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Building a Deep Sky Astrophotography Kit

|Equipment|31 Comments

I am often asked for my opinion on the best route to take when it comes to building a deep sky astrophotography kit for the first time. A popular option for many night sky enthusiasts is to start with a DSLR camera and telescope, and I can understand why. Building an astrophotography setup that revolves around a user-friendly, entry-level DSLR can reap some impressive results.

Modern-day hobbyist/beginner digital SLR cameras such as the Canon EOS Rebel T7i or Nikon D3400 provide the least-steep learning curve when it comes to deep sky imaging in a very technical and sometimes overwhelming hobby. Even if you decide to upgrade to a dedicated astronomy camera or CCD later, you’ll never regret purchasing a DSLR as they have heaps of potential for all kinds of photography.

Deep Sky AStrophotography

Like many of you, I started getting into astrophotography by taking long exposure images of the night sky using my DSLR camera and lens on a simple tripod.  This evolved into capturing multiple hour-long images of deep-sky objects such as the Orion Nebula through a refractor telescope. A camera and (the right) small telescope is capable of capturing some incredible deep sky objects in our night sky.

It didn’t all come together in one day or even one year.  If your fascination with astrophotography is as relentless as mine, deep sky imaging will be a part of your life forever.  I would advise that you map out a clear vision of your personal goals, and patiently work towards it.  To me, the most rewarding part of this hobby has been the steady progress I’ve made along the way.

With that out of the way, here is some honest advice from someone who is in it for the long haul. Before we get into it, have a look at the following video where I share an affordable, yet capable setup for deep sky astrophotography with a DSLR camera. 

Putting the Pieces Together

In this post, I’ll give you my advice on how to best build yourself a deep sky astrophotography kit that rewards you with the images you crave. This beginner-level kit will not only produce amazing images of galaxies and nebulae, but deliver a rate of success, and offer a rewarding experience.

This is your chance to learn from my years of mistakes and jump straight into equipment that works.  There are plenty of opinions on the best way to go about this, and I’d like to state the fact that I can advise you on what has worked for me.

Early on, it can be confusing to research exactly what you’ll need to successfully photograph a deep sky object.  My goal in this post is to make things as clear as possible and offer a number of different configurations to get you started.  The tools you choose are interchangeable with these setups, but I hope that you find it helpful to see an example combination.

Below is an example of an extremely portable and proficient equipment setup that I have used personally to capture deep sky targets such as the Andromeda Galaxy.

basic astrophotography telescope setup

  1. William Optics Zenithstar 61 Doublet APO
  2. iOptron SkyGuider Pro Mount
  3. Canon EOS Rebel T7i DSLR Camera

The setup pictured above will need a few extras, including a tripod to mount the SkyGuider Pro. For more details about the Zenithstar 61, check out my Z61 Review Video.

Each setup will require different adapters and mounting hardware, so talk to your favorite telescope dealer and ask them what you’ll need in that regard. For example, to connect the William Optics Z61 to a Canon DSLR, you’ll need the Flat61 and a T-Ring.

Mounting hardware and extension tubes are some more examples of the specifics you’ll need to confirm before you can get everything up and running. Remember, these are the key components only. Every setup will have its own set of necessary accessories to get to the finish line.

Heart Nebula

This is an image of the Heart Nebula that was taken from my backyard using the setup listed above.  The camera was a modified Canon EOS Rebel T3i, with a Skytech CLS-CCD light pollution filter installed.

Using a Refractor Telescope with a DSLR Camera

If you already own and enjoy a DSLR camera for daytime photography, chances are you’d like to use it for deep sky imaging as well. The following principles apply to those shooting with an APS-C sized sensor like the ones found in a Canon Rebel series camera. A full frame camera sensor will shoot even wider but may expose issues near the edges of your image frame as well.

My personal taste in deep sky imaging leans heavily towards wide-field targets. For this reason, I tend to recommend telescope with a wide field of view (usually no more than 700mm). This can make aspects such as autoguiding accuracy and focus, as small movements are less critical at this magnification.

The Pleiades captured using an 80mm refractor telescope

For example, the Meade 70mm Quadruplet Astrograph has a focal length of 360mm.  At this magnification, an entry-level DSLR camera at prime focus can capture large nebulae such as the Soul Nebula. A DSLR attaches the Meade APO using the threaded focus tube and the Meade 48mm-42mm adapter for your t-ring.

how to attach camera to telescope

Many refractor telescopes will have a dedicated field flattener/reducer and adapter to properly expose the image sensor of your camera.  A field-flattener evens out the field of view, while a reducer (such as 0.8X) will reduce the focal length and f-ratio of your telescope by that value.

A standard T-Ring adapter screws into the camera body like a camera lens, and can then be fastened to the telescope. (Prime focus astrophotography).


North America Nebula

Choosing a Telescope

I experienced a spike in my deep sky astrophotography progress after purchasing my first “triplet” apochromatic refractor.  A lightweight and compact APO is arguably the best possible choice for a beginner. The doublet and triplet lens designs of these telescopes often use high-end optics such as FPL-53 glass to provide the best possible color correction without a hint of chromatic aberration.

Refractors are lightweight, portable, and do not require an equatorial mount with a hefty payload capacity to operate. In comparison, A Newtonian reflector will offer much more aperture at a lower price, but will also be much more demanding in terms of maintenance and operation.

Entry level equatorial mounts such as the Celestron Advanced VX can effortlessly carry the telescope and all of the photography extras in this range.  You cannot beat the portability and ease of use of this design.

Here is a look at my first “successful” imaging rig.  This little 80mm refractor captured many iconic targets from the Eagle Nebula to the North America Nebula. As you can see, the imaging equipment (including the autoguiding combo) is small and lightweight.  This allows for better tracking and puts less stress on the mount.

deep sky imaging rig

When keeping the overall weight of your gear to a minimum, a small imaging refractor is the best option. Avoiding a heavy payload is crucial when it comes to deep sky astrophotography. As a rule of thumb, you should keep the weight of your astrophotography gear to about half of the payload rating of your mount.

Here are some excellent choices to consider when choosing an imaging refractor.

William Optics Zenithstar 61

Diameter: 61mm
Focal Length: 360mm
Focal Ratio: f/5.9
Weight: 3.2 lbs
Glass: FPL-53
Field Flattener/Reducer: William Optics FLAT61

William Optics Z61

This little apochromatic doublet is the smallest telescope I have ever used for astrophotography, and that’s great news if you own a small tracking mount.  The William Optics Z61 weighs just over 3 lbs and is not a problem for portable equatorial mounts such as the iOptron SkyGuider Pro.

At F/5.9, the Z61 does an admirable job of collecting light from your deep-sky target.  You can expect to gather some impressive exposures in the 1-2 minute range on the brighter deep-sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy.

Andromeda Galaxy - Deep Sky Atrophotography

The Andromeda Galaxy captured using a Canon 600D through the William Optics Z61

Keep in mind that the Flat61 Field Flattener will be required to produce images with sharp stars to the edge of the frame, especially when using a full-frame DSLR.  To add an autoguiding scope, you’ll need to purchase some additional accessories including tube rings and a dovetail plate.

Meade 70mm Quadruplet Astrograph

Diameter: 70mm
Focal Length: 350mm
Focal Ratio: f/5
Glass: FPL-53
Field Flattener/Reducer: Not Required

telescope mount

The stocky Meade 70mm Astrograph is compact and solid.  Modest equatorial mounts with humble payload capacity ratings such as the Orion Sirius EQ-G or Celestron Advanced VX will have no problem with a telescope of this size.

With a focal length of 350mm, the “mighty” Meade APO specializes in wide-field imaging of larger deep sky objects such as the North America Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy and the California Nebula as seen below.  When you’re shooting this wide, guiding accuracy is much more forgiving.  This is one of many reasons I recommend a small apo refractor to astrophotography beginners.

The Soul Nebula

The Soul Nebula using a DSLR and the Meade 70mm Quadruplet Astrograph

Added benefits of this telescope are the lack of field flattener needed, padded carry-case, and a built-in bracket for a finder or guide scope. You pay a little extra up front, but this telescope was ready to go out of the box.  Continue reading for more information about added and autoguider to your telescope.

Orion ED80T Triplet Apo

Diameter: 80mm
Focal Length: 480mm
Focal Ratio: f/6
Weight: 5.5 lbs
Glass: FPL-53
Recommended Field Flattener/Reducer: Orion FF for short refractors

The Orion ED80T CF shares the same focal length, size, and weight of the Explore Scientific ED80, yet uses the highly regarded FPL-53 glass in the objective lens.  This telescope is a popular choice for those looking to invest in premium optics in a small package.

This lightweight carbon fiber refractor is highly portable and can capture crisp, wide field views of some of the larger targets such as the images Heart Nebula by Chuck Ayoub.

What am I using now?  I personally enjoy my Explore Scientific ED102 apochromatic refractor (Carbon Fiber) very much.  This telescope is compact and portable, yet offers a little more focal length and aperture than the telescopes mentioned above.

Telescopes for astrophotography

Read a more detailed article that breaks down my top 5 choices when it comes to a beginner astrophotography telescope.

Recommended Astrophotography Mounts

iOptron SkyGuider Pro

The iOptron SkyGuider Pro is a portable EQ mount that offers a reliable solution for astrophotography on the go. The SkyGuider Pro makes shooting long exposure starscapes without star-trailing possible.

The iOptron SkyGuider Pro can be used on a photography tripod and is less obtrusive than a traditional, large equatorial mount. In a sea of competing portable sky tracker mounts, the iOptron SkyGuider Pro stands out as the front-runner in this category.

Mount Specs:

Payload: 11 lbs
Mount Weight: 3.2 lbs
Power Requirement: Internal Rechargeable Battery
Built-in Polar Scope: Yes
Autoguider Port: Yes

The iOptron SkyGuider pro is easy to operate, and I was able to get up and running my first night out.  The SGP is a great option if you like to shoot wide-angle nightscapes using a DSLR camera and lens.  A portable option like this is great for traveling to a dark sky site.

The image below shows the view of the Milky Way from Cherry Springs State Park during the Annual Star Party. A Canon Rebel Xsi with a 17-40mm F/4 Lens was mounted to the SkyGuider Pro for this stacked shot. For an even wider view of the Milky Way, I recommend having a look at the Rokinon 14mm F/2.8.

The Milky Way

Long exposure photo using the SkyGuider Pro Camera Mount

The SkyGuider can also be used with a small telescope such as the William Optics Zenithstar 61 pictured below. For this, you’ll attach the included counterweight to the mount to balance the load. With a payload capacity of 11 lbs, this mount had no trouble at all carrying the lightweight Z61 telescope with the camera attached.

small telescope mount

I had a lengthy trial period with the SkyGuider Pro over the summer and was sad to give it back.  This mount bridged the gap between a full-on equatorial mount such as the EQ-5 listed below and a small star tracker.  The accurate tracking and robust construction of the SGP are what impressed me most.

Orion Sirius EQ-G

The Orion Sirius EQ-G is a twin to my Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro equatorial mount.  This “EQ-5” series GEM has been around for years and has proven itself to be an excellent choice for deep sky astrophotography.

This is a serious deep-sky imaging investment that is more than capable of meeting the high demands of years of outdoor use. The Orion Sirius EQ-G will perform best when used with an apochromatic refractor with an autoguiding combo.

Orion Sirius EQ-G

Among the many benefits of this mount are the ASCOM compatibility (Control via PC), built-in polar axis scope and GoTo hand controller with over 42K objects in the database.  This is equatorial mount is a popular choice for beginners to astrophotography, and for good reason.

For examples of the amazing deep-sky imaging potential of the Orion Sirius EQ-G, have a look at the amazing images by Andrew Klinger on Flickr.

Payload: 30 lbs
Power Requirement: 12-Volt DC
Built-in Polar Scope: Yes
Autoguider Port: Yes

  1. Meade 70mm Quadruplet Astrograph
  2. Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Mount
  3. Altair Hypercam 183C (Version 2)

Recommended Cameras

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

It should come as no surprise that the first camera I recommend for deep-sky astrophotography is the latest Canon Rebel Series DLSR.  There are many amazing examples of deep sky imaging using a Nikon or Sony camera body, but I can only suggest what’s worked exceptionally well for me personally.

The Canon EOS Rebel T7i is the current version of the T3i I currently shoot with. These cameras can be modified for astrophotography by removing the stock IR cut filter to allow the red colors found in many deep sky objects to reach the sensor.  My camera was modified by Astro Mod Canada, but the process can also be done yourself if you are feeling brave.

Canon EOS Rebel T6i

The camera can be connected to a telescope by using a T-Ring Adapter.  This is what’s known as “prime focus” astrophotography, and the telescope will be used as a camera lens at its fixed focal length.  A field flattener/reducer may be recommended for your telescope, which will both create an even field in your images and/or reduces the focal ratio of your telescope.

Nebulae using a DSLR

The Heart Nebula and California Nebula captured using a Canon EOS Rebel T3i

The Canon EOS Rebel Series DSLR’s are considered “Crop-sensor” cameras, with a smaller sensor than a full-frame camera. If you do opt for a full-frame DSLR, I would recommend the Canon EOS 6D.  Alan Dyer presented some interesting results when comparing the original 6D vs. the 6D Mark II model.

Altair Hypercam 183C

The Altair Hypercam is an affordable alternative for those looking to reap some of the benefits of CCD camera, with the convenience of a DSLR.  The 183C is a one-shot-color camera, with an internal cooling fan.  The sensor comes “pre-modified” in comparison to a stock DSLR sensor, which means that all of the red emission nebulae (hydrogen) will not be filtered out by the camera.

color CMOS camera

I reviewed this astronomy camera extensively over the summer of 2017 and was extremely impressed with my results.  Adding 2-inch narrowband filters in front of the color CMOS sensor proved to be an eye-opening experience despite conventional methods. You can view the results of a complete narrowband imaging project using the 183C.

The Veil Nebula

Although this camera lacks TEC (Thermoelectric cooling), I did notice a big improvement in terms of noise compared to my DSLR camera. The amp-glow reduction and highly sensitive back-side illuminated 20MP sensor of this OSC camera is not to be overlooked. Have a look at my image of the images I took from the backyard for an idea of what to expect.

The 183C must be controlled by using software on your PC such as Astro Photography Tool.  Here, you’ll be able to choose a Gain setting, exposure length and much more.  If you are accustomed to using automating your imaging sessions with a DSLR (BackyardEOS), this process will feel quite familiar and comfortable to you.

Autoguiding Packages

Autoguiding is a necessary step if you want to expand you imaging capabilities.  Having the option to shoot long exposures (3 minutes or more) is something that can have a major impact on your success.  A small autoguiding combo will include a guide scope and a camera that doesn’t add too much extra weight to your overall payload.

Starfield GuideScope Package

50mm Starfield Guidescope

The package shown above is what I currently use, and you may have seen it in a number of my videos.  The Starfield 50mm Guide Scope package has convenient hardware mounting options and keeps the overall weight of your astrophotography rig down.

The Altair GPCAM2 AR130 connects to PHD2 guiding easily and does an excellent job of autoguiding.  This was one of my first upgrades when teaming up with Ontario Telescope and Accessories, and one that made my life a lot easier.  The GPCAM2 is so sensitive, I often spot nebulae in my 2-second guide exposures in PHD!

The bottom line

There are just so many options to choose from when it comes to building a deep sky imaging rig.  I hope that by showing you what I have had personal success with, you now have a better understanding of the big picture.  Of course, the story does not end here.  Mounting hardware, filters, and software are a few more decisions you’ll need to make.

This post already went a LOT longer than I had planned, in an attempt to answer some of the most common questions I receive on my Facebook page and on Instagram. No matter which setup you decide on, I hope that you keep your initial desire to capture the night sky burning brightly, each step of the way.

Helpful Resources:

Software and Tools for Astrophotography

Choosing a Light Pollution Filter for your Camera

My Current Deep Sky Astrophotography Equipment

deep sky astrophotography kit


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This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Sarmad says:

    Thanks for the post Trevor! I’ll be diving into Deep Sky Astro this year, and this post is exactly what I needed! Thanks!

    Cheers from Norway!

  2. Terry Powell says:

    This is an excellent article. Buy good equipment even if it’s used and learn to use it. This hobby is not cheap and takes time to really get good at it. So before buying the next great piece of software or hardware to improve your images, learn to use what you have and figure out why it’s not working. More than likely it’s the user, and boy does that sting the pride and the pocketbook.

    Good images take lots of work and time!!

  3. Thanks–very timely as I’m about to pull the trigger on a mount. One thing I’ve rarely seen addressed, though, is whether we should autoguide from the outset or start with shorter, unguided pix. That’s currently my plan, thinking I have plenty to learn already. Or am I just buying myself more frustration?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Frank. I’d say start shooting unguided short exposures first without autoguiding. Experience the capture process, and of course, stacking and processing your results. The good news is, when you are ready to start autoguiding, it’s really not a complex as it may seem.

  4. Jack says:

    Very nice…I’ve picked up a few more things for my ED102. Still need to work on getting good polar alignment before I spend the money for a better camera. I’m just going to mess with my unmodified Canon 450 to learn the ropes. I have to admit that the Altair has a very attractive price. So much to learn….

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Jack – The 450D is such a sleeper of an astro-camera. I still use mine for certain projects after all these years. And yes, the Altair GPCAM2 AR 130 is a brilliant camera for the money – highly recommended and well received in the astro community!

  5. Wouter says:

    I have exactly the same guide camera: an AR130 with an Orion 60 mm guide scope.

    I have not been able to set it up for SharpCap allignment, nor PhD since I can’t even get the brightest star to show up.

    I’ve tried every single setting: when focussed (by using the moon) even 5 second exposures show up tiny smudges.

    I’m kinda lost here 🙁

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Wouter – If you have confirmed that your focus is correct on the moon, I’d check the exposure length setting in SharpCap and increase it. The same goes for PHD – and adjust the slider between the exposure setting and the brain icon. The GPCAM2 is HIGHLY sensitive so you should certainly see stars even in a short exposure through the 60mm if your focus is correct. It doesn’t take much to be out of focus. A few mm can be the difference between sharp stars and seeing nothing at all.

    • Knobby says:

      Double check your focus, sounds like its just a bit off, try tiny adjustments til stars are pinpricks. Goodluck and don’t give up

  6. Mark says:

    Hi Trevor! Another great article. I’ve learned a lot from your tutorials and reviews this past year as I’ve gotten deeper into this. The past few nights have been so cold where I am that it has me wondering. Is there a cutoff for you to go out and shoot? I’ve looked at operating temps for the equipment I have so I know lately it’s been borderline as far as that goes. It’s just been so clear out there the last few nights…any thoughts?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Mark – great question. As far as the scope, mount, cameras are concerned – they’re pretty resilient, my limit is probably about -20C without the wind chill (And I’ve pushed that envelope this year!) – The problem is the cables and your computer. My laptop display starts to malfunction (faded screen, random line patterns) at about -15C or below. I wouldn’t recommend putting your electronics through this kind of abuse:( Maybe somewhere around -10C should be the cutoff point to be safe.

  7. Gustav says:

    Excellent Post, very informative! One question from someone who doesn’t like spending too much money, especially in the beginning. Would there be any chance of capturing decent newbie images using a regular dslr telephoto zoom i have available, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 ? Is it possible to mount it to any affordable tracking mount ? The lens + dslr weighs around 2.7 kg’s.

  8. Hello Trevor, Loved this article. Thanks. I enjoy photography and got some gorgeous shots of the Milky Way last year on a photo safari in Africa. The sky was unbelievable – worth the cost of the trip. I’m interested in getting a telescope and mount for more fun. However, I live in a city of 50,000 – not too far away from big city (1,000,000). The light pollution is bad. I cannot take a long exposure shot from my back yard into the sky. If that’s the case, would it be a waste of $$ and time for me to get the necessary gear to be able to shoot deep sky objects?


    • Jo says:

      Not at all, Rob!

      I am living in the middle of a White Zone, i.e. in the middle of Dallas, Texas. I would never have believed this myself, but you can take pretty stunning images of the universe even under the most adverse conditions. What helps tremendously is the ability to stack images, which helps subtracting out the background, and light pollution filters. Trevor is recommending some filters he found to work well for his location, I found the Celestron UHC/LPS filter ($79 at Amazon) to work great for my purposes.
      I can guarantee you, you will enjoy this! But start small, with a travel mount and shorter focal lengths, and gain the experience. You will know when the time has come to move up to the next level.

      Best of luck and lots of fun!


  9. Jo says:

    Great review, Trevor!

    You got me going on this and because of your suggestions I do now use the ES102APO, which is a great telescope. I also use the Nikon D3300 for DSLR imaging and I want to echo the versatility of using a DSLR for other all day imaging purposes as well. That will ensure that you will never have wasted any money.

    I also got the SkyGuiderPro, following your review of it, and it is a great little travel mount. However, I would suggest only using it with a light-weight DSLR, like the D3300 and the kit lenses that come with it. Since it has no GoTo capability, you have to frame often blindly, so small focal length imaging is the preferred way to go or you spend a lot of time doing test images and reframing.

    Since the SkyGuiderPro does not come with a tripod, the total cost of it will be US$~500. For the same price one can get an iOptron SmartEQPro+, which comes with the tripod AND has GoTo capability. It has the same payload rating, but that mount can also be attached to an autoguider AND you can connect it through a handset to ASCOM compatible mount control software like Indi or APT. That makes this the perfect mount to learn all the necessary skills required before stepping up to a more expensive mount like you CEM60. Like the SkyGuiderPro, the SmartEQ can be battery operated, which is invaluable for a grab and go travel mount.

    Those are my 2 cents worth to the topic.

    I am looking forward to your new podcasts and YouTube videos every week.

    Clear Skies!


  10. serge says:

    Hi Trevor – I have thoroughly enjoyed many of your presentations on astrophotography, you provide a wealth of information for a novice as myself!
    I do mainly nature photography, but am fascinated by the prospect of astrophotography. I took a few Milky Way shots using a Coolpix A (Dx format 18.5 F2.8) mirrorless on a mini tripod while in Hawaii several years ago – got hooked on the possibilities, then this week using started trying both the Coolpix A and my Nikon D750 (Fx) with 16-35 F4 on a tripod – experimenting with settings and capturing a few images of Orion’s belt and surrounding stars from my backyard in Ancaster ON this week. My question is whether the iOptron Skyguider Pro could handle the Meade Astrograph telescope you mention above, could it also handle with a Starwave guide scope. Would you recommend DSLR (Fx or Dx) or should I consider the Altair Hypercam? I am trying to stay as portable as possible and hope to visit local dark areas this spring/summer, so portability is key for me.
    Thanks in advance for you advice.

  11. Camille Shammas says:

    Thanks for this useful intro – I’ve been following on YouTube for a while and found your work inspirational.

    I’m coming to astrophotography from a wildlife photography background but as a parent of young children my time during daylight hours is going to be limited for the next decade! I have a Canon 6D (full frame), Canon 650D (APS-C) and some decent L lenses. I’ve taken some milky-way wide-angled shots but I’m wondering if I invest in a good astro equatorial mount which I can later add a telescope to, can I directly mount my 400mm f5.6 Canon L lens and take galaxy/nebula images? Is there some big difference between the Wildlife lenses and the refactor telescopes of similar focal length?

    I assume I would be looking at taking relatively short exposures with that set-up as I wouldn’t have the benefit of autoguiding…

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

  12. Great review Trevor, and thanks for all the informative videos.

    Do you think that an AVX mount will cause a lot of headaches for astrophotography? I see that you upgraded from a CG5, but didn’t go with an AVX or CGEM.

    Over the last year I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring the nights skys, primarily visually, but I’m now starting to get into astrophotography. I have an AVX and an EdgeHD 8 with a .7 reducer. + a ASIZWO120mm guide camera. I’ve spent a couple nights trying to get guiding working with PHD2. Last night I was finally able to guide but the quality of the guiding was not so great. I got star trails with 2 min exposures. I’m hoping that the AVX is not going to be limiting.

    I also have an AR127 achromatic, that I may use for imaging if the EdgeHD proves to be difficult.


  13. Wesley Pronovost says:

    Hey, Trevor, thanks for all the great advice! I’m just putting together an AP setup and I’ve managed to secure an Advanced VX for a great price! now I need an OTA so I’ve been searching all over…
    Do you think that a 6″ f/4 Newt Astrograph would be better or worse than the William Optics Z61 mentioned above?

    Love your motive when approaching Astrophotography and hope to achieve anything close to your photos someday(I’m only 14 though so give me some time ; ) )

  14. Jeff says:

    Hi I just grab a Celestron Regal 80mm scope. I wonder if it can be any use to see any star. The moon is fine, but is there filter to put in front that can open up possibility. Before going to a real telescope…?
    Thanks in advance

  15. Andrew Axford says:

    Hi Trevor, please may i ask for your specs of your laptop you use for your astrophotography, hdd size, ram, and processor. or the model number of your laptop, i currently have a dual boot macbook pro, but dont really want this outside with the risk of moisture, just want to get a seperate dedicated laptop for imaging, Many Thanks.

  16. David says:

    Im quite new to this hobby…

    My current equipment is a skywatcher evostar 72ed refractor mounted on a star adventurer, using a unmodified Canon DSLR camera…

    Im thinking of upgrading to a EQM-35 pro mount. Have you heard anything about that mount?

    I will also need a guide scope and a guide camera. What do you think is the best way to go, either a computer controlled guide camera or a stand alone guide camera?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi David. The Evostar 72ED is nice. A great astrophotography scope for your DSLR. I have heard of the EQM-35. At a 22 lb payload capacity – the only thing I would say is to have a clear vision for your future imaging setup. If you plan on using larger telescopes down the road then you may want to get something a little beefier like the HEQ5 or NEQ6. Sky-Watcher makes great mounts in my experience. As for the autoguiding – I use (and love) the Starfield 50mm guide scope package. It’s computer controlled but very simple and easy:

  17. Claudia Stapel says:

    Hi Trevor, about one year ago I started with astrophotography and the milky way and startrails are developing quite well. Fortunatelly we have a dark sky reserve just 1,5 hours to drive so I can go spontaneously when sky is clear. Now I want to catch some nice pics even deeper and this led me into hours of spending time to search the Net for some good informations.
    Now I found your Site and it is getting bright and clearer 🙂
    Actually I use my Canon 60D and a Bresser traveling mount which not really works, so I will change to the Ioptron SGP and the William Zenithstar 61 you recommended. Well I guess when you once started, the wishlist is getting longer and more expensive, but the next thing will be the Canon R .
    Thanks for your work and the help it gave and I will be a constant follower from now on 🙂
    Hope my english is ok.
    Greetings from Berlin

    • Trevor says:

      Claudia, thank you so much for the kind words. I am very happy that you have entered the world of astrophotography and are continuing to make progress! The SkyGuider Pro and Zenithstar 61 combo is an excellent portable rig to get started in deep sky with. Clear skies!

  18. Andy says:

    Thanks for the great info you have on your site! I love your site! I am on a budget but really like to get into astrophotography. I am wondering why do you recommend a refactor vs a reflector? All I hear about that bigger apertures are better for deep sky photography. I have the nexstar 4se (100 mm), which gets decent pictures for say Orion Nebula. The mount however does not help in more than 30 seconds of exposure. I am thinking of moving to a new one but refactors seems like they dont provide the same bang for the big as reflectors. Please share your thoughts. From the little experience I have had, I feel a good mount is key to longer exposures which has been frustrating with the Nexstar 4SE. My guess is that smaller scopes would require a much more expensive mount due to longer exposure requirements. Please share your thoughts.

  19. Andy B says:

    Hey, I’m looking to get into astrophotography and am trying to decide on a mount. The ioptron sky guider looks very tempting, especially for someone like me who may end up buying a telephoto lens to use with it. But what i really want to do is deep sky photos. Would the Sky Guider be good for that (assuming i also get a very sturdy tripod) or would you recommend an equatorial mount? I’m assuming you could mount a dslr to an equatorial mount. Thanks 🙂

  20. Ryan says:


    Great article. May I ask what FF you would recommend for the ES ED102? Trying to build my kit up.

  21. Ed says:

    Thank you for the great post Trevor! Do you think the Meade 70mm Astrograph can be mounted on the Sky Guider Pro or do you think it would be too heavy?

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