Mike Kipp's AstroShots
Welcome to the AstroShots Home Page. The purpose of the AstroShots page is to show off some of my attempts at astrophotography.
I originally became interested in astrophotography with the approach of Comet Hale-Bopp in early 1997. Knowing that this would probably be a once in a lifetime opportunity, I went to the library at the College of DuPage and checked out "Astrophotography for the Amateur" by Michael Covington. Upon reading the book I realized that I already had everything I needed to attempt astrophotography, an old mechanical SLR 35mm camera and tripod. The camera had been sitting on the closet floor for the past 15 years, and I was happy to have found a new use for it.
Taking fixed tripod shots using an old Fujica AZ1 camera with a zoom lens, I was actually quite pleased with the results. In addition to the comet, I was able to capture plenty of star fields along with the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Holding the camera up to the eyepiece of a Meade 4500 Newtonian reflector, I was also able to take some fairly decent shots of a partial lunar eclipse.
My interest turned from the fixed tripod method to wanting to try some tracking methods. In October 1997, I purchased a Meade 8" LX50 SCT, with astrophotography in mind. Finally, a year later in October 1998, I was able to begin experimenting with some deep space tracking photography using an Olympus OM-1, with a Meade f/6.3 focal reducer and an Orion broadband nebula filter. While not particularly successful with the Andromeda Galaxy, I was able to take a decent shot of the Orion Nebula.
The first thing I realized is that manually guiding a telescope, even during only a five minute exposure, can be quite tiresome. I recently purchased a Meade Pictor 216XT CCD camera which, I plan to use as an autoguider for photography, in addition to digital imaging. I'm now learning that learning to use a CCD can be as equally tiresome.
I've also been goofing around with a modified grayscale Connectix QuickCam digital camera. The QuickCam was modified according to John Buchanan's instructions in the June 1998 issue of Sky and Telescope. The QuickCam worked very well. Even though you can only use it to photograph bright planets or the moon, (maybe the Sun with a filter?) the project was fun, and the pictures turned out quite well. Some of the better shots are in the AstroShots Gallery.
Email Mike Kipp at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check Back Soon! In the meantime, check out these links.
Sky & Telescope Magazine
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Orion Telescope & Binocular Center