What is a good Deep Space Astrophotography setup for a beginner?

Started 5 months ago | Questions thread
starman1969
OP starman1969 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,422
Re: What is a good Deep Space Astrophotography setup for a beginner?

Andy Lucy wrote:

It looks like your friend has thought this through and has some good ideas. Getting a GoTo mount and a dedicated astronomy camera would be a very good place to start learning the ropes.

However, deep space astrophotography, even with a fairly short focal length scope like the SpaceCat can quickly become an exercise in frustration unless guiding is used to improve the tracking performance of the mount. A small basic guide camera and scope costs a minimum of £200. A laptop computer will be needed to handle the guiding but you’ll have one anyway (to control the ZWO astronomy camera).

I wouldn’t recommend a mono camera for learning astrophotography from scratch, since it adds an extra level of complexity in the production of colour images, as well as extra costs for filters, filter changers etc. You could just start by making monochrome images, but then you wouldn’t be learning all the issues around handling colour.

Astrophotography is a money pit, not least because of the extras that need to be bought. In the UK you’ll definitely want a dew heater. Power supplies are essential. Add in various adapters, cables, software costs etc., and a tight budget is very easily exceeded.

On budget, the spacecat (or redcat) scope + EQ3-Pro mount alone has basically consumed the maximum budget allowed. To stay within budget either means buying second-hand or reducing the specification of some of the items.

Here’s an alternative suggestion, which is aimed to build an economical computer controlled system (to allow use of modern astrophotography aids, including GoTo). Since it’s based on an even shorter focal length scope than the spacecat / redcat, the guiding system won’t then be essential. The key components (mount, camera, scope) are:

EQ3-Pro mount (£489)

ZWO ASI178MC camera (£304)

Askar FMA135 scope (135mm focal length) (£289)

It’s worth investigating whether the camera and scope will give the desired field of view for deep space objects. This is easily done at this site:

http://astronomy.tools/

Here’s an example picture (the Eastern Veil Nebula) I’ve taken with the Askar scope, on a Star Adventurer camera tracker (guided, but should give similar results without guiding), with a ZWO ASI462MC camera.

Andy

Hi Andy. Thanks for your suggestions. I'll keep it in mind, however, he is keen on getting into narrowband imaging and that is why he would like to start with a mono. We are visiting an astrophotographer tomorrow, and he might have some good tips to start with.

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Steve

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