THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Throughout my journey in astrophotography, there have been numerous changes and significant progress in my setup. It seems there is always something to upgrade and improve upon.
Now, I want to share with you where I started and where I am currently in my astrophotography journey.
You're eager to dive into astrophotography and happen to be the proud owner of a DSLR or mirrorless camera?
One excellent first mount to consider is the Skywatcher Star Adventurer or the Vixen Polarie U.
There actually are multiple reasons why a setup like this is worth considering:
Do you happen to have a passion for hiking and photography?
That's fantastic! Opting for a compact mount allows you to capture stunning widefield images of our breathtaking home galaxy, the Milky Way. The entire setup effortlessly fits inside a backpack and can be swiftly assembled.
Imagine residing in or near a bustling city with significant light pollution.
In such cases, it's highly advisable to seek out locations with darker skies, like a mountain or nature park far away from the city.
This is particularly important when capturing broadband targets like dark nebulae, reflection nebulae, and galaxies.
Vixen Polarie U
Astromodified Sony a6300
Samyang 135mm f2.0 ED UMC
Sigma 56mm F1,4 DC DN Contemporary
Samyang 12mm F2,0
160Wh generic power bank
Furthermore, if you're already involved in astrophotography, a lightweight and portable mount serves as a remarkable addition when traveling.
For my backyard imaging rig, I have gone through several iterations of different equipment. Initially, I started with a small ED refractor telescope, a mirrorless camera, and an EQ3 level mount. However, over time, I desired better quality and more capabilities.
The component I upgraded most frequently was the mount. I transitioned from EQ3 to AVX, then to a tuned EQ5, and finally, I was able to afford a high-quality mount - the Losmandy G11. To make it fully ASCOM compatible and ready for remote imaging, I installed custom stepper motors on the mount.
Regarding the telescope, I settled on a self-built 8" F4.0 Newtonian reflector, which produces excellent images. Because of the carefully selected mirrors, I plan to use a reducer to achieve an aperture of around F2.9, which will allow for even faster imaging.
As for cameras, I have experimented with various models such as the ASI294mc pro, ASI071mc pro and ASI2600mc pro. However, I eventually settled on the ASI533mc pro due to it's smaller imaging sensor, which makes it much easier to use. Additionally, this camera provides cleaner data compared to the other models I tried (except for ASI2600mc pro) which has a positive impact on the complexity of image editing.
Losmandy G11 with custom stepper motors
8 inch F4 Newtonian telescope
AF3 focus motor from deepskydad.com
ZWO ASI533mc Pro
Baader Vario 60mm f4.1 guidescope
ZWO ASI178mm guide camera