What did I photograph?

  • Last night I was experimenting with my mobile phone shooting the night sky adjusting some settings like shutter time and ISO. One of the first pictures I thought was a complete failure, I only adjusted the shutter time to 30 seconds. But when I zoomed in on what I believed to be just some bright stars, I was amazed about what I saw.

    Here's the original picture

    Original photo

    I zoomed in on the center most bright star and saw this

    cutout center bright star

    Then I zoomed in on that star at the bottom just a bit right of the center and saw this.

    cutout bottom bright star

    So I'm wondering what these are? Did I shoot some deep space objects? Or is this just static from the long exposure? Or maybe just pixalating from the zooming? I'm really curious about your answers.

    My camera was just pointing at zenit and my location was 50°57'35.5"N 5°05'10.3"E the time was 1:06am on august the 6th 2018.

    Here's a screen with some more information about the photo.

    Screen shot photo details

    Did you use a mount? You said zenith, so I assume you're just pointed your phone-camera upwards lying on the table?

    That is correct, I just set the timer to 10 seconds, pressed the capture button and placed it face down on the table.

  • Mike G

    Mike G Correct answer

    4 years ago

    A contrast stretch reveals stars down to magnitude 4 or 5.
    The stars you asked about are Deneb (center) and Vega (bottom).
    The constellation in the center and below is Cygnus; we also see Cepheus at upper right and part of Draco at lower right.
    OP's image modified

    The stars appear as blobs 10-12 arcminutes wide due to several factors:

    • Rotation around the north celestial pole, to the right of the upper right corner of the image. In your 30 second exposure, Deneb and Vega drifted 5-6 arcminutes in the 5 o'clock direction.

    • Diffraction due to finite aperture. The width of the ring pattern is inversely related to the width of the aperture. These rings are consistent with a 2-3 mm aperture.

    • Optical aberrations such as coma, increasing toward the edge of the image.

    • Vibration as noted in another answer.

    phones may also do some post-processing of the image, this can also create artifacts.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM