Altazimuth Astro Photography

Scope of this site

For quite a long time Deep Space Objects (DSO) astrophotography has been synonymous with equatorial mounts and some form of guiding.

Surely the long exposures required in the film era made both equatorial mounts necessary to prevent field rotation and guiding necessary to track the stars well enough.

Things started to change with the introduction at the amateur level of CCD cameras and DSLRs on the one hand and of GOTO mounts on the other.

Indeed it was the computerized control added to altazimuth mounts to perform GOTO functions that also allowed them to automatically track celestial objects.

While it is to this day unquestioned that the best DSO astrophotography is performed with computerized equatorial mounts featuring autoguiding, more and more satisfying results are obtained by stacking relatively short (15-60s) unguided exposures taken with CCD/CMOS cameras and DSLR paired with telescopes mounted on computerized altazimuth mounts.

From many points of view, this is a new spring of amateur astrophotography, because it allows amateurs astronomers to image DSOs with relatively cheap setups, and the smaller is the sum of money necessary to start an enterprise, the more people will throw themselves in it.

Granted, altazimuth astrophotography remains a field requiring a certain degree of knowledge in multiple fields (sensors, scopes and acquisition, stacking and postprocessing software and techniques), less intuitive than visual astronomy and more complex than planetary photography.

However, with costs involved passing from many thousands (if not a few tens of thousands) euro/dollars to “just” a couple thousands or even less, many more people can become interested in “giving it a try”.

A great overview of this rather new approach to DSO astrophotography can be found in John Ashley’s Astrophotography on the Go: Using Short Exposures with Light Mounts”, the one book that convinced me to “give it a try”.

In this site I want to summarize and present my experiences with altazimuth astrophotography, also detailing some knowledge I acquired in the process, in the hope it may be useful to others who may want to try the same adventure.

I am also on ASTROBIN, where you can find many more pictures of mine.

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