Orion’s new StarShoot Compact Astro Tracker (CAT) offers the ability to shoot long-exposure and nightscape astrophotography and create daytime and nighttime time-lapse videos.
The palm-sized, precision camera tracking module houses a right ascension DC servo motor with all metal gears and offers selectable sidereal, solar, and lunar tracking rates. Pop it on a tripod, attach your DSLR or mirrorless camera and you’re ready. It is Wi-Fi enabled and controlled wirelessly from a smartphone or tablet with the free Orion Tracker Console app for Android and iOS.
Offering a payload capacity of 6.6 lbs. (increases to 8.8 lbs. with Orion’s optional Declination Bracket accessory), the CAT can support small telescopes for astronomical observing or cameras with even large telephoto lenses for astrophotography. With sidereal tracking, deep-space exposures can be extended to several minutes while still maintaining pinpoint stars. Wide-field Milky Way portraits are not constrained to 30 seconds or less due to star trailing and longer exposures mean you can use lower ISO values to reduce noise in your images. There’s a 0.5x sidereal speed that minimizes blurring of the foreground in tracked nightscape shots.
Polar alignment for tracked nightscape or celestial photography is achieved with the included illuminated polar scope, which works in both northern and southern hemispheres. The optional equatorial base is recommended to set the correct angle of the StarShoot CAT for polar alignment and tracking.
The free Tracker Console app creates a local Wi-Fi network between the tracker and your phone – no internet connection is needed. Just choose the photographic or time-lapse mode you want and set the parameters of your exposure(s). Then tap Run to start the automated sequence (requires optional remote shutter cable for your particular camera to connect it to the tracker).
The StarShoot CAT comes standard with a panoramic ball head camera mount to give you maximum freedom in aiming your camera and framing your shots. Optional accessories include the Orion StarBlast AutoTracker Tripod and the Counterweight & Shaft kit, which is used with the optional Declination Bracket to help balance heavier loads.
Small and lightweight enough (22 oz.) to tuck into your camera bag or backpack, the StarShoot CAT is powered by two AA batteries, which provide 24 hours of operation, or an external 5V USB power source.