Exploring Space from home

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Exploring Space from home

2020 is quite an extraordinary year. Not only shall we stay at home, we might even not be able to see FairyDust this year, so actions had to be considered, because nobody wants to miss out on his* dose of spaceyness!

Safety Disclaimer

Always make sure that you are NOT looking into very bright light sources like the sun. Even if it looks dark through your setup keep in mind that you cannot see UV and Infrared light which might harm your eyes. Use a camera (NOT MIRROR BASED!) or appropriate equipment when looking observing the sun. Eyesight is not replaceable.

Using Lenses as Telescope

If you've got a Telephoto and a 50mm or wider lens, you can mount them mount to mount to create a basic Kepler Telescope. Simply put the lens with the longer focal distance in front of the one with the wider field of view and adjust the distance inbetween until you get a sharp picture. In case you own macro tubes, you might try using them as spacers. Using a 300mm lens in combination with a 50mm will give you a magnification of 6x.

<img alt="Keplerian telescope" src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Telescope-schematic-A.svg" /> Keplerian Telescope by Michael Schmid licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0 at

Of course, this won't give you a top of the line refractor, but it allows for quite some stunning visual observations.

If you're eager, you can use a camera with a lens attached, though at high magnifications, manually tracking might be challenging.

TODO Insert Moving moon Insert Picture of 600mm Refractor setup

Observing the moon

While it is already quite stunning to watch the moon through a scope visually, there are many interesting things to discover. One example are the distinct shades which reveal moons pretty rough surface.

Also, you are probably going to notice one of the biggest challenges when observing objects at the sky - the atmosphere with its turbulences, clouds etc significantly impacting what you can see.

Satellites & ISS

Typically satellites are known for being quite stealthy whilst being in orbit. Luckily, reflections on satellites are very good noticeable at the dark night sky.

Generally speaking, there are two main types of satellite orbits; Geostationary and polar orbiting ones.

Famous examples for geostationary satellites are Television satellites like Astra 19.2E or Hotbird 13E. With good conditions they can be easily photographed with a bunch of long exposures as they don't change their relative position to earth - as they're supposed to. <img alt="Stacked image of geostationary satellites" src="https://cloud.makerspace.experimenta.science/apps/files_sharing/publicpreview/N94LPampbxBWpNc?x=1592&y=380&a=true&file=geostationary.png&scalingup=0" />

Result of stacking several long time exposures; Geostationary Satellites are visible at an diagonal axis in the lower right as bright artifacts.

While geostationary might be travelling at a far faster absolute speed, polar orbiting ones can be quite challenging due to their higher relative speed. Typically satellites in Low Earth Orbit can be seen for a couple of minutes. Most prominent example this year is probably starlink, which can be even photographed by smartphone cameras and well recognized visually.

<img alt="Dozens of Starlink Trails" src="https://cloud.makerspace.experimenta.science/apps/files_sharing/publicpreview/5akAQsfYwwBqgSf?x=790&y=379&a=true&file=starlink.png&scalingup=0" />

Besides Starlink, the International Space Station provides another very interesting target which can be photographed as simple as other satellites in low earth orbit.

<img alt="ISS" src="https://cloud.makerspace.experimenta.science/apps/files_sharing/publicpreview/fzdEqkw2PBxFgH4?x=1592&y=380&a=true&file=ISS.JPG&scalingup=0" /> ISS flyover


Generally speaking, there are two galaxies out there which can be seen with your eye - our home Milkyway as well as Andromeda. Neither of those require any fancy equipment to get started.


As the Milkyway is our home galaxy, we don't need any telescopic lens or setup. Instead we simply take the widest angle we have at our hands and ideally wait for a New Moon. Given your surroundings don't emit too much light, you should be able to see a dimm white cloud across the sky. Don't worry, if you don't have an ulra wide angle or fisheye, you can easily stitch together a couple of pictures using tools like Hugin or ICE.

<img alt="Picutre of Milkyway" src="https://cloud.makerspace.experimenta.science/apps/files_sharing/publicpreview/zcK2DjApRSe6rXw?x=790&y=374&a=true&file=Milkyway.jpg&scalingup=0" />


Despite being quite far away, telescopic equipment isn't necessary yet. An ordinary 50mm lens does the job quite well. Simply take as many exposures you can get, and stack them e.g. with DeepSkyStacker , an amazing open source project which allows you to combine several exposures into a single higher quality image.

<img alt="Andromeda, stacked and edited" src="https://cloud.makerspace.experimenta.science/apps/files_sharing/publicpreview/bXJceir3nK7yEf6?x=1592&y=380&a=true&file=Andromeda.jpg&scalingup=0" />


Heading deeper into space, deep sky objects like the Orion Nebula become interesting targets, which can be seen bare eye at night, even at full moon. Still, ordinary camera gear can be used here to yield interesting pictures.


  • Jupiter


  • Disclaimer
  • Sunspots
  • UV Flourescence
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