Sony A6000 – astrophotography

Having previously used a modded Canon 500D for astrophotography, I have been aware of many of the limitations of that camera – many of which made astrophotography less easy and more time-consuming. Many of these issues are addressed with mirror less cameras such as the Sony A6000.

There are a few features in the Sony A6000 which makes it very suitable for astrophotography.

1) There is a wired remote socket to allow for use of timer remote. Now it is possible to take multiple shots of the same duration for stacking in Deep Sky Stacker or other computer programs to produce  an image with more detail and less noise.

2) With the William Optics Megrez 72mm F6 refractor and Astronomik CLS-CCD filter, it was still possible to see the stars clearly on the live view screen for adjusting focus (courtesy of the great sensor sensitivity) – previously the focusing required a Bahtinov mask and multiple shots while adjusting focus to get pin-point stars; being able to see the stars clearly means the ability to get the focus spot-on before starting imaging. I have not tried this with my f8 8″ Ritchey-Chretien telescope, but I will try this when I get a chance.

3) Live view screen can swivel up to allow for viewing without having to stoop all the way down to the ground – a real back saver.

4) Low noise levels of the sensor should allow for use of higher ISOs up to 3200-6400 (the Canon 500D could only really be used up to ISO 1600).

The following images were taken with the Sony A6000, WO 72 Megrez refractor, mounted on the Astrotrac TT-320AG at ISO 400-800 1 minute subs and using the Astronomik CLS-CCD light pollution filter to reduce sky glow due to street lights and other terrestrial lighting.

I had initially set the Astrotrac up for wide field imaging with the Sony A6000 + 50/1.8 lens, but then changed half way to the WO 72 Megrez – hence I did not try longer exposures as I did not redo the polar alignment. I will try longer exposures next time, when I have set it up properly for the WO 72 Megrez.

ISO 400 60 second sub
Andromeda galaxy – single ISO 400 60 second sub
ISO 800 60 second sub
Andromeda galaxy – single ISO 800 60 second sub

The images below were from stacks of multiple images done in Deep sky stacker. The Andromeda galaxy was stacks of both ISO 400 and 800 images.

Picture saved with settings applied.
Andromeda galaxy stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
Picture saved with settings applied.
The Pleiades with its 7-stars/sisters

I have noted that with the Sony A6000’s APS-C sensor, there is coma effect in the corners which means I do need to use a field flattener the next time I do imaging.

But now that I have managed to set up the Astrotrac for astrophotography (which was made a whole lot easier by the Astrotrac wedge which is crucial for a stable setup), and the polar scope seems to be giving a fairly accurate polar alignment, hopefully I will get more experience and get better at it. I can’t wait to try imaging the Orion nebula again.