Accessories for Night Sky Photography


Accessories for Night Sky Photography

You can make a great start in night sky photography with just your DSLR and a tripod. However, these accessories will all help once you start getting serious:

  • Dew Heaters & Lithium Batteries (see separate page)
  • Timer Remote/Intervalometer
  • Red LED Head Torch
  • Camera DC Power Supplies

Timer Remote/Intervalometer

If you search on eBay for 'timer remote' and your model of camera you will find loads of cheap options. The Phottix Nikos wired timer remote was a good choice but is no longer available. You can also get the expensive but robust genuine versions from Canon/Nikon etc. If I need it to work in any conditions, I always go back to my trusty Canon timer.

Dew Heaters

Dew forms on cold camera lenses at night just like condensation forms on your car window when you park it in the open on a cold night. Through the cold half of the year, dew can form within half an hour making any further night sky photography very difficult. I have a separate webpage all about my solution for dew, using commercial dew heater straps, lithium-ion batteries and an adapter cable to directly connect them (for use with small heaters only) without the need for the expensive controller.

Red LED Head Torch

Many LED head torches have a red light mode. But in many cases you have to cycle through bright white to get to it. For astronomy, this rather defeats the purpose. The cheapest head torch I've found with a selectable red mode is from MyAstroShop in Queensland:

My current favourite head torch, although considerably more expensive, is the Fred torch from Princeton Tech. You should be able to search for it at local online stores, like this from Paddy Pallin in Australia.

Camera DC Power Supplies

Long star trail and timelapse sequences require long battery life. The latest DSLRs can run for four of hours of continuous shooting and with a battery grip you could go even longer, but many DSLRs will struggle to go longer than two hours. For all night imaging you need an external power source for the camera. The first thing to find is the DC power supply for your camera. Search for "DC power adapter" and your camera model and see what you can find online. AC power supplies are more common (designed for powering cameras in the studio etc) but much less helpful in the field unless you happen to shoot near mains power and have a very long extension lead. Canon For Canon, you can buy a DC power supply from Hutech: Nikon It seems that DC power supplies are less common for Nikon cameras. You can try some of these pages for ideas and options: with Lead-Acid Batteries The cheapest solution is to buy a small motorcycle style 12V lead-acid battery from your local automative/hardware/battery store. Many of the DC adapters are designed to plug into a car cigarette lighter socket, so you'll need some leads to connect a female socket to your battery like this one from Amazon:

with Lithium Batteries If you want to use 12v Lithium Batteries, you'll need an adapter like this from BixMart to connect directly to the DC 2.5mm socket on the battery:

Because Lithium batteries take a long time to charge and the chargers can be a bit temperamental, it's good to have a voltmeter that allows you to see the charge state. If you have the adapter above, you can plug in car voltmeters like below, or search for "car voltmeter" on ebay:

12 volt Lithium battery packs have lower voltages than lead-acid batteries. Fully charged is around 12.3-12.5 volts and flat is around 10.8 volts.