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Photography of the night sky is called Astrophotography, or Astro-Imaging. The most common form of astrophotography is accomplished by attaching a camera to a telescope in order to use that telescope as a very powerful camera lens. However, astrophotography can be done with a variety of different set-ups, from attaching a DSLR camera to a tripod, pointing it at the sky, and taking a longer than normal exposure, to using a smartphone adapter to take quick pictures through a telescope or spotting scope. In fact, if you have a camera and want to take pictures of the night sky or a celestial object, there are several accessories on the market today that will let you do just that, with or without a telescope.

While taking pictures of the Milky Way or star trails is cool, most amateur astronomers who enjoy astrophotography buy a special camera that is designed for astro-imaging through a telescope. Because astrophotography cameras vary so much in price, a beginner might start out with a planetary, or solar system imager. These inexpensive digital cameras use a small CMOS sensor to gather the light of a bright object, such as the Moon, Saturn, or Jupiter, and then off-load the image to the astrophotographer's computer for processing with specialized software that is included in the camera package. Once they get their feet wet, most amateur astronomers buy an astrophotography camera with a larger, more sensitive sensor so that they can image fainter celestial objects. Astro-imaging cameras come with either color or monochrome sensors and have a variety of features and accessories that enhance their results. Today's astronomy cameras are so sensitive and have so many helpful features that serious astro-imagers can get results that rival those found in astronomy and science magazines!

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