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24 Nov 2012 1:19AM
One thing i have never really tried out in my years of photography is astro-photography. Not anything serious at least. But as a Christmas present to myself i was thinking about investing in some kit and a better telescope to capture something a little 'out of this world'

Can anyone with experience offer me some advice in equipment and tips on the technical side. Looking at a budget of up to maybe 1500. I have several dSLRs (full fame and Dx) as well as a Nikon CSC so its more add ons than adding more bodies (i hope!)

Cheers in advance


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Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
24 Nov 2012 2:08AM
I Would have thought locations would be more useful than kit, how about spending some of that money on a Holiday.

Mark Humpage does a lot of this stuff.

24 Nov 2012 2:52AM

Quote:I Would have thought locations would be more useful than kit, how about spending some of that money on a Holiday.

Mark Humpage does a lot of this stuff.


I live in the countryside in a very low light pollution part of Scotland. As much as i agree travelling would be a great way to get something special, i would like to start off with learning to capture whats in my own skies. I have been fortunate to capture the northern lights here in Scotland and in Finland, and i guess i want to have some of my own captures of planets and nebulae that arent just dots or blurry colours
robthecamman 6 1.7k United Kingdom
24 Nov 2012 8:01AM
full moon 28th november 2012 get out there if not cloudy
oldblokeh 7 1.2k United Kingdom
24 Nov 2012 8:27AM

Quote:Full moon 28th november 2012 get out there if not cloudy

Full moon is great for capturing moonlit landscapes, but not much else. The moon itself is pretty featureless when full, owing to the lack of shadow, and the brightness of it pretty much washes out everything else in the sky.
MrGoatsmilk 9 1.5k England
24 Nov 2012 10:05AM
A great place to get some information is[link=Stargazers Lounge] http://stargazerslounge.com[/link] I have read a few posts on there and have been given some good advice for various things. There are dedicated areas for astro photography in there and the people there really know their stuff as you will see from the photos they produce.

It's an area I really want to get into but for me it's finding the time of late. One day though I will lug all my kit out to a dark site and crack on.

Good luck


richsabre 5 22 United Kingdom
9 Dec 2012 12:29AM
i am an astrophysics student and can offer advice on the scopes. i need to know what youre working with now (sorry if i missed it in your post)
i also do a blog where ive done a post on choosing scopes here www.astrophysicsuk.wordpress.com

for taking astro photos more than the moon you will need an EQ tracking mount, stable, which are several hundred pounds. you will also need a decent sized scope. i would recommend skywatcher scopes.

9 Dec 2012 12:35AM
Hi Rich,

The scope i have at the moment is just a basic budget one, but i am looking at up to 1500 to spend on a decent one and any mounts i might need for my nikon kit (I have several cameras, and just really want to bolt them onto something that can give me 'decent' results).

I will have a nosey at the blog Smile

Thank you for your response

richsabre 5 22 United Kingdom
9 Dec 2012 12:42AM
no problem. i have to say im not an astrophotographer, im just into theory and visual, but what i know from being in the astro - circles is that astrophotography is an expensive set out. saying that 1500 should get you up and running
the main problem would be upgrading your scope which is (in my opinion) the main thing to do. the more light you get into the scope the better your images will be. the other main thing (probably more than scope) is mount. having to take photos over hours will mean the slightest knock will ruin a nights work

though it depends on how serious you want to go. ive seen people spend literally tens of thousands to try and get the old 'hubble' view....and theyre great of course, its just a shame that unlike photography, astrophotography is harder to get good results with budget kit.

if you need any advice or advice on the astro side of things (not that im saying you do Smile ...) feel free to email or pm me
Sooty_1 8 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
9 Dec 2012 10:59AM
It depends what you want to take pictures of. Deep space objects will require a good stable telescope and prime focus capability (shooting through the telescope), plus the ability to long exposure and accurately guide. Star field photography can be shot using your existing kit, either by stacking lots of short exposures or by tracking with a camera piggybacked on a guided scope.

Either way, you need a good solid mount, which is more important than the magnification of the scope.

One thing you must understand (and something apparently not understood by a lot of people who want to do astro photography) is that you will never get Hubble-esque pictures from your back garden. It sounds patronising, but big observatories use special cameras, filters and have fantastic tracking costing millions, shooting outside the visible spectrum and adding false colours. Even ccd cameras on scopes are limited.
Modest aspirations are fine. Star fields, trails, lunar and planetary images are perfectly achievable. Nebulae (just fuzzy blobs, visually) are harder, but with the right kit can look good.

Bottom line...start modestly, and with as good a mount as you can afford if you want to track long exposures.

oldblokeh 7 1.2k United Kingdom
9 Dec 2012 11:09AM
Agree about the stable mount. Make sure it is an equatorial mount -- alt-azimuth is no good at all. There are lots of very good targets for piggy-back work, i.e. using your scope as a mount for your camera. Quite a few objects are too large to fit in a prime focus field, while the lenses you already have are likely to be faster than the scope. Plus, with piggy-back you can also easily do manual periodic error correction if your budget does not run to an autoguider.

Whatever the kit, though, you absolutely have to learn how to do accurate polar alignment.
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
9 Dec 2012 9:41PM
...and don't believe the rubbish you will read in some of the Photo mags. Learn your astronomy from astonomy experts - not from journalists.

It's the old and very common problem in Britain that journalists are trained to write - and then go writing about subjects like photography or astronomy, that they know SFA about.

In January's "Digital Camera" (p56), there is one real Lulu in an article about star photography that asserts that "the North Star is the last star on the handle of the Big Dipper"! I hope none of the readers are freezing their bollocks off trying to achieve concentric star trails centred on that star.

9 Dec 2012 9:51PM
I've been lucky enough to capture the northern lights, meteor showers, and i've previously done some image stacking for some big sky shots, so what i am really wanting to do is move on to capturing some of the planets and sky objects that are out of reach of the limitations of my lenses.

I've always had a keen interest in astronomy, and although my previous scopes have been more on the basic end of the scale, i have a bit of knowledge of where to look to find certain targets. I was recently surprised with a nice little tax return so thought i might treat myself to a better scope and try to capture some images rather than just viewing them. As far as i know there is still an astronomy group/club based nearby, so will be joining up with them.

Thank you everyone for your replies and advice. I will hopefully soon make a decision and make the best of the great clear skies we have at the moment.
oldblokeh 7 1.2k United Kingdom
9 Dec 2012 9:58PM
Good luck, Paul, and don't forget to save some of your budget for warm clothing Grin
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
9 Dec 2012 10:22PM


Thank you everyone for your replies and advice. I will hopefully soon make a decision and make the best of the great clear skies we have at the moment.

Even with your present kit you will probably see a lot on cold clear nights like tonight. At present four of Jupiter's moons can be seen with ordinary binoculars or a 200mm camera lens. Just before sunrise tomorrow, Mercury, Venus and Saturn should be "snappable" just above the south-eastern horizon. Then there is another good meteor shower on the night of 13/14 December.

What I would really like to do some day is get a camera converted to extend into the infra-red end of the spectrum to try and get some better shots of the many exciting (and colourful) subjects outwith the Solar System.


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