Astrophotography Equipment
                                                             
 

Astrophotography Equipment

This is my Astrophotography Equipment Webpage. Since my hobbies take last priority with regards to the family budget, most of my equipment is homemade or older equipment that was purchased inexpensively: my C8 and C90 are from the late 1970's, my Celestar 8 mount is from 1996, my DSI guide camera is from 2004, and my Canon Digital Rebel T3 (EOS 1100D)  is an unmodified entry level DSLR camera. I used older-discount equipment to learn the basics of imaging, and this worked just fine. You can do quite a lot with inexpensive equipment and free image processing software. I recently (May 2015) purchased my first up to date piece of equipment: an Advanced VX mount. Due to recent instances of my equipment photos being posted without my permission on eBay (adds for C8's, C90's, and SCT accessories), I have had to watermark my equipment photos.

Cameras

My main imaging camera is an unmodified Canon Digital Rebel T3 (EOS 1100D) DSLR camera and my guide scope camera is a Meade DSI Pro I (below left and right photos, respectively).


Telescopes and Mounts

My first imaging set up was a Celestar 8 mount with a 1979 C8 and a camera adaptor mounted C90 guidescope (below left photo). I purchased the Celestar 8 mount for about $100 and used this to learn the basics of imaging. This mount had some limitations (lighter forks, stepper motors, and spur gears), but it could be powered from a 9V battery and autoguided via a GPUSB interface. I added a RJ12 modular jack splitter so that both the hand controller and GPUSB interface could be operated simultaneously. I recently (May 2015) purchased an Advanced VX mount. The below middle and right photos show my C8 on the Advanced VX mount with a camera adaptor mounted C90 and a rail mounted Orion ShortTube 80 refractor; the C8 radius blocks and guidescope rail are homemade (see the C8 Guidescope Rail with Radius Blocks webpage).

    

The above left photo shows the original 1979 T-adapter, which connects the C8 to the EOS T-ring. This configuration required: manually finding and centering the object in the C8 eyepiece, then removing the visual back, installing the T-adapter and camera, and finally re-centering and focusing the object using the Backyard EOS program (frame and focus mode). I found it difficult to reacquire many objects after installation of the T-ring and camera. To simplify the process, I purchased an Orion imaging flip mirror (below photos). Since purchasing my Advanced VX mount, I seldom use the imaging flip mirror. I have found that the Advanced VX mount precision GoTo alignment is so precise that it almost always places the target near center in the imaging camera field of view. With the Advanced VX mount, I use the original 1979 C8 T-adapter.

 

Imaging Equipment Case

I put together a case to store all of my imaging equipment in one place. This makes it easier and faster to start an imaging session; all I need to do is turn on the observatory power and make a single trip out to the observatory with my laptop computer and imaging equipment case. The equipment case (below photo) contains the following: all power convertors, cables, the eyepieces I use most, barlow lens, the AVX hand controller, EOS T-ring, T-adaptor, Telrad, imaging flip mirror, GPUSB interface, DSI I guide camera, f/6.3 reducer corrector, and my Canon EOS 1100D. I will eventually replace the cable and eyepiece metal ties with Velcro.

Field Light Box

I constructed a flat field light box (below photos) to acquire flat field images. Construction details and additional photographs can be found on the Flat Field Light Box Webpage.

 

Software

I use the following software for image acquisition and processing:

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