Nikon Coolpix and Astronomy

Having recently acquired a Nikon Coolpix 990 camera; I had to try it out with astrophotography. Being new at both the camera and astrophotography; I  tried various different method of aiming the telescope and the camera.
I first had a separate tripod for the camera, with the camera aligned right up against the telescope.

This had LOTS of drawbacks; mainly it was very difficult to align them; it took at least 5 minutes of looking thru the camera's monitor to align them properly, and then the scope DRIFTS, so you have to keep correcting the location of the second tripod. It was a mess.

I eventually got the telescope and coolpix hooked up together in TWO different ways. Here is how:

Other Gadgets you might need: Exposure

It seemed best to use the manual exposure settings, and dictate the exposure manually, otherwise the camera would average the exposure, ending up with very dark images. Most images were done with 1/4 to 1 second exposures. Diaphragm open as wide as possible, of course.

The eyepiece I picked was University Optics Ortho 12mm; except for the moon pictures. The moon pictures were done using Celestron Plossl 32mm, with gray/green filter. Only with Plossl, I was better off using the Autofocus. For the other pictures, I used the Infinity focus setting.

For the Orion Nebula shot, I used the B setting to specify the exposure myself. It was almost a full moon, but I could see the nebula when I looked thru the eyepiece of the telescope. nevertheless, I can't see it at all in my pictures.  As Nikon's manual states, you get noise in the B mode after about 15 seconds of exposure. In theory, the exposure can go up to 1 minute, but after 30 seconds, it seems to "create its own stars" - or that's how it seemed. So I did not try a full 1 minute exposure.

One of the neat things was the digital zoom feature. Without sacrificing too much contrast, digital zoom allowed me to zoom into Jupiter and Saturn a bit better. Otherwise, no editing was done on these pictures.

Ok, on with the pics (I used a rather low-res mode of the camera..) Click on any to view it full-screen.


It works great on planets; but I was not able to take  deep-sky pictures, like Nebulas and Galaxies. The background noise build-up is considerable, but presumably removable with a dark-frame subtraction.  Perhaps images can be stacked and the background noise in each be removed with dark-frame subtraction.  I just did not know too much about image processing when I connected coolpix to the telescope.  Perhaps if I did, I could have had better luck at deep-sky pictures.
I eventually went and got a MX7-C from Starlight Express.