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Backyard of the Week – April 24, 2018

This week’s featured backyard astrophotography setup includes a very modest and affordable rig that’s producing impressive results.  It’s proof that successful deep sky imaging can be accomplished with modest equipment when you follow the basic principals.

An accurate polar alignment, sound autoguiding, and plenty of patience and hard work have served our imager well. Pawel has leveraged the strengths of his gear and maximized them to their full potential.

iOptron Smart EQ Pro

Location: Poland

Pawel Pleskaczynski

Pawel uses a Sky-Watcher ST80 refractor as his primary imaging telescope. Also known as the Startravel 80, this 80mm achromat refractor is lightweight and portable. His primary imaging camera houses an extremely sensitive CMOS Sony sensor, the Altair GPCAM2 290M camera. Pawel made a point to mention how sensitive the sensor really is in the 290M, and think you’ll see what he means in the photo below:

The Horsehead Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula by Pawel Pleskaczynski

The 290M is a popular planetary imaging camera thanks to low read noise qualities and onboard buffering for a fast data transfer speed. Altair notes that this camera does perform well on deep sky objects thanks to reduced amp glow.

Altair GPCAM2 290M

Pawels deep sky imaging payload rides smoothly and accurately across the night sky thanks to the reliable and highly portable iOptron SmartEQ Pro mount.  This GoTo equatorial mount is an excellent choice for anyone looking to build a portable astrophotography kit.  It includes an ST-4 compatible autoguiding port, which Pawel puts to good use while imaging deep sky objects.

iOptron SmartEQ Pro Mount

The iOptron Smart EQ Pro Mount

“With good polar alignment and guiding, I can shoot up to 300s exposures.”

This is what I meant when I said Pawel is really maximizing the potential of his gear. 5-minute deep sky images open the doors to some incredible imaging projects, including the beautiful example of the Ring Nebula seen below. This image was acquired using the guide camera in Pawel’s equipment shot.

Ring Nebula

The Ring Nebula by Pawel Pleskaczynski

For autoguiding, Pawel uses a ZWO ASI224MC  through a modified 9 x 50 Orion finderscope for increased tracking accuracy. This is a color camera with an IMX224 CMOS Sony sensor that could also be used for planetary or DSO imaging.

This is a truly affordable imaging rig, with lots of potential for all types of astrophotography from planetary imaging to long exposure deep-sky. I am really impressed with the deep sky images Pawel has been able to capture. Keep up the inspiring work my friend!

Pawel’s Astrophotography Gear:

  1. Mount: iOptron SmartEQ Pro
  2. Telescope: Sky-Watcher ST80 Refractor
  3. Camera: Altair GPCAM2 290M Mono
  4. Guide Scope: Orion 50mm Finderscope
  5. Guide Camera: ZWO ASI224MC

You can view more of Pawels incredible deep sky images on his website: CheapAstro

Thank you for sharing your backyard astrophotography setup with us, Pawel!

For a chance to be featured as the Backyard of the Week, please fill out this form and include the details of your setup. This is a great way for beginners to see a deep-sky imaging setup that is being used to successfully photograph the night sky.

Related Posts:

A Portable Deep-Sky Astrophotography Kit

How to Polar Align a Telescope Mount

Choosing a Camera for Astrophotography