Most of my astro-images are either long exposures (3 to 5+ minutes of more) or if they are solar system (planets/lunar) - stacked images of 500 - +2000 frames from .avi files. Both require types intensive processing - sometimes taking up to several hours (or more) to complete. None of this equipment is cheap, I have three different telescopes and even the least expensive setup costs ~ 2K dollars.
But a LOT can be accomplished with an off the shelf DSLR and a telephoto lens, combined with a little practice and technique.
Nearly last Quarter Moon - Friday, March 25, 2011
Stats: Canon 350D, at 280 mm (75 to 300MM Telephoto lens), ISO = 400, F/7.1, 1/250 second
Processing: Adobe PhotoShop CS
This was a simple "point and shoot" image. No tripod, or even a shutter release. Just a series of images taken at several different exposures, f stops (called "bracketing the exposure") and processing the sharpest one.
The only trick was 'breath control' - to reduce camera vibration.