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Digiscoping The Moon


These images are part of a little experiment I am doing in digiscoping, or using lower cost optics designed for birding or hunting/shooting sports and coupling them to lower cost camera equipment to obtain some pretty impressive reach.  This first set of images comes from an older Zeiss spotting scope coupled to a older, little Canon Powershot S100 camera with the idea of getting the best possible quality images out of this setup.  There are a few advantages of this setup including the Zeiss glass and the Canon SD100’s ability to shoot RAW at a 45X magnification factor.  The next set of images will come from a different setup…  More to come on that.


Craters of the moon

These images are pretty decent, though there is some aberration near the edge of the moon which was closer to the edge of the image forming portion of the light beam on this particular setup.  This is essentially the setup taken when I was shooting the ring of fire eclipse last year, minus the heavy duty ND filters of course.


Central Mare Tranquillitatis

This was one of the best shots I could manage on this night at least of the seas of the moon, in this case the Mare Tranquilliatis were a bit soft and not as crisp as the other images.  Could be atmospheric effects, but probably are more optical in nature from this scope combination.


Moon slice

Zooming out a bit there is some chromatic aberration seen in the upper right portion of the image as a blue corona.  Some of this can be corrected in post-processing, but the idea is to see how these hold up with the next set of experiments.  All told, these are reasonably impressive images from equipment that was not purpose built for photography, but I think we can improve on this some.  More to come when I get some custom built hardware solutions…


Categories: Astrophotography, Daily, Gear.

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12 Responses

  1. That’s still pretty damn impressive.

  2. Is there some way you connect the spotting scope to the camera or do you just hold them together closely? In the first and last image at least, to the left where it blends into the Dark Side of the Moon (yay) there’s a little green shift as well, right? These are really really nice. Are these the frames you got out of the camera resized for the web or did you crop? Looking forward to more.

  3. Neat! I’ve been planning on getting into astrophotography, using my 11″ Celestron SCT, for about 4-5 years now…. one of these nights….

    jerry finnJanuary 30, 2014 @ 3:45 pmReply
    • I would *love* to see more imagery out of telescopes. A simple c-mount adapter and a mirrorless camera should do amazing things. I’m pretty excited about the Fuji X-T1 for instance with its internal intervalometer and ability to control the camera from an iPhone or iPad.

  4. I follow a number of astro-photographers on flickr. Some really impressive work.
    There are others. One of these nights, I’ll get going. My interest is deep space, which requires long duration shots and accurate tracking. I.E. a new (expensive) mount for my telescope. Your approach offers some hope for a simpler method.

    jerry finnFebruary 2, 2014 @ 10:29 pmReply
    • Whoa… That is a list of some incredible astro photographers. Amazing work there. Thank you, I’ve followed them all.

      I think though for deep space objects, one would have to go with a different motorized mount that does tracking. Perhaps one of these days, I’ll be able to afford something like that. If you get a setup like that, I’ll be very interested in following what you are doing.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] a quick shot of the supermoon tonight, June 22nd, 2013.  This is another digiscoping picture made just like in this entry.  As digital photography is getting more prevalent, there are some spectacular images being made. […]

  2. […] been using this setup for some time to image birds, and planetary bodies like the Sun and the Moon, that older approach did not completely isolate light coming into the camera system and I was still […]

  3. […] space imagery requires a few other technical approaches.  It is true that you can get some pretty stunning imagery of the moon, even with a simple point and shoot camera and a digiscope setup, but I have been encouraged by the quality of images coming out of the Fuji X-mount cameras for […]