Afocal Photography

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The aiming and aligning of a camera lens into the telescope eyepiece is called afocal photography and can be used with any camera that has a lens (Figure 2.3). The Moon is excellent for learning how to take afocal photographs. Start by using a long focal length eyepiece with a long eye relief and focus it on the Moon.

Figure 2.1. Sun image taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera afocal coupled to a Tele Vue 55mm Plossl eyepiece, Tele Vue Paracorr coma corrector, Orion Telescope & Binoculars Atlas 254mm aperture reflector telescope, (f/4.7 focal ratio, 1200mm focal length) solar filter and Losmandy G-11 mount.

Figure 2.1. Sun image taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera afocal coupled to a Tele Vue 55mm Plossl eyepiece, Tele Vue Paracorr coma corrector, Orion Telescope & Binoculars Atlas 254mm aperture reflector telescope, (f/4.7 focal ratio, 1200mm focal length) solar filter and Losmandy G-11 mount.

Next aim the camera lens into the telescope eyepiece. Center the camera lens over the eyepiece, being careful not to touch the camera lens with the eyepiece. Use the camera monitor to adjust both the position of the camera and the telescope focus. Press the shutter button while holding the camera steady. Take many images -remember they are free! For a typical night it is common to have one good image out of every 20 or more taken.

Next, take images with various camera settings, such as exposure time, zoom, manual operation and ISO values. Try various eyepieces to see which eyepiece combinations and camera settings produce the best images.

Face The Moon
Figure 2.2. Moon mosaic from two afocal images taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera coupled to a ScopeTronix STWA18 Wide Angle 18mm eyepiece/adapter, Orion Telescope & Binoculars Argonautâ„¢ 150mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope (f/12 focal ratio, 1800mm focal length) and EQ-3 mount.

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