Astrophotography and the Canon PowerShot G3
Photography And Text By Brad Buskey (subscriber contributor) © All rights reserved.

This is the fifth in my Astrophotography series of articles. The first 4 were pretty much discovery and first use articles. This article is a bit more in depth. I will be using the most recent lunar eclipse of November 8, 2003. The night, for the most part, was cloudy during the eclipse. I was, however, able to get some decent shots during the beginning of the eclipse and the clouds parted for about 15 seconds during the totality phase which allowed me about 15 seconds to snap off 2 shots. The following is a list of the equipment used for the moon photographs:

  • Canon PowerShot G3 4 MP Digital Camera
  • Celestron Nexstar 8i 8" Telescope (Photo 1)
  • Celestron 9.25 inch Telescope (Photo 2)
  • ScopeTronix MaxView 40 Eyepiece (40mm)
  • ScopeTronix Digi-T Adapter Ring for Canon G3

A little bit about calculating the "power" of the telescope and camera. Basically you take the focal length of the telescope (2032mm) and divide the focal length of the eyepiece (40mm) for a value of 51x. This does not sound like a lot, but the difference is noticeable when you double it with the camera zoom of 2x for a total of 102x. That is how I shot the eclipse images. I used 2 telescopes because the evening was not the best. There were a lot of clouds and I had already put up my telescope (the 8 inch) and one of my friends had let his out a bit longer so I stuck my camera/eyepiece in his and took the final shots.

Moon Photography © Brad Buskey Beginning of Eclipse (Photo 1)

The camera settings for the G3 for the Beginning of the Eclipse were as follows:
  • Manual Mode
  • Shutter: 1/80 second
  • Aperture: 2.0
  • ISO: 50
  • ND Filter: ON
  • Manual Focusing set to Infinity
  • No Flash (obviously)
  • WB set to Auto
  • Exposure Compensation: 0
Moon Photography © Brad Buskey Totality Phase (Photo 2)

The camera settings for the G3 for the Totality Phase were as follows:
  • Manual Mode
  • Shutter: 1 second
  • Aperture: 2.0
  • ISO: 50
  • ND Filter: OFF
  • Manual Focusing set to Infinity
  • No Flash (obviously)
  • WB set to Auto
  • Exposure Compensation: 0

One of the other somewhat unforeseen benefits to having the camera hooked up to the scope was the ease of viewing for others. With the LCD on, people could see through the scope without any eye contortions. It offered a great viewing platform for the kids around, who normally have trouble looking through the eyepiece. Plus, it allowed me to zoom in and out showing more detail than you can without switching eyepieces. Also, I used the camera's remote control to take the pictures and to do the zooming. It worked out really well.
 
On top of the viewing ease, it is also possible to hook the G3 up to the laptop and control the camera remotely. Soon, I will be helping out, with a few other fellow amateur astronomers, a Girl Scout troup achieve their merit badges in Astronomy. I plan on utilizing the Telescope/Camera/Laptop setup to make it easier for the girls to see the moon. Yes, the moon will be my area for the evening. It will still be mostly full. Later, when the moon is a bit lower, and Saturn comes up, it will be a great tool for viewing and shooting pictures of "ringed" planet.
 
As I said earlier, this is the fifth of the Astrophotography series articles. It was meant to be more of a setup and shoot article showing nice, successful results. I hope it helps some of you see different ways of combining 2 great, fun hobbies. Enjoy.


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