Project 1 the Moon afocal method

If you are eager to get started, here is a simple project you can try right away with almost any telescope.

Load your camera with any general-purpose print or slide film. Aim the camera into the eyepiece of your telescope, either by using a bracket to hold it in place or by putting it on its own tripod. Set the camera lens to infinity focus and widest aperture (lowest f -stop). Get the Moon in view, focus the telescope carefully, and take a picture. If your camera has through-the-lens auto exposure, it will probably auto-expose correctly; otherwise, try a wide range of exposures, such as to second. Figures 7.1 and 7.4 show what to expect.

Figure 7.4. Even a cheap camera can take good afocal pictures. Russian Lubitel twin-lens reflex camera, on separate tripod, aimed into the eyepiece of a 5-inch (12.5-cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope at 40 x. Exposure 3O second on Ilford HP5 Plus film.

This technique works with all types of cameras, whether SLR, digital, or video. You can even use cameras that do not let you focus through the lens. In that case, you will need a small hand-held telescope or monocular; your finder or half of a pair of binoculars will do. Focus the hand-held telescope on the Moon or stars, then aim it into the eyepiece of the main telescope. Focus the main telescope so that what you see is sharp. Voila - you've set the main telescope to produce a virtual image at infinity. Now put the camera in place, with its lens set to infinity, and you'll get a sharp image.

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