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This is what happens if you aim your DSLR for 2.5h at the night sky…

This is what happens if you aim your DSLR for 2.5h at the night sky… …well, if you aim it at the right spot. For all of you, who are just here for some nice pictures of our universe: Enjoy and scroll down! For all of you, who want to learn more about the process shown above and about the hours of work that go into a single picture like this, scroll down even further!

Let’s get right into it and I will explain you how I did and how you can do it too if you want to. But first let me explain you what you see in the first picture. It’s a stacked image (now worries, I will explain that later) of an emission nebula called the North America Nebula or NGC 7000 which I took a while ago. It’s basically “just” ionized gas which flowing around in space which is glowing because it’s hit by the radiation of nearby stars. The nebula in the picture is roughly 1600 light years away from our tiny blue planet which means the picture you are seeing is a snapshot of how the gas looked while the Maya civilization was still busy building their pyramids. Before I took pictures of the universe a really wasn’t aware of the fact that cameras could double as time machines ;)

Let’s get technical now: How did I take the picture? I used my Nikon D5100, but any low budget camera with manual setting will work as well. For the lens I used a Samyang 135mm 2.0, which is a great lens because of its big aperture. As you can image, you want to collect as many photos on your sensor as possible so a fast lens will always give you better results in the end. This stuff out there is really (really) faint. Now to the tricky part, the tracking. Since our planet is spinning around its axis, the night sky appears to be moving. If you just took a one crazy long exposure to gather all the light you need, you would only see lines instead of stars. So in order to cancel out the earth’s rotation you need a fancy device which turns you camera in the opposite direction. I used a d...

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