Will Barton

Astrophotography has been an off/on hobby of mine for almost twenty years. In that time I’ve taken a few images a really like, and many I don’t. Typically I go through periods of enthusiasm and frustration, both with gear, weather, and my own limitations.

One thing that does recur is a fundamental laziness I have when it comes to setting up and taking down my equipment. This is the biggest blocker I find to just getting out and doing. I’ve thought about putting in a permanent pier, so that I don’t have to mess around as much with the tripod and mount alignment, but that’s not the only problem I have. It’s also somewhat hard to travel with my setup. I downsized about 10 years ago from an 8” Schmidt-Cassegrain to an 80mm refractor, and that helped, but given how I frequently I’ve gone out over the past few years, I thought it might be time again.

The first part of my lightweight re-think of my astrophotography setup has to be my mount. I’ve been using an Orion SkyView Pro GoTo. It’s been a good little, reasonably lightweight (as decent goto mounts go), and has done the job well — I haven’t felt it incapable of what I needed. The mount, counterweight, and tripod weigh around 17kg total when set up, and have a maximum capacity of 15kg. 17kg is… not insignificant.

After considering my mount as part of my lightweight re-think of my astrophotography setup, I need to consider my optical and imaging setup. Currently I use an Orion ED80 f/7.5 refractor. The ED80 has a focal length of 600mm, and weighs 2.6kg. To this I add a 0.85 focal reducer/corrector that adds 320g and reduces the focal length to 510mm.