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High Altitude Astrophotography

Astrophotography is a common hobby, however, fluctuations in our atmosphere will cause aberrations on our point source objects (i.e. stars!). This reduces the final quality of our photographs and to correct for this requires expensive adaptive optics systems used by large research telescopes.

The atmosphere also reduces the amount of light we receive from stars. Thus, we only see the brighter stars. Of course we could increase exposure times and/or stack data from multiple observing sessions to image the fainter objects, but this could take hours to days worth of observations.

Ideally we would get around these issues with a permanent space based telescope, like Hubble. However, this is well beyond our budgetary capabilities. (But will remain a goal!)

Our High Altitude Balloon launch experience will act as a perfect intermediary between the ground and space. The biggest challenge of this project will be to stabilise a DSLR camera to such a degree that any ‘jitter’ in our systems will happen on timescales longer than our exposure time.

This is a technically challenging project that will span many months. The skills we learn on this project will be transferrable to other teams (Rocket) and will look great on job applications and CVs.

I anticipate a large amount of publicity will result from this project.


Chris Frohmaier - Project Lead and SUSF President

Joe Wilson

Bárbara Gonçalves - CAD

Ben Tindale

Seb Hill

Matt Brown

Terra Barber

Example Systems

Everyone, please add anything relevant you find that we could attempt to replicate.

Here is some footage taken from a stable rig we can very cheaply build.

Bárbara, this album is a good place to start for some ideas regarding our design. So just flick through the album for loads more pictures! We're going for a more pyramidal design as per the drawing. However, I've been thinking about this and I might make one or two changes, but for now stick to the original. :)

Cameras and Components


Please add good cameras here


An nice narrow FOV lens would be a 50mm fixed focal length, f/1.4 We want as low f-stop as possible to reduce our exposure time. However, a wide angle lens would be required to capture the Milky Way. Fast wide angle lenses are expensive.

This lens would be lovely! But we'll need a large amount of sponsorship.

This is also pretty good.

stabilised_platform.txt · Last modified: 2016/06/01 02:23 (external edit)