Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Turning Stars Into Art

Turning Stars Into Art:



Short time exposure of the star Sirius with the camera attached to a small telescope. I tapped the tube to make the star bounce around, recording the star's rapid color changes as it twinkled. All photos by the author


Color Crazy. Short time exposure of the star Sirius photographed through a small telescope. I tapped the tube to make the star bounce around, recording the star’s continuous and rapid color changes as it twinkled.  Refraction of the star’s light by our turbulent atmosphere breaks it up into every color of the spectrum. Credit: Bob King
We all have cameras, and the sky’s an easy target, so why not have a little fun? Ever since I got my first camera at age 12 I wanted to shoot time exposures of the night sky. That and a tripod are all you need. Presented here for your enjoyment are a few oddball and yet oddly informative images of stars and planets.  Take the word “art” loosely!



This is the pair to the Sirius image and shows Jupiter through the telescope. Notice how blandly white it appears. That's because Jupiter's disk is large enough to not show twinkling (and color changes) caused by atmospheric turbulence as in the case of point-like Sirius.


Colorless mess. This is the companion to the Sirius image and shows Jupiter through the telescope. Notice how blandly white it appears. That’s because Jupiter’s disk is large enough to not show twinkling (and color changes) caused by atmospheric turbulence as in the case of point-like Sirius. Credit: Bob King


Orion's Belt and Sword trail in this time exposure made with a 200mm lens. The nearly perfectly parallel because the stars lie very near the celestial equator and were on the meridian at the time.


Pleasing parallels. Orion’s Belt and Sword trail in this time exposure made with a 200mm lens. The fuzzy pink streak is the Orion Nebula. They’re trails are nearly parallel because the stars all lie close to the celestial equator and were crossing the meridian at the time. Credit: Bob King


Star Trek Effect. OK, this was crazy to shoot. I centered Jupiter in the viewfinder, pressed the shutter button for a 20-second time exposure and slowly zoomed out from 70mm to 200mm on the telephoto lens. It took a few tries, because I was shooting blind, but even the rejects weren't too bad. Credit: Bob King


Star Trek Effect.  I centered Jupiter in the viewfinder, pressed the shutter button for a 20-second time exposure and slowly hand-zoomed the lens from 70mm to 200mm. It took a few tries because I was shooting blind, but even the rejects weren’t too bad. Credit: Bob King


Color by fog. The colors of stars are accentuated when photographed through fog or light cloud. Orion at right with the crescent moon at lower left. Credit: Bob King


Color by Fog. The colors of stars are accentuated when spread into a glowing disk by fog or light cloud. Orion  is at right with the crescent moon at lower left. Credit: Bob King


Snow flies. During a time exposure taken on a snowy but partly cloudy night, snowflakes, illuminated by a yard light, streak about beneath a Full Moon earlier this winter. Credit: Bob King


Snow flies. During a time exposure taken on a snowy but partly cloudy night, snowflakes, illuminated by a yard light, streak about beneath a Full Moon earlier this winter. Credit: Bob King


Stuttering Stars. For this image of the Big Dipper the camera was on a tracking mount. I left the shutter open for about a half hour, then covered the lens with a black cloth for a few minutes. After the cloth was removed, I started tracking and exposed the Dipper for a few minutes. During part of the exposure I used a diffusion filter in front of the lens to soften and enlarge the brightest stars. Credit: Bob King


Stuttering Stars. For this image of the Big Dipper the camera was on a tracking mount. I left the shutter open for about 25 minutes with the tracking turned off so the stars would trail.  Then the lens was covered with a black cloth for a few minutes to create a gap between this exposure and the next. After the cloth was removed, I started the tracking motor and kept the exposure running for a few minutes. A diffusion filter was used in front of the lens to soften and enlarge the brightest stars. Credit: Bob King


About 

I'm a long-time amateur astronomer and member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). My observing passions include everything from auroras to Z Cam stars. Every day the universe offers up something both beautiful and thought-provoking. I also write a daily astronomy blog called Astro Bob.

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