If you've read this far, you're now probably expecting some amazing little known science facts about our nearest heavenly neighbor, or maybe some comical old superstitions or moon hoaxes. Nope! Instead, I'm going to make you look at a picture. (Click the images for full size)
|The Moon - Taken with Canon T3i + Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f3.5|
Notes: 210mm and 2X extender, plus 3X "lossless" center crop, f22, ISO 1600
Shot as 1080p video @ 30fps - image is about 100 stacked frames
|NASA on the left ---- Mythik on the right|
Oooh, darned your budget, NASA! My pic pales in comparison. But... It was my first try, and NASA took their pic when the Moon was in a different phase, which makes better shadows for much better details. My Moon was nearly full, which makes it look a lot more flat. (Is it just me or does that last sentence seem a bit odd?)
Now, the whole point of this isn't to show off the fact that I can aim a camera at a giant celestial body in the sky and snap a pic. Instead, the point is to show you what you can do, if you are interested.
I used a Canon T3i and a 30+ year old lens I bought from Goodwill for about 50 bucks and a $10 adaptor to make the old lens fit the camera. One cool thing about the T3i is a feature that can zoom the image when you are shooting HD 1080p video. Through some kind of magi-tech process, it does this allegedly without any loss of quality at 3X. I also used a 2X extender that came with the lens. So the total focal length ended up being 210mm X 2 X 3 = 1260mm! That's fairly close to the NASA photog's 600mm lens plus a 2X extender. Ha, I'm pretty sure their 600mm lens cost more than 50 bucks, though. Ok, before I get too smirky, here is a frame from the video I shot:
|What?? Frame from 1080p video before processing.|
What?? Here's the scoop: There were whispy clouds that night, and the seeing wasn't very good. Seeing is when the atmosphere "boils" and causes things in the sky to look blurry. But it changes from moment to moment, so one second it might be clear, then the next second it is more blurry. So I exported the video to a sequence of 150 frames and processed them with a program called Keith's Image Stacker. This program is awesome and free! It allows you to cull out the blurry frames, and it "stacks" the good frames, which equalizes the brightness and lowers the noise and enhances the details and a ton of other cool things. Then you can sharpen the detail and voila:
So if you like photography or astronomy or both, give it a try. All you need is a video capable DSLR, an old lens (or a new one,) a tripod and some free software. Here's my setup:
|T3i + Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f3.5 circa 1979|
Also check out M Pax at Wistful Nebulae who works at a real observatory in the summers and takes cool astro photos. Thanks for the inspiration M Pax!
So, who here likes looking up at night?