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DSLR Astrophotography


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Hello Everyone,

I recently had a post about different webcams for astrophotography. There is another option I've been looking at, which is astrophotography with a DSLR camera. However, I don't have a very good understanding of many of the terms I've come across while doing research. I'd really appreciate if someone could give me a rundown on astrophotography with a DSLR. If I choose this option for taking my images, I will be using an Orion Starblast 4.5 EQ with a motor drive as my telescope, not exactly sure on the specific camera, though. I would like to know how an average night of astro-imaging goes, as well as the basic process to follow, and maybe a couple of references to helpful articles/videos. Keep in mind that I'm attempting to learn DSLR imaging through a telescope with a T-Ring and T-Adapter, not piggybacking. Thanks, and if you need any clarifications just let me know! Thanks for all the help!

Clear Skies-


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Answering that question would fill a book. In fact it has. Several.

Make your first investment a good book. "Making every photon count" from Steve Richards is the standard recommendation.

While you wait for delivery, surf the internet for astrophotography. There are plenty good sites and tutorials available. But also bad ones.

Last (?), get to know your mount and camera really well. Spend time learning polar alignment, balancing scope, etc.

Good luck,

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I agree with Winvb.   The recent-ish article by David Covington in Sky and Telescope is a reasonable basic introduction to Astrophotography with a DSLR  

You asked " I would like to know how an average night of astro-imaging goes, as well as the basic process to follow".  Every astrophotographer has their own routine.  In very very brief summary I set up the scope, polar align and then attach the camera. I focus up on a bright star using the live-view feature on the camera's screen. I then locate the target, frame the image and start taking a series of long duration images. I download images to my laptop and use guiding, but neither of these are necessary when starting out. I usually find the first hour or so is spent getting things set up to my satisfaction. It's often an iterative process. If I'm not happy with the star trailing I have to go back and reset polar alignment, or the guiding.  Once imaging starts it more or less looks after itself.  So it's time for a cuppa and a stroll around with the bins looking at the sky, or sitting in my "warm room" (shed) watching the data come in image by image. I usually process the data the next day or even later. I use Deep Sky Stacker to combine all the images, backgrounds and so on. I then process in an old copy of Photoshop. 

RohunA, if you don't have a DSLR already I do wonder whether buying one is the right thing to do at the outset. You might find you are quickly disappointed by the limitations inherent in your scope and particularly the mount to give you good long exposure images of deep sky objects. On the other hand you'll get reasonable images of the moon and planets because of the short exposures required. But then for such objects a webcam or one of the many guide/planetary cameras might be a cheaper place to start.  Just my thoughts. 

Good luck.  Let us know how you get on. 




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To be fair, I think that the scope and mount that you have (EQ1 according to the information I found), is just too flimsy to do any AP other than the moon and planets. The scope with a camera are probably too much for the mount. Your best bet is to remove the scope and just use a DSLR with lens on this mount. For that you will need some kind of attachment, e.g. a dovetail bar and a ball head. With this setup you can learn the basics of astrophotography, while not constantly being frustrated about the poor data quality. In the mean time, use the scope for observations only.

If you have to make do with what you have, go for star clusters and bright objects where you can use exposures of 30 seconds or less.

The next step up would be the SW 130PDS on an EQ3 motorized mount (but better yet, invest in an even sturdier mount, such as EQ5 or HEQ5 which will serve you longer).

As for DSLR, Canon is probably your safest bet. Says me who doesn't use one.

Good luck,

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