Telescope Pictures with a cheap Digital Camera, Sunnyvale
September 2009

Costco.com sells a number of inexpensive telescopes online. The cheapest is the Meade 80AZ-ADR refractor, which comes bundled with a set of binoculars for around $80 delivered if it's still available. The telescope comes with two lenses of different magnifications, the lower one actually providing a wider eye-piece. Coupled with a Celestrong 2" universal Digital Camera adapter, and any compact digital camera can be mounted over the eye-piece and suddenly, we can take some spectacular pictures of celestial objects. Included here are pictures taken with the kids helping of the moon and Jupiter, 4 moons visible. Not bad for a cheap Canon Powershot A530 with just 5.1 MPixels. The key to getting the right exposure is to use a manual mode and set the highest ISO with auto-white-balance still on, and then to set a 10 second shutter delay. This should force the camera to set the auto-exposure to 1/8th second for the moon and 1 - 3 seconds for an object like Jupiter. The shutter delay gives enough time for vibrations to dampen out after pushing the camera button. A short exposure should yield fairly sharp images. But due to the earth's rotation, to get sharper images of fainter objects that need exposures longer than 1 second, it's likely to require a motorized telescope mount.

Click on thumbnail image to enlarge.
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