Revisiting Astrophotography 14 years later!

It’s coming up to 12 years since I last carried out any serious astrophotography work, and now, I am sat at home on my desktop writing this article as I await 3 pallets of our new astrophotography gear to arrive! I am beyond excited that ClickAsnap has enabled me to be able to purchase this level of equipment to share with our local photography community here in Hampshire, UK.

The last time I ventured into the world of astrophotography it was 2012 and it took us 9 months and a journey through a whole array of equipment to finally get those photos of deep space galaxies (and I must point out, the first time you see Saturn through a telescope is simply magical) The photos I took back then were plagued with so many issues, that whilst I was happy with them at the time I dearly wanted to go further into this fantastic photography arena but the costs and in some cases, the technology was not there for the consumer. For example, i was attempting to use a 6inch Celestron refractor telescope for the deeper space shots but the camera i had to use was a Nikon D7100. Which, whilst fine for taking shots parallel to the surface of the earth, not so great when attached to an eyepiece and pointing straight up. The weight of the camera was simply too much for the rack and pinion system to hold so my only true photos i managed to take back then were simply by mounting the camera and a 70-200mm lens piggy back on the side of the telescope and essentially used the telescope as a saddle for the Orion star guiding system and the camera itself. We of course also purchased and tried a 12inch Meade Cassegrain telescope but that would have required a wedge and a whole array of new equipment to do and it was simply outside of my financial reach at that time.

Jumping forward to 2023 and we, as a company, have invested heavily in probably the largest mobile telescope system in the UK today. Designed to roll on and off a lorry and be easily transported anywhere within a few hours (traffic dependent!) The aim behind this is to enable us to introduce this fantastic technology to budding photographers who would never be able to do this sort of imaging. I am also very curious about connecting it to the internet and allowing users to book time on it and dial in and take their own images!

Lets just do a quick comparison between what i had in 2012 and what we’re going to be debuting now:

Telescope: 2012: was a 6inch refractor (although, as mentioned i did not once manage to get a photo through it so truth be told the real imaging optics was the 70-200mm lens) 2023: 16 inch Meade F8 ACF OTA

Mount: 2012: Takahashi Temma II (actually a fantastic mount) 2023: We have gone with the 10 micron GM 2000 HPS II Combi GOTO mount and associated peripherals

Camera: 2012: Nikon D7100 2023: Actively cooled ATIK APX60 color and an ATIK APX60 black and white camera. These will be coupled with an RBG filter set as well as filters for Ionized Sulphur, Hydrogen alpha and triply ionized Oxygen filters for deep space nebulae imaging

We will be coupling this equipment with an RVO 102mm ED Doublet refractor for wide field imagery which can be taken at the same time as the deep space imagery the larger scope will be focusing on. This refractor will carry the color ATIK camera whilst the deep space 16″ scope will be carrying the black and white ATIK and associated filter wheel system. Obviously these can be swapped around depending on what is being imaged, but the idea is to image deeper space with the larger scopes. There will also be a guide scope system (although it is debatable if a mount of such high quality needs it)

With all this equipment in place, assuming we get some good weather spots is genuinely exciting as to what we will be able to image with this. Of course all the imagery will be available on ClickASnap and we will certainly be doing alot of videography around this journey as well!

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do

Tom Oswald

CEO & Founder ClickASnap

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