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New to Astro photography looking for guidance.

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#1 Fnsh1st


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Posted 19 February 2020 - 10:37 AM

I purchased from Orange County Telescope a Celestron 8” nexstar evolution, revolution imager camera, Celestron motorized focuser, and a couple eyepieces and I have a DSLR, (how important is it to convert it to dedicated ASTRO camera)
As I get deeper into the hobby I know there are hardware and software needs to do quality astrophotography
Right now I want to learn the software ( starting with the free stuff) and then start adding hardware as I learn and see the need, rather than buy all, and find I did not purchase correctly.
As I add hardware I would like to purchase quality versatile equipment that will take me forward without having to repurchase.
I am thinking the order of hardware acquisition that I might be able to learn most of the software with might be

I am open for opinions, my thoughts
What computer for a night of shooting is suggested. I have heard a fairly cheap windows tablet gets the job done.

2nd And almost at the same time Guiding and focusing? I assume I need a OAG or guide-scope, is that fact? I am open to suggestions as to what would be best for my current SCT and for the future, and where to get them, I am ok with used.

On auto focusing, does that happen at the guide-scope or the image you are capturing?

For final processing of images, I assume that is a different computer , that will come later, I have a Mac available for that.

After learning software. it seems that next steps would be
equatorial mount
Astro camera. Another scope.

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#2 zakry3323



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Posted 19 February 2020 - 10:54 AM

This would be a better fit in Beginning and Intermediate Imaging. 


Congrats on your new purchase and welcome to CN!


To help you out best, there are some things that would be helpful for us to know: 


1. What are your desired targets? 

2. What kind of DSLR do you have? 

3. What is your budget? 


For image capture, absolutely, a cheap laptop will get the job done just fine. As you surmised, you'll be glad to have something with some decent processing power and memory regardless of whatever software you end up with for stacking/editing. 


A guide scope or OAG will work for guiding. At 1500mm a guide scope can be used, but I'd suggest using an OAG.


Focusing happens via the software that you want to implement. Software tells the motor how many steps to take and in which direction on the primary OTA. If you go with a guide scope, you can continue to guide while the focusing process is going on. If you use an OAG it works best for me to pause guiding while focusing. 

While learning the software, the next step is to read more in depth about what you want to accomplish before making more purchases. This is a great starter and I refer to it often: https://www.amazon.c...82127577&sr=8-5

Edited by zakry3323, 19 February 2020 - 10:55 AM.

#3 Fnsh1st


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Posted 19 February 2020 - 11:19 AM

Thank you for the info, I will take a look at the link

Targets?, everything. lol. I don’t even know all the terms yet.
Being new to this, not really sure, I am a little confused on what the current scope is good for, so the current scope may be the determining factor at this moment. DEEP Sky images are awesome. I have seen posts saying scope is only good for planets, then seen it being used for deep space. For learning the ropes I am open.

The camera is a Cannon Rebel XTI DS126151, it’s at least 10 yrs old.

As far as the budget, not really sure at this time, I get stuck on the thought of purchasing something that will need to be replaced again, and I end up purchasing the higher/ better item anyway. So I guess it’s a cost benefit question. And how long will it be before I even can distinguish the difference. Who really cares about having the coolest thing at the star party. LOL

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#4 WarmWeatherGuy



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Posted 19 February 2020 - 11:47 AM

The Evo 8 is a great scope and the one I use the most. It is great for imaging planets, the Moon, and the Sun. To do that it is best to use a webcam made for that like the NexImage 5.


You can take pictures of DSOs with the Revolution Imager but if you want higher quality images I would suggest a different mount and a different OTA. The Evo has too much slop in the gears. You would need the wedge and I have the wedge for my Evo but it is hard to get it polar aligned. At the very least get the Celestron AVX mount but things get better when you go well over $1,000 for the mount.


The field of view is the size of the imaging chip divided by the focal length of the scope. For typical targets a focal length of 400 to 800 mm works well. The C8 is 2,000 mm and 1,260 with the focal reducer. This means you will be imaging smaller objects and need a more expensive mount to guide it.


Taking pictures of planets is way easier and cheaper. When you show a picture of Jupiter to someone they are equally impressed as when you show them a picture of a galaxy. Here is what can be done with 6" scopes or less. You can do better with your 8 inch.


Small bore challenge: Jupiter w/ 6" or less


Small bore challenge: the Moon w/ 6" or less

#5 Endymion


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Posted 19 February 2020 - 06:27 PM

Since you are in OC, consider joining the OC Astronomers if you’re not already a member and attend the astroimagers meetings where you can find a lot of experienced imagers who can help. Also attending the monthly star party near Irvine Lake is a great way to learn as well.

#6 Phil Sherman

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 11:35 PM

A DSLR camera is a good tool to start learning imaging. Your camera, from 2006, is old enough that I suspect that you would be limited to 30 second exposures under computer control unless you get (from my memory) the additional serial adapter to use the bulb feature for longer exposures. Modifying a DSLR for astro imaging usually only adds sensitivity to Ha, which may still be limited to the red sensitive pixels of the sensor. If this is true, that's only 1/4 of the sensor's pixels. Very recent cameras may have enough Ha response to suffice without modification.


Upgrading your camera to one containing a DIgic3 or later processor will give you computer control for all exposure lengths. In addition to the used market, refurbished ones are available directly from Canon at excellent prices.


My experience, starting imaging with a DSLR, is that modern processing techniques allow images with an unmodified DSLR to closely match what's possible with a dedicated astro camera. Thermal noise, when comparing a DSLR to a cooled astro camera, will be the area where you'll see the biggest difference. Limiting your exposure time, proper calibration, and stacking multiple images with the DSLR is a mitigating solution to thermal noise. The biggest jump  in potential image quality occurs when you change from a color imaging chip to a cooled monochrome one with external filters.


Telescopes that are focused by moving the primary mirror (most SCTs) suffer from a characteristic called "mirror flop" When focusing or moving the scope across the sky, the mirror has a tendency to very slightly change position because it must slide on a tube instead of being fixed. If you don't lock down the mirror and use an external focuser, you will need an off axis guider (OAG) to compensate for the mirror movement. This isn't a problem for visual observing because the image shift is, for practical purposes, undetectable to the eye.

Edited by Phil Sherman, 19 February 2020 - 11:45 PM.

#7 Fnsh1st


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Posted 20 February 2020 - 12:35 AM

Thank you Phil,
This really helps on the DSLR.
It confirms my thought on thinking I can get a lot of training under my belt before moving onto a dedicated Astro camera of some kind.

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