I am keen to encourage others to try astrophotography and to be amazed by what can be photographed in the night sky without very fancy hardware. Today's digital cameras plus suitable software are all that are needed to get started. Several of the photos here were taken on only a fixed tripod, to demonstrate that that is possible. The next thing to get is a motorised equatorial mount that simply compensates for the Earth's rotation by driving round one axis aligned with the pole. Fantastic photos can be obtained without any telescope, as is demonstrated in this set. Some of my photos are taken through an inexpensive 254mm aperture Newtonian telescope. I have never used any autoguiding system. Two key factors are using software written for the purpose (not graphic arts applications) and careful planning of exposure conditions. Taking many short exposures is generally better than fewer longer ones, for several good reasons. Use the maximum standard ISO sensitivity in the camera. By standard I mean not the extended ones accessible via a menu - they are counterproductive for astrophotography. In-camera noise reduction is also unsuitable - avoid it.
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