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Hi all,

I am thinking of upgrading from my TAL-1M 4.5" reflector but I am not sure what to go for. My budget is around £500 and I am after something with some more photography capability. I know proper astrophotography demands 4-figure sums just for the mount so I am not expecting greatness but the disadvantages the TAL has as I see it and what I want to improve on are these:

  • No polar scope so polar allignment is hit and miss (though I have got better gradually)
  • It's only 4.5" so lots of objects are two faint
  • I can only focus through the 3x Barlow so I can't do any deep-sky through the scope.

I am hoping I can get something ok second hand around the 8" mark but I suspect it would have to be a Dob, otherwise the mount alone would use up all my budget. But does that then mean I can't take long exposures and am restricted to manually tracking Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the moon? I don't need intricate detail, I 'just' want to be able to capture things like the Cassini Division, the GRS, the Plieades and the brighter galaxies, nebulae and clusters, so I need to be able to focus both with and without a Barlow. If I can get something to which I can add tracking later, that would be fine.

Am I being hopelessly optimistic? If not, can someone suggest the kind of kit I should be going for?

Many thanks for any suggestions,

--- Alistair

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I'm no expert and I'm sure others will prove me wrong but I've always been told Dob's arn't good for AP

you really need an EQ mount particularly on DSO's

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You might be able to get a second hand 150PDS with your budget on an EQ5, would just need to add motor drive and your sorted. An 8" newt really needs a solid mount to track properly.

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Your going on a long spending curve and it only goes upward.

The most important equipment for Astro is a good mount. Get that first. Everything else follows that.

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What valleyman said, nspendmyour current budget onn a used heq5, then fit your Tal onto it un the mean time.Use that for a while abd save for a better scope.

The mount I the most important part of the imagers kit, spend cheap now then you will have to spend again in the future, trust me on that, I widh I had listened to the advice when k was setting up.

Hth,

Gaz

Sent from my Tab 3 using Tapatalk and fums.....

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Thanks, putting the tal on a better mount was not an option I had considered. That doesn't solve the back focus issue though. Is there a way of addressing that without a new ota?

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So a bit more looking and the EQ5 Pro Synscan Goto is around £500 from FLO. Would that be ok to handle an 8" Newtonian? I would be after a used one rather than new since I'm always trying to save.

Would this really give me noticeable improvements with my current scope? As I mentioned, I can't put the SLR at prime focus since I have to use the barlow to get focus at all, so I can only use my SPC900 for planetary and the SLR (with 200mm zoom) has to be piggybacked.

Also, I would need 4" tube rings and whatever dovetail is required since the ones on the TAL are integral to the mount.

Thanks for the replies so far

--- Alistair

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you could use an extension tube on the TAL to sort the back focus issue

I run a 200P SW on an EQ5, while not ideal it does just about handle it even with a DSLR on a 2x Barlow hanging off at some crazy angles

but I really am pushing the mount to its limits

I've not bone much DSO so far due to Rubbish weather preventing any decent time to run any long runs with long exposures
so I have spent most of my time Imaging the planets and honing my skills

second hand you MAY get a SW 200 and EQ5 for around your budget

Edited by oldpink

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you could use an extension tube on the TAL to sort the back focus issue

I run a 200P SW on an EQ5, while not ideal it does just about handle it even with a DSLR on a 2x Barlow hanging off at some crazy angles

but I really am pushing the mount to its limits

I've not bone much DSO so far due to Rubbish weather preventing any decent time to run any long runs with long exposures

so I have spent most of my time Imaging the planets and honing my skills

second hand you MAY get a SW 200 and EQ5 for around your budget

Thanks.

I am already using an extension tube, with my 3x Barlow, to achieve focus through the TAL on my Canon D450. With that I get a field of view about 6 arc-minutes, fine for individual stars or doubles but not great for Orion or Andromeda I suspect. Having said that, I have not tried it on any deep-sky objects on the assumption that my polar alignment won't be good enough and the mount will not track. I have tried on individual stars like Betelgeuse and Rigel and find that in 60 30-second subs, I get maybe 3 or 4 where the star is fairly round-ish. As people have said, this does rather point me towards concentrating on the mount doesn't it?

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Ok, after a little more looking around (on EBay) I found Classics3566 who will do an explorer 200PDS on an EQ5 for £585, with a Polarscope for another £37 and dual-axis motors for £99 so I am all in for around £700. The guy said I should be able to focus both with and without a Barlow through the 200PDS.

However, I don't think this comes with a barlow and also only has 1 lens. And am I right that this would be 2" instead of 1.25" so non of the eyepieces that came with the TAL would fit? I forgot to ask these questions when I phoned them!

Is this a reasonable setup for beginning astrophotography and is the price about right?

--- Alistair.

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Hi Alister, I have just purchase my first scope from Telescope House. I have just bought the Skywatcher 200p with EQ5 for £420. He has the SW 200pds with EQ5 for £545 if that helps. I cant help with any of your other questions as I'm a total novice.

Steve.

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As others have said, the mount is your main concern.

A skywatcher 200p on and EQ5 will be fine for visual but will start to struggle with astrophotography. Not impossible but a struggle. The 200p is a big scope to try and keep rock steady for AP. I think an HEQ5 is close to it's limits with a 200p on board and that is a sturdier mount than the EQ5.

Remember that for AP, aperture is not king. An 8 inch (200p) will give you some nice images, ideally it should be the pds variant  as it is customised for AP, but aperture is not the main priority. If you can keep the mount/scope steady then longer exposures will show you far more.

Check out the field of view calculator here to give you an idea of what you can see with each scope/camera combination.

If you can stretch your budget a bit, how about an HEQ5 second hand (get at least the syntrek so you have the tracking motors) and paired with a skywatcher 130pds or a 150pds as budget allows. You will quickly feel limited with your mount if you go down the EQ5 route. People do image with EQ5 and less but to maximise success set your eyes on an HEQ5 if you can.

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Thanks Steviebee and Peroni

I will look around for an HEQ5 Syntrek then and a 130 or 150 PDS. My budget might stretch to 700 at a pinch. Maybe  a few phone calls to Telescope House, FLO etc are in order. I think I may be contemplating this for a few weeks to come!

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Posted a 'wanted' on astro buy and sell, and there is a guy with the following:

I have a HEQ5 and a 150p for sale for £500 + pp. Mount comes with power supply and all the leads to connect to a laptop. Scope is boxed with all the original eyepieces.
I also have an ST80 with tube rings and dovetail bar to use as a guide scope and a Canon 1000D + adaptors, both boxed and with all the original bits for another £150 + pp.

Does this sound ok? He doesn't say the mount is syntrek and the scope is not PDS but he does also have a guide scope. All I need is a guide camera to get a full imaging setup. But will the mount cope and my 450D get focus through the scope? I don't think I would have any use for his 1000D.

I am very tempted by this.

--- Alistair

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Posted a 'wanted' on astro buy and sell, and there is a guy with the following:

I have a HEQ5 and a 150p for sale for £500 + pp. Mount comes with power supply and all the leads to connect to a laptop. Scope is boxed with all the original eyepieces.

I also have an ST80 with tube rings and dovetail bar to use as a guide scope and a Canon 1000D + adaptors, both boxed and with all the original bits for another £150 + pp.

Does this sound ok? He doesn't say the mount is syntrek and the scope is not PDS but he does also have a guide scope. All I need is a guide camera to get a full imaging setup. But will the mount cope and my 450D get focus through the scope? I don't think I would have any use for his 1000D.

I am very tempted by this.

--- Alistair

A bit more info: apparently the mount is an HEQ-5 Pro, which suddenly makes this really attractive I think.

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A bit more info: apparently the mount is an HEQ-5 Pro, which suddenly makes this really attractive I think.

I agree. This sounds like a good deal. Check out the prices at FLO to confirm as new prices. I'd be excited too.  :grin:

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I agree. This sounds like a good deal. Check out the prices at FLO to confirm as new prices. I'd be excited too.  :grin:

Well I've got it and its lovely. Thanks for all the advice guys.

Now I just have to figure out how to control the damn thing! Stallarium says it's connected to it but it ignores all commands I send and APT seems to require a (presumably paid-for) upgrade before it will talk to a scope. I will browse around SGL and possibly start a new thread if I can't see obvious solutions.

--- Alistair

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