On this page, you will find the full list of my equipment I use for astrophotography. Check back from time to time, the gear list may change!
2023 Widefield Deep Sky Setup Quick List:
- Mount: ZWO AM5
- Camera: ZWO ASI 2600MC-Pro
- Telescope: William Optics Zenithstar 61 and Flattener
- Control: ASI AIR Plus
- Guide Camera: ASI 120Mini Mono
- Guide Scope: ZWO Mini Guide Scope
2023 Lightweight Quick List
- Tracker: Skywatcher Star Adventurer 2i
- Tripod: Skywatcher Star Adventurer Tripod
- Camera: Canon EOS Rebel t7i
- Control: ASI AIR Mini
Below you will find the full list of my gear, along with a brief description of each item. As gear changes or additions are made, this list will be updated, and full reviews will be linked as they are used and reviews are completed. The descriptions on this page are short introductions to each item.
Full reviews will require a minimum of six months and/or ten uses across different nights, before an honest full review can be completed. This will ensure an accurate review of all features of the item. Unboxing and first time use will be of my initial impressions of the item. Any review will be of my own opinion and will not be paid or swayed by the manufacturer. Payment for reviews will only be for my time to produce the review and to test the item.
Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro
The Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro is a German equatorial mount that is used for deep sky astrophotography. For me, this is the first mount I purchased.
This mount comes with a Synscan hand controller. Using the controller is great on its own for visual astronomy and unguided astrophotography if your exposures are short. If you are going with an autoguiding setup, you might opt to use computer control instead. If you are using the ASI Air with this mount, avoid the hand controller altogether and use an EQMOD cable.
This mount is robust in that it does take a bit of wind to cause vibrations, however, it is not so robust that it is heavy. With nothing attached to it, it weighs in at 22 pounds or 10 kilograms. This does not mean it is easy to move, I recommend not moving it in one piece because it can be awkward if you have to deal with any stairs.
With this mount you can have a setup up to 30 pounds total if you are doing only visual, but for astrophotography, you’ll want to keep it below 20 pounds.
Overall, it is an excellent choice for a first mount capable of going with longer focal lengths.
Skywatcher Star Adventurer 2i
This is a small, lightweight tracker that has an 11 pound payload capability. This tracker comes with a ball head adapter making it perfect for setups using very wide and lightweight camera lenses. It also comes with a counterweight kit allowing use with a longer focal length lens, or a small telescope, as long as the whole setup stays below 11 pounds.
As of October 2021, the amount of times I’ve been able to use it is very small. Once I’ve used it enough times to give an honest review, it will be posted.
The Vixen Polarie is a simple Star Tracker that allows for wide field tracking. It’s a great choice if you are sticking below 85mm in focal length. With proper polar alignment, you can push it above 85mm without the counterweight, but I wouldn’t suggest it due to the lack of guiding. It’s small, lightweight, portable, and easy to attach to any tripod. You can check out my full review here.
ZWO ASI294-MC Pro
The ZWO ASI294MC-Pro was the first dedicated astrophotography camera that I’ve owned. This camera is a one-shot color 4/3” format camera that is among the top for anyone switching from a DSLR to a CMOS camera. With the added cooling it means you can easily control the temperature of the sensor to minimize thermal noise in your images.
Canon EOS Rebel t7i
The Canon EOS Rebel t7i is a great camera to start with in any form of photography, let alone Astrophotography. With features such as a flip out screen and USB control to allow astro programs to control it, you can’t go wrong with this camera if you haven’t started yet. For a full list of features, check out the page here.
ZWO ASI120MM Mini
The ZWO ASI120MM Mini is a great little guiding camera. With a ⅓” sensor and 1280×960 resolution, this little mono camera will be a great piece of the puzzle for keeping your mount on target all night. When coupled with filters, it can be used as a planetary camera too!
ASI AIR Plus
The ASI AIR Plus is ZWO’s all in one solution to controlling all of the other hardware that ZWO offers. This device controls the cameras ZWO offers, Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras. It also controls a wide variety of mounts. Lastly out of ZWO’s line, it controls filter wheels and the autofocuser. The ASI AIR Plus is designed to be controlled with a mobile app on a cell phone or a tablet. Using a mobile device allows you to not be tethered to a computer, that is tethered to the entire setup. The bonus here is that it makes things MUCH simpler if you need to travel
Please check out the ASI AIR section for more reviews and some guides for the ASIAIR Plus (and the Pro!).
2019 Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1-inch
This tablet is great for controlling the ASI AIR, and for watching Netflix (sort of not kidding)! The 10.1 inch screen allows for a larger display for using the ASI AIR app. The benefit of using a tablet over a phone for controlling the ASIAIR is the large screen. Buttons are larger and text is easier to read. It also allows you to set the tablet on a table or tripod and you can see the object from a further distance, which can be helpful for Electronically Assisted Astronomy. A word of warning though, this tablet does not come with a built-in color filter to make everything red, and you’ll need to use an additional app to turn the screen red. But if you are fine with that, it’s a great tablet not only for controlling the ASI AIR, but for daily use.
The simplest form of controlling the shutter of your DSLR without hitting the shutter button on the camera is an intervalometer. Using an intervalometer is pretty much a requirement to reduce vibrations and to allow more control than most cameras allow. The JJC Intervalometer is a great pick for controlling the Canon t7i!
Telescopes & Lenses
William Optics ZS61
The William Optics Zenithstar 61 is a refractor with 360mm focal length that allows for the ability to capture images of the larger objects in the night sky. What this means is you’d be able to capture objects such as Andromeda, The Orion Nebula, The Rosette Nebula, and many more. The FPL53 glass that this telescope was built with helps produce excellent colors, reduces optical errors, and produces sharp stars.
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