When someone seeks to enter the field of astronomy they often become interested in astrophotography. Why? Well, it’s simple. The gorgeous photos of space we see online, often from super telescopes from NASA or professional observatories. But amateurs at home can also take amazing photos of space too, and that what’s I love about this pastime.
However, the first question that I often hear is what is the best telescope for astrophotography? As we will see, this is not an easy question to answer and can be quite complex to discuss. However, if you are asking this question and looking for an answer, I will help you to come to a conclusion that will be helpful in making a choice that is right for you. Briefly, though, here is a good answer:
The best telescope for astrophotography is the one that helps you take the best images of astronomical targets. Two types of telescope are used for astrophotography, refractors, and reflectors. The quality of the optics and the sturdiness of the telescope mount are two very important factors.
If you are looking to buy a telescope for astrophotography, a lot will depend on your current level of expertise. Are you a beginner with little or no experience, or have you tried astrophotography before and seek to improve? The equipment suitable for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced astrophotographer is very different! There is absolutely no point in trying to use equipment that is too advanced for you before you have learned the techniques to correctly use it. This is also a waste of your time and money and will cause much frustration!
Astrophotography is a complex pastime and can develop into a professional occupation if you take it that far. There is a long learning curve which is very steep at times. You’ll need to understand what your goals are and which targets you want to image before you can choose the best telescope for your astrophotography journey.
Let’s look into this question, not only by looking at the facts which you can find elsewhere, but I’ll try to give you my perspective as an astrophotographer who is familiar with the many choices and problems you may face when choosing and using your telescope and other astrophotgraphy equipment. Hopefully this will be much more use to you practically than just reading about telescopes in general.
What are the Different Types of Telescopes?
There are many different types of telescopes available on the market today but not all of them will suit your needs when it comes to astrophotography. There’s an important distinction between a telescope that you would use for hunting or birdwatching and one that would be used for astrophotography.
The telescope is a powerful instrument that allows us to see the universe in great detail. However, the type of telescope that is best for you depends on what you want to photograph. Ask yourself, do you want to photograph planets and the Moon or far away deep sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae?
Some telescopes will be great for both. The telescope I have, for example, can handle all these objects but I do think that planets are best imaged with refractor telescopes that do not need to be too large. These objects are usually pretty bright so easily focused and observed. They can easily be found too and exposures can be very short so it is not really necessary to have an expensive equatorial mount. An alt az mount will do. More about mounts later.
Telescopes can be classified by their size, shape, and design. The bigger the size, the more magnification it will have and the heavier it will be. So, for astrophotgraphy there is a decision to be made based on how and where you plan to do your imaging. If you want to go out and carry your equipment or transport it by car, you don’t want it to be too heavy and bulky. Portable is best for you!
Yesterday I watched a very interesting and informative video which will give you an astrophotgrapher’s view on different kinds of telescopes and which ones are worth using. I hope this video will clear up a few confusions and give you a better idea of the choice you have.
The main classifications of telescopes include:
These are the most common type of telescope and use lenses to collect light from objects in space
A reflector telescope is a type of optical telescope that uses mirrors to collect and focus light. These telescopes are generally less expensive than refractor telescopes, but they are also more complicated to use.
These are the most common type of telescope in the world. They use two mirrors to collect and focus light from an object into an image. The first mirror is concave, or dish shaped, and it collects the light from the object. This also called the primary mirror and can be found at the rear end of your telescope. The second mirror is flat and it reflects this light back up to a focal point where eyepieces are positioned for viewing. This is called the secondary mirror.
A reflector telescope can be more portable than other types of telescope.
The main disadvantage is that they require more maintenance than refracting or catadioptric telescopes. One of these is collimation which needs to be checked often for a reflector telescope but not for a refractor. However, collimation uses just takes me about 5 minutes and is quite easy once you have a laser collimation tool which fits over the focuser tube.
How to Choose the Best Telescope for Your Needs?
The first step is to decide what you plan on using your telescope for. If you want to see distant galaxies, then a long-focus, large aperture telescope may be perfect for you.
Telescopes are the best way to see the stars and other celestial objects in space. Telescopes can be used for a number of purposes and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The type of telescope you choose will depend on your specific needs and how much you are willing to spend.
The next step is deciding how much money you want to spend. Telescopes range from $50 all the way up to $400,000 depending on what features they have. The recently launched James Webb Telescope is the most advanced telescope of all and the price is about 10 billion dollars and counting! I spent a couple of hundred dollars to acquire my Celstron 130mm reflector and I still use a year or so later. No need to spend thousands of dollars especially if you are in the early stages of your astrophotgraphy journey!
Here is a detailed overview of some of the best telescopes for astrophotography currently available, I think it will definitely point you in the right direction.
Conclusion: The Best Telescopes for Astrophotography
So there we have it. You should choose either a reflector or a refractor of simple design unless you are much more experienced in which case you may need to spend more and do the research necessary to choose your best telescope. For any beginner to astronomy, the brand and availability of parts is important. Brands such as Celestron, Skywatcher, Orion or Meade all have good reputation for quality and should give you years of trouble-free use.