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Last updated: 26 June 2011
This page documents astrophotography comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome. Be certain to see the other articles on the main Astrophotography page.

Subject:	I have a few questions
Sent:	Wednesday, June 22, 2011 23:28:02
From:	rene nevermind (
hello, from Northern Ontario Canada - Sudbury to be exact.

I want to start off my aknowledging your pursuits in your passion for
astronomy. This is a passion I share.

I do not want to bore you, or take much of your time - so I will try and
keep on point.

While surfing the web tonight, and trying to find answers to a question
in my mind (which I'll come to) I found your site. Your efforts blew me
away, to be quite frank. I have aspirations of building a backyard
observatory much like your own one day. I was quite caught up in
following your progress through your past posts on your road to oracle

The question in my mind is about astrophotography, as I saw your 'kits'
I thought you might be able to help me by providing some advice and
insight gained through your own efforts.

I wish to begin my own journey into astrophotography. I've done the
things any new person would, I imagine... obtained the books and guides,
surfed the internet to find personal experiences and tips from others.
Still, without actually going out and making the investments necessary
to really get started - I find myself still at a crossroads. This is
specifically where I would like your help.

Which direction do you believe one should go in to get started in
astrophotography - ccd camera (like a webcam or neximage ccd camera), or

I find myself confused (without the actual experience) which way to go.
Opinions on the matter seem to be ... somewhat conflicting.
The equipment I have at this time is the following:
celestron 114slt 
canon t1i DSLR
neximage ccd camera
a few dollars ready to go where it can be best used, and a real desire
to get started.

Although I have both a dslr, and a ccd camera, I do not really have a
backyard to take the laptop with me into. Like yourself, in your earlier
days, I am left with only camping back 'home' on manitoulin island
(amazing dark skies) - which doesnt come with electricity (the local
store has batteries ready for me when I walk in).

While a battery pack / portable power generator is on my list of needs,
it is not necessarily the direction I am hoping for.

CCD seems rather straightforward... drop it in place of an eyepiece and
get started... stacking to take place afterwards.
The DSLR however... It seems to me that it would provide 'better' images
(shows how inexperienced I am, doesnt it?)

I have read about afocal astrophotography.... which at first sounds
great, but the complications and challenges involved (admittedly) shy me
Piggy back astrophotography has been highly recommended by a local
astrophotographer, however he was unable to explain precisely what the
benefits were over the other options (he works in a camera shop - time
is money).
So. What advice can you offer a novice such as myself? 
I plan on investing in a new mount this weekend. An opportunity has come
up to pick up a new mount. The suggested mounts have been ruled out due
to prices (I believe nosmandy was the name given).
CGEM with dual axis motors was recommended. 
From there? I am lost.

Any advice you can share would be greatly appreciated. 
Thank you very much for taking the time to read all of this.

I look forward to reading a response from you soon.

- Ren, in the great white north.
Mike here: Hello from Cassiopeia Observatory. I'm getting ready to image a couple of globular clusters using my Nikon D7000 DSLR.
You already seem to have the equipment for beginning astrophotography, assuming you have the appropriate adapters. I suggest you see the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page on my ETX Site. Lots of help there.
Start with imaging the moon to learn how to set up and image with your equipment. I'd also recommend starting with your digital camera. Later, you can get into CCD imaging and all the rest. Have fun!
Subject:	Awesome Pictures
Sent:	Monday, April 18, 2011 03:33:56
From:	Kersey, Christopher T SSgt USAF USAFE 721 APS/TRP (
My name is Christopher and I ran into your website when I was looking
for instruction/info on Astrophotography.  Holy Moly did your site kick
some ass.  I purchased my D7000 back in October as well.  My wife and I
are stationed in Germany and will be here for at least 4 years.  So I
thought and new for a fact we would be traveling.  Needed  a good
camera.  Well to get to some relevance for you.  Our nights out here are
dark and you can see for days.  On a clear night that is.  So now I'm
looking into Astrophotography as a hobby.  Also any other type of
awesome pictures I could take.  So I have a couple of questions:  Would
you recommend a "D7000 for dummies book" and what would you recommend
when looking for a telescope that I can hook up to a Mac Book Pro and my
Camera as well?
Your thoughts and suggestions will be much appreciated.
Regards are in advance,
SSgt.  Christopher T. Kersey
Ramstein AB, Germany
Mike here: I haven't really looked for a "dummies" type book on the D7000 but I'm sure they exist. Since I had experience with the D70, moving up to the D7000 was pretty straight forward. As to a telescope to connect to your MacBook Pro and telescope, that will depend on your budget and expectations. Any Meade or Celestron telescope will connect to the Mac via a Serial-USB adapter. Not all adapters work reliably with the Meade AutoStar (don't know about the NexStar); I recommend Keyspan adapters. Software (like Voyager and others) can be used to control the telescope. For mounting the camera, you will want a stable tripod for the telescope. Depending on the type of astrophotography you want to do (see the article "Astrophotography Types" on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page), you may want a larger aperture telescope. (While you are on the Astrophotography page, check out many of the topics there.) Certainly the Meade ETX models can do some types of astrophotography (as seen on the ETX Site).
Subject:	photography
Sent:	Saturday, March 19, 2011 07:57:00
From:	doug skillman (
I have a dsx90 and am trying to take photos with. My setup is the dsx90
with a nikon D 60, a nikon adapter from meade. My problem is that if I
focus the scope on the moon and take a picture it is nowhere near in
focus. I tried turning the scope focus knob out as far as I could and
took a picture and it is fairly close (see Pic) any thoughts on the
Problem...Thanks  Doug Skillman


Mike here: Not all combinations of telescopes, cameras, and adapters can work well. You didn't say whether you were using afocal photography with an eyepiece or prime focus photography. If you focus the moon with your eye while using an eyepiece, and then remove the eyepiece for prime focus imaging, the image will likely be out of focus. For afocal imaging, you can normally focus the object with your eye and then mount the camera and image with the same focus position. When using a DSLR, focusing with the camera's viewfinder is possible, depending on how bright the object is and the quality of the viewfinder. That all said, if you can not reach a focus with your existing equipment, it may be necessary to try alternatives. But without modifying the telescope itself, if the focus movement is too limited, you may not be able to focus.


Sorry I am using prime focus method, But I cannot focus my dslr without
the lens on for some reason. I'll experiment and let you know...Thanks
Doug Skillman
Mike here: When doing prime focus photography, the telescope is just like a telephoto lens. You remove the eyepiece and the camera lens. The telescope image is focused in the camera. if there is insufficient focus movement to bring the image to a focus, then you may be able to focus IF the adapter has multiple components that can be added or removed to change the focal plane position. Alternatively, using the rear or top port on the telescope (for models that have both) you may be able to focus. When doing eyepiece projection photography, the camera lens is removed but an eyepiece is used to project the image onto the camera. When doing afocal imaging, the eyepiece projects the image into the camera through the camera lens. Normally, afocal photography is only done with fixed lens cameras (like point-n-shoot models or cell phones).
Subject:	lx90 and astrophotography
Sent:	Saturday, January 22, 2011 09:12:42
From:	seanpius (
I have an 8" lx90 and a canon eos 7d dslr and was hoping to get into
deep sky astrophotography,could you please tell me what other equipment
I would need to get started,I have tried to capture M42 with a little
bit of success just taking a 15 second exposure and doing nothing else
with it 
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page on my ETX Site. Depending on what type of astrophotography you plan to do, piggyback, prime focus, and/or eyepiece projection, you will need various adapters.
Subject:	Setting up ETX 125 AT on the Tripod for Polar alignment
Sent:	Friday, January 21, 2011 03:25:56
From:	Bob Gunnis (
I am having a go at astrophotography but have noticed that once the
camera is attached by using the #64 T Adaptor, that if the scope is in a
high elevation, the camera and Adaptor can come into contact with the
mount.  If I go for Polar alignment, I feel that I will reduce the risk
of this happening.  I am now a bit unsure of exactly how the Scope Tube
is fitted to the tripod so that I can use the Tilt Bar to Polar align. I
have attached two photographs of how I have the Tube attached to the
Tripod and am asking if you can confirm that this is the correct way to
mount the scope. I cannot find on the two locating screw positions one
that is marked with high altitude.

Many Thanks in anticipation Bob Gunnis

photo photo

Mike here: As with many fork-mounted telescopes, accessories mounted at the rear can interfere with movement by hitting the base in Alt/Az mounting. Mounting in Polar (Equatorial) can prevent that but then you have the opposite problem: the front of the telescope tube will hit the base when the telescope is slewed to low declinations. As to mounting the telescope on the tripod in Polar, keep in mind that the fork arms will be pointed at the North Celestial Pole (approximately, the position of the North Star "Polaris"). You mount the telescope on the tripod plate just as you do for Alt/Az, control panel on the west side and the Latitude scale on the south side (in the Northern Hemisphere), and raise the plate until the Latitude scale shows your approximate Latitude. Set the AutoStar for Polar Mount and do a One Star alignment to align the tripod to the earth's rotation axis (follow the prompts on the screen).


Thanks for the reply.  I have now mounted the scope tube on the tripod
as described.  My latitude is 53 degrees North.  If I adjust the tilt
bar to 53 degrees, do I have to set Polaris in the middle of the eye
piece and then do a one star alignment or do I point the scope at
Polaris and just do a one star alignment.  Furthermore, if I set the
scope up in easy align which is what I have been doing previously to
this ie before I got a camera, I had to "Home" the scope.  Is there a
"Home" position for Polar alignment.  Hope you can understand what I am
trying to explain.
Many Thanks again Bob Gunnis
Mike here: There are several articles on Polar Alignments in the "Alignment Tips" section on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. They should help answer your questions on Home position and using Polaris. I suggested the One Star Alignment because that refines the tripod position for the location of Polaris, which is not exactly at the pole. You can start by centering Polaris in the eyepiece, which is close enough for visual purposes. Depending on the type of astrophotography you plan to do, you may need to do more accurate aligning.


Thanks Mike
Will go to the Alignment Tips page you recommended
Bob Gunnis

Subject: Upgrade from EXT 80 To EXT 125
From: Ron Harries (
Date: January 3, 2011 11:08:21 AM GMT-07:00
I've had my EXT 80 for about a year and now feel is is time to do a
small upgrade to a scope in the $600 to $800 range. I realize that using
dollar figures is probably not the best criteria to use when upgrading
but I really have no other choice.

I would like to know if the EXT 125 offers better tracking. Tracking
that is good enough for up to 15 minute exposure when photographing deep
star objects. Also, this will probably be my last upgrade so, I would
like your opinion on the 125 as to whether I will see considerable
improvement over the 80. Is there any other model that would suite me
better. I am not that great a fan of "go to" technology. I think it
takes away from properly learning the sky which is what the hobby is all
about, to me.

Ron Harries
Salmon Arm BC
The cloud capital of the world
Mike here: First, telescopes in the sub-multi-million dollar category will likely not track accurately on their own for over 15 minutes. Visually, the view may not change but photographically some trailing will usually be evident. Some assistance, manual or electronic (via an auto-guider), is normally required for go longer than a couple of minutes, depending on image scale. And to track for long exposures, the telescope must be polar mounted or a "field de-rotater" must be used. Alternatively, you can take many individual short exposures and "stack" them using software to yield an effective longer exposure. So, you need to include all the pieces of the equation in your calculation of costs. Yes, the ETX-125 can do some amazing astrophotography, as seen on my ETX Site. But you have to devote some effort to it.

Go to the April-November 2010 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the January-March 2010 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the April-December 2009 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the January-March 2009 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the May-December 2008 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the February-April 2008 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the July-December 2007 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the January-June 2007 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the October-December 2006 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the July-September 2006 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the April-June 2006 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the January-March 2006 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the November-December 2005 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the September-October 2005 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the July-August 2005 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the May-June 2005 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the March-April 2005 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the January-February 2005 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the October-December 2004 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the July-September 2004 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the April-June 2004 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the January-March 2004 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go to the 2003 Astrophotography - Tips page.

Go back to the Astrophotography Page.

Go back to my ETX Home Page.

Copyright ©2011 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittal Copyright © 2011 by the Submitter