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Milky Way from Cyprus


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Thanks all.

After a poor attempt the night before at my favourite shipwreck due to light pollution, I knew this would be a dark site and was well happy to find th MW between these small cliffs

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Got to love the low noise at High ISO with the 5D mk III :)

I splashed out on a 77mm Hutech IDAS filter to use with my lenses on the 5D Mk III with step rings to suit the samller ones...

Peter...

The 5DMk3 is an amazing camera in a lot of ways especially the low noise high ISO, which is one of the main reasons I bought it; with astrophotography in the back of my mind.

That filter looks good but if I am going to get into the widefield stuff then I am needing a wider, faster prime (maybe Samyang 14mm) and I am looking into either the Astrotrac, Vixen Polarie or the Ioptron Startracker? as the EQ6 is a bit of a beast to lug to obscure places.

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The Astrotrac certainly looks good but I am a bit confused with all the options. i.e. you have the main Astrotrac then do you need to buy the compact head, wedge, vixen saddle and polar scope. If so it then becomes a much more expensive option than the other two.

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For all of them you will need a decent tripod, a head that allows you to polar align the mount (Wedge, Geared Head or at a push a 3 way pan and tilt) , some means of determining accurate polar alignment (the polarscope is more important as FL increase) and some method of pointing the camera at the target (usually a ball and socket head)...

I found the Mafrotto 0X55PROB suffered from flex and seeing as I recently acquired a 600/f4L and also have a 300/2.8 then it was time to sort the tripod out once and for all so went for a Gitzo GT5542LS, I also went for the larger Manfrotto 410 geared head rather than the 405 and am thinking of getting another for mounting the camera onto the astrotrac - I have some heavy "glass" for pure widefield use then the "cheaper", lighter components would probably be fine ...

I guess I have thrown away the portability for functionality...

I also have an EQ3-Pro which I used to use for widefield it comes with a tripod and polarscope .. is an EQ mount so doesn't need a wedge , can get guided in both RA and DEC and for use with a DSLR and short /light lenses you can get away with just the lightest counterweight or possibly none at all...

I use a length of dovetail with a BnS head this allows me to point the camera at any point in the sky and avoid the need to do a meridian flip if I am imaging around the meridian... I just offset the camera...

Peter...

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Thanks for the all the info Peter,.

Have to admit I did look at the EQ3-Pro as it could then double as a grab-and-go for when I eventually buy a small refractor, but then I am getting less portable. The Vixen and Ioptron appealed to me because I could throw it into the camera bag or glove box for impromtu widefield imaging when we get lost in the middle of Cyprus somewhere (which we often do).

I think I will have to look more into the Astrotrac as it seems like a nice bit of kit and then work out exactly what other kit I will need from there.

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Both the Astrotrac and Polarie are very good from my own testing but the cruncher comes down to load capacity. The Polarie has a load capacity of 3Kg whereas the Astrotrac's is closer to 15Kg but keep in mind that the load capacity is also dictated by the tripod/tripod head that supports the mount. The Polarie is a much more compact unit and can operate in a completely self contained manner with just two AA batteries fitted internally whereas the Astrotrac requires a 12v source (an external 8 cell battery holder and lead are included).

For widefield imaging with a camera and wide angle lens, either would be fine but make sure that you budget for a polarscope as this significantly increases the exposure lengths that you can achieve.

I have no direct experience of the iOptron but Paul Money at Sky at Night magazine was impressed with the one he reviewed.

I shall be taking a Polarie to La Palma next year!

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Thanks for the info Steve,

Yes there is a lot more to budget for on both systems after the initial outlay.

I just read that ideally you need 2 tripod heads to use with the Polarie. I think it would be fine with a DSLR and a light wide lens but it looks like it would be at it's limit with a full frame DSLR and a F2.8 zoom lens let alone a small refractor.

The Astrotrac looks like the way to go for me but that could change by the time the funds are available after I have fixed the car :mad:

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