DIY Astrophotography

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Whether you are trying to do Astrophotography on a budget  or just part of the tinkerers guild and need projects to keep your idle hands busy I will attempt to compile some of my builds and links to other projects I have found helpful.

I am also dedicating this space to give back to a hobby that has given so much to me and been so rewarding.

My experiences have been with people that have mentored me and been very selfless to share information and more and I hope that you find some bit of information or something useful here and are able to pass that on to someone else.

The beauty of Astrophotography is about doing things yourself all throughout this hobby and the rewards that come from what you can achieve with whatever gear you have.

Each photo you take is the result of photons that left there source long long ago and end there journey on your sensor and that makes whatever photo you capture unique and entirely your own.

I would also like to encourage anyone who has a project or something they have built and took photos of or documented the work to send me the info or post it through the forums here.

Please bookmark this page and check back as I will be adding more of my own builds and keeping links fresh and generally updating content.

The Basics

My first set up for Astrophotography was a 4.5" Newtonian with a wobbly mount and a manual film camera , after some modifications to the focuser and many frustrating nights I was able to get a couple of blurry pictures of the moon.

That was enough to discourage me from trying AP again for about a decade but luckily my next experience was to put my DSLR and a cheap lens piggyback on my 6"SCT on a single arm fork mount.

This resulted in me getting extremely lucky with being able to autofocus on a bright star and I caught a shot of Orions Nebula that hooked me for good this time.

With some follow up advice on the Cloudy Nights Forums I quickly realized the mount I had purchased was not the best for what I was trying to do.

Once again I lucked out and found that the customer service at Orion Telescopes was amazing and there 30 day return policy allowed me to trade my mount for a CG-5 GEM.

That made me realize the importance of a solid mount for AP and that is the first advice I always give people new to the hobby , along with starting small like piggyback shooting with lenses or a small scope and proper polar alignment and balance.

You may decide to get a astro specific CCD or a web cam or planetary imager or a DSLR that you can use for happy snaps of the family and great pictures at night , whatever you choose I have found you can make as much out of this hobby as you want and you may choose to make it a social hobby and join a local astronomy club or just set up in your backyard and enjoy the solitude of the night sky

 

Projects

The only thing to be aware of with projects is that even if you start out with the idea that you are building something to save some money you must be careful to factor in all the parts of a project including the materials and tools you might need to buy and even what you would pay yourself for your time just to make sure you dont get to the end of a project and realize it wasnt worth it and you could have just bought the same item for only a few more dollars.

I have done this a few times myself and its very easy to get to a point and feeling commited to the project and just getting deeper and deeper.

Sometimes it is better to cut your losses and have a professional do it or maybe just a local shop make it for you.

On the other hand I sometimes take on projects just to keep myself busy , I love to tinker and it is rewarding to do it yourself in this hobby especially when you can save a few dollars too.

Used Gear

I have been through several versions of equipment so far and another thing I have found about this hobby that is so great is that people buy and sell gear at a good exchange rate , in other words used gear is a good way to keep costs down and you can usually get most of your cost back out when you trade up.

My experiences with Astromart and the Cloudy Nights classifieds have been very good and the only real draw back to buying used is there is no instant gratification and sometimes you have to wait for the right item to come along.