Deep Sky Dad

From astrophotographer for astrophotographers - budget astrophotography gear. Developed to optimize the capture process. Striving for stress-free astrophotography sessions.



Little ASCOM supported autofocuser box with everything you need for pinpoint stars! AF1 was developed in November 2018 and comes with very compact enclosure, which enables a lot of freedom when mounting. The box contains a professionally made electronics on a printed circuit, which provides great longterm reliability. And with our ever growing list of mounting adapters, it's still our best value for money autofocusing unit for stress-free sessions. Not finding your focuser on the list of already available mount adapters? Not a problem - our unique custom adapter design service is still available for a small additional fee.


Listening to your feedback we developed a next generation autofocusing unit with WiFi connectivity and optional accessories - wired hand remote controller and temperature probe. Now even manual focus changes using your mobile phone/tablet are so simple that even a toddler can do it (check our Youtube channel for a demonstration on a prototype unit). At the same time it is also retaining mounting compatiblity with our older units, so upgrading to AF2 is as simple as swaping the units - no need to change mount adapters or belts.


The brand new William Optics RedCat telescope is an alternative to the widefield lens shooting with 250mm of focal length. With the helical focuser, focusing can be quite time consuming process even with the Bahtinov mask (especially with narrowband filters). Our autofocuser will save you time and frustration by providing pinpoint stars on your beautiful photos of the cosmos. Our AF2 unit is mounted via 3D printed adapter to the utility holes on the black compression ring. It is also includes shoe barcket, you can mount the autoguider on the top of it via longer bolts. We designed the bracket so that the whole setup is nicely balanced even when the autoguider is mounted.

In stock, starting from 200€


With wide field astrophotography gaining in popularity we designed a solution to apply our stress-free session philosophy also to this interesting field. We are starting with our standard pack which provides you with a mounting solution for your astro/DSLR camera, lenses and guide scope to an alt-az or equatorial telescope mount and enables use of our AF units for autofocusing. But we are not stopping here, so stay tuned to our social media channels to learn about additional accessories and interesting setups (dual shooting...) we are preparing for you. Even if you are currently not shooting wide fields, you might still want to join in - you might like what you'll see and we'll show you how to do it in a budget conscious way. No more improvised mounting solutions and carrying Bahtinov masks in your pocket!



by CHRIS HODGSON of Lights over Lapland

Have you ever wondered how to photograph the northern lights? Here is an eight-step guide by Sr. Lights Over Lapland photography guide Chris Hodgson!

If you research how to photograph the aurora you will be bombarded with so much information you probably won’t know where to begin. Fortunately, our highly trained guides teach hundreds of non-photographers every year. In fact we can have you trained in around 30 minutes, even if you’ve never picked up a camera before! So after a few thoughts on location and equipment here’s a simple step-by-step guide on “how to successfully photograph the aurora”:


Dark skies with clear views to the north are essential to see the aurora and the closer you can get to the Artic Circle the better, even better get inside it. There are numerous destinations around the world which have developed a reputation for aurora sightings, so do your research, and certainly study local weather patterns as cloudy skies can ruin any aurora adventure. We’re obviously biased to Abisko so we’ll talk about the unique weather phenomenon it has in a future blog.


Ask any forum about what equipment is needed and you will be bamboozled into buying the most expensive cameras and fastest lenses. It is however possible to photograph the aurora (and stars) on pretty much any modern digital single lens reflex (DSLR) available on the market with the lens it comes with. So don’t feel pressured into spending lots of money on new kit.

You will also need a sturdy tripod, which ideally extends to full body height. Sturdy means stable in wind, and the Arctic climate is one of the windiest I’ve ever worked in. Height is important if you are working in deep snow, it also saves you from being hunched down for your stay. Trust me, your back will appreciate it!

The simplest solution to the equipment dilemma is to use a tour company that provides equipment for you to use. No extra weight to carry, (I lovingly call my camera bag “the burden”) and no extra expense on new equipment or airport extra baggage fees. The money saved could be invested into your dream trip!

  • Focus

Your focus needs to be set to infinity, which means the maximum distance the lens can focus. Depending on your lens this can be really easy, or awkwardly difficult, especially when you have cold fingers.

If you have an infinity symbol on your lens, just rotate it until the ∞ symbol appears by the focus marker and leave it alone for the rest of the night. It is worth checking during the day time whether this is accurate as a lot of lenses require a slight adjustment. Simply focus at ∞ during the day, take a picture of something a long way away like a distant mountain. Then zoom in on your image to see if it’s in focus. If it needs an adjustment, use live view on the same focus point with the digital zoom at it’s fullest and gently turn the lens till it is in focus. Once you have adjusted make a mental note or mark on the lens body where the new infinity spot is located. It will usually be within a few mm’s away from the original mark.

If there is no symbol but you have a hard stop then action the same steps as above but mark the lens body and barrel with a line that you can marry up together to achieve infinity focus.

If there is no symbol or hard stop (as in the lens body keeps turning without hitting a stop when you try and focus) then it becomes more tricky. You have two options, set infinity during the day by focusing on a distant mountain and then taping your lens together so the focus can’t be turned. Or, shine a light when dark on an object as far away as possible and focus on that. The moon or distant light sources also make a good target. Simply turn your focus ring until the light source becomes it’s smallest point. The smaller a light point is, the more in focus it is becoming. If you are using a wide angle lens then anything over 25m away will do the job.

This is another great reason to go with a guide, they can check and set the focus for you in seconds and keep checking for you throughout the night. There is nothing worse than getting home to find your images slightly blurry.

  • ISO

Your minimum ISO needs to be set to 1600. If you are using a camera that can handle a higher ISO then by all means use it, especially when the aurora is very active.

  • Aperture

Set to wide open, or the smallest number that the f will set to. If you are using a standard lens this will be between f3.5-f4, a faster lens will be f1.8-f2.8

  • Shutter Speed

This depends on the amount of available light (Moon), aperture of the lens and the strength of the aurora. We would normally start around 10- 15 seconds and adjust after a few test shots. The darker the sky and/or weaker the aurora results in a longer time, anything up to 30 seconds. The brighter the sky and/or stronger the aurora results in a shorter shutter speed, anything down to around 5 seconds. If your lens is considered a fast lens with an aperture of f2.8 or wider then you can be shooting down to 0.5 seconds in an active display. Faster lenses are recommended but they are also very heavy and expensive, you are far better hiring one from your tour company.



(Practice all the above settings in the dark so they become instinctive, using your light to use your camera ruins yours and other people’s images).

Step-by-step Aurora photography guide

  • Mount your camera on the tripod and point to the north.

  • Turn off all torch lights as they will ruin yours and other people’s images.

  • Double check your focus using one of the methods above.

  • If there is an obvious aurora start at 10- 15 seconds and then adjust your settings after your first image.

  • If there is no visible aurora change your shutter speed to 25-30 seconds and point at clear patches of sky across the northern horizon.

  • Keep in mind that the calmer the aurora forecast is, then the lower on the horizon the aurora may appear.

  • Keep checking your lens for ice buildup, and that you are still in focus.

  • Have fun & keep warm!


Please remember photography at night, in the dark, at -25º (sometimes colder) can be extremely testing, even for the more serious photographers. Solving problems with your camera, changing batteries etc. all become a lot more difficult. You will be far happier using a well-established company with dedicated locations and experienced guides. Access to a fire, a warm drink and an expert opinion are key to a successful aurora hunt in the Arctic. Our guides carry many spare batteries and can change them in seconds. The colder it gets the more batteries are required, the most I’ve changed is 34 in one night with 10 guests. Having your worries and camera troubles solved quickly are paramount to a wonderful photography adventure.

There you have it! Now that you know the basics why not book an aurora photography tour with Lights Over Lapland and let our team of professionals make your dreams of photographing the northern lights come true?

Lights Over Lapland


Our newest tour – an exclusive sleigh ride and Aurora Photo Tour in the heart of Abisko’s remote wilderness!



Join one of Lights Over Lapland’s professional photographers for an opportunity to see and photograph the aurora borealis in the natural wilderness of Abisko National Park. Due to clear skies and virtually no light pollution, Abisko is one of the greatest places in the world to see the northern lights. We will provide you with a high quality camera & lens that is preset to capture the northern lights and quickly go over the basic skills that you will need to find and photograph the magical aurora borealis.

DarkFrame Ltd. Celestron CGX 3x more accurate

Just made a customers Celestron CGX 3x more accurate, with a new modified build. But if he tweaks the balance too, it will be amazing. It's already 0.42 ArcSec...

Our mounts feel so different than before, that balancing used to be a key obstacle to great performance. Now you can do it very precisely, but takes practice.

New instructions will now go out with all our mounts on balancing and getting the most out of our StellarDrive mounts under PHD.

Image the Cosmos, Deeper.



Atik Cameras Narrow band Filter Set

The Atik narrow band filter are designed with a band pass of 7 nm to aid in capturing all a nebula’s photons while the vast majority of the broad band light pollution is stopped. The result is a much higher signal to noise revealing faint details in nebulas. The Narrow band filter set comprises of Hydrogen-Alpha (Ha), Sulphur (SII) and Oxygen (OIII). Take advantage of our special offer get 50% off any filter set (or both filter sets), when you buy and an Atik camera and and Atik filter wheel.

The SHO narrow band filter set is compatible with our filter wheels and allows astrophotographers to capture deep-sky objects in spectacular narrow band. This filter set is commonly used to image objects in the Hubble pallet.

  • SII 7nm

  • Ha 7nm

  • OIII 7nm

Peak Transmission: minimum 80%

CWL (centre of wavelength):

  • Ha 656.3nm

  • SII 671.6nm

  • OIII 500.7nm

Size: 1.25” mounted, 36mm unmounted or 2” mounted

Transmitted Wavefront RMS: λ/4

Parallelism(arcsec): 30s

IDAS NGS1 & Dual Narrowband by BORG 90FL

1- I got the feedback from “AstroBackyard” on IDAS NGS1.


Facebook Users


Personally this is my most favorite broadband filter at this moment because the color balance looks as good as HEUIBII and suitable for my backyard sky glow.

See my previous write-up at

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean NGS1 is always the best choice for all of users. Sky glow is not same. But at least I can say NGS1 is good selection to modified DSLR users who are looking for the filter which blocks the light pollution while maintaining the background color balance like HEUIBII does.

2- A serious BORG user – Steven Bellavia shared his recent dual narrowband image.

Thank you, Steven all the time.

PrimaLuceLab Sesto Senso Electric USB Focuser

primaluce lab

by Tim Cowell

Pointless Gadget?

Surely this is the height of laziness, a motor to turn the focus knob for you! Incredible, I thought as I folded my copy of that month's star magazine closed. Thinking of all manner of better things to spend my hard earned money on (food and car fuel were uppermost), the day passed. Not too many days later and with Jupiter centred and tracking well in my cam's on screen view, the battle for focus began. Every touch caused a wobble, every breath a wibble. I held my breath and stayed still.

What now?

Surely my suppressed pulse can't be affecting things? The image swam back and forth and with the best guess approach, I tapped sequence 'Run' and crept away to find that starry mag' article for another read. When my first bracket and belt focus machine arrived, it was literally strapped on and I was hooked. This was some years ago and since then I have tried a number of designs.


Crafty Affair

Let's be clear, I did not want to ever use a focus gadget because I enjoy focussing. I like the snap in the view, the spin of the knobs and the feel of the mechanism. The joy of getting the moon 'just right', back and forth, bingo! There is an art to it and a craft.

That old magazine had advised clearly what to look for and pictured a range of designs complete with belts and brackets and wheels, all very, gadgety. The one caught my eye in the adverts subsequently was the PrimaLuceLab Sesto Senso (sixth sense) design. No wheels, no belts, no brackets. No slop, no slack, no problemo!

(Not yet familiar with PrimaLuceLab? They make telescopes, good ones. They make accessories, good ones. Founded in Italy, their products are very well received globally and the Italian influence makes for a unique ownership experience, borne of form, function and flair).

If you had any doubts about quality before your unit arrived then, holding it and a cursory examination will allay any fears. The case itself is made from solid metal (this is typical of PrimaLuceLab) coated beautifully in their deep, red, corporate colour and highlighted with a white top and logo. Connections comprise 12v power socket input (a cigar lead is supplied), a small USB port (a nice cable is supplied) and a port for a thermometer (a thoughtful, useful addition).

PrimaLuceLab supply the necessary drivers and documentation on a neat little USB stick, which I really like (I use mine to keep the latest versions of a number of drivers stored for the inevitable bumps in my setup).


A Fitting End

The clean lines of the fitted device come from the compression collar clamp which is designed to fit neatly around the back housing of your telescope focuser, where it grips tightly - no brackets needed here. Inside the case of the Sesto Senso is a powerful and accurate motor. Installing the equipment for my refractor involved the following simple steps.

1. Remove the fine and coarse knobs from 'scope by undoing their recessed grub screws. This

exposes the focus shaft.

2. Now find the correct shaft connector (these are coloured tubes which are supplied in the kit) and

fix it by its grub screws to the 'scope shaft.

3. Carefully slide the unit onto the telescope, so that the shaft connector tube slips onto the motor

shaft of the Sesto Senso. Using the access slot underneath the 'Senso, tighten the shaft connector

grub screws and lightly tighten the main body clamp.

Hex head keys are supplied, which is incredibly handy and thoughtful. For my particular telescope I needed the extension collar, which comes with its own packet of slightly longer shaft connectors.

There were no dramas at all in fitting, which was one of my primary reasons for choosing this item, having read some forum reviews.


Making Connections

Following the proper order, I quickly installed the drivers and special software for calibrating the device. With the 12v power hooked up, I plugged in the USB cable and noted the COM Port Number assigned, by checking it in my Device Manager. The Sesto Senso software is quick and easy to use. Click to connect your unit and choose between SCT or refractor type. Calibration asks for the focus position to be set at the mid point and then both fully in and out positions are found and the calibration steps are stored. This is quickly done. I chose not to use the fully in and fully out positions of the true mechanical travel. I'm a 'what if' type of person so having 10mm from 'in' and 15mm from fully out have not been a problem with my cameras etc.

You can use the software provided to control things or use your image capture software via ASCOM. I use Sequence Generator Pro and things have worked so well that it is hard to imagine wanting or needing another solution.

Night Worker

With rough focus found in the usual manner (daytime on a distant object) tweaking the beast was

simplicity itself using both the supplied software and SGPro. I kept its power setting to the preset

Heavy and Slow because the motor appears to be incredibly strong. The Light and Fast preset

option was slightly ferocious, so I will stay at the slow end as it is more than enough.

To determine the accuracy and begin to see what, if any, differences there were in focus between

my filters, I popped a good quality diffraction spike mask on the telescope and checked my monitor

for the results.

Firstly, it all works marvellously. A slick and classy way to automate and improve focus accuracy. I was a 'happy bunny' that first night and after as much use as I can give it, I remain perfectly satisfied. With more usage and a little tinkering with the filter offsets and step values I settled into a routine of using the auto focus and periodically checking against the spike mask during strategic pauses in my imaging sequences. All satisfactory for my purposes.

I don't know of a hand controller on a wire for 'Senso, however since it is PC controlled I use a remote desktop app on my phone and hence have the best hand controller possible; big, bright and should I drop it I can borrow my wife's.

This is such an easy creature to get along with that I often forget about it. It is no 'squeaky wheel' requiring nagging attention. It is a faithful and trusted companion in the night. The gently glowing power light blinking away like a friendly lighthouse. I have bought a second unit for my other imaging refractor. The price is very keen, the justification being based on the great performance of my first Sesto.

I am pleased to report that all duties have been performed with flying colours. Sitting somewhere between 'not quite essential' but 'certainly not a gadget' my sixth sense tells me that when I next need / want a focuser the friendly UK importer will get another online order.

William Optics Zenith Star 61 APO FLP-53 from North Optics

North Optics

The 61 mm opening apocromatic (2,4 inch) of William Optics Zenithstar is the most versatile and portable telescope manufactured by William Optics. It provides a clear image in any digital SLR camera for visual observers and astrophotographers. With Only 300 mm long and a weight of 1.45 kilos is the apocromatic telescope with the most compact and transportable objective-53 goal of the market.
This telescope is built with the best optical and mechanical materials subjected to rigorous testing of interferometry to achieve the best level of optics on the market.

The low dispersion properties of the ed and SD glass used in the lens lens are important to determine the general color correction. With an index of abbe number v, the first quality fpl53 material is used for the best achievable color correction. The size of the full frame sensor is about 36 x 24 mm.
The Target type is a double double fpl53, air spacing, the lens lens is completly coated with Multi-layer Treatment. The Dew Shield is retractable to minimize the saved space.

Click here to find out more.

Farpoint FIN200

Astrophotography by Cary Chleborad

Telescope: Farpoint FIN200 
(8" f/6" Carbon Truss Imaging Newtonian)
GuideScope: Orion 80mm short tube
Camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro One Shot Color 
Guide Camera: ZWO ASI174 Mini
Mount: Celestron CGE

M8, M17, M16 & Moon


Farpoint Imaging Newtonian Telescope, 203mm, f/4


Farpoint Imaging Newtonian Reflecting Telescope, 203mm, f/4

  • Highly Robust Design
    Rigid and Lightweight

  • Carbon Fiber Truss

  • Ultra-Low Thermal Expansion

  • CNC Machined & Laser-Cut Fabrication

  • Easy to Collimate

    • Complete Collimaton Lockdown

    • ZERO Collimation Shift

  • Integral Accessory Dovetail Mounts on Secondary Cage

  • Crayford Focuser

  • ASCOM Compliant Computer Controlled Focusing Option


For more information, please visit the Farpoint Astro website.

Max Capacity Scopes for the Sky Adventurer


It seems the the Sky Watcher Star Adventurer is one of the most popular tracking mounts on the market at the moment, with its affordable price, small compact size and ease of use, new and more advanced astrophotographers seem to be purchasing this mount. I can say from experience, this is one of the best affordable mounts Sky Watcher have to offer.

The maximum weight capacity of this little mount being 5kg and the weight of the Canon EOS 5D MkII being just 30 oz ( and some ccd and cmos being even lighter), there is quite a range of scopes to attach to this mount for astrophotography.

Here is a list of a few scopes from that can accompany the Sky Watcher Star Adventurer.


Omegon Apochromatic refractor Pro APO AP 85/560 ED Triplet OTA



Vixen Cassegrain telescope MC 110/1035 VMC110L OTA



Omegon Telescope AC 80/400 OTA



Omegon Apochromatic refractor Pro APO AP Photography Scope 72/432 ED OTA



Omegon Maksutov telescope MC 90/1250 OTA



Skywatcher Maksutov telescope MC 102/1300 SkyMax-102T OTA



Omegon Apochromatic refractor Pro APO AP 110/660 ED Carbon OTA



Vixen Apochromatic refractor AP 80/600 ED80Sf OTA



Bresser Telescope AC 70/350 AZ Classic



Skywatcher Apochromatic refractor AP 80/500 Equinox ED OTA



Bresser Maksutov telescope MC 100/1400 EQ-3



William Optics Apochromatic refractor AP 61/360 ZenithStar 61 Blue OTA



TS Optics Apochromatic refractor AP 60/360 PhotoLine FPL53 OTA



William Optics Apochromatic refractor AP 71/350 WO-Star 71 Blue OTA



Skywatcher Apochromatic refractor AP 80/400 ESPRIT-80ED Professional OTA



Bresser Maksutov telescope MC 100/1400 Messier OTA


ARTEC 200 astrograph Artesky


ARTEC 200 Artesky - A new astrograph design which allows a strong mechanical system and fast focal ratios - Aperture 200mm

ARTEC 200 - A revolutionary astrograph

The ARTEC astrograph series represents a new kind of instruments due to a strong and precise mechanical system with the use of high-end optics.

The ARTEC project was born in 2011 form the intuition of Mr. Seveso and then it was developed more and more with the help of our engineer Mr. Simeone.

Our astrograph use the classic Newton native F/4.0 optical system consisting of a parabolic primary mirror in Pyrex aluminised and treated with a reflection of over 93%, secondary mirrors has the same type of processing and treatment.

The carbon tubes are made with 3K twill with a thickness of 2.5mm, painted externally with a semi-matt and dust proof finish.

The tube has an anti-dusted varnish coating inside it, this work is done to eliminate any kind of internal reflection and allows to have an evenly roughened surface.

All the mechanics are made of Aluminium 6061 with CNC machines and some details are made through laser cutting.

For the focuser we choose to use one of the most well know instruments on the market: the Feather Touch FTF3015B-A.

This incredible and high-precision focuser features a rack and pinion system able to manage high loads capacity without any slippage.

The focuser is equipped with the standard 10:1 micrometric reduction and it can be equipped with any standard Feather Touch motor kit.



Thanks to the most advanced optical and mechanical design software used during the development, the ARTEC series offers a computer-optimized OTA to achieve uncompromising rigidity; all metal parts are CNC machined to guarantee optimal accuracy, ease of use and stability of the collimation.

The ARTEC astrographs deliver stable focus over a wide range of temperatures thus limiting to the minimum the need for iterated refocusing operations - an important condition when using instruments with fast focal ratios during long imaging sessions.

All components are produced using only the finest materials available, such as special lightweight aluminium, stainless steel and bronze.

The sturdy spider of the secondary mirror support is made of laser-cut stainless steel.

The high resistance anodization is chosen for unbeatable resistance to all enviromental conditions.

Finally, the generous extraction of the focal plane allows the use of the most challenging imaging trains, whether they are CCD, CMOS or the more popular digital cameras.



The ARTEC series features optics that match the superb realization of the OTA, with tyoical figures of reflectivity > 93%, correction equal to or better than λ/8 and Strehl > or = 0.95

We reccomend the coma correctors which we have tested and proved suitable to fit the optical design of our astrographs.

Some coma correctors can also reduce the focal lenght, so the system can reach the impressive focal ratio of F/2.8: as every experienced observer can testify, an outstanding mechanical construction is vital for proper collimation and reliable usage of such ultra-fast systems, an area where the ARTEC series sets the standars.

The correctors that we recommend  provide a corrected field even at these very fast focal ratios; we suggest to use the ARTEC 200 up to F/3.7



Optical set:Newtonian AstrographDiameter:200mmPirmary mirror diameter:206mmSecondary mirror diameter:88mmFocal lenght:800mmFocal ratio:F/4.0Mirror material:Pyrex (Astrositall on request)Linear obstruction:40mmIlluminated field:40mm with recommended coma corrector Dimensions:720 L x 252 W x 262 H mmWeight:11.4 kgTube material:High End Carbon fiber Mechanical material:Aluminium 6061

Our mission

We designed the ARTEC astrographs series to serve a market of discerning astrophotographers who are especially concerned with ease and stability of collimation, optical quality and repeat ability of results.

To achieve all these goals, we soon realized tha we couldn't look anymore at the telescope as at a standalone entity, but we had to consider it for what it is: a part of an acquisition system which includes everything from the tube of the CCD.

For example, in the design stage we paid special attention that no tilts are introduced by the draw tube of the focuser, we observed that several well-known focusers are simply unable to deliver according to their specs and to their price and that the carbon tube shows no flexures under the cantilever load of heavier cameras.

Also, when delivering complete instruments with correctors, we make sure that the mechanical adapter between the focuser and the corrector is custom machined on the outside diameter of each individual corrector, to prevent misalignments in the optical train.

In our view, the main technical advantage of the carbon fiber, versus the thin metal used in some Far-East constructions, is more related to its thermal stability and overall rigidity than to just lighter weight.

This having said, there is clearly a technical cost to pay for all this extra rigidity and stability, and the weight of the ARTEC 200 is in turn somewhat higher than of other telescopes with the same aperture and optical design; it is still however fully manageable in the field, and well within the practical working range of very common and affordable mounts.