In 2017 I bought a telescope with a view to attempting some astrophotography.
I quickly began traversing the infinitely steep learning curve and now a year later, despite setting up a remote home observatory in my shed, I feel I have barely scratched the surface of this incredibly exciting, but complicated and cash-hungry hobby, where you quickly find the equipment you have never feels quite enough and you're always clamouring for that next bolt-on gadget or upgrade that will make your photos just that little bit better!
I have no regrets of course, and I have had some fairly pleasing results so far, but I'm done with the spending for now and will make do with what I have. With so very few clear nights being available at my central UK location, I simply can not justify the additional expense of getting better/improved equipment for now.
The telescope has already provided quite a few hours of fascination and even joy at seeing the wonders of our universe with my own eyes.
I think seeing the rings of Saturn and the Moons of Jupiter, as well as Jupiter itself had a particularly positive impact, as has being able to photograph some of the more visible deep sky objects (DSO's) such as Nebula and nearby galaxies.
I've made a few videos from my stargazing nights which are available on my YouTube channel, and I've embedded one or two further down this page.
I regularly get asked about the specific equipment I’m using for astronomy and astrophotography. This list below may change slightly in the future, I always said I'd like to get a smaller APO scope at some point, but for now, I'm done upgrading equipment, at least until we start averaging more than 1 clear sky per month!
Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Equatorial Mount with Extension Tube, plus Synscan GOTO system
Explore Scientific AR152, 152mm (6”) f/6.5 Air Spaced Doublet Refractor OTA
Canon EOS 1300D with T-mount (astro modified: red filter removed)
Orion Starshoot with 50mm Guidescope
Computer software to drive Guidescope:
PHD (Push Here Dummy) latest version
Computer software to drive Telescope remotely:
Computer software to drive Camera:
Backyard EOS (free to trial for 1 month)
Baader Semi APO (2” & 1.25”)
My most Recent Astro photo…
(M42 Orion Nebula)
One of the biggest issues we have living in the UK is the constantly overcast weather. So far I have been able to use the telescope only a tiny handful of times. It doesn't help that I live in a land-locked county that seems to have an even greater cloud cover percentage than other areas closer to the coast.
Obviously, it’s a little frustrating, but also it makes for a much slower learning process because experience counts a lot in learning any new skill. With so much time between sessions, it's easy to forget what you've learned and so my sessions become a bit of a re-learning game each time.
It also highlights the value in planning ahead what you intend to take pictures of, because of the finite windows of opportunity that present themselves.