If you image with a DLSR that has LiveView like I do, you’ve probably encountered some problems trying to get those pesky stars to show up on the display. What I’ve always discovered, after much frustration, and sometimes not until the next morning, is this can be attributed to one or more of the below listed setup issues.
I put this list together as a reminder to myself the next time I run into a problem to walk through these steps. I figured I would share it in the hope of helping others avoid some of these frustrations.
- Lens Cap – Or the cover on the telescope. Yes, I’ve forgotten this one more times than I care to admit.
- LiveView Enabled – Make sure it’s actually in LiveView mode, with the mirror flipped up.
- Manual Mode – If you use your camera for general photography like I do, you may find you left it on a different setting.
- Exposure Duration – Unless you’re pointing at the moon, Set this for at least 5 seconds for really bright stars. Better yet, just set it to bulb mode.
- ISO Setting – Anything under 800 may be hiding those stars from you.
- Focus – If the camera is far enough out of focus, you aren’t going to see anything on the live view screen – not even fuzzy halos. This one will crop up whenever you make a change to the imaging chain, like adding or removing a barlow. You can figure out the approximate focus during the daytime by pointing at a distant object (not the sun of course).
- Scope Alignment – Did you make sure the finder scope is aligned to the primary? If you have a bright star right in the bullseye of the finder scope, but don’t see anything after going through all the other steps, chances are the two scopes are out of alignment. You can align these during the day as well on a distant tree or building. The further away the better. (Again, don’t point at the sun!)
Hopefully this list is a helpful reminder. It can be easy to forget one of these troubleshooting steps (typically, the one you need) when you’re out in the dark freezing your fingers off.
Did you find this list helpful? Have something to add? Please leave a comment to let me know.