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My astronomy project:
GoPro camera used for time lapse of meteor showers


Content:

  1. Introduction GoPro camera and time lapse
  2. Example of time lapse exposures

Note:
I take no responsibility or liability for what are written here, you use the information on your own risk!


1: Introduction

Something that is very exciting and easy to do is to take photos of meteor showers. If you take many photos, say one photo each 10 seconds you are doing time lapse photographing. Put together them and it will be a fast running movie of the night's sky.

You can read more about time lapse at Wikipedia:

I have done a lot of time lapse movies, but there is one big problem, when using a high quality DSLR camera, all the shots wear the mechanical shutter. The mechanical shutter normally only has a life time of 200'000 exposures. When doing a time lapse movie every minute takes 1800 exposures. I.E. you have used 1/100 of the life time of your camera for a single night.

Not good ! Can it be done in another way ?


Recently I bought an used GoPro 5 camera, the Black version. It has built in time lapse function and can do 4K movies. Sounds perfect, but will it work with astronomical photographing during a dark night ?

GoPro camera used to do time lapse film of a meteor shower

The GoPro camera is not heavy, only 220 gr including battery and mount. Easy to bring when on travel, I can have it in my pocket.


Preparing the camera to be used for time lapse photography:

GoPro camera used to do time lapse film of a meteor shower

Doing time lapse photography means you are taking a lot of photos. The battery will not last very long, after about 30 minutes the battery is drained. I can have another battery and change it, but then I will move the camera. A better alternative is to charge the camera from an USB backup battery. But then the battery hatch must be open and then I can't have the camera mounted in the holder.


GoPro camera used to do time lapse film of a meteor shower

An easy fix is just to remove the hatch from the camera.


GoPro camera used to do time lapse film of a meteor shower

Grab the hatch between your fingers at pull it away. It's made of plastic so take it easy, don't broke anything. Hold on the sliding part and the plate with the rubber gasket.


GoPro camera used to do time lapse film of a meteor shower

This is how the hinge looks like, an opening let it be removed with some force.


GoPro camera used to do time lapse film of a meteor shower

Now the camera can be mounted in the frame and having the USB charging cable stick out on its side.


GoPro camera used to do time lapse film of a meteor shower

My first test rig, from the living room I have the direction to North. Those days in the middle of August we have the Perseids meteors shower. Even if It's very light polluted here at my place I can still do some test.

More to read about the Perseids at Wikipedia:

The USB backup battery has the capacity of 10 Amph. My first test was a five hour sequence, it only took 25% of the battery's capacity. But it could still be good to have this capacity, maybe there will be need of a heating device to get rid of dew from the camera lens. I also noticed that the screen saver don't go sleep when connected to an external battery.

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