Let’s talk about gear! This is one of the most common things I get asked about. I get these questions from friends who know nothing about the hobby and get even more detailed questions from amateur astronomers and club members.
Here I will list the gear that I currently use and then describe each item’s function. Before I start, I would like to say that I did not just buy all this gear one night. I’ve been growing my collection over the last 10 years, and it will continue to evolve.
Here is my current equipment as of October 2020
- Mount: iOptron CEM60
- Telescope: Explore Scientific ED127 Air-Spaced Triplet Apochromatic Refractor
- Camera: ZWO ASI2600MC Pro
- Guide Scope: Orion ST 80mm
- Guide Camera: ZWO ASI290mm Mini
- Focuser: Moonlite CFL 2.5” Focuser with V3 controller
- Acquisition PC: Seeed Odyssey X86J4105 Mini PC
- Processing PC: Custom PC I built in 2019
Hardware is just the beginning. To make all of this work and talk together, we need to use astronomy acquisition and processing software. There are multiple options, and there is no “correct” software. The following software is just what I’ve found to be the best fit for my needs. Most of the software I use is free and open-source, and I’ve found them very useful and easy to use.
The following is running on the mini PC for acquisition.
- Nighttime Imaging ‘N’ Astronomy (N.I.N.A)
- Astromety.net Local Solver
- PHD2 Guiding
- Resilio Sync
- iOptron Commander
- Connectify Hotspot
Now that the hard part is done, we now get to the fun but the harder part, post-processing. The following software is what I use on my main machine to process the images.
- Deek Sky Stacker
- Adobe Photoshop CC