Remote Astrophotography

Here is an image that I would loved to have produced using my Olympus camera from my back yard. But aside from the fact that my outfit isn’t capable of this kind of quality, even if it were, the light polluted, hazy skies would make it extremely difficult if not impossible.

While I am still experimenting with the star tracker and the Olympus, I have discovered the world of remote astrophotography, where, for a fee, you can request an “observing” session, or a “mission”, with a telescope typically located at high altitude where the skies are clear, and there is minimal light pollution.

This image was my first effort over the web site They have observatories in Spain, Chile, and Australia. The three locations provide access to the entire sky.

The way it works is that first I decide what I want to photograph (“observe”). I decide which one of the telescopes to use, set the exposure time, filters and other things. The observatory schedules the session (“mission” as it is on one web site”) and then I wait until the image is captured. Once the image is captured, the “data” (files) is transmitted from the observatory, over the Internet, to a server from which I can download them so I can process them.

Therein lies another tale. The first thing I learned that the raw files from the observatory cameras cannot be read by Lightroom, Photoshop, or any of the other standard photo editors. The file format – “.fit” is a format that is very widely used for scientific imaging and has been the standard for digital image output as long as astronomers have been doing digital imaging.

So after setting the parameters for the “observing” request, my contribution to the creation of this image was to take the raw “data” and process it into an image that you can see here on my web site. I’ll describe that process in future posts, but for now, just enjoy looking at one of our nearby neighbors, the Andromeda Galaxy, a mere 2 million lightyears from here.

For my fellow geeks out there …

Telescope: Takahashi 10cm f/3.6 refractor

Location: Spain

Camera: Pixel array 4096×4096


Luminence, Red, Green, Blue; 300 seconds each.

~ by Rsmith on August 24, 2020.

%d bloggers like this: