The journey into Astrophotography begins.........

Space...........it is BIG! Very BIG! Very Very BIG!


I have been developing a fascination about it over the last couple of years. Whether it is watching the science/universe programs on TV or Youtube (lots of Youtube!) or the technical wizardry of SpaceX, RocketLabs and other private space companies. I find it all amazing.

I started my other blog on Whoosh.Space to document anything on the rocket making side of things, but decided to use this blog for this subject. Did originally plan on having them both on the one, but with name Whoosh, it was more rocket related, and this blog is more gadgets and stuff....which fits more in line with this one :-D

About a year ago I decided I wanted to get into the astrophotography side of things. When I'm out in the garden at night with the dogs, and look up into the dark skies around the Cyprus villa, there is just so many stars compared to when in built up areas. The more I stare up at the stars, the more I want to see and know.

First up then was to acquire a telescope. And what a minefield of choices that turned into! I spent countless hours reading and watching, comparing, looking for existing users on the various youtube channels that had them, seeing what sort of results they were achieving, how they used them etc. etc. Studying blog after blog on the what nots, pitfalls, pros and cons.....so much so that I don't know how many circles I end up going round in!

It had to meet this criteria (as well as be within the approximate budget I had set);

  • Deep Space Photography
  • Have German Equatorial Mount
  • Have Computerised Positioning
  • Have Tracking Capability


After all these hours, I settled on a choice of two, different types/models;
Achromatic Reflector -> Bresser Telescope AC 152L/1200 Messier Hexafoc EXOS-2 GoTo
OR

Newtonian -> Bresser Telescope NT 203/1000 Messier Hexafoc EXOS-2 GoTo



Both had very similar capabilities, and from the sample pictures/video I had seen they could generate very similar final results (when used in the hands of a professional, which I am anything but!)

Other factors I had to consider was;
Who had them available for sale and more importantly who was shipping to Cyprus and at what cost...these things aren't small and light you know!

So, in the end taking everything into account I went with the newtonian. Why?

  1. It had a wider aperture, so more light gathering for deep space. 8" vs 6"
  2. Larger maximum recommended magnification, 400x vs 300x
  3. The resultant f/ratio is smaller, meaning more light hits each camera pixel. f4.9 vs f7.9 
  4. Slightly shorter tube length, easier to ship and store 940mm vs 1275mm
  5. The supplier I had found that ships to Cyprus had it in stock. 

Accessories, camera?

Now that the telescope had been selected I had a look at some essential accessories;

Collimator Eyepiece - this is essential for aligning the Newtonian Primary and Secondary mirrors

Power Supply - The Goto mount came with a battery back that took standard D cells, but didn't want
to have to keep changing batteries, so elected for a mains PSU

EyePiece / Filter Kit - The telescope came with a 26mm eyepiec, so I went with an Omegon kit that gave me some additional Eyepiece and filters.The kit included;
1 x Plössl eyepiece 32 mm
1 x Plössl eyepiece 12.5 mm
1 x Plössl eyepiece 6 mm
1 x Plössl eyepiece 4 mm
1 x Barlow lens 2x
1 x Green filter No. 56
1 x Red filter No. 23A
1 x Orange filter No. 21
1 x Yellow filter No. 12
1 x Blue filter No. 82A
1 x Polarizing filter
1 x Crystal View Moon filter

The eyepiece kit above had a 2x Barlow Adapter, so I thought I would add to this with a 3x and 5x Barlow Adapters.

To help with fine-focusing, I went with a 1:10 focus adjuster, this gives you very fine control of the focusing. This replaces one of the adjustment knobs on the scope with a geared one, where a fine adjuster requires 10 rotations to equal 1 rotation of the original. It doesn't remove the ability to do coarse focusing first as it has a double wheeled adjustment knob.

And for imaging? Well, I hadn't yet decided on what camera I was going to get. I needed to do some more research into this. So, in the meantime, I went with a smartphone adapter, that allows you to project through the eyepiece onto the phone camera sensor. It would at least let me get playing with the scope!

And then it was wait! I had placed the order while I was offshore in Qatar, and it was due to arrive just after I arrived home. Sure enough, shortly after getting home, the courier arrived.


I waited until the kids got home from school and Maya and Sasha gave me a help to open things up. I first set it up where the boxes were, just so I had plenty of room and light to get a feel for it. As you can see from the images below with Sasha, it is a bit of a beast once assembled!




Now we just need Clear Skies!

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