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  • Stacey

Telescopes for beginner astrophotography...

Now for this article i'm going to speak about the two main scopes that folks seem to go out and buy when they are thinking about taking up a bit of astrophotography; refractors and Newtonians

First up, refractors. These use lenses at the front of the telescope to focus the light towards the back of the scope. This then hits your eyeball, or as in my case...a camera sensor. Newtonians are different in the way they work, they have a wide open aperture at the front where light enters and travels to the bottom of the tube, here it hits a mirror and is bounced back up the tube, until it hits a secondary mirror. This secondary mirror is at an angle and thus reflected light is then bounced up a focuser on the side of the scope where it hits your eyeball or a camera sensor.

Instantly you can see which one is the more complex design. (hint its the reflector).

So when you go online and see someone asking what scope they should get first for astrophotography people tend to fall into two camps, those who recommend a refractor and those that recommend a fast Newtonian.

With a refractor there are two different types:

  • Achromatic - shows chromatic aberration

  • Apochromatic - less or zero chromatic aberration

With newtonians there is generally only a couple of types. As a beginner one should be looking at a standard newtonian and not anything exotic like a maksutov-newtonian.

For astrophotography I would recommend at least a doublet refractor scope, which is classified as apochromatic.

What that means is that it wont show bright fringes around certain objects (eg the Moon). I myself have a doublet scope, it has served me well. Next up will be a triplet though, but as you can imagine the price goes up as more glass goes into the telescope!

Reflectors however have a lot going for them, they often have big apertures (light buckets!) for not so much money. They do have a central obstruction though, which can reduce contrast. But for the beginner, this is not the main problem. This kind of scope needs collimating regularly...this is another skill that needs to be learnt on top of all the other issues that astrophotography can throw at you. Not only that, but these kinds of scopes can be big and unwieldy and act as a bit of a wind sail on smaller mounts, which is exactly what you don't want when you're trying to take long exposures of something thousands of light years away.

Thus i'm going to say it, if you want to get into astrophotgraphy then buy a small refractor and a decent mount.

My first setup was this:

Telescope: Skywatcher ED80 DS Pro (refractor)

Mount: Skywatcher EQ5 Pro

Skywatcher ED80 DS Pro on EQ5 Pro

Here the scope is light enough to be carried by the mount with ease, it shouldn't need collimating and also cool down time is minimial.

Currently my scope and mount are a little more advanced:

Telescope: Altair astro 72EDF deluxe

Mount : Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro

This looks way more complex than it actually is.

Both scopes are great; the ED80 has a slightly longer focal length than the altair 72EDF and thus is a slightly 'slower' scope, however there really isn't much in it!

However i now prefer my 72EDF due to the extra features its brings to the table. Check out my video below on this amazing scope.

as always, thanks for reading and i hope you enjoyed the video!

Clear skies!