Checklist for Night Sky Photography including Milky Way
by Jeffrey Sward
  • Fish-eye or 14mm equivalent
  • Optical SLR
  • Angle finder
  • Heavy tripod
  • Tripod bracket to allow camera to point vertical.
    • Center of gravity of camera plus lens directly above tripod midpoint.
    • Three way stitching such as Manfrotto 303SPH Multi Row QTVR Spherical Pan Head work well
  • Torpedo level
  • Small flashlight
  • Remote shutter release cable
  • Air brush. Vertical facing lenses need to be checked regularly for debris
  • Adjust camera back to level with lens pointed upward
  • Field of view determined by lens. Unique Canon fish-eye zoom useful. Can cover whole sky as circle or partial sky as full frame
  • Starting exposure 30 sec f5.6 ISO 3200
  • Do not use shutter speed greater than 30 sec. Star trails get too long
  • Adjust exposure with f-stop or ISO, not shutter speed
Locale and Timing
  • Black sky achieved no sooner than three hours past sunset
  • New moon
  • Avoid light pollution. Check light pollution maps
  • Clear sky no clouds
  • Unobstructed viewpoint. Avoid trees and buildings.

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