Astrophotography at Berry College
Mount Berry, GA
We are in the early stages of developing a program in astrophotography
at Berry College's Pew Observatory. So far
we have obtained some rough images of relatively bright objects that
require only short exposure times. We plan to start taken images
using autoguiding soon, and we are also learning how to process
astronomical images. Hopefully we will have some high-quality images
to show in the near future.
For now, you can take a look at the rough images we have obtained so
far. If you want to see our images of the transit of Venus in 2012
(which turned out quite well) please visit our Transit of Venus page.
A few of my astronomy students have gotten some nice shots of the
moon through afocal photography using their phones. The results
are pretty good considering the equipment and method used, the lack of
astrophotography training, and the fact that it was all done very
quickly amide the hustle and bustle of a night lab. The images below
were taken by Berry students Haley Caulkins (left image), Hayley
Westphal (center image), and
Deanna Cunningham (right image). All three images were taken the same
night. Obviously the images taken by Haley
and Hayley used a red filter. Deanna's image was unfiltered but the
Moon extended beyond the field of view of the eyepiece.
The image below of M 13 was taken by Todd Timberlake and Kalen Maloney
on 19 September 2012 using the Canon T2i camera on our Astro-Physics
155 mm apochromatic refractor. We tried to use autoguiding but it was
not very successful because of poor polar alignment of the mount
(since corrected). The image combines eight one minute exposures with
some dark correction and a bit of processing in Photoshop.
Our First Astrophotos
The images below were all taken by Dr. Todd Timberlake (Director of
the Pew Observatory) and Kalen Maloney (an undergraduate physics
major and assistant director of the observatory), with assistance
from Zane Cochrane. The sunspot image was taken with an 8-inch
Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and solar filter. The other
images were taken with an Astro-physics 155 mm apochromatic
refractor. All images were taken with a Canon T2i digital SLR
camera. The camera has been modified by removing the IR-blocking
filter, which results in unusual coloring for images taken without
additional filters. These images are unprocessed except for some very
unsophisticated image sharpening.
Albireo is a double star in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan).
The two stars that form this pair have noticeably different colors,
with the orangish star somewhat brighter than the blue star.
In the image of Jupiter below you can see faint traces of cloud
bands on the planet's surface. The four Galilean moons of Jupiter
(Io, Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa) can be seen along a line
running down and to the left of Jupiter itself.
Messier 13 is a globular cluster in the constellation Hercules. A
globular cluster is an enormous spherical collection of stars.
This image was taken without autoguiding, resulting in the streaky
appearance of the stars in the cluster.
Messier 31 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Andromeda. It
is the closest large galaxy to our Milky Way, and is slightly
bigger than the Milky Way. In this unguided image you can see the
bright central core of the galaxy, with the galactic disk showing
up as a hazy bright patch.
Unguided photography works much better when you can take very short
exposures. It is possible to get high-quality images of very
bright objects, like the Moon, without autoguiding.
The image of the Sun below was taken with an 8-inch SCT and a solar
filter. The group of sunspots in the lower left is clearly
visible, while some fainter spots can be seen nearer the center.
Todd K. Timberlake (email@example.com)