Photography through a Telescope

  • Posted on: 8 March 2016
  • By: rob

I have recently acquired a small telescope and have been experimenting with taking photographs through the eyepiece. The telescope is a small spotting scope with a 65mm objective lens and a 20x to 60x zoom eye piece. The main focus of my attention is a pair of peregrine falcons that look like they are going to nest on the St George's Church tower, at the University of Sheffield. You can read more about them on the Sheffield Peregrines blog. I regularly see the birds and, as I usually only walk about with a mobile phone, I am left taking pictures like this:

View of St George's Church

There are peregrines in this shot, but from the point of view of a photograph of a bird, it is a bit of a disappointment. Peregrines make an excellent subject for this type of photograph, they are somewhat special birds, fairly large and not too far away from the lens, but most importantly, they sit still for hours giving plenty time to arrange the telescope and mobile phone camera.

I have found that a mobile phone camera is just about the right size such that the camera lens can be held up to the eye piece of the telescope. With some careful positioning and a steady hand, some reasonable pictures can be taken. The results are not exactly publish quality, but they are good enough to see the birds clearly. Here is a full-frame example, where the vignetting of the eye piece is very clear.

Peregrine Falcon on St George's Church

And here are a couple of shots that have been cropped with the GIMP image manipulation program.

Peregrine Falcon on St George's Church
Peregrine Falcon on St George's Church

Additionally, I have discovered that it is possible to get some reasonable shots of the moon, using the same approach of holding a mobile phone up to the telescope eye piece.

The moon taken with a mobile phone camera through the eye piece of a telescope