This is part of a larger article series on the basics of astrophotography.
Buying amateur astronomy equipment is exciting and fun – so much so that beginners tend to rush into it a bit unprepared. I did.
If you are a beginner to astronomy, you may be on the verge of buying your first equipment, and you may have astrophotography in mind as one objective. Or, if you have a bit of experience in amateur astronomy, you may be thinking of buying your first additional equipment, and, again, astrophotography may be one of your objectives.
There is a great variety of good astronomy equipment on the market. One could probably say there is no bad equipment (with the exception of the deceptive astronomy-like toys sold in department stores); but there are certainly bad choices, and I made many of them. I purchased telescopes poorly matched to mounts, purchased mounts with astrophotography in mind that were poorly suited to astrophotography, planned to use cameras that were not good choices, underestimated the difficulty of the things I hoped to do first, and overestimated the quality of results I should expect. I had a series of disappointing efforts before I paused, studied the field, and then spent a couple of years starting over with better equipment choices, expectations, and planning. I’m still not good at astrophotography, but at least I am now feeling progress instead of frustration.
This article outlines what I wish I had understood sooner: the kinds of equipment available to the astrophotographer, and the strengths, weaknesses, and intended uses of each. I hope it helps you understand your options and make intelligent choices.
We will discuss: