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Galactic Hunter | Our Full Astrophotography Equipment

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

If you have ever wondered what gear we used to do in astrophotography from the start until now, you'll find it here in this post! Before you go any further, please be sure to read our Beginner's Guide to Astrophotography Equipment for all the information you need about starting this hobby.


Below you will find a list of our complete equipment, as well as where to purchase them and how much each piece of equipment costs.


Our first telescope and mount, without cables

Astrophotography is easy, as long as you have basic knowledge of how to use a camera. You can attach any DSLR camera to a tripod, aim it at a beautiful part of the sky like the Milky Way, take a 30-second shot of it, and tell all your friends you are now officially an astrophotographer. Congratulations! It is that simple!


Now, when it is time to upgrade to a deep-sky astrophotography rig, things will get trickier... Well, we're here to help!

 

Cameras


1) Our Main Camera for Wide-Field Astrophotography: Canon Ra

Canon ra for beginner DSLR astrophotography

The camera we use for wide-field astrophotography with a lens is the Canon EOS Ra. This is an upgrade from our cheap Canon T3i which we used in Episodes #1 through #4 and our Canon 7D Mark II which we used until 2020.


This camera is really great for capturing objects in the night sky, especially emission nebulae as it was built specifically for astrophotography and comes with an infrared filter that allows more hydrogen-alpha signal to reach the sensor.


The Canon Ra is easy to use and can yield awesome results no matter the target. Because it is a mirrorless camera, it is much lighter than our previous Canon 7D Mark II. When shooting, we do not plug this camera into any laptop but instead go the "good old way" and use a cheap intervalometer.


This is also the camera we use to film all of our episodes, do time-lapses, and even do daytime photography.

You can get it on Amazon. Example of images taken with this camera:








 

2) Our Cooled Monochrome Camera for Astrophotography: QHY600M

QHY600M for Astrophotography CMOS camera

The QHY600M has been our dream camera for years, and we are thankful to be able to use it when imaging in narrowband! This is the most amazing camera and our main monochrome camera after upgrading from the ASI1600MM - which has been discontinued.


We would absolutely recommend this and you can find out why in our full review of the QHY600 camera!




Example of images taken with this camera:




 

3) Our Cooled One-Shot-Color Camera for Astrophotography: ZWO ASI2600MC

ZWO 2600MC camera astrophotography

The ZWO ASI2600MC is the most popular cropped sensor OSC camera out there, and we love it! We love it and it's the best camera to image galaxies, clusters, and other objects that are great RGB targets.


Check out our astrophotography gallery for images and information about the nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters we have taken with all of these cameras.




 

4) Our Planetary and Lunar Camera


ASI585MC planetary and lunar camera

Our main camera for photographing the moon and planets is the ZWO ASI585MC.


This is nice when paired with our long focal-length telescope. It has a 1/1.2″ sensor, a resolution of 8.29 Megapixels, and a max FPS of 46.9.


We reviewed this camera HERE!


 


Telescopes


1) 8" Newtonian Astrograph

Orion Astrograph f/3.9 Reflector Telescope - Cheap astrophotography equipment and awesome deep sky imaging

The first telescope we used for nearly all of our imaging sessions was an 8" Newtonian Astrograph. It was really cheap ($499) but this type of reflector is rising in price each year! We consider it an amazing entry-level telescope. It is fantastic for photographing deep-sky objects and it does a great job for visual observations as well!



Update: We no longer own this telescope because we gave it away to our good friend Diana (@vanillamoon_astro on Instagram), who is doing a wonderful job of capturing beautiful images with it. Watch the video below to see her reaction and learn more about Diana. She is also a founding member of STELA - Striving To Engage Ladies in Astrophotography.



See our full review of this telescope HERE. Check out our gallery for examples of images taken with this telescope.


 

2) Askar FRA500

Askar FRA500 small refractor telescope

This is the main small refractor telescope we use to capture large objects. It is a fantastic beginner telescope that can be used with both cropped sensors and full-frame cameras.


This is also the telescope we use at home and we love it. It is part of our perfect travel setup because it's so portable - along with our newest mount the ZWO AM5.



See our images of the Christmas Tree and Cone Nebulae (NGC2264), the Heart Nebula (IC 1805) as well as the Pacman Nebula (NGC 281) to see how this telescope performs.


 

3) Stellarvue SVX130T

Meade 115mm APO desert Atlas EQ-G

The Stellarvue SVX130T is the beloved monster we keep at our remote observatory.


It is also the main telescope for capturing most deep-sky objects. It is heavy and difficult to carry around unlike our Askar, but has an incredible quality being made by Stellarvue. Its focal length is 644mm when using the field flattener, and has a speed of f/5.


See our Nebulae and Galaxies tabs to see many images taken with this telescope!


Fun fact: Stella's nickname is Stellarvue.



 

4) RASA 8


RASA 8 telescope in the desert

The RASA 8 is our main telescope for true color, as we only use this one with our One-Shot-Color camera. Indeed, the RASA 8 design does not allow it to be used with a filter wheel! We could use a dual-band filter, but we are, so far, happy with it being filter-free.


At f/2, the RASA 8 is super fast and is incredible when paired with dark skies. We also love doing mosaics with this telescope, as the speed helps us spend not too much time per panel compared to a slower instrument.




 

5) Celestron C11


Celestron C11 telescope with the moon

The Celestron C11 is the telescope we use to do planetary imaging or lunar photography. It is an old version so does not have the mirror lock feature, which can be annoying as it needs to be collimated constantly to get good results, but it is still a nice telescope.


It has a focal length of 2800mm which is excellent for planets and the moon. You can also add a Barlow to multiply this number!


 

Image Acquisition Devices


1) Mini PC (Nuc)


In general, we use either our laptop or a mini PC to take astrophotos. This Intel Nuc is attached to our SVX130 and is directly connected to all accessories such as the camera, the mount, the focuser, and more. It is powerful enough to image all night and save 60MP frames!


Intel Nuc Mini PC for Astrophotography

We use the AnyDesk remote connection software to connect to the Nuc using WiFi.


Note: We have a small TP-Link WiFi router attached to the top of the Nuc.



 

2) ZWO ASIASIR Plus

ZWO ASIAIR for image acquisition in astrophotography without the need for a laptop ASI AIR

This is what we use when we image with a ZWO camera: The ASIAir Plus!


This lightweight device allows you to connect to your ZWO camera and capture everything on the included SD card! You do not need a laptop as you can control everything right from your phone or tablet via WiFi (even from the desert with no connection whatsoever).


You can also connect this device directly to your mount and guide camera to slew your telescope and use auto-guiding.



 

2) PrimaLuceLab Eagle5 S



PrimaLuceLab Eagle5 S

The PrimaLuceLab Eagle5 S is the mini-PC that is currently mounted on our RASA 8 telescope. This is similar to a Nuc, but built specifically for astrophotography. It has all the ports you can think of, WiFi and GPS antennae, and gives you the ability to remotely turn on or off the power and USB ports. It also comes with some cool features, like an inclinometer, a sky-meter quality, and a motion detector.


 

Mounts and Tripods


1) Motorized GO-TO MOUNT

Our Astrophotography mount, the Orion Atlas EQ-G Computerized GoTo Mount

The ZWO AM5 is our current primary astrophotography mount. Right off the bat, it is a life-changing mount for us after years of owning and handling bulky and heavy mounts. Sorry, Atlas EQ-G!


We highly recommend this mount to every beginner astrophotographer!


This is the mount we turn to whenever we image from home or out on the field with a small refractor telescope or a DSLR camera and lenses!


This incredibly small and lightweight piece of astrophotography gear will be a staple for us for years to come - or until the newest version comes out. We're looking at you AM3.


Astrophotography equipment review: Read and watch our full review of the AM5!


 

2) 10Micron GM1000HPS


MyT Paramount sunset

The 10Micron GM1000HPS mount is our primary mount when using a heavy telescope. This was a gift from our awesome friend Mark and we can never thank him enough for this incredible gesture.


The GM1000HPS is heavier than the Atlas EQ-G mount, but the benefit of this mount is that it has true encoders and an overall superb design. The mount has been working flawlessly so far and is true perfection.



You can watch our unboxing video below!



 

3) Star Tracker: The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro


Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mount

It may seem that we are wholly committed to advanced gear, but we aren't so big that we can't appreciate the simple things. The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro is one of those pieces of astrophotography equipment that we'll never let go of.


We use this to do tracked wide-field astrophotography. This is perfect for targets like the Milky Way, Barnard's Loop, Rho Ophiuchi, and other large objects.


Plus, it is easy to set up and is a perfect fit for our carbon fiber tripod (see below).


 

4) DSLR Camera tripods



We own three DSLR camera tripods for our Canon 7D Mark II and Canon Ra.


The main one is a carbon fiber tripod, which we use anytime we take wide-field pictures of the Milky Way or other parts of the sky. We use this tripod for both untracked and tracked wide-field astrophotography as we can easily attach a star tracker on the top.


Next, we have the Orion Paragon-Plus XHD Extra Heavy-Duty Tripod which came with our heavy 20x80 binoculars. We highly suggest buying a heavy-duty tripod such as this one if you intend to use heavy binoculars. This tripod is used mostly for filming videos while the carbon fiber tripod is used for all DSLR wide-field astrophotography.


The third is a JOBY Gorilla Pod 3K tripod which is nice to have for creating time-lapses of the Milky Way or time-lapses with a very low or specific angle.


 

Auto-Guiding Devices


Our auto-guiding until recently was always done with the guide scope from the "Magnificent Mini Autoguider Package" from Orion. The guide scope is 50mm, which we find to be enough for our imaging, so we still use this scope from time to time! The scope that used to come with it, the Starshoot Autoguider, no longer comes with the package anymore.


More often on our imaging nights, we use the ZWO ASI 220MM Mini camera. While we still use the other guide scope, the main reason for this switch was to be able to plug it into the ASIAIR Plus and guide using our iPad.



 

Camera-to-Telescope Adapters


1) Baader MPCC Mark III Coma Corrector


A coma corrector is an astrophotography equipment accessory needed for fast reflector telescopes (under f/6). Our old telescope was an 8" Newtonian at f/3.9, so we needed one!


We are satisfied with the Badder MPCC Mark III, and we used it with both our Canon 7D Mark II and our astronomy cameras.



 

2) T-Ring


Additionally, in order to attach the DSLR camera to the coma corrector (and then to the telescope), we used a T-Ring for Canon Cameras. Just make sure you get one that fits yours (Don't get the Canon adapter if you own a Nikon camera, for example).


 

Pre-Imaging Accessories


1) QHY Polemaster


The QHY Polemaster is one of the most popular accessories out there. We added this device to our astrophotography rig and we do not regret it! This piece of astrophotography equipment will help you achieve perfect polar alignment easily. See a review and video of the QHY Polemaster.


 

2) Orion Lasermate Deluxe II Laser Collimator


One of the best accessories we purchased for our reflector telescope! This laser collimator ensures your telescope is perfectly collimated in seconds, literally. The battery included lasted us 3+ years before we had to change it, and so far we never had any issues with it!


See our tutorial post and video about How to Collimate in 90 seconds using this laser.


 

3) Batinov Focus Mask


Another awesome accessory that will help you save a lot of time in the long term: A Bahtinov mask! This will help you focus your camera in seconds. Just make sure to get the correct size for your telescope. Our Orion Astrograph is an 8" telescope so we bought the 5.5" to 8.5" Bahtinov mask.


See our tutorial post and video about How to Focus in 90 seconds using a Bahtinov mask.


 

Powering Our Astrophotography Equipment


1) Jackery Explorer 500 + Solar Panel


Jackery 500 Explorer Battery for Astrophotography

This is our current primary battery and we really, really love having it!


It is an Explorer 500 from the company Jackery. It is more expensive than deep-cycle batteries - but it is worth it in our opinion!


We got a battery with a solar panel that you can connect to recharge the battery during the day if we are gone for a full weekend. We highly recommend this battery as it is super lightweight, is a great power source for all of our astrophotography equipment, has a built-in flashlight, and has various, useful ports.


You can get it on Jackery's website or on Amazon.


 

2) PEGASUS ASTRO POCKET POWERBOX


Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox to serve as a power hub for all our astrophotography accessories and devices like the mount, the camera, the filter wheel and the asi air

Similar in size and weight to the ASI Air, the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox is an amazing device that allows us to power all of our astrophotography gear and accessories without using more than one port on our main power source.


This Powerbox serves as a "hub" and has only one cable that goes to the battery and is the central location where other cables that need power plug into - such as our CMOS camera, our ASIAIR, and mount.


This little gadget helps to keep all the cables neat so there aren't a million cables going all the way down to the main power source on the ground.



 

DSLR CAMERA LENSES



1) ROKINON 10MM f/2.8


The Milky Way astrophotography with a wide lens 10mm rokinon f/2.8 and a Canon 7D Mark II DSLR camera

The widest lens we own is the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8.


This is the one we use when we want to photograph the Milky Way or do star trails astrophotography.


Unlike most lenses, the Rokinon 10mm is entirely manual, so you cannot focus or change the aperture from the camera menus.


This has never been a problem though, and the results are great for the price we paid!


You can see us using this lens on the field if you watch our video about affordable lenses for Milky Way Astrophotography!


You can get this lens on Amazon.


 

2) Canon EF-S 24mm F/2.8


We mostly use this lens for filming our Astrophotography-related videos rather than capturing deep sky objects, the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is pretty awesome as it is super lightweight and extremely thin! Because of that, it is also called the "Pancake Lens."


 

3) Canon EF 50mm F/1.8


Rho Ophiuchi wide field DSLR Imaging with the Canon 50mm nifty fifty lens at f/4

The very popular "Nifty Fifty!"


This is the lens we use for nearly all of our wide-field astrophotography.


With it, you can perfectly capture Barnard's Loop, M45 with the California Nebula in the same frame, Rho Ophiuchi as seen on the left, and more...