About Astrophotography

Astrophotography is a rewarding hobby and can be started with a standard film or digital camera and a tripod by taking star trails of the night sky.

Beyond star trails requires a digital camera or a webcam and a computerised telescope to take images of the planets.

Deep space astrophotography requires a financial and time commitment to achieve good results. There are a few things needed in this area in order of priority:

  1. Solid telescope mount that is designed for astrophotography work.

  2. A cooled 16-bit astronomical CCD camera. Most domestic digital cameras are 8-bit are not sensitive enough for this work.

  3. A refractor or reflecting telescope.

To achieve outstanding astrophotography results the following 4 points should be considered:

  1. Telescope Mount
    1. A mount that has been designed to minimise tracking errors known as periodic error and random error. On a good mount the manufacture will state these errors to be under 5 arc-seconds peak to peak without PEC. With PEC turned on the mount’s errors can be reduced to less than 1 arc-second.

    2. Mounts with higher tracking errors can be corrected with the use of an Adaptive Optics device which will make the mount track to less than 1 arc-second.

  2. CCD Camera
    1. An inbuilt autoguider or an external autoguider to make corrections for residual mount tracking errors.

    2. A CCD camera with a pixel size suited for your telescope.

  3. Telescope Optics
    1. Apochromatic refractor will produce stunning wide field images.

    2. Ritchey-Chretien and corrected Dall-Kirkham telescopes will produce outstanding narrow field images and are corrected for optical aberrations like coma.

  4. Additional Accessories
    1. A digital focuser with absolute positioning.

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