While I have a nice astronomy setup there is always room for improvements with the right amount of capital expenditures. People always ask me about the gear I have but never where I see my gear going, so this is more for my own benefit but also showing how this hobby is always about continued improvement both in technical skill and equipment. There is also the reality that technology marches on and that their are better solutions for tasks that save significant amount of time and improve results immensely (I’m looking at you Polemaster!)
1. ZWO Guide Camera (290 or 174 MM Mini)
Right now I have a pretty solid guide camera (Orion Starshooter) which works great with PHD2 and interfaces well with my mount. However as I venture into more obscure objects and OAG imaging I’m finding it harder and harder to get a suitable guide star, so an upgrade to a more sensitive and larger guide-scope is definitely in the near future. Main issue is picking which one and ZWO has recently become the go-to for affordable and effective guide cameras.
2. Oplong L-enchance or Similar Light Pollution Filter 2″
I’m Imaging from a very dark location so light pollution and sky haze hasn’t been a huge issue for me. However with longer exposures and likely a year or two away from Monochromatic Narrowband a Light Pollution Filter
3. Astro-Physics Mach2GTO
Currently I’m using a push-to mount and learning the sky as a result. While this is great my astrophotography is reaching a point where I need to be more vigilant in capturing photons efficiently which means less time “hunting” for elusive targets and more time with the camera shutter open (although I’m using a silent shutter so that analogy doesn’t quite fit anymore).
Looking further ahead a mount upgrade definitely makes sense and looking at what is available on the market the A-P Mach2 seems to be the ideal solution. I don’t need a bigger payload that many high-end mounts provide, rather precision guiding and encoders for active feedback so that I can image all night long.
4. Automated Focusing
Right now I have a solution for automated imaging with the RedCat which I need to setup in software using ASCOM drivers but I also need to explore focusing solutions for all my equipment.
5. Monochromatic Camera and Narrowband Imaging
Eventually I’ll move over from OSC into cooled dedicated astronomy cameras. However technology in this area is constantly improving and it will be interesting to see what options present themselves in the next couple of years when I finally make the switch.
It’s an expensive undertaking that requires not only the camera, but filters and a filterwheel (so that changing filters is an automated process).
Doing Narrowband Imaging presents a lot of additional cogs in the wheel of Astro Imaging and each cog is a potential source for problems so it’s important that when I do finally make the move to Narrowband I want all the bugs worked out of the rest of the system.
In the meantime I’ll rock the OSC and my Ha Filter for those times when RGB isn’t ideal.
Bonus: What about new scopes?
Right now I’m pretty happy with my scope selections for astrophotography. I keep eyeing those RASA’s as I’ve heard such good things about them. However there is a lot of sky to Imaging with the telescopes I have and those focal distances too keep me busy in the foreseeable future.