Categories
Information
SSL SECURE

Astrophotography Equipment Guide

Astrophotography – a quick equipment guide!

 

We get an awful lot of questions and queries regarding astrophotography. So we decided to put together a quick guide on the subject. Its by no means exhaustive, but it will run you through the basic types of astrophotography and the entry level gear required.

Essentially in its simplest form, there are 3 types of astrophotography.

 

1 – DSLR Camera with lenses:

What you need –

  • DSLR Camera
  • Lenses, ideally from 14mm to 85mm for static, or up to 300mm for tracked
  • Normal camera tripod or a dedicated Tracking Mount such as Skywatcher Star Adventurer

 

This is the simplest type, usually to photograph the Milky Way, with 14mm to 50mm lenses, or sometimes if using a tracking mount, to get larger Deep Sky targets, like the Andromeda Galaxy, or Orion Nebula, with 200 - 300mm lenses. All you need are a DSLR Camera, a lens and a tripod or mount. Many upgrade their static tripod to something like the Skywatcher Star Adventurer, which tracks the sky and allows longer exposures, thus collecting more light.

 

 

2 – Planetary Astrophotography:

What you need –

 

Essentially this type of photography is for the Moon and Planets. You capture a video of the planet or Moon with the camera and its software, and you then use particular programs to break the video into individual frames, select the best ones, and stack them together. You then process the image in Photoshop afterwards to bring out the detail.

It can be done on a budget, and a good budget setup would be the following - Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT, and a  Celestron Neximage 5 Camera

 

 

3 – Deep Sky Astrophotography:

What you need –

This is a little more involved, as the Equatorial mounts need careful alignment before starting the night, as the tracking needs to be very good to take the necessarily long exposures of the deep sky targets.

We are often asked for the cheapest entry into this type of photography, so here it is -  an entry level Equatorial goto mount plus power supply, so either a Skywatcher EQ3 Pro, or the newer Skywatcher EQM-35 Pro , plus a powertank, usually Celestron Powertank Lithium or Baader 220V Wall Supply, and then couple that with a Skywatcher 130PDS Reflector, add your own DSLR and you are good to go!

A more advanced setup might use a Celestron Advanced VX or CGX Mount, with a Celestron Powertank Lithium Pro plus a Skywatcher Quattro 8" F4 or Skywatcher 200PDS telescope, coupled with an Atik 314L+ or Atik 460EX CCD Camera.

The mount decides the weight of scope, so if you want a scope that's heavier than 4 or 5kg, with your camera, then you will need a bigger mount, but the good news is, for this type of astrophotography, you dont need a big scope. One of the most popular in use is the 80mm refractor, such as the Skywatcher Evostar 80ED DS Pro, or Esprit 80 Triplet

 

Yes, there is a huge amout to astrophotography, far too much to get into here, there are whole books on the subject, but if this info has piqued your interest, then contact us with any questions or queries, and we will hopefully be able to look after you. Even if already have some equipment, let us know what you have and we will advise you accordingly  :)