Beginner Astrophotography Equipment. DSLR camera, Rokinon 135mm Telephoto Camera Lens, Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Star Tracker, Tripod

Beginner Astrophotography Equipment

The vast majority of questions I receive are about the equipment I use to image the night sky and what equipment a beginner should use if they're just starting out in astrophotography. 

The question I always ask in response is, "what are your goals for astrophotography?" And by goals, I mean: What is your budget? Do you want a set-up you can travel with or are you okay with one that is more stationary? What type of astrophotography do you want to do? What celestial objects do you want to photograph (e.g., the Moon, the planets, nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, Milky Way landscapes, etc.)?

Depending on your answers to these questions, I'm able to help quite a bit more. But what I have found is that there are a few key pieces of equipment that are great together and wonderful introductory tools to help anyone begin to understand how long exposure astrophotography works. Even after you've graduated from beginner to intermediate, and beyond, these pieces are still fantastic to have.

That being said, here is a list of equipment that I recommend for a versatile, portable, and reasonably affordable beginner astrophotography set-up. This set-up is ideal for imaging a variety of celestial targets with a wide-field of view like the Milky Way core, nebulae like the Great Orion Nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, and star clusters. Any DSLR camera for the most part will do just fine, just be sure to get a lens that works with your camera model. 


Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T8i EF-S 





Camera Lens: Rokinon 135mm Telephoto Lens


Tripod: Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod with SBH-100 Ball Head 


Star Tracker: Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack – Motorized DSLR Night Sky Tracker Equatorial Mount



Since the Earth rotates on its axis, the stars and everything else in the sky will appear to move from east to west. In order to take several long exposures and avoid star trails, I recommend using a star tracker to compensate for Earth's rotation.

Long exposure photography is the name of the game with astrophotography because the celestial objects we are imaging are generally very faint so we need to collect a lot of light to reveal the details of these targets like nebulae and galaxies. Taking multiple, long exposures (15 seconds +) and stacking them together is how the details will become more prominent in a final, stacked image. Of course, there are instances when shorter exposures are better. If you're in a lot of light pollution, then shorter exposures will help mitigate the amount of light pollution in your images, just as an example.

You will also need to have batteries for your camera, intervalometer, and star tracker, as well as a memory card or two for your camera.


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I am attempting to get in contact with you regarding photographing the moon. I have watched you YouTube video which inspired me to attempt this task. I have a Nikon D3100 and I got myself a used Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G IF-ED off of Ebay. At a very good price. I also got myself a Victiv tripod (80“ Heavy Duty Camera Stand Tripod | Professional Ball Head Tripod Stand with Twist Locks | Aluminum Tripod Stand | for DSLR Camera Spotting Scope | Video Camera Tripods & Monopods). That I believe is more than suitable. I also have both PHOLSY N10 Shutter Remote Control Cable Release Cord for Nikon and JJC Intervalometer Timer Remote Shutter Cord for Nikon. I have only be able to attempt this project three times. Many due to weather and moon availability. And all the attempts were met with the same results. Just a glowing orb. The Looney rule is appropriately named. If you would kindly respond to my email. It would be greatly appreciated. Technique’s, settings, tricks and encouragement. I believe I do have what I need. I just haven’t put it all together…yet.
Thank you very much. Best regards and clear skies.
Ted Nawn

Theodore A Nawn

I’ve been interested in this for years but live in a metro area with a lot of light pollution can barely see Venus. What’s your favorite observation point? I’m in the Dallas area

Joe Wilson

Aloha stargazer,
If you ever plan on travel to Hawaii, I would love to have you as a guest on my property and visit observatories. In fact, I just had a tour of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility at the summit with my Swiss guests yesterday. Blessings. Happy New Years!

Archie Pina

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