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  • Writer's pictureJames Paulson

Astrophotography Tips – Part 5 – Spend Wisely


Astrophotography quickly becomes an expensive game. The reason for this is the number of premium pieces that must be collected to build a quality imaging setup. And people who tell you that you can do astrophotography on the cheap simply have not worked to the high quality standards that so many desire today.


Even a good budget rig is going to set you back $4500. I say that from experience because it really depends on where you are headed. Let’s take a simple but good quality imaging rig. A lightweight GoTo mount is going to be $1300. A budget imaging refractor is another $1000. Add a decent camera, another $1200. Top it with a guide camera and guide scope, another $500. Finish it out with an ASIAir or PC to run it, another $500.


At the other extreme sits high dollar rigs, with Japanese made optics and high dollar mounts and high-end cameras. A $4500 rig will deliver some nice results and will be something you can use for many years to come. Once you start doling out high dollars for high end gear it becomes a rabbit hole of expense.


My own system represents a good investment in gear. The EQ6 Pro mount is the base of it ($2700), and a Celestron 8 inch SCT is my scope of choice ($2200). To that I added a Hyperstar conversion and lens ($1850), and ASI533MC Pro camera ($1200), a guide scope and ASI290MM mini guide cam ($600), an ASIAir Pro and wifi extender ($500), a tablet to run it ($800), and a battery to power it all ($300). That puts us at $10,150


Let’s say you want to just do stationary widefield. You could get by with a small tripod for around $100 and a use DSLR for say $300 and have about $400 invested. That’s not a bad choice either if you are interested in shooting star fields, aurora, timelapses, meteor showers, large comets and more. Most astrophotography types have some kind of wide field imaging device as well.

Having said all of this, plot your path carefully so your enjoyment can grow in the hobby. Do that through strategic purchasing so you can build up to the end goal.


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