Call us: 01444 237070

Search terms

[[{name}]]

Brands

[[{name}]]

Category

[[{name}]]

Products

[[{name}]]
[[{attributes.Price}]]

Best Astronomy Tools and Photography Gear

Observing the night sky is a wonderful way to spend an evening, whilst learning how to photograph the moon, planets and stars is the icing on the cake for many photography enthusiasts.

Best Astronomy Tools and Photography Gear

Whether you’re a beginner, seasoned astronomer or perhaps looking for astronomy gifts, our guide highlights the best astronomy tools and photography gear for any budget. Discover which are the best astronomy binoculars, how to choose a Celestron astronomy telescope and everything you need to know about using cameras, tripods and more.

Our tips will help you deepen your knowledge of astronomy, discover new astrophotography tips from pro photographers and learn how to choose the best gear for viewing the night sky. You’ll also find out about key astro seasons in order to plan your viewing calendar at any time of the year.

Horse Head and Flame Nebula

Horse Head and Flame Nebula ©Tom Bridle

The best time to photograph the night sky

Although it’s not always feasible to shoot at the perfect time, ideally night photographers will plan ahead for viewing stars and constellations, in order to have the best chance of capturing amazing images or witnessing the most impressive spectacles. This applies to anything from milky way and star photography, to moon photography and simply for viewing the night sky with your telescope or binoculars.

If you’re viewing and shooting planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies and other distant objects it’s best done when the sky is at its darkest. Choose a dark location with minimal light pollution during times of no moonlight or twilight. This dark sky calendar will help you plan for these times for the best chance of witnessing objects at their brightest. An eyepiece like either of the Pentax Eyepiece SMC XW 23 or Eyepiece SMC XW 16.5 can provide impressive performance for very distant objects and make a worthy addition to your astro kit.

The annual calendar is divided into four astronomy seasons, with two solstices and two equinoxes spanning:

  • Spring: 21 March to 20 June
  • Summer: 21 June to 20 September
  • Autumn: 21 September to 20 December
  • Winter: 21 December to 20 March

Prepare for your astro viewing and night photography by using the BBC’s astronomy planner (opens in new window) and plan your trips, compositions or when to set up your Walkstool Comfort chair to view celestial spectacles.

Running Man and Orion Nebula

Running Man and Orion Nebula ©Tom Bridle

How to choose the best telescope for astronomy

When choosing the best telescope for astronomy look for large diameter and high magnification telescopes to view greater detail with higher definition. The Celestron NexStar 8SE Computerised Telescope is one of the most popular models for enthusiasts, with 480x magnification and iPhone or iPad control for simple and pleasurable viewing.

If you’re on a stricter budget, looking for a beginner astronomy telescope or a telescope as a gift, consider either the Celestron NexStar 4SE or NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope. Despite costing considerably less than the flagship 8SE model, you’ll still be able to view Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s cloud bands and geographic features on the surface of the Moon with either of these.

Once you’ve picked the best telescope for your needs, you’ll be able to add accessories which expand the functionality of your telescope. The Celestron Eyepiece and Filter Kit 1.25-inch reveals previously unseen details on the moon and most popular planets, while adding a Celestron NexYZ 3-Axis universal smartphone adapter lets you capture images from your phone. The Celestron StarSense AutoAlign comes with a hand controller and automatically aligns your Celestron computerised telescope on numerous stars quickly and easily, which helps when you have limited time available.

You can enjoy longer viewing times with your telescope when out in the field with the Celestron PowerTank Lithium portable power pack. Despite weighing only 1kg, this compact battery pack will power your telescope for up to 10 hours.

Andromeda galaxy

Andromeda galaxy ©Tom Bridle

What are the best binoculars for astronomy?

Knowing what to look for in astronomy binoculars is essential for the most enjoyable viewing, with the best models combining a wide field of view with high magnification. The best binoculars for astronomy will feature an aperture from 32mm to 60mm and a magnification of around 7x to 12x.

Mounting your binoculars onto a suitable tripod will give the steadiest results, although the Canon 14x32 IS Binoculars and premium Zeiss 20x60 Image Stabilised Binocular include image stabilisation for sharp images when handholding.

The budget-friendly Nikon Action EX 10x50 Waterproof Binoculars make a great gift or first choice for a budding astronomer, while the Pentax SP 20x60 WP Waterproof Binocular offer greater magnification at a slightly higher price.

A firm favourite amongst more experienced astro viewers and night photographers is the Leica NOCTIVID 10x42 Binocular, which offers a combination of portability, high magnification and incredible clarity. These binoculars come with SCHOTT HT glass, refined ergonomics and are waterproof to 5m to survive virtually any damp situation.

Although telescopes offer greater magnification than binoculars, many astronomers prefer the natural dual eyepieces, portability and versatility which binoculars provide. You can bring them anywhere in a backpack or even in your pocket and use them during downpours and in humid locations.

Our resident astrophotographer Tom brindle has this to say ‘Binoculars with a high magnification are good for viewing the Moon. A tripod mount is recommended for creating a more stable viewing platform, while image stabilisation is excellent if you have the budget available. For stars, nebulae and distant objects choose a minimum 42mm aperture, while a larger objective is better for fainter objects’.

Distant stars

Best camera for astrophotography

Choosing the best camera for astrophotography comes down to the image quality you want to achieve, available budget and whether you want to shoot deep-sky astrophotography with the camera attached to a telescope. A DSLR or mirrorless camera are the most versatile choice, while a smartphone is the most accessible for beginners.

A full-frame camera, or crop sensor with good low light performance is recommended for wide field of view (FOV) scenes, where both the foreground and night sky are in view. Full-frame sensors tend to offer better ISO performance over crop sensor or MFT cameras, although the gap is closing with newer models, such as the latest Fujifilm X series cameras.

Virtually any full-frame camera on the market today will be more than capable of capturing great night images, however we’ve selected these models for their tried-and-tested astro capabilities.

Full-frame camera

Price

Megapixels

Max. Native ISO

Canon EOS 6D Mk II DSLR

£1,339.00

26.2

40,000

Nikon D850 DSLR

£2,799.00

45.4

25,600

Nikon Z6 II

£2,099.00

24.5

51,200

Sony a7 III

£1,699.00

24.2

51,200

Sony a7S III

£3,799.00

12.1

102,400

The biggest downside to full-frame cameras when compared to crop sensor and micro four thirds cameras is the weight of compatible lenses and overall reduced portability. When capturing deep-sky images through a telescope a smaller sensor also gives a higher perceived magnification, with around 1.5x or 2x crop factor.

Small sensor camera

Price

Megapixels

Max. Native ISO

Fujifilm X-T5 (black) and silver X-T5

£1,699.00

26.1

12,800

OM System OM-1

£1,999.00

20.4 and 50MP tripod high res mode

102,400

OM System OM-1 With 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO II Lens Kit

£2,499.00

20.37 and 80MP tripod high res mode

25,600

Canon EOS R7

£1,349.00

32.5

32,000

Whichever you choose, remember to budget for a suitable lens. Choose the widest maximum aperture lens possible, to allow more light to enter and hit the sensor, with reduced exposure times. A longer exposure at night will show stars streaked or with ‘trails’, rather than sharp small dots.

Distant galaxy

Tripods for astrophotography

It is possible to capture sharp handheld images of the moon and night sky, however for the most consistent sharp results it’s recommended to use a tripod. Choosing the best one depends on whether you hike further afield, in which case a lightweight travel tripod is the best solution.

A more stable platform is preferable if you stay nearer home or hike shorter distances, as it reduces the risk of camera shake. Our top tripods for astrophotography include:

  1. Manfrotto MK290DUA3-3W 290 Dual Aluminium Tripod and 3-Way Head Kit – features an innovative 90º column with vertical or horizontal set-up
  2. Manfrotto MK055XPRO3-3W 055 3 Section Aluminium Tripod And XPRO 3-Way Head Kit – Also includes the 90° column system along with Manfrotto’s stable Quick Power Lock system, along with the tried-and-tested XPRO 3-Way Head.
  3. Manfrotto XPRO 4 Section Aluminium Video Monopod with 500 Fluid Head – This platform includes a base combining the stability of a tripod with the portability of a monopod

One of the best travel tripods you can buy is from Peak Design, which is available as the Aluminium Travel Tripod or the lighter Peak Design Travel Tripod Carbon Fibre. The carbon version weighs just 1.29 kg although it comes at a higher price of £599.00, compared to £349.00 for the aluminium version, which weighs a very reasonable 2kg.

Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula ©Tom Bridle

Astronomy photography tips and guides

At Park Cameras we’re passionate about all type of photography and connect with professionals in order for them pass on tips and inspiration for anyone starting out in their field. We’ve got plenty of astronomy photography tips and photography buying guides, packed with useful information for capturing epic night sky photos.

Milky Way with foreground

Astronomy photography for beginners

Commercial photographer Andrew Whyte shares tips on camera settings and the best equipment to help anyone embarking on this fabulous hobby. Discover how to prepare for astro photography, learn all about focusing, which ISOs to use and plenty of advice for getting started with astro photography and astronomy for beginners.

Moon photography

One of the best ways to immerse yourself and capture amazing astro shots is to begin by photographing the moon. This can mean learning  how to photograph the supermoon and how to capture the lunar eclipse, depending on the phase of the moon, although it’s a great subject most cycles.

Photographing Jupiter and Saturn

There’s nothing quite like Jupiter and Saturn when it comes recognisable planets. They can be located with the naked eye and photographed with or without a telescope. Learn precisely which astronomy gear to photograph Jupiter and Saturn you’ll need, along with tips on the best accessories in our post.

M106 and NGC 4217 Galaxies

M106 and NGC 4217 Galaxies ©Tom Bridle

Now that you have a better insight into astro viewing and photography, browse our huge range of astronomy telescopes and accessories to get started viewing and photographing celestial objects and phenomena. Choose from our wide range of high magnification binoculars from every leading manufacturer, as well as digital cameras to capture the perfect shot of the night sky.

Share:

By Nick Dautlich on 10/11/2022

Trade in your old equipment

Fast and easy trade in service ensures your old gear is collected efficiently and you are paid quickly! It's very simple to trade in your unwanted photography gear. Just head over to our dedicated Sell or Part Exchange page, fill out the details, and we'll get back to you with an offer for your old gear. Take the cash, or put it towards the cost of your new gear. It's up to you! Find out more