mistaken. Oh sure, the telescope works fine with the 25 mm eye piece that comes with it, but other eye pieces are almost essential. Like a wide field eye piece, to make finding objects easier. Or a smaller eye piece, to bring your objects closer (with more detail). I also bought a zoom eye piece, so I don't have to change eye pieces if I want to get more detail or a wider view.
Astrophotography or not?
There is one thing you can't do very well with a Dobson telescope: astrophotography. The problem is that the Earth turns and therefore the sky you are watching, seems to move. So faint objects will smudge on your pictures. Other, more expensive, telescopes have motors that move the telescope along the Earths rotation and that allows you to get a steady shot.
Yes I will!
But upon seeing the moon and planets through the telescope, I wished I could take photographs anyway. So I tried holding the camera behind the eye piece. It's not easy this way. It's a bit hard to get things in focus. Plus you have to keep absolutely still. But I got it working anyhow. For example the light from the moon is so strong, that exposure times can be kept very short and the image can be quite sharp. The planets, like Saturn, are harder to do, but still possible.
Jupiter at 100 ISO
October 13th 2008 20:53, 8 - 24 mm zoom eye piece (at 8 mm).
A day before full moon
September 14th 2008 0:56, 42 mm wide field eye piece.
Jupiter and it's four brightest moons
September 6th 2008 9:15pm (CET), 25 mm super plösl eye piece.
May 7th 2008 11:45 pm (CET), 25 mm super plösl eye piece.