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About chrisv

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    EAA, DSO
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  1. I've looked at it as well, but the price difference between EQ3 and EQ5 didn't seem that big - between the GoTo versions it's 150 GBP, but EQ3 comes with an aluminium tripod. In terms of payload capacity, at least on paper, EQ3 seems very similar with AZ GTi, with a max payload of 5kg. Although EQ3 seems to be a bit more sturdy. Is there a bigger difference between them in real life? I do have some second thoughts about AZ GTi, I could get it for the price of the GoTo upgrade kit for EQ5. Or even less without the tripod, which doesn't seem that great. But I'm not sure how well ST120 would fare on it - it's not that heavy, but it's a bit long. Other than that, I should probably try to invest some time in making the OnStep goto kit for EQ5. @Surreydocker It's funny that you've mentioned the towel part, I've tried exactly that two nights ago. My best views are SW-W-NW, where the sky is quite dark, except for 2-3 street lights. I've managed to find a spot where they are blocked by vegetation, but it seems that they still create some diffuse light. The full moon definitively didn't help either, but I'm not sure how much from the light was from the full moon versus those street lights. Could you compare the 90 deg prism with the 45 amici one? Is there a big difference in terms of brightness and visual quality? How about the BST 18mm vs the bundled 25mm? It's probably harder to compare these, due to the different focal lengths, but did you notice any big differences? I'm still waiting for my 2" mirror diagonal, since it wasn't in stock. I've also ordered an S/H Explore Scientific 2x Focal Extender, just to try out some different focal lengths. On my last session I've tried to split Izar with the bundled 10mm eyepiece, but I wasn't even close. Later I've searched a bit and it seems that around 150x or more magnification is needed for it. I did manage to split Albireo which was really beautiful.
  2. Thank you very much David for the comprehensive post! And many thanks to everyone else that contributed to this thread. I was very close to ordering a 150P-DS and EQ5 Goto bundle but I stopped on the last step of the checkout process :). A big equatorial mount with a newtonian on top might be a good match for EAA and maybe even astrophotography, but it doesn't seem so great when there's finally a night with good seeing, during a work day when you only have 1 hour. Involving small children would also be hard, since they probably can't even reach the eyepiece of a newtonian on an EQ mount. I probably can't even reach the eyepiece when it's pointed at zenith either... With all that being considered, I decided to go for a slightly bigger refractor: Skywatcher Star Traveler 120/600 with an AZ3 mount. It sure gets it share of bashing due to the CA, but after using it for three nights (out of which only one was with decedent seeing, but with the full moon up) I really don't find the CA that bothering. Yes, you can see it when you push the scope to 60x on brighter targets - e.g. Jupiter, but it's not that bad - in fact, I don't even think someone that doesn't know much about CA will notice it. At 60x it goes away almost entirely if you stop the aperture with the provided cap. It probably is a bit harder to manage at higher magnifications, where CA will be stronger and stopping down the aperture might also cause a noticeable dim effect. The scope also comes with an amici prism, which I suspect also causes some CA of its own. The bundled 25mm eyepiece is decent, but it provides only about 24x magnification, almost the same as my binoculars. The 10mm eyepiece has a 60x magnification, but the eye relief is also quite short. For now, I've ordered a Skywatcher Deluxe 2" mirror diagonal which hopefully will also improve the image quality. I am a bit concerned about the lack of inwards focus that some users have reported when using 2" diagonals, let's see how it goes. As for the EAA, I've decided to take things slow. I've ordered a manual EQ5 together with the telescope, so that I can practice setting it up, polar aligning and maybe even switching to it instead of the humble AZ3 for visual. In terms of quality, even though EQ5 is still a cheap mount, it's definitively in a different class than AZ3 - the quality is much better and it seems more refined. But to be honest, I didn't even try it outside yet :). I was more interested in trying out the telescope than the mount. I'll probably try it out this week, if the weather permits, so that I can get a feel of the entire setup and how much time it would take. I do plan to upgrade EQ5 to goto, but now I'm trying to decide which approach to take: the SynScan GOTO kit seems like the simplest option, but paying 400 EUR for two stepper motors, a control box and a handset seems very expensive. You can get a decent 3D printer for half of that money, which has more parts than this kit (and some might even have better quality). I'm also a bit concerned about the noise, since it uses metal gears instead of belts and in most videos it sounds very noisy. The other approach would be an OnStep kit, which seems to be doable for 1/4 of the money. However it requires more time investment and considering the current world wide situation, it will probably be a bit harder to source some parts that are not available from Europe. I'm comfortable with electronics and it really seems like a great project to try on, but it will probably take me a few months to complete it. Overall, I'm quite happy with ST120. Its main down sides aren't that bad and the form factor is quite good. It's really a joy to be able to sit comfortably on chair and admire the views through it, something which is not really possible with other mounts and scope types. I do have to mention that the comfortable part applies only to targets between 10-45 degrees altitude. Higher targets are no fun at all, due to the 45 degree amici prism, but hopefully a proper mirror diagonal will fix this. My next steps would be to add goto to EQ5 and get a dedicated astro cam (I'm looking at ZWO ASI290 mono at the moment), but I'll probably take my time with these.
  3. I agree about the goto mount. It's something that I'd like to get from the beginning, or definitively as the next step if the budget doesn't allow. My main concern was that most budget friendly Alt AZ goto mounts have a max payload of 5kg, which limits the scopes that they can be used for. The next options with higher capacity would be cheap EQ mounts that can be upgraded to goto (EQ3, EQM35 or EQ5), but they require more time to setup. Celestron SE line was on my list, but I dismissed them due to the price and high focal lengths. For the price of a Celestron 5SE, I could get an 80ED APO with an AZ Gti mount (goto). For visual, 5SE might have an edge due to the large aperture, but how would they compare for EAA (deep space)? I've also considered a goto Mak 127/1500, which is a lot cheaper than a 5SE ($690 vs $1263) locally, but I dismissed it due to the long focal range.
  4. I've spent the past few weeks trying to decide on an EAA setup that could be started with a lower budget and upgraded without throwing everything away. I feel that I've reached a standstill at the moment and it would be great if I could get some advice, just to be sure that I'm going in the right direction. My goals are, - Focus mainly on DSOs. - While the main focus should be for EAA, I would like to also involve my two daughters (my oldest one is 5 years old), preferably for visual. They probably won't have enough patience to wait until I polar align and star hop, although we could work something out. - I don't have any plans for astrophotography at the moment. I do have a DSLR, but I'll probably get a dedicated CCD/CMOS camera. - It will be more fun if it involves some technical aspects, that's one of the main reasons why I would like to focus mainly on EAA. I don't mind the technical complexities, but I'm not much into repetitive work. - I'm not that much into buying and selling used, hence I'd like a more versatile setup, where each piece could be upgraded individually, or repurposed. - Besides the electronic parts, it should be something long lasting. Besides this, my main constraints would be: - Since most of my EAA sessions will take place when I'm tired from the day, it would be more appealing if I don't have to lug around a heavy Dobsonian mount. My main observing location will be from my backyard (Bortle 6) - Budget for the scope and mount around $700 USD. For the CCD, I was thinking at ZWO224MC or something in its price range. I am also open for mono, maybe ZWO290MM, although after reading a bit more, I'm not so sure about the advantages. - I already have a laptop and since I'll be observing from my garden, I should be able to power everything. At the moment, I have the following options: Mount: AZ GTi or EQ5 (without Goto in the first stage). Since my budget won't allow for an EQ mount with Goto, I'll probably focus more on visual at the beginning. I will add a Goto upgrade kit later, but I'd like to test the waters first. AZ GTi has max payload of 5 kgs, unfortunately I can't find any other cheap AZ mounts with a higher payload. EQ5 seems nice, solid and I'd love to learn to polar align, but I'm afraid that it may become tedious, especially when I'll have less than 1 hour observing time. It's also seems a bit bulky and I'll need to figure out a way to store it. HEQ5 is too expensive at this stage and I can't find a manual version that can be upgraded to goto later. Scopes: Skywatcher Startraveler 102/500 I've seen it recommended a couple of times, although I'm not sure how usable it is for EAA due to the CA. It may be a bit at the limit for AZ GTi. Skywatcher Evostar 72ED Small for visual, but it's probably better suited for a light goto mount, such as AZ GTI. It comes in a bare kit, after adding all the accessories (diagonal, finder, eyepiece), the price is close to the next option on the list. Skywatcher Evostar 80ED It seems like a great option, although I won't have any budget for a mount. Even though I wanted something that could be upgraded individually, I doubt it will be of much use if I need to hand hold it. I could try to extend a bit the budget to cover an AZ GTi mount, but I'm also a bit worried about the weight. Also, this would bring the budget to over $1000, which also bring other options available. I've added 80ED to my list after seeing how great it looked in a review. I've seen a cheaper version without a microfocuser and accessories (I could get some cheaper ones), but I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Skywatcher 130/650PDS Probably a bit heavy for the AZ GTi mount, hence I'll need to go for an EQ5. Collimation seems something interesting to do, but it's not something that I'd like to do very often, especially when I have only 1-2 hours of observing time. I've read that it might be a bit more tricky to do at lower focal ratios, hence it may require extra equipment with an extra cost. Bulky to setup, especially if I need to mount it on an EQ5. I've read that mirrors need to be recoated after a while (> 8-10 years). Small Newtonians (< 130mm) Most models seem to be of cheap quality, with too many compromises. What are your recommendations? I know that my budget is very limited, but I'd like to be more conservative at the beginning. I'm not much interested in visual, my seeing conditions are not that great and I also have a light astigmatism which is more bothersome when I'm tired. Thank you
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