BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Photographing the stellar lifecycle
With fluid filaments painted in beautiful colours, there’s plenty of photo opportunities
You can photograph every stage of a star’s life with a DSLR camera and no telescope is needed. To do so you’ll need to be somewhere away from light pollution, on a clear night with no Moon in the sky.
The Pleiades and Betelgeuse can be photographed with just the camera mounted on a tripod. Fitted with a standard 50mm lens, set it to take exposures of six seconds, with an ISO setting of 400 or 800.
Being smaller and fainter, the Orion, Ring and Crab Nebulae will need a longer lens. You’ll need to keep the exposures short to avoid trailing, so use a higher ISO.
To take more detailed photos, using longer exposures, you’ll need to mount your camera on a ‘star tracker’, a motorised mount that allows you to take exposures that are minutes long by following the movement of the stars across the sky. To make the objects clearer in your photos you might need to take multiple images and stack them together using special software. You can then process these images with different software to bring out detail and make them appear brighter and more obvious.