Eyepiece Projection

A simple way to take photos with a telescope is eyepiece projection: literally nothing more than holding a camera up to a telescope eyepiece and taking a photo!

A 10 megapixel Sony pocket camera is placed against the eyepiece of a 130mm Newtonian telescope, focused on the moon.

A 10 megapixel Sony pocket camera is placed against the eyepiece of a 130mm Newtonian telescope, focused on the moon.

This method is easy and fast, but to make it work a few tips will help.

  • Make sure you practice a bit, and pay attention to the live view through the camera. You will have to focus the telescope and manage the camera at the same time.
  • If possible, consider getting a mounting bracket for this application. You can do the same technique – eyepiece projection – with a spotting ‘scope – and brackets to hold a camera in place are available at may shops catering to outdoor sports and birding.
  • Take lots of photos at each session, then go through them and edit out the “less than perfect” many. Several things will be at play: focusing a telescope isn’t easy, and lots of trial photos will be out of focus. The air moves, too, known as “seeing”, and this can throw some photos out of focus.
  • Be sure that you are used to operating your camera in manual mode. You have to be able to experiment and select a good combination¬†of ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, and aperture. There are no hard and fast rules, just guidelines, as to how bright things are in the sky. In general, the moon is very bright in contrast to the background sky, and this throws off the camera’s automatic setting system. Often photos of the moon look best if they are underexposed relative to what the camera “thinks” it should be.
  • Be sure you know how to adjust the contrast, brightness, and sharpness of the resulting images with a photo-editing software package after your session with the telescope.
A photo of the moon taken from an apartment balcony on 18 December 2012, Hamilton, Ontario, using hand-held eyepiece projection.

A photo of the moon taken from an apartment balcony on 18 December 2012, Hamilton, Ontario, using hand-held eyepiece projection.