Here is the very first picture I took with this mount. It's not great, but I was very happy with it since this was my very first attempt taking a tracked image of stars ever. I took 52 shots at 30 seconds each. My ISO was 160, my aperture was F/4, and my focal length was 24mm.

When you set it up, make sure that the guide scope aligns with the North Star.

Camera Settings

There are so many amazing guides that go into what settings to put your camera at, so I'll just go into the basics. Keep in mind that I am a complete amateur at this, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

  • ISO. Pretty low. From what I've seen online, 100-200 seems to be what most people use.
  • Aperture. As wide as you can go.
  • Shutter Speed. 20-30 seconds seems to be the general consensus
  • Focal length: Wider is more forgiving, but you can really target a specific part of the sky with a narrower focal length. Also, if your lens has a zoom lock function on it, use it.
  • If your camera has a built-in intervalometer, make sure to test it using exactly the settings you want to use. You may have to increase the time between shots if it stops working after a few minutes, often because it doesn't have enough time in-between exposures to save the image. You can also buy an external intervalometer, I'd recommend a wireless one so you don't have to worry about the cord getting tangled up, but they aren't cheap.

Other tips

  • The further from light pollution you are, the better your images will turn out. Notice how in the image above, the sections with light pollution have dramatically less stars.
  • Be very careful not to bump your tripod. I know this may seem like common sense, but it's very important.
  • Check satellite and radar weather maps to find out if there are clouds and where they will be.
  • Get an app to help you see where constellations and the Milky Way are. I use Star Walk 2, simply because I bought it a few years ago. There may be better ones. What I like about it is it uses the orientation sensors and GPS in my phone to display where stars are as I move my phone around. Most useful for finding the Milky Way under not ideal light pollution conditions or when your eyes aren't adjusted.
  • Get one of those headlamps that also has a red light. Nothing's worse than having to turn on your phone flashlight for one second and then having to wait for a long time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness again.

This guide was first published on Aug 06, 2020. It was last updated on Jul 18, 2024.

This page (Taking Pictures) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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