I think for planets a webcam is more often used than a DSLR (those are more suitable for DSO).
I don't know if there is an astronomy club close to you?, you could go out there to get some information and possibly ''play'' with some of the gear available before purchasing any.
I have a dobson telescope and used it with an adapter to take pictures of the moon and saturn/jupiter.
Results of the moon are great, but a full frame body for planets is not putting enough pixels on them.
Also for planets / nebulas (basically anything but the moon), you combine many images to get a far better result.
For DSO's you want longer exposures and need a good tracking system, then afterwards you correct each image before combining them to 1 image ( ideally you use different filters: for example for a galaxy a R V an B filter, take multiple exposures (different lengths) in each filter to reach a certain number of counts that reach your sensor, then you correct each image for a : flat field/dark/bias and combine the different images to one nice image).
This requires a good tracking system, ccd and software.
There are lots of people who make beatiful images with their DSLR (they also correct for dark i think), and us tracking system with follow scope(to ensure the tracking keeps tracking correctly).
Last time i checked tracking systems (even simple ones) were quite expensive (eq5 and eq6 were 600-1200 dollars), a good dobson telescope for DSO is another 1000.
For planets a ''simple'' refractor and 20$ webcam (modified) will yield better results than a dslr!, you take hundreds of images and combine them afterwards with software.
I think you dont need a good tracking system for that either , a bit more work on aligning the images afterwards maybe but it should be doable.
The moon is the most easy to do, but you will want more, where i live there is an astronomy club(not 2 many members), where for 50 euros/year you get membership and access to the telescope ( +- 24 inch/60cm reflector with a great tracking system, where you can connect your dslr with an adapter).
Alternatively you could visit a university for more information!, most people who are into these kind of things love to share knowledge and give advice/tips etc.
If you got something like that close to you, there would be no need to spend a lot of money , and you can photograph different objects ( moon/planets and dso's). Or at least orientate a lot better before spending the money!
Hope it was of any use.
Thanks for the very informative reply! I was hoping that I would be able to get started for around $600 or less, but it looks like I was dreaming! Better start saving I guess. I will definitely look into astronomy groups or using the telescopes at the local university until I have enough saved up.
I was hoping I could get some advice regarding using a camera for astrophotography. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! I am not looking for exceptional pictures of nebulas, but something that can take pictures of some of the larger planets and the moon.Back in the 70's and 80's I did a fair amount of astrophotography, using film. And I was involved in the making of telescopes, mainly reflector types. While times have changed, the basic techniques are still the same.
Unfortunately, my budget is rather limited. As much as I would love a star tracking telescope system, I am hoping to settle for a dobsonian reflector.
What I am looking at is as follows:
Orion SkyQuest XT8 - F/5.9 @ 1200mm (build a scope version)
Orion 2" low profile focuser
Canon T-mount adapter and Orion 2" Zero-Profile Prime Focus Camera Adapter
And a kit of 2" eyepieces for when I want to do viewing rather than imaging
I read that refractors are considerably better for astrophotography, but ouch are they expensive. I am always open to suggestions though!
I am hoping to get into astrophography, but fear spending money on a system that isnt compatible or wont give good results at all (I have heard focusing issues is a common problem).
Thanks! Feel free to post pictures you have taken or of the setup you use to photograph the night sky!
As a rule of thumb, a refractor is a good telescope for planetary use. High magnification, and good contrast. Reflectors are better suited for deep space use (the secondary mirror tends to reduce contrast a little). That said, they both can be used for general astronomy.
For tracking, an equatorial mount is best, although, I believe an alt-azimuth mount can be used with todays computer controlled systems. Dobsonians are really best used for visual observations, as they tend to be set on a simple alt-azimuth mount, which is manually controlled. I tended to use an equatorial mount in the field, and use a small guide scope to keep things on track.
From a camera perspective, the Canon 60Da is designed for astrophotography. It has the IR filter removed and a number of other enhancements. In the film era, it was common to run exposures (for deep space objects) for up to 2-3hrs. In the digital era, its more likely to take a great number of short exposures, then combine them later. This is done to cope with sensor noise, as long exposures tend to get very noisy.
I got carried away with the wide apertures and long focal length of the dobsonians, so I didnt give too much thought to a refractor. Maybe picking up an astrotrak and using my 70-200mm may be a cheap alternative given the cost of the equatorial mounts?
I am hoping to grab a 60Da the next time lens rentals does a promotional sale and lists that camera. Hopefully that will be soon because I just found a wonder spot away from all of the city lights!