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!
1) Our Main Camera for Wide-Field Astrophotography: Canon Ra
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
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
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.
4) Our 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!
1) 8" Newtonian Astrograph
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.
2) Askar FRA500
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.