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  • Writer's pictureJames Paulson

Astrophotography Tips - Part 4 - Weight of your Imaging Rig


One of the important aspects to consider that is not discussed often enough is the size and weight of your imaging rig. Keeping your rig light offers many advantages that are not often made up through aperture alone.


A lightweight and compact imaging rig is easy on the mount. By not overloading the mount, you will get both better balance as well as better tracking on the mount. To me this is just common sense. By not loading more than 50% of the mount's capacity, it will better handle the overall OTA.


Large refractors look impressive, and they image at focal lengths that allow for a larger image scale. Having said that, they also add considerable weight to the mount. So when you choose a mount for a larger refractor, you will be packing a lot more weight in and out to use your setup. It is no longer a simple setup but rather a multiple carry item. And that adds up.


The setup shown above is simple and compact and also highly capable. Mounted on the highly capable Skywatcher EQM-35 GoTo mount, the Sharpstar 76EDPH Apo triplet refractor is a winner. At f/5.5 and 428 mm focal length, the widefield short focal length refractor is light, it is not overloading the mount, and actually could be left set up and used in a one carry situation to move it in and out of the house for a night of remote imaging. Paired with a small guidescope and the ASIAir, it appears to be decked out nicely to be set up, polar aligned, and operated from the confines of the house at night via a tablet in the warmth of the living room. You can image a lot of targets with a small rig like this.


Compare this to my beast of choice, the EQ6. Now I love my EQ6 Pro but it is a back breaker all the way. I pack a tripod out, a mount head out, 2 counterweights out, a deep cycle battery to run it. Then my OTA goes out, the cameras get taken out and mounted (3 cases). Figure 20 minutes to get set up. That's also 20 minutes to tear down and move in, and a lightweight one carry setup is starting to look awfully attractive. for wintertime imaging.


So which rig is going to get used? I’ll let you decide which way you want to go, but I sure hope you consider the weight of your OTA and the corresponding mount requirements when you make that decision.


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