How to connect a digital camera to a telescope

Written by joel douglas
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How to connect a digital camera to a telescope
Use a digital camera and a telescope to photograph the night sky. (refractor telescope image by Jim Mills from

Using a digital camera with a telescope lets you capture the beauty of the night sky in all its glory. The wide aperture of a digital camera allows more light in than the human eye can perceive, recording details and objects otherwise unseen when you look up at the night sky. When combined with the magnification a telescope provides, a digital camera can photograph the moon, planets, distant stars and galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

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  1. 1

    Use the prime-focus method if you own a DSLR camera. Remove the lens from the camera and attach the camera to the telescope using a universal T-ring and a T-adaptor. The T-adaptor must compatible with the manufacturer and model of your camera. The prime focus method offers superior image quality compared to Afocal and eyepiece projection because it essentially transforms your telescope into a large camera lens. Use prime-focus astrophotography when taking long exposure images of faint, distant objects such as nebulae and other galaxies.

  2. 2

    Photograph the moon and planets with a DSLR camera and a telescope by using a technique known as eyepiece projection. Pictures of the planets and the moon taken using the prime-focus method "have poor resolution due to their image scale," according to Clayton Kessler of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Using an eyepiece-projection adaptor to insert an eyepiece between the telescope and DSLR camera will result in clearer, larger lunar and planetary photographs.

  3. 3

    Connect a point-and-click digital camera to a telescope using the Afocal method. Use a digital camera mount to position the digital camera near the telescope's eyepiece, which lets you photograph an object as it appears in the eyepiece's field of view. While you could simply hold the camera manually up to the eyepiece, using a mount results in sharper pictures because of the increased stability it provides. Afocal astrophotography works best when photographing bright objects such as the moon and planets because of the shorter shutter speeds associated with point-and-click digital cameras.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember to turn off the flash during astrophotography.
  • Lengthen exposure times for faint objects and shorten them for bright objects when using a DSLR camera.
  • Set the ISO setting on your DSLR or point-and-click camera to at least 400 when using it with a telescope.

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