Astrophotography doesn’t require a telescope…

Whoever told you that you need a telescope for astrophotography was wrong. If no one told you such a thing, nevermind. My point is: check out what I photographed under the light polluted skies of the outskirts of Amsterdam, using nothing but a dslr and a tripod:

Spiral galaxies M81 and M82 in Ursa Major

Spiral galaxies M81 and M82 in Ursa Major

This image was from the second night I tried to photograph deep sky objects near Amsterdam. My images from the first night weren’t focussed well enough, so I didn’t really get any good results from that. The second night however, I paid plenty of attention to focussing and the results were singificantly better. I used an old 35-80mm Canon zoom lens at 80mm to image my most distant target ever.

A while ago I mentioned the Andromeda galaxy being very far away right? Well, these galaxies reside at 12 million light years distance from us and 130.000 light years apart. In fact, the galaxies are so close to each other that M81’s gravitational forces are believed to trigger an enormous amount of star formation in M82 by pulling gas clouds into the galaxy’s core. M81 appears as an oval galaxy while our ‘edge on’ view of M82 causes it to appear as a bright bar. Hence its nickname ‘Cigar Galaxy’.

The M39 open cluster in Cygnus

The M39 open cluster in Cygnus

M39 is a group of stars that all originated from the same gas cloud near the Cygnus constellation. You may have noticed that this photo contains way more stars than the first image. This has 2 reasons.

Reason 1: The first image was taken near where the sun had just set, so the sky was much brighter and less stars are brighter than the background glow.

Reason 2: The Cygnus constellation lies within one of the spiral arms of our galaxy and therefore, there simply are more stars to see.

The M13 globular cluster in Hercules

The M13 globular cluster in Hercules

My last image is one of the great cluster in Hercules, which is a globular cluster. Globular clusters are groups of then thousand to a million stars very densely and spherically packed, so that look like fuzzy balls to my camera. On a clear night under dark skies, M13 will appear to your eyes about the same as in this image. When observed through telescopes, globular clusters start to show their distinct stars and look like brilliant clusters of shiny pearls. Open clusters may be even more breathtaking to view through a telescope, as more and more stars just keep appearing the longer you look.

Soon I will try to image some cool double stars, open (or globular) clusters and maybe shoot a good Andromeda image through my telescope. Also, a bunch of cool terrestrial photos is on its way 😉


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