Review - SkyWatcher Star Adventurer

At the Members' Viewing Night at Stockport Observatory on the 9th of January, I tried out my new Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer, a compact, versatile mount for wide field photography.

This was the first time I had successfully set it up with drift aligning and guiding. I was able to take 10 minute long exposures with minimal trailing on the stars around the edge. On previous attempts without guiding, I could only take 30 second long exposures.  

The equipment that I used was a Manfrotto tripod with a ball head, Star Adventurer, Canon 40D, Orion mini guide scope with ZWO camera, Dovetail bar to hold the guide scope and 40D side by side, laptop, and the software I used was PHD2 and Backyard EOS.

While setting up I used a phone compass app to roughly polar align the mount. After focusing the 40D using Backyard EOS, I used PHD2 to drift align the mount to get the polar aligning more accurate. I configured PHD2 to guide in Right Ascension (RA) only as the mount cannot guide in Declination (DEC).   

By this time it was finally dark enough to start capturing images, first I captured a photo of part of the Milky Way to experiment how long I could take photos while guiding.

I was expecting to be able to take a 2 minute photo but I was surprised to discover that I could take a 10 minute photo with some trailing and coma around the edges, but this was reduced by decreasing the aperture from F2.8 to F5.6.

After using Backyard EOS to make some adjustments to the camera aperture, ISO and exposure time, the Southern Cross and with it the Emu had finally risen above the trees, so after lots of manual adjustments to get the Emu near the middle, I started capturing photos. Unfortunately clouds rolled over before I could try capturing photos of any other objects.

The Star Adventurer is a great portable mount for people who want to take some wide field photographs without expensive telescopes and mounts, it is easy to set up and use. It can also be used for time lapses and panoramas for both astronomy and non-astronomy targets.

While PHD2 and Backyard EOS can be complicated to understand at first, they are both simple to use and can also be used for other Astro-photography.