Tripod-mounted, unguided astrophotography is a great way to begin capturing the sky on film. However, you may eventually want to see stars as points of light as opposed to streaks. It is a bit of a challenge but it can be done. The challenge is to get the camera to track the stars as they rotate east-to-west across the sky. This is often accomplished by fixing the camera to a telescope on an equatorial mount. If the mount is polar aligned and the right ascension axis is motorized, the mount's motion will compensate for the axial rotation of the Earth. The camera and telescope tag along for the ride.
Referred to as piggybacking, this type of photography is relatively easy to do. There are two equatorial mounts most commonly used for this kind of astrophotography:
Let's briefly consider these mounts. Then, we'll look at some examples of piggyback astrophotography.
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Revised: February 11, 2002 [WDF]