The incredible leaps in modern technology that have occurred over the last one hundred years have drastically changed the way humans look at space, stars, the earth, and even ourselves within the grand scheme and the scale of the universe.


Humans have always been able to observe the stars, and have surely always wondered what was out there in the great abyss of space. For thousands of years, humans have used the stars to predict the future, create religions, and predict astronomical events. Since the invention of modern telescopes we have been able to closely observe and track the stars and planets that are observable with telescopes, and also designed ways to track and observe objects in space that are not viewable with conventional telescopes.


There are several methods that modern astrophotographers and astrophysicists have relied on to capture images of stars and planets that require different cameras, devices, attachments, and skill sets to execute them properly. If you are looking to begin your career or hobby as an astrophotographer then this article will point you in the proper direction regarding different ways that you can track the stars with your camera to get the best possible photographs for your portfolio. 

Barn door method

There are several ways in which you can track the stars with your camera to accomplish whatever feat of photography, or astrophotography you are working towards. Most methods require you to have your camera level with the horizon for starters, as this will ensure that you get the best possible shot. If you do not have a level space, then consider bringing a spade and tamper to flatten out your surface. Other options include getting a tripod with legs that are independently adjustable so that you can configure your tripod stand in whichever way is necessitated by the ground you are currently working on.


The barn door method is ultimately supposed to result in you imitating the smooth opening of a barn door with a piece of wood and a hinge. After you secure your tripod or camera on your piece of wood and have aligned it with the horizon you are ready to begin. To get the proper exposure that your camera needs you will need to mimic the rate at which the earth rotates. This means that you must rotate your hinge and camera at a rate of fifteen degrees per hour, which is the rate at which the earth rotates. You should be able to make a barn door tracker by following these steps. Track the skyline and get a nice long term exposure shot if you have a camera with those capabilities. 

Piggyback method

The piggyback method is another way that astronomers and astrophotographers use their cameras to track the stars and the horizon. Due to some specialized technology that is used, it can be a bit more expensive than the aforementioned barn door method, which uses only a hinge and wood which are both cheap and readily available. If you are serious about trying out the piggy bank method, then this article can help you be aware of the different costs, and procedures associated with this method. There are many technical requirements for this method, including specialized tripods called equatorial mounts.


Be sure to research these tech requirements before you buy any expensive lenses or different cameras, or else you will have wasted money and still not get the shots you want. When attempting the piggyback method you should also be careful that you have put measures in place to avoid any vibrations in the camera, as this will ruin your shot.


As the name suggests, some amateur astrophotographers like to completely mitigate costs and use a freestyle method of tracking the stars. Although this can still result in some excellent shots of the sky and stars, it is not recommended for long term exposures. This is because even the person with the steadiest hand and all the time in the world will still be unable to hold the camera still enough for a long period of time. Instead, try the barn door or piggyback method. 


Hopefully, this article has been helpful and informative regarding the different ways that you can use your camera to track the stars and other objects in the night sky, or daytime sky. Sometimes the science behind astrophysics and astronomy can seem intimidating to people who are unfamiliar with the subject, but the reality is that it is just explaining phenomena that we witness every day. By using key scientific measurements, such as the rate of the rotation of the earth, we can configure our technologies to achieve some truly remarkable photographs and observations.

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