I have a Canon 60D and would like to start doing some astrophotography and/or time-lapses of the Milky Way.

I know I need to buy a special tripod, one with either ecuatorial mount or a computer controlled tripod, but I am not sure which has a better price/performance ratio.

Also, I think I have to buy some IR filters in order to get a more realistic color of the space objects.

Also, should I buy a telescope and a adaptor mount for my camera so to use them both?

I am not sure which is the best combination so if you could please give some tips/hits or links to what could help me I would be very grateful.


2 Answers 2


An equatorial mount and a computer controlled mount are two different things. A mount can also be both.

A equatorial mount has one axis aligned with the spin of the earth (pointed towards Polaris for those north of the equator.)

A computer controlled mount is a mount that knows where the objects in the sky are. You can say, "point at Jupiter" and it will point there and then track the object.

The more you get into astrophotography the more you will spend. It is quite fun, addictive, and rewarding. The mount is critical for your success for deep-sky objects. (Nebula etc...)

You have a lot to learn but get started on wide field astrophotograhpy as Matt recommends, it is much cheaper and you'll get a feel for it. Then start hanging out in the astrophotography forums at CloudyNights.com.

Modify your DSLR for astrophotography is necessary for certain deep sky objects, but don't do it just when you start out, you'll have so much learning to do it will be money wasted. After a year you'll know if you want to shoot deep sky or not. But when you do, you can get images like this:

enter image description here

That was taken with a modified Canon 40D, 9 exposures, 2 minutes long. ISO 800, through a 5" f8 archromatic refractor, mounted on Celestron ASGT computer controlled equatorial mount. I had to discard about half the frames because the mount wasn't perfectly polar aligned and/or I had gear train periodic errors.

And this is only the beginning...

Have fun!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much, this is something I was hoping to hear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ you're welcome, which part did you want to hear? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You've basically answered all my questions with simple answers, so I would know how to continue my research in the future about astrophohtography. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 9:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That's easy! :- ) Basically, astrophotography is really hard to do well but quite rewarding also. photo.stackexchange.com has some astrophotographers on it, but not many. The web forum cloudynights.com is all about astronomy and there are astrophotography sections there. The folks there will be able to give you more and better advice than we can here. The above image may look great but it was my second effort and I gave up soon after for various reasons. You can make better things than that with a bit more effort, but talk to the experts. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 17:29

The "basic gear" is a digital camera and tripod. Point the camera at the sky for 30s with the aperture wide open at the maximum ISO setting. With the right atmospheric conditions and location you can get some surprisingly good results.

Moving on from there a DSLR with RAW support (the 60D is fine) fast lens (such as a 50mm f/1.8) is advisable, as well as an intervalometer, or other interface to capture image sequences. Instead of a tracking mount you can take a long sequence of short exposures (short enough to prevent star trailing) and align them in software (check out Deep Sky Stacker).

Whether you get a telescope + adaptor it depends on whether you are looking to image objects within the milky way or just get images of the whole arc. I would start with wider shots using a regular SLR lens and go from there.

The next level is to look at filtration, though for the best results you need a camera with no filtration in front of the sensor otherwise you're going to lose too much light. You can buy cameras for this purpose (Canon actually make a version of the 60D for astrophotography, the 60Da) or have a regular DSLR adapted by a third party. Once you remove sensor filtration you'll have to use lens mounted filters for everyday photography, otherwise you'll capture a load of UV and IR light.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, that is one wide-ass lens you have that can photograph the galaxy as a whole! ;) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 14:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @ElendilTheTall ok you'd need to shoot a panorama to get capture the whole galaxy, but since the Earth blocks half of it I was going to ignore that part. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 14:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ don't worry about the blocked part, just use a big motion controlled tracking rig... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, I will take your advice into consideration and act as you suggested. If there are any more suggestions you can give, please don't hesitate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would add information about the 600/{effective focal length} rule for the exposure time. With a 60D and 50mm, 7.5 seconds is the longest exposure that would prevent start trails. At 30seconds they would be very obvious, but not long enough to look very nice. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 10:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.