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need advice! (telescope/ccd for imaging)

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hi! im currently looking at buying a telescope/mount/camera/software for imaging, i've seen some of the amazing pictures people on this website have captured and i want to give it a go myself

what im basically asking is, what is a decent entry level setup, and how much is it going to cost me?

i bought a large (12") dobsonian telescope a few years back, and i've found its simply too large to make use of as much as i want (also obviously its useless for imaging), i think 8" or so would suit me much better!

kind regards,

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Many of the images are taken with small refractors on a large mount.

Often an 80mm apo on an EQ6, with guide camera. An HEQ5 is also often used however this is usually looked on as the smallest mount suitable for astrophotography.

As an example of the use of apo's in AP William Optics have brought out their 81mm apo with a built in reducer specifically aimed at the imaging section.

AP is best considered as a seperate area of astonomy, it is, or can be, a very expensive area of astronomy

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Also be prepared for a massive learning curve .... its one thing to point a dob, its another world altogether to learn astrophotography , all the scopes and Reducers and focal numbers and lengths and guiding , dslrs ,ccds, plus software registax,deep sky stacker, eqmods ascom ,subs ,lights darks, ect ect years of practice ... building a pier or obsy, ect ect

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HEQ5, small apo with reducer-flattener, finder guider or ST80 plus guide camera (second hand DSI etc), Atik CCD camera, filterwheel and filters. This is a good setup but is already chasing £2K. It is an expensive game.

Buying second hand saves about 40% on the new price and the order of importance is Mount-Camera-Optics. I say Atik for CCD because they are serious, reliable cameras with excellent software and a high level of reliability.


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thanks for the information, i didnt realise it was quite that expensive!, also Maxim looks very expensive (i have a temporary maxim licence because of my university course, imaging with the PIRATE telescope in mallorca)

Edited by Tohrazer
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You could start out imaging on the cheap like myself (I've just upgraded to kit costing a total of 600 quid including camera) I'm really enjoying the journey and the effect each little upgrade and new technique has on my resulting images. With sites like AstrobuyandSell it makes it easy and afforedable to upgrade as you go along, untill you've got a setup like what Olly describes and beyond:) I like this because your skill level can grow with your kit, I too imaged at uni:) I've found back garden imaging worlds apart from photometric studies with large semi pro scopes, but I'm enjoying the learning curve, I hope you do too:D I hope you don't mind me asking, what Uni are you studying at and what research are you doing?



Edited by starfox
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Yep you can do it on the cheap and with some respectable results. There's a few freebie programs to help. A decent webcam and Scope are a must though. So look to spend between 3 to 500 for those, possibly a couple of filters and then build on from there when your experience grows.

But as mentioned earlier, your first purchase should be Making Every Photon Count, by Steve Richards. He's a forum member and you can buy direct from him. It's written very well and assumes the reader is a complete novice. However there's lots in there even for experienced AP buffs

Edited by jfox61
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Depends how "serious" you want to get. One end of the scale we have people here using a 6" reflector on a drivern EQ3 mount being manually guided or guided by an off axis guider or with a web cam attached to a finder for use as a guidescope and modified handset.

Next "stage" up would be some thing like an HEQ5 with a larger scope and something like an ST80 / QHY5 combo for guiding. Again this set up and the one above could use a £300 Canon dslr as the imaging camera.

After that you then get into serious kit, with dedicated CCD cameras, most of which are between £500 - £2000 depending on CCD size and specification. Then the mounts, an EQ6 being the minimum, but really venturing towards AP1200 or Paramount PE (the latter being several grand).

Most serious imagers tend to have permanent set ups so equipment can be left from session to session without disturbance, so you could also add a couple of grand for a decent observatory with warm room....makes life easy, but not essential.

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