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"Based on my trials, temperatures of 32° F or below work best when taking minute-long exposures with the Coolpix 995." Pennsylvania astro imager Gary Honis uses a different approach to image deep-sky objects with his Olympus C-2000 Z and C-2020 Z cameras and 20-inch Starmaster Dobsonian reflector, which is equipped with a tracking system.
Although his cameras are limited to maximum exposure times of 32 and 16 seconds, respectively, his telescope’s large aperture can gather a lot of photons during such exposures before noise effects become a problem.
For photographic films and astronomical CCD cameras, this is not a problem.
But in a digital camera designed mainly for daytime use, the maximum useful exposure time is just a few seconds before electronic noise sets in, degrading the image.
Johannes Schedler of Wildon, Austria, imaged the Eagle Nebula, M16 in Serpens, with an Canon EOS D60 camera (set at ISO 800) coupled to an 11-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope working at f/6.
Ten 120-second exposures (obtained at air temperature 59°F) were combined and processed with Adobe Photo Shop.
Unlike astronomical CCD cameras, digital cameras don’t have a built-in active cooling system.
Your home computer is used later to sort, process, and archive the images.
You get instant results – and can just delete the bloopers.
For basic, wide-field shots of constellations and planet conjunctions, you don’t even need a telescope — just a camera capable of making exposures up to about 8 to 15 seconds and a means to hold it steady, such as a tripod.
These dark frames show how electronic noise builds up in a digital-camera image.
Turning off the camera between exposures greatly reduces the noise.