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The Best Telescope for Astrophotography

The best telescope for astrophotography is one that can provide you with consistent results time and time again. There have never been so many options to choose from for deep-sky DSLR astrophotography through a telescope. DSLR Astrophotography is a rewarding hobby with many challenges to overcome in the beginning. Choosing the right set of tools to start you on your journey is pivotal to your success and continued growth.

A basic deep-sky astrophotography setup may include:

  • Refractor Telescope
  • Field Flattener/Reducer
  • DSLR Camera
  • T-Ring and Adapter
  • Tracking EQ Mount
  • Field Laptop and Capture Software
  • Light Pollution Filter

Basic astrophotography equipment setup for deep-sky imaging

A small refractor telescope is an excellent choice in terms of affordability and ease of use. The forgiving wide field of view provided by an 80mm refractor gives you a better chance of recording sharp stars with your camera. You can think of a refractor like a telephoto camera lens. A refractor design from 72-100mm will have a focal length of about 400-700mm. This means that large deep-sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy will fit into the entire frame.

Any telescope used for photography purposes will need to be mounted to an equatorial platform that compensates for the rotation of the Earth. This essentially "freezes" objects in the night sky for long exposure images. A great example of a telescope in this category is the Explore Scientific ED80.

This Triplet Apochromatic refractor produces sharp images when used with a DSLR camera, due to its optical design.

The Best Astrophotography Telescope for a Beginner

Some may consider the best telescope for astrophotography to be something with a little more magnification. When shooting prime-focus astrophotography, you are limited to the focal length and magnification of the telescope itself. An SCT (Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope) such as the Celestron C8, has a much longer focal length, well over 1000mm.

This optical design will look deeper into space, but also magnify any errors in telescope tracking you may have. Whichever telescope you choose, it is best to do your homework first.

Make sure that your telescope is capable of producing the types of images you are hoping for.  A great way to get a preview of what each telescope can do is to browse the images on Astrobin.  You can search through the images with a filter set to a specific telescope model.