Milky Way

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him?” Psalm 8:3-4

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Last night was a beautiful sky! The Milky Way in particular was stunning! I took another attempt at some astrophotography. I don’t have a motorized tripod mount, so it rather limits my shutter speeds unless I want star trails. At wider angles like 24mm you can get away with 20-30 second shutter speeds and still get pretty pin sharp stars, depending how close to the horizon you are shooting and the pixel density of your CCD. As soon as you start zooming in past 35mm however, you really need to start lowering your shutter speed or get a motorized head that will track with the sky. For the math gurus, here is the formula to figure out the length of star trails depending on star declination, lens focal length, pixel size/density of your CCD, and exposure time:

The first image is my first attempt at an astrophotography panoramic. It is six landscape orientation photos stitched together, all at the same exposure. I was pointing southwest at the time. Here are the shooting details:

Images: 6
Exposures: 1
Bracketing: None
Rows: 6
Columns: 1
Size: 28.53 megapixels, 4290 x 6651, 14.30″ x 22.17″ @ 300dpi
Field of View: 118.9 degrees, 6.92mm effective focal length
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Lens Focal Length: 24mm
ISO: 6400
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter: 30 seconds

The second image is zoomed in a little more at 35mm with a slower shutter speed of 20 seconds to compensate. It was also at a higher declination (or angle) so that helped get it sharper too. The third image is the big dipper and a meteor over Joyce’s house. The last image was the opposite northeastern end of the sky. You can see the Andromeda Galaxy in the middle right. Almost dead center is the Double Cluster. The bottom right cluster is Pleiades; it’s a bit streaked since it was very near the horizon.

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