I am a photography enthusiast with a Canon T1i and I would like to start exploring astrophotography. What equipment do you recommend?
A subscription to Sky and Telescope
A course in Astronomy
A VERY sturdy tripod and ball head.
A remote release
CS5 Advanced if you want to stack several photos for a single image.
For shots of the Milkyway and startrails- a wide angle lens
For Constelations and bright planets- a normal lens>200mm
For the moon (for detail)- a telephoto lens of 400mm or more. For only including the moon in a landscape photo most lenses will work, the wider angle lenses will give you a smaller moon and vice-versa for a larger moon.
If you are using a telescope with an excellent Equatorial or Alt Azimuth drive you will need a T adapter for your camera in order to mount the camera on the scopes lens. Or you can mount your longest (400mm as the minimum) lens piggy-back onto the telescope with an excellent drive and take photos of the Great Nebula in Adromeda, M 31. Cheap glass will only give you so-so results.
Over achievers make the rest of us look bad.
Lynn has given some pretty good advice. I just started astrophotography a few months ago (actually almost a year ago - wow, time flies!). There are many sub-types of astrophotography (wide-field non-tracking astrophotography, star trails, piggyback, afocal, prime focus, and maybe some more?). Some are easier than others and require less specialized equipment. I recommend that you check out the following website:
Jerry Lodriguss has a lot of useful information for somebody getting started in astrophotography with a DSLR. I especially recommend that you read all of the information under the heading "Astrophotography Techniques." I also found his book A Beginner's Guide to DSLR Astrophotography to be very helpful and useful.
If you have any questions as you go through Jerry Lodriguss' website, you can post a question to him or you can come back here and ask us. It is likely that there is somebody who can answer it - I will try when I can, but my experience is somewhat limited at this point.
Last edited by RABaker; 12-04-2011 at 01:32 AM. Reason: Spelling corrections
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. -Ansel Adams
Others have already given you some good tips.
I would simply suggest you start simply, with fixed-tripod (and camera) "star trails" shots, to get some good images and get used to being outside for hours on cold nights, dealing with cold and dew (on you and your camera), and learning how your camera and lenses do for long exposures.
If after that you still have a desire to do more, the next step up is doing exposures tracking the sky, with a mount that rotates to counter the earth's rotation, and lets you do long exposures with no trails.
You can start with something as simple as a "barn door" mount (which you can make yourself in a weekend), buy a fairly inexpensive motorized tracking mount, or go all in and get yourself a nice telescope and tracking mount.
Fair warning: if you catch the astro bug, be prepared to empty your bank account! It's addictive, and really good mounts/telescopes run into the tens of thousands of dollars...but they're worth it