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Advanced Astrophotography setup walk-around (With prices!)

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

There is an infinite amount of astrophotography setup combinations. Most beginners who just got their first telescope start imaging the night sky with an affordable mount and a used DSLR camera. But what does one's rig look like after years of upgrades and tweaks? Find out what our "advanced" astrophotography setup looks like below!


DSLR and small refractor Astrophotography setup walk-around with prices

Not so long ago, we made a video and written post about what a beginner DSLR Astrophotography set up looks like. Every individual piece that made up that setup was shown, including the price. Here, we will do the same but this time for a more advanced setup. The telescope will be larger, the camera will be a monochrome camera instead of a DSLR, and accessories will differ.

The rig below is of course more expensive than the one previously shown, but we want to emphasis on the fact that you do NOT need a rig like this one to take incredible images of the night sky. Sure, it helps, especially the camera, but most of these fancy pieces are mostly there to make our life easier (ex: auto-focuser, auto-rotator, usb hub...).


If you wish to dig deeper, we have a full guide about the best beginner astrophotography equipment you can read, as well as a full tutorial post about how to start astrophotography. You can also become a lifetime member of The Galactic Course to get unlimited access to a growing realm of astrophotography content!


 

The Telescope


The Stellarvue SVX130 is by far the best refractor telescope we have ever had the chance to use! The one we currently have belongs to our friend Mark, which we cannot thank enough for trusting us with his instrument.


The one we use came with a Moonlite focuser/rotator (more info on that later) which adds a lot of weight to the telescope. Due to that is is relatively heavy and can be difficult to place on the doveplate of your mount if you are not cautious. When extended, the dew shield makes this telescope much longer as well and the setup looks really impressive when it is ready.


Stellarvue SVX130

Telescope Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Stellarvue

  • Aperture: 5.12" (130mm)

  • Focal Length: 910mm | 655mm with reducer

  • Focal Ratio: f/7 | f/5 with reducer

  • Optical Design: Apochromatic Refractor

  • Number of refractor elements: 4

  • Tube weight: 19.6lbs

  • Tube length: 29.5"

  • Price: $5,495


 

The Mount


The Software Bisque Paramount MyT mount is in our opinion the most beautiful mount that ever roamed this earth. It has a ton of features that make both tracking and cable management a breeze, and has a slightly better payload capacity than our Atlas EQ-G mount while keeping the exact same weight and portability.

Thank you Oceanside Photo & Telescope for loaning us this mount!


You can read our review of the MyT mount to learn more about it.


MyT Paramount AP mount



Mount Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Software Bisque

  • Payload Capacity: 50 lb

  • Price: $6,595+


 

The Camera

The camera shown in the video is a ZWO ASI1600MM, the most popular astronomy monochrome camera in the world, at least from its release to 2021.


The ZWO ASI1600MM
The ZWO ASI1600MM

This camera has an excellent dynamic range and very low noise. More recently, both ZWO and QHY came up with new fantastic monochrome APS-C cameras, like the ZWO ASI2600MM or the QHY268M.


If we had to buy a camera today, it would most likely be one of these two. The ASI1600MM is a classic, but it is indeed starting to get a little old in the astrophotography world. For the price though, you can't go wrong with that camera!

Price: $1,280



The images below were all taken with the ZWO ASI1600MM camera



 

The Electronic Filter Wheel and Filters


This is the electronic filter wheel that matches well with the ZWO ASI1600MM camera. It has 8 slots and can hold 31mm/1.25" filters. This size of filters is perfect for APS-C (cropped sensor) cameras like the ASI1600MM. If you plan on using a full-frame camera, or one of the newer sensors, we recommend you instead get a filter wheel with 36mm or 2" slots.

Price: $299



Canon DSLR intervalometer

 

The Auto-Guiding Solution


On this setup we prefer to use an Off-Axis-guider over a guide scope. An OAG ensures that we do not have differential flexure (meaning the guide scope slightly moves due to gravity) which is especially important when you have a telescope with a long focal length. We use the ZWO OAG when imaging with our cropped sensor ASI1600MM camera. We only use our guide scope if we image with a full frame camera as these require a larger OAG to avoid any vignetting.


Our favorite guide camera is the ZWO ASI290MM Mini as it provides fast communication with the laptop without dropping any frame.


 

The Battery


For an advanced setup like this one where you need to power several things all at once, you really need to make sure that you take a good strong battery with you on the field. If you are imaging from home, you can simply plug it all into the power outlet in your backyard and not worry about a portable battery, but you should still know what you would need if you ever decide to head out to image under darker skies.


Our main battery now is a Jackery lithium battery. These are very light and easy to carry, they also have plenty of ports for everything needed and last all night. We have the 500 version.


We use this battery to power:

  • The Mount

  • The camera

  • The filter wheel

  • The Auto-focuser/rotator

Price for the Explorer 500: $499

Click the image to read our review of this battery

Jackery battery for astrophotography



 

The Auto-Focuser


The Stellarvue SVX130 telescope has the option to come with an electronic focuser already attached to it. Mark did purchase that version and so the scope came with the Moonlite NiteCrawler Auto-focuser / Rotator (yes, it does both).


This is an absolutely insane product that is considered one of the best on the market. Unlike many auto-focusers out there, this one has zero backlash, making auto-focusing when you're asleep in your bed very easy as it consistently work every time. The only downside is that it is very heavy, bulky, and has a pop-up screen that, to us, seems completely useless.

Price: $2,900


Moonlite Nitecrawler autofocuser rotator

 

Accessories on Top of the Telescope

To make our life easier, we decided to attach a dovetail on the top of our telescope. This allows us to add several accessories of our choice easily. We currently have two things on that dovetail:


Telescope accessories on top dovetail piggyback

  • A finder shoe: This allows us to use a guide scope with this telescope.

Price: $19.99


  • A USB hub: The USB hub connects to the mount which is in turn connected to our laptop. The imaging camera, guide camera, filter wheel and focuser can be connected to that hub.

Price: $11.99


 

Polar Alignment


This is optional, but if you'd like to make your life easier, the QHY Polemaster is a great device to achieve really good polar alignment in just a couple of minutes.

There are other tools for polar alignment nowadays, like the ASIAir or Sharpcap, but the Polemaster is our favorite.

We usually polar align as soon as it gets dark, then remove the Polemaster from the mount and start imaging.


Price: $296


QHY Polemaster on Atlas EQ-G mount


 

Video Guide


Below is the video walkthrough of the entire setup, which might help you visualize how every piece connects with each other!



 

Final Thoughts


This was what we call our advanced astrophotography setup. It is heavier than our beginner setup, pricier, and has more cables, but it for sure is fun to use!


The main difference between this setup and our DSLR beginner setup (besides the camera) is the accessories that make our life easier.

The focuser/rotator is such a nice addition that will be difficult to live without in the future, and the dovetail on top of the telescope is great to have to be able to add several accessories at anytime.

We have several other guides related to astrophotography equipment, so make sure to check those out if you are still unsure about what to get as a first rig! Some are linked below:




Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!


Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter




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1,851 views5 comments

5 comentarios


Invitado
10 oct 2023

Thank you!

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Invitado
06 sept 2023

thanks

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Invitado
17 ago 2023

Thank you

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Invitado
10 feb 2023

It is without a doubt an interesting hobby. I love learning and trying new things and I recently discovered https://westcoastsupply.cc/products/edibles/ for a great selection of cbd products to treat stress. These products will be useful to everyone without exception and will help to establish the normal functioning of the nervous system, if you need it. I'm sure you'll love the pleasant taste of cbd edibles.

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Invitado
06 feb 2023

Hi, I had this same setup for some time without use given that I can only host one setup inside my Dome in Spain. I decided to change to the Stellarvue 130t, Night Crawler, reducer flattener that connect to a QHY600/FW. The Back Focal Distance given by Stellarvue was 68mm, but found that did not work, so discovered 55mm worked better. What I noticed elongated stars on each corner, typically a short fall in BFD, but it's weird cause its 55mm spot on.

So if it not too much to ask, can you do me a favor and measure the distance from the focuser rear end to the reducer flattener front end. Please have the focuser at zero step position…

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