handy dandy


Last Updated: 3/13/2023

The Great Orion Nebula

Current Setup

Equipment List

My current equipment setup consists of a modest entry level refractor scope with a cheap but good DSLR for imaging.
I'll be adding details of future plans for each piece and details about how it works to help understand why I chose these pieces of equipment.
I'd be interested in what equipment/software you use, or would consider that I investigate, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the page.

William Optics Zenithstar 73 - Main objective scope (Blue)

I opted for the Zenithstar 73 (Z73) due to it being good for astrophotography with the targets that I wanted to capture.

William Optics 200mm - Guide scope (Red)

I originally had a finder scope due to not having a guide camera, upgrading to this allows me to have better guiding.

Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro

I opted for the HEQ5 Pro, due to its capacity, computer integration and price point.

Canon 600D (T3i) (Objective Camera) & T-Adapter

The Canon 600D was a good choice as there was no additional cost to the capture setup since I already owned it for my landscape photography. The camera is now pretty cheap, still good quality and a great entry point for new users, while showing that you don't need a CCD or dedicated camera.

ZWO ASI290MM Mini (Guide Camera)

I opted for this guide camera because of its low cost and great low light performance, the choice to use MM (ZWO's indication of monochrome) was due to a more accurate capturing of star light.

William Optics Flat 73A (Field Flattener)

The field flattener is a piece that helps to stop the image being curved due to how light interacts with rounded glass, this field flattener is adjustable as well and allows for integration of screw in filters.

Camera Rotator

The addition of a rotator allows me to frame the object I want to capture without having to unscrew or rotate the telescope.

Light Polution Filter - IDAS LPS-D2

Due to my current Bortle 4 sky, I wanted something that provided reduced noise for the background, whilest still allowing the narrow bands I wanted, this lead me to choosing IDAS's LPS-D2 48mm filter.


I picked up PixInsight after getting more experience with the imaging process, its pricy, but at least its only a one-off cost.
One particular aspect that I like about PixInsight, is that you can produce re-usable processing/flows within the applciation that will get you about 80% of the way to an end result image you'd want.
Another feature that I use in my Gallery (soon to come) is using the plate solving feature to generate a star map.


I use Photoshop for doing some basic post-processing and adding items like metadata or watermarks, its also very useful if you want to perform composite images.


Since I use an Canon DSL for my imaging, this tool is very handy for setting up and monitoring imaging sequences, it also comes with a program that allows you to apply a red colour filter to help with reducing blue/white light.


Stellarium is a great piece of free star mapping software, its intuitive to use and also connects to ASCOM for star navigation.


Due to a combination of being in a Bortle 4 level of sky pollution and also in the Southern Hemisphere, getting good polar alignment can be a challenge.
SharpCap offers (though under a yearly subscription) offline polar alignment, framing assistance and a number of other features that help with setting up guiding.

Topaz DeNoise AI

Sometimes images can be quite noisy, typically due to light pollution or lack of exposure time, Topaz DeNoise allows for some adjustment to help smooth out some of the noise, hopefully as time goes by, the AI training model will improve and provide better support for astro images, I'd only recommend this tool if you are getting extremly noisy images.

PHD Guiding

Since I have a motorised mount and guiding camera, I can use guiding software to help keep my image within the frame of reference, I like PHD Guiding for a number of reasons, its easy to setup, free and is widely used, so support in communities are good.

Cable Box and no slip mat

Assorted cables for operating the setup, with a dedicated box to stop them from getting too tangled. The non-slip mat is really handy when placed over the plastic portable table I use when out in the field, stops the laptop setup and other items from sliding off into the grass on non-flat ground.

Custom field battery

A custom created field battery with a 28Ah capacity across 4 motorcycle batteries.

Storage box convertible to laptop protector

Naturally we need to move around items as we go, this box is able to be converted into a laptop protector, with a brushed cable inlet to allow for full closure of the lid without squishing cables if required.

Historic Equipment List

As time goes by like anyone, I'll be changing my equipment either through modifications or upgrades, and as this happens I'll keep the information about it below with dates which might help people see upgrade paths or even what's good for a beginner who might be able to pickup these pieces for cheap.

William Optics 150mm - Finder scope (Blue)

Replaced: November 2020

I originally started with a 150mm finder scope as I did not own a guild camera, this was good for getting a quicker alignment with stars, but by upgrading to a guide scope I was able to improve guiding accuracy.


Replaced: November 2021

I started with DeepSkyStacker because of the free price and a recommended simple entry point to start off with, I would still recommend this to new starters, this was replaced with PixInsight.