Astrophotography Workshop - 2013 April.

By keerthi2kiran; Published 13 Dec 2013

Bangalore Astronomical Society Astrophotography Workshop – Report In association with Bhagvan Mahaaveer Jain College 27-28 April 2013 The workshop was planned such that it would cover a broad spectrum of topics starting from the introduction to celestial co-ordinates, equipment required, basic tripod photography, in depth image processing techniques as well as real life experiences by members. List of Speakers & Topic: •\tMr Naveen Nanjundappa \t: Celestial Co-ordinates •\tMr Sathyakumar Sharma\t: Equipment for Astrophotography. •\tMr Keerthi Kiran\t\t: Tripod and DSLR Astrophotography. •\tDr Suresh Mohan\t\t: Image Processing. •\tMr Aditya Ravi\t\t\t: Venus Transit and Solar Photography. •\tMr Shankaranarayana KV\t: Last stage of rocket. •\tMrs Shragdhara\t\t\t: Using the Astrotrac. •\tShubhankar Saha\t\t: Equipment in his car. The first session was an introduction to the Celestial Co-Ordinate system by the president of BAS, Mr. Naveen Nanjundappa. It was a very enthralling experience for all chiefly due to its highly interactive and hands on nature. Naveen made it a point to involve every member of the participants and volunteers in the understanding of topics like Right Ascension, Declination, Altitude, and Azimuth among others. There was also a question and answer round which involved the understanding of what objects are in the sky, what objects may be seen with certain instruments, some to be seen with just the naked eye. The session concluded with all members having a basic understanding of what was to come ahead. Naveen also laid the foundation for other speaker’s topics and helped maintain continuity. Mr Aditya Ravi then took over and gave a short talk on how he photographed the venus transit. This event is perhaps once in a lifetime and Aditya was present at Nikaya Observatory with his 8 inch Newtonian Reflector and tracking mount. He described how it was a near miss due to clouds, but he managed to grab a few shots. He stressed on the mandatory need to equip the telescope and camera with a appropriate Solar Filter and also highlighted the dangers of not using one. After a short tea break, the session was resumed by Mr Sathyakumar Sharma. He covered topics starting from the history of telescopes, types present today and those available for the amateur astronomer. He also spoke about the surface accuracies of different types of scopes and how the amateur astronomer may combine a few according to his/her convenience. The other topics covered included cameras, mounts, DSLR and webcams. The group broke for lunch and assembled after about an hour. Mr Keerthi Kiran then began his session which dealt with Tripod and DSLR astrophotography. He described the simple way the equipment is set up. He described the importance of composing the photos. The photo he showed as an example with the Himalayas in the foreground was an absolute stunner. He also introduced the Star trails software that lets the user create beautiful vistas of the sky as well as time lapse videos which is the latest "fashion" in the astrophotography circles. The first day ended with a lot of participants being inspired to step into photographing the universe and the foundation was laid perfectly for the upcoming talk by renowned astrophotographer Dr Suresh Mohan on the next day.  Day Two started fresh with Dr Suresh Mohan arriving on time and everyone was eagerly awaiting for him to start his talk. He started first with the basics required for astrophotography and how essential it is to accurately polar align the mount. He also spoke about the mathematical basis for the selection of cameras and autoguiding systems. He explained how mounts work, the effect of periodic error and how it could be eliminated. He gave us a lot to think about before we actually start with the photography part. He made the participants understand that astrophotography is not just about attaching the camera to the telescope and clicking away but carries a lot of thought and pre planning. After a tea break and a little interaction the session was resumed. The topic was image processing. He explained in detail the steps involved, and best of all gave the participants stacked but unprocessed files of Orion Nebula and Andromeda galaxy so that all could follow the steps. Such method of teaching is crucial for learning the methodology. He gave many references and resources from which to learn the steps also. It was a very wonderful and learning experience which inspired many a budding astrophotographer at the event. In between the main lectures some very exciting short talks were given by members. Mr Shankaranarayana spoke about how he noticed a fuzzy comet like object during his observing trip and went all the way to investigate what the object was and was able to successfully conclude that it was the final stage of the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. His investigation methods were none less to Mr Sherlock Holmes. Mrs Shragdhara spoke about her techniques in astrophotography using the Astrotrac, a portable camera tracker. She clearly explained the methods she used for setting it up and also displayed a few photos taken using the tracker and a modified DSLR. The talk was short, but very informative. Mr Dilip Kumar of the Association of Bangalore Amateur Astronomers (ABAA) also spoke about the completely amateur equipment he had built for himself. He explained as to how he designed the telescope and mount such that he shall be able to photograph the upcoming comet ISON. Additionally he also explained how he uses a film SLR camera. After lunch Mr Shubhankar Saha spoke about the items he carries in his car and also explained that many would never be moved out of the car so that he could go out any time. He also detailed the equipment he uses and his talk was all about the practical aspect. His concept of triple redundancy with the equipment backup was very good. The day was completed with a Q&A round wherein the queries of participants were answered. The workshop became one of the most successful events conducted by BAS thanks to all the volunteers, participants. BAS is also thankful to JGI for associating with us for this event and supporting us. List of Volunteers: Keerthi Kiran. M.Sathya Kumar Sharma. Kiran Kumar Tikare. Adarsh A Srivatsa. Aditya Ravi. Sanath Kumar. Umasuthan. Sunil R. Achyut J. Naveen Nanjundappa Website: Email: Google Groups\t: Download the pdf version with photos below.