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darkcarthage

First telescope for Astrophotography

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Hi guys,

So, was  hoping to get a telescope primarily for astrophotography.

I've been excited about stars since quite a long time but havent had a chance to use a telescope.

I've been trying to capture some big objects like the orion nebula, andromeda etc with my 200mm lens strapped to my 7d.

So, hoping to buy a telescope, was searching online and found the Celestron 102 GT.

Its a refractor of F/10 and a focal length of 1000mm. Comes with the go to func also.

Is it good enough for a beginner, I'll also not be upgrading for atleast a few years and will be photographing with my canon 7d.

To my knowledge I'll be needing a EOS to T mount adapter and a T mount lens for the telescope to take pictures.

Price range: Around $300 + Accessories ( T mount and lens)

So it the Celestron 102GT good enough or would you recommend any other Telescope.

Thankyou.

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Stop immediately and do a lot more homework!

1) The main bit of kit is the tracking mount, which must be equatorial. A tracking alt-az mount is not suitable for AP. (It will follow objects but the objects will slowly rotate on the chip.)

2) Only at very short focal lengths will basic budget mounts deliver decent results. For a focal length of a metre you need a mount in the HEQ5 class and an autoguider.

3) Once you have a workable mount a reflector is the cheapest way of obtaining a metre or so of FL at a reasonabvle focal ratio (which determines the exposure time.) F10 would be agonizingly slow and not suitable for a DSLR which will work best below F5. Cheap achromatic refractors do not have the colour correction needed for photography. The eye is more tolerant than the camera. 

I would put the cash into the best mount you can afford and stick with the 200mm lens. There is no shortage of targets at this focal length. Unfortunately 300 dollars is not a deep sky telescopic imaging budget, though it gives me no pleasure to say so.

Olly

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Hi and Welcome

The scope and mount that you're interested in would be ok for observing with but is not recommended for astrophotography. At F10 it would be too slow. It's also an alt-az mount which is not really suitable. The best advice is to do lots of research and studying so you can better understand what you need and why you need it. You might consider just using your camera and lens attached to an equatorial tracking mount - you can produce really good images that way and learn a lot as well as getting experience at processing images. Do have a look around the imaging sections of the forum - there's lots of useful stuff to read.

Louise

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unfortunately I've got to agree with Olly here (not unfortunate to agree, unfortunate about the price ).  

With a $300 budget, I'd be looking at one of the tracking mounts designed for se with camera and lens.

This is the new offering from skywatcher. It seems a bargain to me :)

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-star-adventurer/skywatcher-star-adventurer-astronomy-bundle.html

Edit: I'd also concider a good book on starting out with astrophotography. This seems to be a popular choice.

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

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Not a good scope for AP I'm afraid, long focal length and slow optics. It's also on an alt-az mount which would greatly limit exposure time. Would be good for lunar shots and perhaps planetary but would be very limited for imaging DSOs.

Within your budget you'd probably get the most bang for your buck by getting a cheap equatorial mount to mount your camera on and use your existing camera lenses. Here's a recent effort of mine on the Rosette Nebula:

15961168775_11eba72f64_b.jpg

This is 30 minutes (15x120 second subs) with a 135mm lens at f4, using a modded Canon 100D. There are a fair number of large targets up there which don't require high magnification.

What 200mm lens do you have please?

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Thanks for the replies.

Well, that was less than encouraging  :shocked:

I see EQ mounts fare better at imaging, however the alt-az can be used < 30sec exposures which i think wont be enough?

Since im a newbie, ill be observing first, so is a F/10 1000mm refractor a bad idea for "seeing" some of the messier objects?

 I see two good scopes with EQ mounts namely :

Celestron 127EQ F/8 at 1000mm, have to buy motor drive seperate for tracking , also will learn alot by manually guiding it.

Celestron 130EQ F/5 at 650mm.

I guess the 130EQ would fare better?

Sadly the 200mm lens i have is a 18-200 which has a max aperture of 5.6.

I may get a new mount soon if i face a lot of issues.

So from a learning and observing point of view, should i get the F/10 1000mm alt-az or the F/5 650mm motorized EQ?

Switching astrophotography via a telescope to my secondary motive now since you all experienced persons think it to be unwise.

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Hi Darkcarthage,

I would suggest that you follow the advice of the members above and stick with your equipment for the time being. I use a Pentax K-30 camera with a 55-300mm zoom lens (max aperture at 300 mm is f/5.8). It just means you have to be more patient and take more subs. It is still highly rewarding. The Pentax has a little GPS gizmo which allows it to track for short periods - 30sec is pushing it. For any descent image of a bright DSO you will need 100+ frames which can be stacked with DSS. If you have a bit of a handyman in you there are plenty of instruction on the internet to build a barn door mount. T give you an idea of what is possible I attach The Orion Nebula (~20min total exposure time) which I took a couple of weeks ago with the Pentax and a tripod...

Good luck!

post-39098-0-20763000-1417907177_thumb.j

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Unfortunately the needs of visual and deep sky photographic astronomy are diametrically opposed until you get into multi thousand dollar budgets where they can converge.

Why is this?

- Visual always needs aperture. Aperture means a big scope. A big scope means a big  (read expensive) mount to carry the weight. Big scopes also have long focal lengths so the mount needs to be big and very accurate (doubly expensive.)

- Budget visual scopes put most of the cost into the optics and as little as possible into the mount. (Dobsonians are perfect.) Photographic setups start with the mount as the overwhelming priority.

- As a beginner meeting the theory for the first time you might think that tracking in one axis should be OK. At short (camera lens) focal lengths it is OK. At telescopic focal lengths is simply isn't. It doesn't work. Nor can you hand guide small budget mounts. The merest contact with the scope, the tiniest touch, will be like a kick from a quaterback so far as your picture is concerned. People did hand guide years ago, they hated it, they used huge chunky mounts to have some hope of succeeding and they rarely did. Their film cameras were so limited in performance that errors were masked. We now have incredible cameras capable of pulling out far more detail, including detail in all that's wrong with the mount, optics and operator!

- If you want to do deep sky AP don't buy an alt az mount. (In the same way that if you wanted to take up cycling you wouldn't buy a kayak...)

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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Visual astronomy can be very satisfying but there are some decent AP options at the budget end. Someone already mentioned a barn door tracker which can give good results . My 2nd hand EQ3-2 mount with RA motor cost me £120 plus another £30 for the polar scope. There are some nice old M42 lenses out there available at very reasonable prices. My Rosette Nebula above was taken with a £50 lens, and I took these with a 45-year old 135mm f3.5 Super-Takumar that I got off eBay for £18.

14796083407_3f3756dfd1_c.jpg

(Unmodded camera from a moderately light-polluted site.)

15147147820_89347b3d5e_c.jpg

(Modded camera from a dark site.)

Hope that's some help. AP is something of a learning curve and requires patience but there is plenty of help available online, and it is possible to get decent results on a tight budget.

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Thanks for the replies.

Well, scratch AP off the list :grin:

Don't want to create a new topic in the observing sub-forum so will post here.

Strictly observing, would a F7.9 1000mm scope do the trick or a 650mm F5 will be better, both are EQ mounts, cant go for a dobsonian because of the size.

Observing domain will be restricited to the messier catalogue and the solar system.

I do have an arduino with me so im looking at some nice projects like the barn door.

Thanks.

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I only bought a telescope about 3 months ago, knowing nothing about astronomy, just that I was interested in it. I opted for a 127mak on a alt/az goto mount. It was great. I could see the grey fuzzy DSO's, planets, moons etc. Then I decided to have a go at DSO imaging. The max sub you get is about 30 seconds, and even then you throw away about 80% because of star trails etc. However, even though it was not the best option (far from it!), it got me started. About 2 months after buying that scope, I sold it. Upgraded to a HEQ5 and 200p Newt. That was last week. I have only had 1 photo session that worked (damn you weather!), but the results are exponentially better.

One thing I will say is that if you new to astronomy, the learning curve can be a tough one. If I would have started out with this scope, I would of been completely overwhelmed with the terminology and the number of things that you have to look for. The alt/az mount I had was a Synscan GOTO mount, as is the new HEQ5 that I have. The familiarity of the handset alone saved me so much time.

Even though I am a complete newbie to all of this, and I am not unhappy with the path I took (I bought my first scope second hand and sold it for the exact amount I bought it for!), the best suggestion I can make is to get a scope that is more 'newbie friendly' to begin with. Perhaps a good option would be to get a small refractor that you can 'learn the skys' with and then use as part of a more expensive AP setup later on. A good example of this is the Skywatcher Startravel 80 which a lot of people use as a guidescope (something that I am now looking at buying!)

Again, there is a wealth of knowledge on the forums, and everyone who I have spoke to is always happy to help :)

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...

Well, scratch AP off the list :grin:....

With all due respect to your decision and to all SGL members doing observations because it is real and AP is cheating, would you be happy with counting a DSO as a smudge when doing adverted vision?! I know I want to see DSOs in all their glory - colour and detail - and you can only do this with imaging. I can not afford a complete imaging setup right now and decided I will start with a mount (HEQ5) and I will put my camera on top - might look funny but it will allow me to learn the mount. When I can afford it I think I will get a SW80ED scope and much later I might get into guiding... If I couldn't afford the HEQ5 now (for Christmas) I would wait and try to perfect my efforts with the camera alone. There are plenty of DSOs big enough so that you don't need a scope. When I look back at the images I tried to take a year ago and my efforts now there is a world of difference and even without the mount the images I will take in a years time will be better than my present efforts. Go for your dreams and don't be discouraged by the possible expenditure - I am afraid if you are interested enough it will come anyway.

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Thanks for the replies.

Well, scratch AP off the list :grin:

Don't want to create a new topic in the observing sub-forum so will post here.

Strictly observing, would a F7.9 1000mm scope do the trick or a 650mm F5 will be better, both are EQ mounts, cant go for a dobsonian because of the size.

Observing domain will be restricited to the messier catalogue and the solar system.

I do have an arduino with me so im looking at some nice projects like the barn door.

Thanks.

The F ratio has precious little importance in a visual scope. You'll be changing the effective F ratio and effective focal length when you change eyepieces. What matters is the focal length of the system, EP and scope combined. 

Are you sure that a scope needing a tripod and conventional mount is smaller than a Dobsonian? I'm not, not by any means. An 8 inch Dob will stand upright in a corner and take up less real room than most tripods, let alone tripiods, mounts and scopes.

Olly

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Well, for one the dobsonian is a different mount. I'd want to go with an EQ mount and learn if I'd eventually go with astrophotography down the lane.

The dobsonion is also slightly expensive.

The three options i have are a Celestron 127EQ with a 5 inch aperture and a 1000mm focal length. It's a reflector which is compact in size.

Second is a Celestron powerseeker 114EQ, 114mm aperture at 900mm focal length again a reflector with a long tube.

Third is a Celestron 130EQ with a 130mm aperture and a 650mm focal length.

I'll be getting an accessory box which includes a 12mm kellner, a 6mm plossl and some other stuff.

My question is what would you go for, I'm restricted to models like these due to shipping woes ( Have to buy from US and get it shipped to my country).

Thanks.

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Listen to Olly, he talks so much sense. This can be a relatively expensive hobby, (as are most, I suppose, when you get deeply into them). There's a pretty good fundamental tutorial on youtube, 'imaging without a tracker', by Forrest Tanaka. You can also ask other people for stacks of images for you to work on, (never done this myself but heard of people who have). That camera mount from First light optics looks like a good bit of kit and if you have some pretty good photographic equipment it may be the way forward but be warned, if you're into learning, this is damned addictive. No, don't be warned, be afraid, be very afraid!!!!!! :evil:

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Well, for one the dobsonian is a different mount. I'd want to go with an EQ mount and learn if I'd eventually go with astrophotography down the lane.

The dobsonion is also slightly expensive.

The three options i have are a Celestron 127EQ with a 5 inch aperture and a 1000mm focal length. It's a reflector which is compact in size.

Second is a Celestron powerseeker 114EQ, 114mm aperture at 900mm focal length again a reflector with a long tube.

Third is a Celestron 130EQ with a 130mm aperture and a 650mm focal length.

I'll be getting an accessory box which includes a 12mm kellner, a 6mm plossl and some other stuff.

My question is what would you go for, I'm restricted to models like these due to shipping woes ( Have to buy from US and get it shipped to my country).

Thanks.

I think that the dobsonians that are commonly recommended are things like:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html

and:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html

Prices are UK but I'm sure you can find these on a US site.  You say, in your first post, that you have never used a telescope, and I wonder if it might be worthwhile doing some visual observing for a while before AP.  I am just starting out in AP and am finding it a steep learning curve (in the parlance of our times).  One of the above, with a suitable at-the-telescope guide book such as 'Turn Left At Orion' or 'Nightwatch' would provide you the opportunity to experience some success at seeing what is up there.  

I am not certain (from what I have read) that any of the options you mention in the quoted post would be a suitable platform for AP - if I am wrong I am sure others will chip in (I am only a beginner).  Other folks have suggested suitable 'base-level' mounts in the thread (the HEQ5 seems a popular choice, although it is not what I have).

I am a photographer, and I know that I need different lenses (and sometimes cameras) for different jobs.  So it seems to be in astronomy - you need different equipment depending upon what you are trying to do.

A lot of people recommend the book 'Making Every Photon Count', and I certainly found that quite helpful - even if I still haven't grasped all of it.  

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I see EQ mounts fare better at imaging, however the alt-az can be used < 30sec exposures which i think wont be enough?

Not true - you can do lots with 30 sec images. It is not, by a long way, the most efficient way of doing things, but it is not true to say it cannot be done. Here is

 about 15 mins on the Veil taken with a 4" Nexstar SLT (an alt-az mount) and a Canon 1000D, with 30sec exposures.

ngc6960_600x400_13_9_2012.jpg

No, it's not Hubble quality, but it's better than nothing at all. Just depends what your ambitions are!

NigelM

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