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Creating an Astro-Imagers Checklist
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Creating a checklist for any process or activity is an easy and proven LEAN technique used to improve quality and standardize a process. There are several areas in astrophotography that can really benefit from a checklist. The one I will discuss here is an equipment checklist.

Equipment Checklist: This is a tested and guaranteed imaging session saver!

The equipment checklist is exactly what it sounds like. It is a list of the equipment that you will need to perform a given process or operation. In my case this process is: Going to a remote location to image an object. I typed up an all inclusive list of each item that I will need to capture an image. I try to sort the items by type and logical grouping to facilitate gathering of equipment and logical thought. Examples of logical groupings I use include:

OTA, accessories, flatteners, etc.

Camera, adapters, cables, and power adapter.

Computer, software, cables, power.

I also include things like supplies that I might need such as replacement batteries (AA, illuminator, etc.), so that I check whether I have these and whether they are functioning. The simple act of creating the list will usually help you in organizing your needs.

Here is a link to an example of one of my lists:

URL goes here


The application of the checklist is the key to success. I review my list several times.

  1. I review it and check it as I gather the components the night before the trip.
  2. I read over it and check off the items as I pre-pack and pack my vehicle. I use two sets of checks here. One for when I have packed a box or placed an item in the loading zone and one for when I actually load the item.
  3. Lastly, I get in my truck and slowly read through the list again, mentally confirming that I actually saw the item being packed, either in a box during pre-pack, or actually placed in the truck. The key here is not to assume that the item is packed (i.e. I actually open the camera case and check for each adapter and cable by placing my hands on each. That way I am assured of having the item.).


This process works. I have several times caught an item that would have been critical to the imaging mission. Once, during the final check in the truck, I realized that I did not remember packing the counterweight bar. When I looked in my pre-pack staging area in the garage, I noticed that something had covered it during packing and I had left it. The checklist absolutely saved the weekend.


I have a checklist for the food, camping gear if required, and clothing also. These may not prevent you from imaging if you leave them behind, but they certainly add to the comfort when you remember them.


I believe that this process will work for you as well. Try it and let me know if it works for you.


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