I am a fairly advanced photographer, and am very interested in getting involved in astrophotography. I know several of the members here are involved
in the hobby and I'd like to ask you experts some beginner (starting out) questions.
As I've begun to look into this hobby I've quickly become overwhelmed with all the considerations, pieces & parts and what have you. So, my
apologies, I'll probably ask some dumb questions initially. First though, some background:
- My principle interest at the moment is the photographic element of astrophotography (i.e. cool pictures). I'm not particularly
interested in finding the rarest star or furthest galaxy. I would like to take some really good pictures of constellations, nearby galaxies and
planets. This, as opposed to taking some blurry images of rare elusive distant stars and galaxies. Hopefully this makes sense.
Equipment I have now
- Basically nothing, outside of photography equipment. My hope is to be able to develop a set up where I can use one of
my full size DSLRs (likely a Canon 7D or similar) for the actual photography part.
- My budget to add the astrophotography capability to my existing photographic equipment is up to ~ (US) $3,000 (approximately). I
imagine this won't be all at once (but maybe it will, I'm okay either way). This budget may grow over time in the future, but this is where I'd like
- I am located far out in the country well away from any light pollution with commanding views of the skies of the northern
hemisphere. Colorado. I have no obstructions (well, very few). The principle reason for noting this is, I can probably accommodate a little less
mobile set up than someone who lives in a city for example.
What I've learned so far
- I understand some of this photography can be done without a telescope. However, I think I want to get further into
the hobby than just what I can see with a large objective lens. So, I really don't want to waste a whole lot of time with just the camera. I'll do
it (if necessary) to add experience, but outside of that I'm wanting to pair a telescope of some sort with my photo gear right 'out of the gate' (so
- I do have some limited experience with astronomy, but much of this was in college on a much larger telescope (50" as I recall). I
have a degree in (engineering) physics with an astrophysics minor so I have a pretty good understanding of orbital mechanics as well as
constellations, galaxy make up, properties of light and the physics of stellar objects.
(whew...hope you're still with me!) That's about all of the background I can think of which might be relevant. If I left something out, just ask.
Now to my questions...
1. Based on my current understanding I've broken up my requirements into three basic areas...the telescope itself, the mount/drive, and all of the
other ancillary stuff I'll need (software, filters, etc). I also understand the mount can oftentimes cost more than the telescope itself. (so I get
it). How do I now go about figuring out how to match all this stuff up into one operational system?
2. My search so far seems to indicate the best set ups are a combination of pieces from different manufacturers (i.e. people who make the best mounts
don't necessarily make telescopes, etc.) I've also learned some of this stuff is pretty heavy and bulky (stands don't fold, counterweights, etc.),
and in some cases can exceed 100lbs+ before you even add in the telescope and photographic gear. Consequently, I wonder are there parts of some of
this equipment which can be left in place (outside) when not in use? (Obviously this wouldn't include the telescope itself and camera gear
3. Where's a good place to start? There's so much equipment out there it's a little overwhelming to tell what's hype and what's not. From what I've
found the 'one-stop-shop' do it all solutions seem to have some pretty significant limitations (weight capacity especially). I would like to get
something I can build onto, not something I'm locked into one solution forever (or buy all new).
4. My limited research so far seems to indicate the best mount would be an equatorial mount. Okay, but what are the differences between the
equatorial mount and the alt-az mounts (functionally)? (probably a total noob question, but I don't know the answer)
I guess I'll stop here and see what folks have to say.
edit on 3/7/2017 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)