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Autoguiders


Autoguiders
Autoguiders are essentially small format CCD cameras used to lock onto a guide star during a long exposure. Technically any CCD camera can serve as an autoguider, but purpose built autoguiders normally do not include cooling circuitry in order to keep the cost and weight to a minimum. Some are advertised as dual purpose cameras that are also suitable for live video astronomy.

Autoguiders

Starlight Xpress Lodestar X2 Autoguider
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$609.00

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Orion StarShoot AutoGuider
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$279.00

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Starlight Xpress Ultrastar Live View Guide Camera (Mono)
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$929.00

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Starlight Xpress Ultrastar Live View Guide Camera (Color)
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$929.00
Orion Magnificent Mini Deluxe Autoguider Package
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$399.99
Orion Magnificent Mini AutoGuider Package
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$349.00

About Autoguiders

Any good quality German equatorial mount will track a target, provided that it has been accurately polar aligned first. Unfortunately this tracking may not be accurate enough to maintain round star images due to small irregularities in the gear train. This is commonly referred to as periodic error, meaning the error repeats periodically as high or low spots on the gears revolve into place. Small errors in polar alignment will also cause the field of view to drift. The longer the focal length of the telescope, the more apparent this will become on your images. While most periodic error can be compensated for using permanent periodic error correction, the only way to eliminate that and small polar alignment errors is to incorporate closed loop control using an autoguider.

Autoguiders work in conjunction with a telescope mount to keep a celestial object from drifting during a photographic exposure. An Autoguider is used as a sensor to detect minute amounts of drift while tracking a guide star. Most autoguiders work together with a laptop or tablet device to send guiding corrections to a telescope mount equipped with an autoguider input. This allows for more precise tracking than is possible with the mount alone. Serious astrophotographers using longer focal length instruments consider an autoguider to be an essential piece of equipment for achieving sharp images with anything more than a few seconds of exposure.

Autoguiders are offered in both monochromatic and color formats. Those interested in live video astronomy should probably consider the color versions. If autoguiding is your sole purpose for this device, then choose a monochrome camera for its superior light sensistivity.