AstroGear Today

Lee wrote reviews and articles for AstroGear Today from October 2021 until the site's closure.

Two Premium Erecting Prism Diagonals Compared: William Optics vs StellaMira

A diagonal is an important but easily overlooked component. This review tests two premium erecting prism diagonals: the William Optics 1.25″ 90-deg Erecting Prism Diagonal with Helical Focusing (MSRP $91), and StellaMira 1.25″ 90º Erecting Prism Diagonal (MSRP £69 / $85). Which is worth your money?

Two common issues often encountered by beginner stargazers relate to the humble diagonal, an unassuming but vital part of a telescope that connects the optical tube assembly to an eyepiece. Budget di

BlurXTerminator Review: A New Era for Astroimaging?

BlurXTerminator is a new plugin for PixInsight. It greatly simplifies the processing step of deconvolution, sharpening images with a minimum of effort. But its greatest benefit may be its ability to quickly and easily correct a number of issues and optical aberrations. When used carefully, BlurXTerminator could be a game-changer.

The process of deconvolution is a dark art in astrophotogrpahy. The idea is to analyze stars in an image and calculate their point spread function, which in simple ter

Baader Hyperion Universal Zoom Mark IV and Hyperion-Barlow 2.25x Review

Zoom eyepieces tend to have a bad reputation, but the Baader Hyperion Universal Zoom Mark IV eyepiece with Hyperion-Barlow 2.25x is a potent combination that can replace an entire set of budget or mid-range eyepieces while still offering something special for advanced stargazers.

To zoom or not to zoom?

Any telescope for serious use needs to be coupled with a variety of high-quality eyepieces to cover various focal lengths for a range of magnifications and field widths. There’s something unden

Personalized Preparation: The Astrophotography Planner Custom Edition Reviewed

Planning astroimaging sessions is important to make the most of your time under the stars. Charles Bracken’s The Astrophotography Planner is a useful tool, available as a paperback book or, as reviewed here, a custom PDF customized for your location.

Which target to image next? It’s a question astrophotographers often have to tackle, working out the optimal deep sky objects to collect photons from, potentially over many weeks. There are various tools to help, such as the website Telescopius, bu

Askar Colour Magic Dualband Filters Review: SHO for One-Shot Color Cameras

Dualband filters have opened the world of convenient narrowband imaging to One-Shot Color (OSC) camera users. Askar is hoping to shake things up further with the release of their Colour Magic D1 and D2 filters (MSRP $549) which allow for full SHO imaging when used together.

Narrowband imaging used to be the preserve of astrophotographers using mono cameras and three key filters: Hydrogen-alpha (Ha), Oxygen III (OIII), and Sulfur II (SII). A few years ago, however, the introduction of dualband f

Askar 130PHQ Flatfield Astrograph Review: A Large Refractor That Delivers

Over the past few years, Chinese manufacturer Askar (part of Sharpstar Optics) has been quietly making a name for themselves with a series of astrophotography-focused telescopes and accessories that combine high quality, excellent usability, and reasonable price. Askar may not have the brand awareness or reputation of some others, but they have their fans, and for good reason. Askar’s latest product is their most expensive to date: the Askar 130PHQ Flatfield Astrograph.

Priced at $3499, the Ask

A Guidescope with a Twist: William Optics 50mm Guidescope with 1.25” ROTO Lock Review

Guiding is vital to successful astrophotography. There are plenty of guidescopes available on the market. The William Optics 50mm Guidescope with 1.25″ ROTO Lock (MSRP $141) reviewed here is a good one to consider.

As its name suggests, the William Optics 50mm Guidescope with 1.25″ ROTO Lock has an aperture of 50mm. That aperture, in conjunction with its f/4 focal ratio, affords it a good amount of light-gathering ability. This allows it to detect dim stars, which is useful for modern multi-sta

Dualband Filter Shootout! Optolong L-eXtreme vs Askar Colour Magic 6nm vs Optolong L-Ultimate

As the next generation of dualband filters hit the market, we test two of the latest against the most popular original. Which will emerge the winner in this dualband shootout?

Narrowband imaging used to be the domain of astrophotographers using mono cameras and expensive filters, but the introduction of dualband filters changed this. Designed for use with One Shot Colour (OSC) cameras, dualband filters allow the simultaneous capture of Hydrogen-alpha and Oxygen III wavelengths using a single fi

Image Stacking on Your Phone: Eagle Image Stacker Review

The idea is excellent: an app that allows you to stack astrophotos taken using your smartphone, thereby creating high-quality images with a minimum of fuss. Unfortunately, the reality of Eagle Image stacker doesn’t currently reach this lofty goal, but the potential is there if development continues.

Astrophotography is a notoriously difficult and expensive hobby. It’s common to spend thousands of dollars on equipment like telescopes, cameras, and software for processing. Eagle Image stacker (MS

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi: GoTo, Portable, and Astrophoto Friendly

The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi is a compact and affordable GoTo mount. But does it find and track objects well enough for astrophotography?

Astrophotographers had been waiting for a mount like this, one that is compact and easy to pack for flights to dark sites yet with all the features demanded for deep-sky imaging: easy polar alignment, GoTo pointing, and dual-axis auto-guiding.

My questions were: would Sky-Watcher’s new Star Adventurer GTi align and find targets accurately; would it be

PixInsight Review: A Professional Approach to Image Processing

Image processing is key to successful astrophotography. Just as you need the right tools for taking pictures, such as a good telescope and camera, the same is true with processing software. Reviewed here is Pleiades Astrophoto’s PixInsight, which is incredibly powerful, but difficult to learn.

PixInsight offers a complete package for editing your astrophotos. Its core approach could be described as methodical and mathematical. This is aptly demonstrated by SubframeSelector, one of the first fun

William Optics Slide-Base UniGuide 32mm Scope Review

Guiding is an important part of astroimaging, allowing you to track objects in the night sky with great precision. Many guidescopes are available, with the William Optics Slide-base UniGuide 32mm Scope being a superior example. It boasts quality belied by its modest $109 MSRP, and is a worthy addition to wide-field or portable imaging rigs.

The William Optics Slide-base UniGuide 32mm Scope features a 32mm lens with a 120mm focal length (f/3.75), and an overall weight of just 8.5oz (240g). This

A Mini Guidecam Punching above Its Weight; ZWO ASI120MM Mini Mono Review

Astronomy imaging company ZWO offers a variety of guidecams, with their entry level option being the ZWO ASI120MM Mini mono (MSRP $149). Despite modest specifications it has a well-earned reputation as an effective guidecam, punching above its weight and earning a place on many imaging rigs.

I’ve been using a ZWO ASI120MM Mini mono for a year now, coupled with a William Optics 32mm Slide-base Uniguide Scope for guiding my Askar FRA400 f/5.6 72mm Quintuplet APO Astrograph on an Orion Sirius EQ-G

The Lightweight, Heavy Hitting Askar FRA400 72mm Astrograph Reviewed

The Askar FRA400 is a portable widefield refractor that punches above its weight. Designed for astrophotography, it produces high quality images that belie its small size, and boasts features that make it easy to use. With an appealing price point of MSRP $1099, it’s an excellent choice for beginner or intermediate astroimagers, or those that just want to collect photons with a minimum of hassle. There are some design issues that potential buyers should be aware of, however.

The Askar FRA400 is

Astrophotography the Smart Way: ZWO ASIAIR Plus Review

The ASIAIR Plus is astronomy imaging company ZWO‘s latest addition to their range of smart wi-fi controllers. The controller allows you to manipulate cameras, mounts, and accessories via an app on your phone or tablet. Also a power hub, it helps with cable management. The ASIAIR Plus aims to simplify astrophotography, boasting several upgrades over the previous ASIAIR models, including an antenna to overcome the wi-fi issues that plagued its immediate predecessor, the ASIAIR PRO (see Alan Dyer’s

Boost Your Astrophoto Signal: How To Get Long Integration Times

To make high quality photos of deep sky objects, we need to integrate. Integrating is sometimes called stacking, and involves taking lots of images – called subframes, or subs for short. You then must integrate (combine) the photos together to make one image that we go on to edit, using post-processing software. The integration time is represented with the amount of data you gather. Combine 10 one-minute photos, and your final image’s integration time is 10 minutes.

Most beginner astroimagers a

Sky-Watcher Evostar-90/660 AZ Pronto Review: A Good First Telescope Option

The market is awash with beginner telescopes, and it’s fair to say that some are better than others. At the good end of the spectrum is the Sky-Watcher Evostar-90/660 with AZ Pronto mount. If you’re looking for an entry-level telescope and mount, either for yourself or as a present, then it deserves a spot on your short-list.

Dobsonian and other reflector-type telescopes offer good value for money and are often recommended for beginners. However, there’s an elephant in the room: they don’t look

The Portable and Practical Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi Mount Reviewed

The Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi mount offers portable “go-to” functionality. Boasting a payload capacity of 11lbs (5kg) it can handle most grab ‘n’ go telescopes, and comes with a range of genuinely useful features. Unfortunately, the app used to control the mount is unintuitive and takes some getting used to, so be prepared to thoroughly read the user manual and spend a few nights learning the ins and outs before you can unleash its full potential.

Power is provided by 8 AA batteries. Be sure to load t

ZWO ASI2600MC Pro: A Premium One-Shot Color Camera Reviewed

ZWO’s ASI2600MC Pro is a capable camera. Boasting an APS-C sized CMOS sensor with high sensitivity but low noise, it’s a premium product for anyone wanting a One Shot Color (OSC) camera. Just be aware that the large file sizes produced may fill your computer’s hard drive.

The ZWO ASI2600MC Pro weighs 1.54lbs (700g) and feels well-built. The camera’s back is dominated by a large fan, which can cool the sensor to 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) below ambient temperature. This fan is useful to lower n

One-Shot Color Astrophotography in the City: Beating Light Pollution

If you’re an astrophotographer in a city, you will have additional light pollution challenges to consider when looking to get a new camera to image faint deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulas. Perhaps you’ve used a DSLR for a while and want a dedicated astrocam, or maybe you’re diving straight in at the deep end. At this level, you need to make a decision between the two main camera types: OSC and Mono.

OSC stands for One Shot Color. This type of camera allows you to capture full-color ima