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Astrophotography, What Equipment?


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Recently bought a Canon 1100D, want to get into AP. I have taken a few shots of the moon(through my Skywatcher 200) , not brilliant but not bad for a first attempt.

I would like to get into planetary and deep sky eventually, what equipment(lenses,filters etc.)would a beginner need? My 'scope isn't driven but I assume this would be essential for long exposures.


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A substantial and motor driven mount is more or less essential for DSO photography. You will also need to consider guiding using a small scope and second camera.  I would suggest you invest in "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards (Steppenwolf on the forum) - it will guide you through what to buy and how to go about DSO photography in detail (usual disclaimer).

The equipment required for Lunar and planetary photography is somewhat simpler and easier for the beginner.  Motor drive is extremely useful but not essential.  You will need a suitable "movie" camera - these cost around £200-250 new for a basic but good astro camera (somewhat less on the second hand market).

Your DLSR camera will be useful for the Moon (and Sun with proper filters) and you can try taking a series of frames and stacking them - you will be surprised at the improvement in the final image.

Most image processing is possible with software that is available free on the web, as you become more advanced then you may need to spend out on that as well.

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For AP you need a driven equitorial mount, and the mount needs to be able to take the scope easily.

So whereas visual will often mean a big scope on a smallish mount for AP it is the other way round.

You want a smallish scope on a good solid mount.

A start would be something like the EQ5, motors, and a 70-72mm ED refractor or the 130PDS reflector.

Any additions or upgrade will mean more weight and so a bigger mount.

As a simple guess an EQ5+Motors say £230, motors £110, scope £250-350.

You have a DSLR so looking at £700 and with bits say £800-1000.

The EQ5 goto is £500.

Any mount less then the EQ5 or equivalent is probably a waste of money.

The catch is that if you want "good" that means guiding, that means goto, that means weight and that means the HEQ5 at £750 for just the mount. A better scope say apo triplet is close to £1000 and you have guide scope, guide camera and you need a laptop for the guiding. Eventually the DSLR has to go and a reasonable ccd is £1500-2000. So the next step up is a LOT more costly. And the one above that more so.S

So first decide how far you want to go, a simple EQ5 and getting say 60 second exposures without guiding is not too bad, but goto is very useful. It save a lot of time locating objects to image. Additioanlly if carefull chosed an EQ5 goto can cover a large proportion of things you may want to image.

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