BEST ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY

£700 plus for Scope and Mount

If the earth would just stop spinning then Astrophotography would be easy. We could point a great big light bucket dobsonian up at the sky, take a twenty minute exposure and wind up with a beautiful picture of deep space. Unfortunately we have to fiddle with a motorised mount to hold our telescope still for the full duration of the exposure while the earth spins beneath it. This is tough. And the more zoomed in our telescope is the harder it is to prevent our mount’s tracking errors leading to ugly oval shaped stars and slighlty blurry nebula in our picture. Happily we don't need to zoom in very much to take great photos bc many great deep space targets are huge. So to start out you can either go budget with an achromatic 80mm refractor like the  scope mentioned in the budget section or go pro with a cute little scope with fancy ed glass elements to reduce colour fringing. Most experienced astro addicts will have something like the scopes below in their arsenal. The Redcat is a specialised astrograph whereas the Sky Watcher 72ED can also be used for observing.

Williams Optics REDCAT 51

US: https://bit.ly/RedCatUS

UK: https://bit.ly/RedCatUK

OPTIONAL (but recommended)

0.85x Reducer/Flattener and Adapter for 72ED PRO

US: https://bit.ly/SkyWatcherReducerUS

US: https://bit.ly/SkyWatcherReducerAdapterUSONLY

The UK reducer comes supplied with the adapter

UK: https://bit.ly/SkyWatcherReducerUK

The shot below was taken from my roof in London with a little Tak FS60cb, a similar set up to the the scopes I am recommending above. In fact the little Redcat has almost exactly the same focal length as my little 60mm diameter Tak. I picked up my tak cheap second hand and paired it with a no longer produced and relatively cheap Borg x0.7 super reducer. New the Tak FS60cb with it's dedicated reducer costs $1400. It is a great scope but not budgety!

These little scopes work just fine on a lightweight mount like the Sky Watcher Star Adventurer. There are other similar astrophotography travel mounts but the star adventurer is the only one I've properly tested. Its very good. I've even stuck a little guide scope on it and successfully taken 30minute long subs. It is comfortably accurate to 2 arc seconds whilst guiding. The skywatcher 72 ed is as big a scope as I would recommend with the Star Adventurer mount. (If you are very good technically you might want to consider the Sky Watcher AZ-GTI goto mount I talk about in the budget section as well but it is much harder to polar align). 

 

 

 

 

Any sturdy camera tripod will do

but if you don't have one there are these...

US: https://bit.ly/TripodUS

UK: https://bit.ly/TripodUK

What Camera do I need?

The cheapest option is to use your own DSLR. A DSLR is good for shooting Galaxies, Star Clusters, and reflection nebula. Unfortunately a DSLR is not good at shooting deep red clouds of hydrogen like the clouds that make up most of the Great Nebula of Orion unless you get it  modified. Modification removesan inbuilt filter which blocks  the deep red glow. You can modify a DSLR yourself. Gary Honis has instructions here . Or for a bit over £100 you can get someone else to do it. In the UK I recommend Astronomiser.

 

Alternatively you can buy a dedicated astrocamera...

 If you want the ultimate  astrocamera for starting out I recommend  ZWO's ASI294MC.  I use this camera in my videos to show people what they can expect to see through the eyepiece. This camera excels at shortish exposures (0-30secs) because of its incredibly high sensitivity and incredibly low read noise. It is a great match for a beginner who is perhaps struggling to get the mount singing well enough to consistently bag really long exposures. It also is very useful having a sensitive camera like which allows you to clearly see your target when you are lining the shot up and focusing. And as an added bonus its one of the best camera's there is for photographing the moon and an accomplished planetary camera to boot! Incidentally Deddy Dayag (who appears in the youtube video)  uses the cooled pro version of this camera with his huge 11ich SCT . The cooled version reduces the camera's dark current making it good at longer exposures too. These camera connect to a laptop via usb3 and the cooled version also needs  a12v DC Power supply.

You will need a UV/IR cut filter like this one to image with the astrocameras

US: https://bit.ly/ZWOIRCutFilterUS

UK: https://bit.ly/ZWOIRCutFilterUK

This extreme light pollution filter allows me to image emission nebula from London. It works particularly well with longer exposures using a cooled astrocamera.

US: https://bit.ly/ZWODuoBandFilterUS

UK: https://bit.ly/ZWODuoBandFilterUK