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A good month for photographing the night sky.

A good camera and fast film can produce surprisingly fine pictures of the night sky this month. Nights are still long, but the weather is generally clearer and warmer than earlier in winter.

All you need is an adjustable camera with a normal lens, a cable release, and a good tripod. If you have a spotting scope or telescope with an inexpensive camera adaptor, you can also get some pretty impressive pictures of the moon.

When and where to shoot

If you're after stars, take your pictures on a moonless night. The farther you work from the city (and associated light pollution), the better your pictures will be. Aim your camera at the north star and you'll get a target-like picture (top left). Aim it at the southern horizon for an arch-like pattern. Point it east or west and star trails will be fairly straight.

The film, camera, and exposure Color film does a great job picking up the gem-pure reds, blues, and golds that your eye might miss in many stars. Depending on exposure length, it can record stars as dots or arcs. With ASA 200 film, start with an exposure at f2 for I minute. If you want stars to trace arcs across your film, exposures can last several hours. Long exposures require a camera with B or T shutter speed setting. If your camera has only a B setting, use a lockable cable release to keep the shutter open. If you have a camera adapter (sold at camera stores) that mounts your camera to a spotting scope or telescope, you can get close-up pictures of the moon. It will fill your viewfinder at about 30x magnification. Many adapters have guides showing the power of the scope and the equivalent f-stop; exposure at f32 will be 1/60 second.
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Date:Mar 1, 1990
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