Essential Astrophotography Accessories You’ll love

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So, you’ve reached a good level in astrophotography. Now you’re probably wondering how to take your astrophotography to the next level. Well, there’s a number of accessories that can help you. In this post you’re going to discover which essential astrophotography accessories you’ll need. So, buckle up, because we’re diving into some seriously cool gadgets that will transform your night sky photography!

To help you out I’ve organised the best astrophotography accessories into different categories that show how these different accessories will improve your experience of astrophotography. Want sharper pictures? There are accessories for that! Accessories to help with light pollution? I’ve got you covered!

Essential astrophotography accessories for sharper pictures

Lens Hood: Think of it as a tiny sun visor for your lens, blocking stray light that causes those annoying lens flares and messes with contrast. Trust me, it makes a huge difference! On a recent Perseid meteor shower trip, I totally forgot mine. Disaster! Lesson learned! By the way, a lens hood also protects it from dew unless the conditions are extreme. This one of best camera accessories for astrophotography.

Dew Heater: Ever wake up to a dew-covered lens after a night of shooting? Frustrating, right? A heated lens system acts like a tiny defroster, keeping your lens clear and crisp for those breathtaking winter nightscapes. It’s a lifesaver for us brave souls who battle the cold for those epic shots.

Dew Heater for Telescope or DSLR Lens
  • 20″/ 500mm length
  • Eliminate dew
  • USB power
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Focus Mask: I had problems with my focus not being exactly right and a few times I had to throw away an entire night’s images because they were not sharp. One way I solved this was to 3D print a Bahtinov Mask which allows me to get perfect focus. For me, this is one of the most essential astrophotography accessories.

Before every imaging session I check focus and nearly every time it is slightly off and sometimes quite a bit from the evening before. I place the Bahtinov mask over the aperture of my telescope and point at a bright star. I usually use Arcturus, Dubhe or Vega depending on the time of the year as these stars are bright and easy to find. The Bahtinov mask causes 3 diffraction spikes in two opposite directions. The idea is to adjust focus slightly until the spikes are equally separated and the middle one is perfectly centred between the other two.

Bahtinov masks are not expensive and ensure perfect focus. All you need to do then is to lock down your focus so it doesn’t move during the night.

Accessories for your comfort and convenience

Red Light or Torch: A red light is an essential accessory because you can use it to see in the dark, yet it won’t affect your imaging too badly. Shining a bright white light near your astrophotography setup is not a good idea and this is the perfect solution. I got myself a power bank with a powerful light on it which is necessary for viewing the laptop keyboard to inspecting leads and connections which is nearly impossible otherwise in the dark of night.

Folding Chair: Astrophotography often involves long exposures. You don’t want to spend all night hunched over like a question mark. Invest in a comfy folding chair! Your back (and sanity) will thank you. Speaking from experience (one too many nights on a flimsy camp stool), a crick in your neck is no joke!

Intervalometer App (Optional): Skip the dedicated intervalometer and use an app on your smartphone! These apps let you program automatic image capture at set intervals, perfect for stacking images (more on that later). Plus, it’s one less gadget to carry!

Wireless Shutter Remote Compatible for Canon
  • For Canon EOS 5D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 6D, 7D, 7D Mark II
  • Under $40 (price may change)
  • 4.5 stars with 1,799 reviews on Amazon
  • Great value!
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External Battery Pack: Packing an extra battery pack is a lifesaver, especially in remote locations. There’s nothing worse than your camera dying mid-meteor shower! Let’s just say I’ve learned this one the hard way… a few times.

Binoculars: A great accessory to have because it adds to your enjoyment and learning in astronomy. You never know when you might want to quickly check something you see in the sky and binoculars are one of the best and most convenient ways to do this. It’s surprising what you can see in the night sky with a good quality pair of binoculars so keep them handy!

Celestron - Cometron 7x50 Bincoulars - Beginner Astronomy Binoculars
  • Beginners binoculars
  • Manufactured by celestron
  • $24.33 (price may go up)
  • Absolutely ideal!
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Best astrophotography accessories to manage light pollution:

Sky Quality Meter: Light pollution is an astrophotographer’s worst enemy. A sky quality meter helps you find the darkest skies for optimal results. Think of it as your scout for the perfect shooting location! The first time I used one, it was a game-changer. I ventured a little further out of town based on the readings, and the difference in the night sky was incredible. The Milky Way went from a faint smudge to a breathtaking expanse of stars!

I use Stellarium on my laptop and SkySafari on my phone. There are many alternatives.

Star Atlas or Astrophotography App: Planning is key! A good star atlas or app helps you identify celestial objects and plan your shots effectively. No more wandering around the night sky aimlessly! There are even fantastic apps with augmented reality that show you exactly where objects are in the sky – basically your own personal celestial tour guide!

filters are essential astrophotography accessories
Light pollution filters

Filters: Either a light pollution filter or narrowband filters are great for reducing light pollution in your images. It will not remove it completely but will make processing your images much better and increases contrast. I use an Optolong L-Pro broadband filter for RGB images and a ZWO Duoband filter which allows through Hydrogen alpha and Oxygen III wavelengths of light and blocks out most light pollution.

Accessories to Improve the performance of your telescope:

Collimation Tool: If you have a Newtonian reflector telescope or similar a collimation tool is necessary. You’ll need to check collimation often otherwise your images will degrade, and your stars will look less than perfect. Collimating is easy when you learn how. I use a laser collimator and it takes me about 5-10 minutes to check and adjust the mirrors, so everything is good to go.

Field Flattener: In many of my images I can see that at the centre my stars are round and sharp whereas towards the corners and edges my stars are more oval shaped and distorted. This is not a big problem if I crop my image. Ideally, we want our stars to look round and sharp in all parts of the image and that’s where a field flattener helps. This accessory will correct this problem.

Focal Reducer: This reduces the focal length of your optics. For example, if I attach a focal reducer to my telescope, it will reduce the focal length and give me a wider field of view so I can capture larger objects. It also makes the optics faster and reduces exposure time needed for the same target. This is not an essential piece of equipment for astrophotography, but nice to have and offers you more choices.

Pier extension: I bought one of these for my telescope setup because at certain times when my target was nearly overhead or when my telescope was doing a meridian flip, the tube hit the legs of the tripod. This is bad because the motor keeps going and can damage the cogs in your mount’s drive system. The pier extension I used raised my telescope by five to eight inches and reduced the possibility of a collision.

Aperture Hood: I made a hood from black car carpet and secured it to the tube with velcro. It works perfectly. You can buy a hood from brands like Celestron. The purpose of these is to block out stray light from entering your telescope. They are essential astrophotography accessories, and I wouldn’t be without one! Like the lens hood above, my aperture hood shields my telescope and protects it from dew running into the tube and stops misting of the mirrors in winter.

Other Accessories:

Portable Power Banks

This is an essential accessory if you plan to travel to a darker site with your astrophotography equipment. A portable power bank should be able to power all your equipment for many hours and preferably the entire evening. For the setup I currently have, I need a power bank to power my cooled astro camera, my telescope mount, my autoguider and my laptop. At 3A. 12V I need about 36W and if we say a night’s imaging is about seven hours this would require at least 36 x 7 = 252Wh. You might need more or less depending on your setup.

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