Scope: Skywatcher 10" Newtonian
Mount: Skywatcher NEQ6 SynScan
Skywatcher 10" Newtonian
So far all of the images I have posted on this site were taken with my 10” Skywatcher Newtonian. It is a fast scope which is a big advantage when it comes to imaging deep sky objects. At a focal ratio of F/4.9 I can take shorter exposures, and take more of them. This telescope is specifically made for imaging and has a number of features which most standard Newtonians lack.
Skywatcher NEQ6 SynScan
I have my telescope mounted on top of a Skywatcher NEQ6 mount. The mount is often considered to be the most important component of any astrophotography setup. This is because it is responsible for moving the telescope to track objects as the earth rotates, and responding to minute corrections from auto guiding. If the tracking is off by a little bit the stars in the image lose their roundness, and the picture is ruined. If too much weight is put on a mount then the tracking tends to suffer. Getting the mount to guide well is likely one of the hardest parts of astrophotography.
My equipment in action:
Camera: Canon 60D / Alccd5l-IIc (Autoguider)
The camera I have used for all of my astrophotography with is the Canon 60D. I use this camera because I had it for daytime photography before I started astrophotography. But it works very well at night, too. You cannot begin to put a value on the articulated screen when it comes to focusing and framing. It makes the whole process much smoother and accurate, especially when imaging near the zenith. The array has super low noise and inspection of dark frames reveals very few hot pixels.
Although the tracking provided by the mount alone is enough to keep the telescope point at an object, it is not perfect. Even with perfect polar alignment factors such as mechanical imperfections, wind, etc. will cause the telescope to drift slightly and produce noticeable errors in images. The solution to this is guiding. Guiding involves using a secondary telescope attached to the main imaging telescope to track a nearby star. The guiding then should make small adjustments to the tracking so that the star remains still. Although guiding can be done manually, and it was in the past, with modern technology it can be done automatically with a camera and computer. For my guiding I purchased the Astrolumina Alccd5l-IIc. The camera is attached on my finder scope, to save weight and don't overload the mount. On my laptop I run PHD Guiding which takes pictures from the camera, tracks how far a selected star has moved between quick exposures, and adjusts the mount. I have gotten good results with this setup.
Unboxing of my guiding cam: