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View Full Version : What's a good start-up kit for an astrophotography tyro?



Paracelsus
2007-Jun-23, 11:21 AM
I have been bitten by the AP bug, but I don't have a scope OR a decent camera to take pics with. I'm not a Rockefeller either.

Where would be a good place to start (i.e.: what equipment do I need, how much would it cost, where could I get it, etc)?

Tinaa
2007-Jun-23, 12:42 PM
Lots of good info can be found here.

Dave Mitsky
2007-Jun-23, 01:07 PM
This is a composite of two replies that I made to similar queries earlier this year.

Here are some sites that deal with choosing a telescope:

http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=ss&id=9

http://skyandtelescope.com/howto/scopes/article_241_1.asp

http://www.scopereviews.com/begin.html

http://www.floridastars.org/telescop.html

http://www.company7.com/library/begin.html

http://stupendous.rit.edu/richmond/answers/telescope.html

http://www.r-clarke.org.uk/starting_astro.htm

http://www.celestron.com/c2/esupport/index.php?_a=knowledgebase&_j=subcat&_i=4

Astrophotography/imaging, other than simple fixed tripod or afocal photography (taking a picture with a camera held close to the telescope eyepiece), adds a whole other level of expense and complexity to the mix and requires a lot of learning and experience. It's generally not a good idea to tackle this particular pursuit until one gets familiar with observational astronomy first. Believe it or not, the mount is far more important than the telescope itself and many amateur imagers pay several thousand dollars or more for their mounts alone.

It might be wise to first consult these sites to get a feel for what astrophotography is all about:

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/6529/primer.html

http://www.eclipsechaser.com/eclink/astrotec/aphotsmt.htm

http://www.astronomyforbeginners.com/astrophotography/

http://www.geologynet.com/astronomy/astrophotography.htm

http://www.fvastro.org/articles/digital/

http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/TOC_AP.HTM

http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/dslr/EOS300Dastro.html

Michael Covington's book Astrophotography for the Amateur is very highly recommended.

If you're really serious about astrophotography/imaging and all the work and expense it can entail, purchasing an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain with an adequate mount, dual axis drive, periodic error correction, and some sort of manual or autoguiding system is probably your best bet in the long run. Most imagers prefer equatorial mounts to the standard SCT fork mounts.

It is possible to do some excellent imaging with a Dobsonian mounted Newtonian reflector through the use of an equatorial platform or a stepper motor drive like the Dob Driver II:

http://astronomy-mall.com/regular/products/eq_platforms/pg5.htm

http://astronomy-mall.com/regular/products/eq_platforms/pg6.htm

http://www.haven.k12.pa.us/orfft/dd2andstar2000.html

http://homepages.accnorwalk.com/tddi/tech2000/astrophotos/

Are you planning on using a single lens reflex camera? If so, will it be digital or film? If it is a film camera, is it completely manual with mirror lock-up? Are you interested in using an imaging device like a web cam, or one of the Meade imagers, or a true astronomical CCD camera?

Dave Mitsky

Paracelsus
2007-Jun-24, 02:34 PM
Thanks! :)