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I'm considering purchasing a 70-300mm lens and a 1.4x TC to try some budget deep sky photography. I have seen some great pictures of the Orion Nebula taken without a telescope.

My question is: can anyone name any nebulae or objects that can be taken with this setup? It's quite difficult to search for photos taken without a piece of equipment rather than with, so I'm not sure of the possibilities of this working and whether it's worth the money.

I don't have any filters at the moment but I plan on buying some if there are enough objects worth the effort.

  • Sure, any you like. You just might not be able to see (or distinguish) them. :) – damned truths Jan 26 '15 at 8:12
  • I've seen at least Orion taken from Hong Kong (where I am) with the same lens I will buy, so I'm hoping there's at least one or two more that are possible! – Rayne Jan 27 '15 at 5:49
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Assuming you're in the northern hemisphere and can escape the worst of the light pollution, you should be able to capture a pretty fair percentage of the Messier objects in pictures, even if the lens is a little dim to see them in the viewfinder. You should be able to rely on guide stars to get their rough location, though, and half the fun will be bracketing for location once you get them in-frame.

Keep in mind that these objects were discovered and catalogued using 18th-century telescopes, which really can't hold a candle to modern optics (even "eeew, plastic" consumer-grade lenses), and that your camera can see in the dark better than you can. Since Messier hunting is sort of the next step up in the entry-level hobby astronomer progression after the Galillean planets, you'll likely find a lot of information to help you in the hunt available online. And it does require some hunting for the amateur astronomer; most of them can't be observed in a hobbyist-class Dobsonian telescope unless you look at them outside of your centre of vision, and auto-finders are not usually part of a Dobsonian setup.

  • Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for! I'm in the Northern Hemisphere, albeit in the most light polluted city on Earth (literally, unfortunately). The fact that I could even possibly capture the objects is cause for optimism. I'll research some more but I think that Stellarium and Google Sky Map both show Messier objects. :) – Rayne Jan 27 '15 at 5:45
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Sure: I've taken picture of the Pleaides with just a fixed tripod and "bridge" camera, but you'll need a clock-drive to get exposures longer than 30 seconds or so without streaks. Digital cameras are subject to noise on long exposures, and you might need to stack multiple images. See http://www.heidgermarx.com/2011/09/image-stacking-part2/ and http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-shoot-the-night-sky-introduction-to-astrophotography/ for a general guide.

Most important: get away from light pollution from cities, malls and highway lighting.

  • Thanks for your response. I was hoping that there might be 'cool' objects to photograph, not that the Pleiades aren't beautiful already, but the joy of seeing Orion taken with a 200mm lens is quite impressive! I have a Vixen Polarie mount and I've taken wide-field Milky Way photos before so the long exposures and stacking aren't a huge problem. – Rayne Jan 26 '15 at 3:08

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