The Ideal Equipment for Deep Sky Astrophotography

Example of a excellent setup for deep sky astrophotographynice small telescope over a robust mount and a CCD camera specific to Astrophotography.

"You are a rare case of the correct equipment right the first choice. Most Astronomers I know do not evolve in astrophotography because they not acquire the correct equipment and spend years insisting on a wrong setup".  I friend of mine said to me these days. Of course I got very happy with the comment.

Based on this and on a answer I gave to a user in a internet forom that was very praised, I decided to make a small guide here for those who are interested in acquiring good equipment for deep-sky astrophotography.

- Mount: Always get the most robust possible, at least a CG-5 or a motorized EQ5, and for very small telescopes, like refractors of 80mm or smaller. For larger telescopes, such as reflectors above 150mm or larger refractors, prefer a EQ6. Also prefer the mounts that have autoguiding.

It is important to know that many telescopes sold with mounts have it sized just for observational astronomy or planetary astrophotography. So avoid buying them if you want to shoot galaxies and nebulae. Always prefer to buy separate telescope and mount, because to photograph deep sky, when the assembly manual says it can carry 30 pounds, is good to use a optical tube not weigh more than 10 pounds You should always consider that besides the telescope, you will put the camera and other acessories, like a filter wheel and autoguiding setup, which can add a lot of weight over the mount.

 I'm not saing that it's impossible take pictures with larger telescopes over less sized mounts, but it is more difficult and the error rate increases greatly. A small telescope on a sturdy mount will always be better and more appropriate.

- Cameras: At least one DSLR or for a specific cooled CCD for Astrophotography.

- Telescopes: Refractors like small EDs or APOs are the best options for EQ5 and EQ6s. Avoid the achromatics but you can get good results with reflectors of 200mm or greater on bigger mounts.
Telescopes with more aperture are faster (The smaller aperture/focal distance, the better the light gathering), but are harder to get a good focus.

A good option is to buy a good camera lens and use it for astrophotography. Prefer models of fixed focal distance and aperture of F2.8 or more.

I notice that very experienced astrophotographers often use the type-Maktusovic Casegrain Telescope eith 14 inches or more, for fabulous photos of deep sky. But we are talking about another level of astrophotography. These telescopes are almost always used in observatories and mounts that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe one day I get at this level.

A C11 on a CG5 mount is an excellent setup for observation and can give good results with planets and the Moon, but is not suitable for deep sky astrophotography.

Rodrigo Andolfato

12 facts you must know before becoming an amateur astrophotographer!

Rare image of an astrophotographer being caught in full action!
(Image: Thomas Shahan)

After three and a half years of  amateur Astrophotography, I feel obliged to warn the aspirants to this wonderful hobby about what they will find. All that awaits you from the moment you actually start practicing astrophotography:

1.Many people will ask you what's the point of making images with your telescope if there's Hubble.
2.half of your friends will ask you if you have once photographed a alien.
3.You will aways find people who will tell you that the way they practice astronomy is better than yours and you are not a real amateur astronomer.
4.You will get stressed during capture, a large number of times and with high intensity.
5.On many nights, when you finish assembling your equipment, the sky will get clouded, and after you finish to guard all the equipment, the sky will open immediately wonderfully!
6.Many astrophotographers will produce better images than your because they know more about Photoshop than you.
7.Many people will stop commenting your pictures because you not comment on them.
8.After a full night of deep sky astrophotography, during the time to put everything away, at five in the morning, you'll wonder what the point of all that, while trying to stay awake (or lucid).
9.You will realize most of the defects of your image after you post it.
10.York most popular image will be something that you thought many times before publishing. Your favorite image will receive five likes and one comment from your mother asking if you will be at your aunt party.
11.The only time you will actually make money with astrophotography, is the time to sell your equipment.
12.When you stay long without take pictures, your will forget all eleven previous items, feel an immense nostalgia of those nights under the starry sky, claim for a clear sky and get crazy to ride your setup again.

Many astronomers have a hard time accepting mood when it comes to amateur astronomy. But this text is a tribute to all amateur astrophotographers, who practice the activity only because they love it. So I hope you have not hated this text and have at least found it interesting. If you're an astrophotographer like me, I imagine you will see that we have many things in common.