Updated: Jun 7
🎤 Let's make some noiiiiiiise and welcome today's motivational speaker.... Antoiiiiiine Grelin!!! 👏👏👏
Hi guys, how are you?! Wow, you're all on fire! Yeah Yeah 🎤😎 I had no idea a crowd full of astrophotographers could be this wild! 🤘🤘🤘🔭
Hmmm. Anyway, let's snap back to reality. I don't see myself ever doing public speaking, so let's type instead. Either way, the goal of this post is to motivate you! Motivate you by showing you it is possible to do astrophotography even if you are drowning in light pollution!
Before we start, if you are a complete beginner to astrophotography, be sure to read our full beginner astrophotography guide! Also, take a look at our 7 Tips to do Astrophotography under Extreme Light Pollution guide.
Believe it or not, you can do astrophotography from the city without any filters. We live in Las Vegas, which is, in case you didn't know, a very light-polluted city. For the longest time, we assumed that there was just no way to do any deep-sky astrophotography from our house, besides maybe image nebulae with narrowband filters.
We wanted to try and see if it was possible to image in BROADBAND from a Bortle 9 zone... and tried photographing each type of deep-sky object without filters from our backyard.
Scroll down to see our image of a cluster, a galaxy, and a nebula, all taken with a One-Shot-Color camera and without the use of any filter!
Photographing a Globular Cluster from the City without Filters
Let's start with what is probably the easiest type of deep-sky object to image from home: A Star Cluster. A star cluster, open or globular, is just... stars. There are no gases within it and technically, there is nothing really challenging about photographing most clusters.
We imaged the globular cluster Messier 56 for just one hour, and we honestly did not believe it would turn out this good! Check it out below!
Telescope: Stellarvue SVX130
Total Exposure Time: 1 hour
Exposure Time per frame: 30 seconds
Of course, there was quite a bit of noise to deal with during processing, and there was a pretty bad gradient of light due to the light pollution. It was also difficult to get colors out of the stars, you might notice that almost all stars are either white or red-ish. But for just one hour of total exposure from a Bortle 9 zone... we are extremely pleased with this result!
Photographing a Galaxy from the City without Filters
Next, you might wonder if you can image a GALAXY from your light-polluted backyard? Well, the answer is yes! The result you will get might depend on the target chosen. From the city, I believe that some galaxies are much easier to capture than others. Sadly I don't have the time nor the patience to capture them all from my backyard and rate them by difficulty, so pick one and hope for the best!
We imaged the Cat's Eye Galaxy for one night, and we are impressed with how it turned out! See it below:
Telescope: Stellarvue SVX130
Total Exposure Time: 7.6 hours
Exposure Time per frame: 5 minutes
Although a known fact is that very short exposure shots (around 30 seconds) are preferred when imaging from heavy light pollution, we tried using 5 minutes as an experience and it worked perfectly fine for us!
This was a tough one, but in the end, it turned out so good! You should definitely read our full blog post about M94, where you'll be able to see what a single shot of 5 minutes looked like. Spoiler alert: it looks absolutely terrible.
Also, in case you were not convinced that this was taken without filters... we made a video about capturing Messier 94 from home! Watch it here:
Also, if you're feeling a little crazy, like our friend Georg from Vienna, you can even try imaging your target when the full moon is up! If that's the case, you definitely should try with a filter though.
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Photographing a Nebula from the City without Filters
The last type of target on our list is a Nebula! Let's try imaging the famous Orion Nebula with our one-shot color camera and no filters.
Picking Messier 42 feels a bit like cheating though because it is by far the easiest nebula to capture, but we wanted to start with this one before trying other nebulae. We might attempt imaging a fainter nebula from our backyard in the future using the same camera and will update this post with our result.
Below is our image of Messier 42, one hour only without filters and from a Bortle 9 backyard!
Telescope: Meade 70mm APO
Total Exposure Time: 1 hour
Exposure Time per frame: 10 minutes
This has a ton of potential. It is incredible that the result above is just one hour in total. Spending a full night, or more, on this object would definitely give you a fantastic image full of details. It will also most likely show a ton of fainter gas all around the nebula.
Below is the video we made when attempting to capture this image. It's short and interesting!
So, did this post motivate you to image more from the city? Hopefully yes!
Good luck imaging from home, and feel free to share your pictures either in the comments section below, or on the Galactic Forum for all to see! It is a free forum where you can share whatever you want or ask questions.
We'll see you guys next time and clear skies.
Antoine & Dalia Grelin
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