Imaging experiments

Tilt-shift astrophotography

Have you ever dreamed of touching a galaxy? This diminutive version of the Andromeda galaxy seems to be at arm’s length among clouds of stars. Unfortunately, this is just an illusion, the galaxy is still 2 million light years away. In order to obtain this effect, I 3Dprinted a part to the hold the camera at angle at the focus of the telescope. The blur created by the defocus at the edges of the sensor gives this illusion of proximity to the Andromeda galaxy.This unusual view of the Andromeda Galaxy was awarded the first place of the 2020 Insight Astrononomy Photographer of the year contest (higher resolution here).

I had for some time the idea of experimenting tilt-shift technique to astrophotography. This technique is used for “miniature-faking” effect. Here, it gives some depth effect to usually “flat” deep sky objects. In order to achieve this effect, I designed and 3Dprinted parts to hold the camera at an angle with the telescope axis. With the specificities of astrophotography, it is not straightforward to implement. For instance, using a reflector gives an unsightly “doughnut” shape bokeh. So one has to use a refractor, but refractors have long f/D which imposes large angle of tilt to get a decent bokeh. This large angle creates some issues like reduced sensitivity of the sensor, vignetting by the camera mount, etc.

Finally, with my 100mm diameter refractor, only a few objects can be imaged appropriately with this technique. I imaged the most photographed galaxy, the Great Andromeda Galaxy using this technique.

Imaging Venus at dangerously close distance from the sun

When Venus goes between the Earth and the sun, it appears as a delicate ring of light

In order to observe the rare “annular phase” of Venus at inferior solar conjunction, when it is located dangerously close to the sun, I implemented a dedicated setup. Read more here on how to tackle with this challenging observation.

Coloring the dance of Aurora

Note: The images below are false-color images of the northern light.

The dance of the aurora is a magical sight impossible to depict on still images. I tried to translate the motion of the aurora in color with a processing consisting in assigning a dedicated color to the frames of my Aurora video, before stacking them. The results are false color images where the hypnotic dance of the auroras are translated into eerie fireworks of colors. You can see some more usual of my images of northern light images here.

The colors of the moon

The time of the full moon is generally considered to be uninteresting due to the lack of contrast and details on the lunar surface. However, it is a good time to try to catch other low contrast details, like the delicate colors of the Moon.

Color enhanced image of the full moon (high res here). This image has been shortlisted for the 2018 Astronomy Photographer of the year award

Being on the Moon during a lunar Eclipse

I always wondered what it must be like being on the Moon during a Lunar eclipse, seeing all the landscape around you turning red, in some sort of upside-down sunset color on the ground. To turn my 2019 lunar eclipse images to such landscape, I used the inverse of the “Little Planet” projection. You can see some more usual of my images of the moon here.

Upside-down sunset colors fill the lunar ground during a lunar eclipse. This image is obtained by projecting the image of the moon during lunar eclipse in landscape mode.

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