The best telescope and photography gear to buy is the gear you will use. This sentiment is the only suggestion I can give to anyone looking to get into astrophotography. For some, the gear you will use is your smartphone and a telescope. For others, it will be a complex rig housed in a backyard observatory. Personally, I gravitate toward the complex rig side of this spectrum, but I am limited by resources and time. When I get clear nights, I have a couple hours of observing and imaging time. Therefore, the quicker I can get observing and imaging, the better!
As I shared with you in the past, I donated to a “fund-me” project call the Dwarf II. It promises to make astrophotography easy. My first reaction when I heard this was, “Ah, yes. The famous last words of many a failed endeavor.” Still, I’m a sucker for trying to find something easy and inexpensive for astrophotography – So I made a donation.
And what is my verdict on the Dwarf II? By golly they actually came through on their promise! This past week, I have been blessed with a string of nights that were clear and decent for astrophotography. The first night, as with many new things, the “futz-factor” kicked in and I didn’t get much imaging time. However, after figuring out the Dwarf II’s little quirks, nights 2-5 delivered on the promise: 5 minute setup and the rest of the night was imaging!
So, is this going to be gear I use? Absolutely! In fact, I have been so happy with this little scope’s performance that I feel its time to get rid of some of my other gear. I’ll have more to share with you in the future, but for now I’ll share with you the first light from this week.
What do you want to explore in the weeks and months ahead? Leave your comments below for potential star targets. Now, I need to figure out if I can live stream with this little smart scope!
Below are a mix of out of camera stacked images and images I edited. With every session, the Dwarf II saves two kinds of files. One is a .png file of the entire image stack and the the other is a .tiff file of every individual image that makes up the stack. As you can see, the .png is nice, but there is far more latitude when editing the individual .tiffs after stacking them on my own.
Out of smart scope/camera images:
1. Orion Nebula – 45 seconds of exposure time.
2. Orion Nebula – 20 minutes of exposure time.
3. Pleiades – One hour of exposure time – 240 images stacked. (The odd artifacting on the edges is from the stacking process. As the scope compensates for movement to keep the stars aligned, it slowly changes the framing of each image.)
4. Star Propus and Nebula – 75 minutes of exposure time – 301 stacked images (This was the longest time the battery life would allow for one, continues imaging session).
These images are edits I made after stacking the .tiff files. These stacks allow for much more control of image editing. Enjoy!