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A Beginner's Perspective on Astrophotography

Startrails by Roseann Johnston
Moon Pics by Roseann Johnston

Roseann Johnston, AAAA
Vincent, AL - roseannj@bellsouth.net

My interest in astrophotography began this past Christmas during the Christmas Eclipse 2000. While viewing the eclipse with my solar shades, I wondered if I could get a picture of it. I experimented by using my solar shades in front of my 110 camera. For safety reasons, I made sure the shades completely and securely covered the viewer. It worked and I was hooked.

Since then, a good friend gave me a camera to try my hand at some night photos. My first set of photos were...uhh...well, a lot of squiggley stars. Lesson learned? No matter how “still” you think you are holding the camera with your hands, it is not going to work!

Subsequently, with great advice from many friends and my own perseverance and determination, I finally succeeded. This involved using inexpensive 35mm film, and just getting outside and experimenting. Sometimes I'd hold the camera at the focuser on my scope. Sometimes setting the camera on the porch rail, propping it up on the ice cooler, or using a table top tripod and manual cable release. 

I did that “hat trick” and it worked! 

(Hat Trick ... (I got good teachers here.) Get camera ready, and cover it with a “big hat”, press and lock shutter button. Slowly remove hat, wait, wait, wait ... for however many secs/minutes. Then cover camera with hat, unlock button. Voila!)

Now, believe you me, I've had plenty of shots that just plain and simply did not work. And will again, I'm sure. Does that bother me? Not at all! That's okay, it's a learn by doing experience and doesn't require lots of expensive equipment. 

Most of all, I'm having fun.


rj-15mm.jpg (7189 bytes)

Moon Pics


roseann1.jpg (16159 bytes)

Xmas Eclipse 2000

Roseann Johnston, AAAA
Vincent, AL

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