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Telescope for an Beginner in Astrophotography


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Hi all 

I'm new to this forum so must firstly apologise if I am repeating a topic that has been discussed before!

I've spent the last 3 hours trawling through pages and pages of advice for beginner telescopes (Astrophotography) and, honestly, I am more confused that I was 3 hours ago! Being a keen photographer, I understand aperture, focal length, needing an adapter to fit my DSLR (Canon) etc however I am still clueless with what telescope would be best for me as a beginner in Astrophotography?! 

I'm particularly interested in the deep sky (star clusters, galaxies etc) so it would, in an ideal 'lottery winning' world, be great to have a telescope with a motion sensor for example

I'm not flush with cash so the cheaper the better however I also don't want to pay budget and get exactly what I've paid for...budget! If it means saving for an extra few months, I'm willing to wait for the right telescope!

Any help, advice, suggestions would be greatly appreciated :-)

Thanks all!

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With all the camera stuff to start with, if the mount did the job and was your plan for the future and you bought the right mount with the eye to your next step, could start with using what you have on while saving for the next bits to go with the mount. Some stunning work I have seen on this site by people using cameras with either wide field or longer lens.

Still plenty to learn with the processing side.

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What do you mean by "motion sensor" ??

You will have to have an equitorial mount that has motors to rotate with the earth as a minimum.

Your exposures are measured in minutes and the sky is moving. It is the same as taking a 60 second shot of a plane that is in flight and ideally the image of the plane does not move by a single pixel either up or down on the camera sensor. It is somewhat different to photography.

Scope:

In the reflector line you are looking at one of the PDS scopes, 130PDS, 150PDS or 200PDS. Aperture is not overly important.

In the refractor line there are a number of 70mm(ish) ED scopes. Get an ED doublet as a minimum, but for sharper images and no CA you really need to look at apo triplets.

Again aperture is not overly important and actually can count against you. Aperture equals weight and physical size. Will ignore to more specialist Mak Newtonians and RC's out of it all for now.

No idea where you are, UK is a bit undefined, but look for a club and find out if they have an imaging group, most will have now.. You will get an idea of what is involved. You came simply take a tripod, DSLR and lens outside. Set camera to ISO 3200, 30 sec and f/4, set the focus manually and take a shot of say Orion, or Casseiopia. When it is around try the moon but use an ISO of 200 and 1/100 sec - you need the ISO low on the moon to get greater contrast.

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If you wish to dip your toes in the water for DSO Astrophotography you need to be prepared to get very wet. You should first do nothing but buy the book Making Every Photon Count by Steve Richards and absorb it thoroughly. It's available from this site by clicking on the FLO icon at the top and searching it out.

Then all will become relatively clear and you can concentrate on the most important thing;

A decent Equatorial mount to carry your scope.

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As others have said, the mount is king.  Buy second hand, and you may not need to spend / lose so much money if you find it isn't for you.  But you will still need to spend a reasonable chunk.  Again, start with buying Making Every Photon Count and read it.

Pretty much at about the minimum, you would be wanting a HEQ5 or NEQ6 mount to get the best payload / tracking.  You can put far less weight on a mount when doing AP (Astro Photography) than when doing visual, because you want it to track as accurately as possible.  You have to be prepared to spend somewhere around £500 for such a mount second hand (some bargains do come up cheaper, and more often more expensive).  Or around £750-1000 new.

As for the scope, a good place to start is the Skywatcher 130p-ds scope.  Should be around £100 second hand (£160 new) and can yield some impressive results.

That and a camera adaptor (T-ring + Adaptor) should get you started at least.  So for around £650 you could get started.  If that's more than you were thinking, then AP probably wont be for you, as that would be a rather basic set-up.  But add some guiding, and a decent AP camera, and the results achievable from this set up can be excellent (there is a thread on here solely for images taken through the 130p-ds scope with some very impressive results).

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All I can do is reiterate the above - It;s all about the MOUNT, MOUNT, MOUNT  - Did I say that the MOUNT is important?! :D No it's not important, for DSO imaging it's crucial. Get yourself a copy of 'Making Every Photon Count' and read it through..... once...... twice and thrice before spending a penny. Then think about what you want and why (you'll have a good idea by now!) and then read the book again to confirm it! Steve really has written something of a imagers bible, ignore it and it's contents at your peril :)

Second hand is a good idea - Second hand mounts come up on Astrobuysell quite often. Then if it's not for you, you can sell it without losing much cash.

Personally scope wise I am a great believer in a refractor (such as an 80ED) - The results from the 130PDS have been excellent, but for a beginner I think there are easier options out there. 

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Hi and Welcome to the Lounge :)

Very sound advice above, +1 for 'Making Every Photon Count'. And if you need reminding ;). Mount,Mount,Mount. :) the most important thing I think.

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Personally scope wise I am a great believer in a refractor (such as an 80ED) - The results from the 130PDS have been excellent, but for a beginner I think there are easier options out there. 

I suggested the 130p-ds as it's cheap to be fair (it is also what I have got, as my first scope for AP).  I am sure the 80ED makes for a fine scope, but the OP would surely struggle to find one as cheap as a 130p-ds?

Then again, the OP did say he was willing to save for the right scope, but he probably wasn't thinking about saving the first £500 or so just for the mount.

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I suggested the 130p-ds as it's cheap to be fair (it is also what I have got, as my first scope for AP).  I am sure the 80ED makes for a fine scope, but the OP would surely struggle to find one as cheap as a 130p-ds?

Then again, the OP did say he was willing to save for the right scope, but he probably wasn't thinking about saving the first £500 or so just for the mount.

That's a valid point to be sure - But the 130PDS does require work to get it working well and perhaps something that someone just starting out wouldn't feel confident doing. Hell, I've been doing this for 4 years and I'd not have the confidence to do it!

I just mentioned a refractor as I think it is an easier option for a first scope - It is the most plug and play option out there and when trying to learn AP it's good to be able to reduce levels of complexity as much as possible in my opinion.

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Some great advice on here already, first thing to look at is budget as it will have a big impact on which route you take but as stated for astrophotography mount is key

I went to rother valley optics as I was in the same boat and didn't really know what route to take, I advised what I wanted to achieve and first question asked was budget. I was fortunate I got a chunk of money which prompted this and wasn't as restrictive, so I went for a neq6 pro and a Skywatcher evostar 80d and a QHY 5-II for a guide camera but as I'm sure you can work out it wasn't cheap

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Thanks all for your help! I've just realised that I've made a typo in the subject line - written "an" and should be "a"...must have been all those hours of researching telescopes fried my brain! 

Costs - I knew going into this, it wouldn't be a cheap affair, but with so many different price ranges and blogs / forums saying it's not always the price, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't paying a small price but getting a "budget scope" or even paying a lot and finding that as I learnt more, I could have had a less expensive scope that did exactly the same (the whole paying for the brand scenario) - speaking of brands, what brands are reputable or the best place online / shop to buy? I understand from some of the comments above that it may be worth looking at second hand for the mount?

UK wise, I'm based in the Chester area (North West) - usually head out to places like Rhosneigr in Angelsey or even up to Northumberland (Keilder Forest). I have a Canon 600D (again not the most expensive camera) and have produced some ok 'starry' photos with just my 300mm lens and tripod but I don't just want ok

Granted the attached photo I took last year is really basic (but it was just with my DSLR and 300mm lens so bear with me!). Although photography is a hobby, I have won some landscape and animal photography competitions, so I do take it seriously and I'm itching to get into astrophotography

The night sky fascinates me and it would be great to be able to take this kind of photo eventually: http://rebloggy.com/post/1k-landscape-upload-night-stars-colors-nature-2k-new-mexico-astrophotography-ver/81291663373

But I know I'm trying to run before I can walk so thank you for all your advice so far 

Gem 

P.S note taken - it's all about the mount! 

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Thanks all for your help! I've just realised that I've made a typo in the subject line - written "an" and should be "a"...must have been all those hours of researching telescopes fried my brain! 

Costs - I knew going into this, it wouldn't be a cheap affair, but with so many different price ranges and blogs / forums saying it's not always the price, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't paying a small price but getting a "budget scope" or even paying a lot and finding that as I learnt more, I could have had a less expensive scope that did exactly the same (the whole paying for the brand scenario) - speaking of brands, what brands are reputable or the best place online / shop to buy? I understand from some of the comments above that it may be worth looking at second hand for the mount?

UK wise, I'm based in the Chester area (North West) - usually head out to places like Rhosneigr in Angelsey or even up to Northumberland (Keilder Forest). I have a Canon 600D (again not the most expensive camera) and have produced some ok 'starry' photos with just my 300mm lens and tripod but I don't just want ok

Granted the attached photo I took last year is really basic (but it was just with my DSLR and 300mm lens so bear with me!). Although photography is a hobby, I have won some landscape and animal photography competitions, so I do take it seriously and I'm itching to get into astrophotography

The night sky fascinates me and it would be great to be able to take this kind of photo eventually: http://rebloggy.com/post/1k-landscape-upload-night-stars-colors-nature-2k-new-mexico-astrophotography-ver/81291663373

But I know I'm trying to run before I can walk so thank you for all your advice so far 

Gem 

P.S note taken - it's all about the mount!

Northumberland

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Some of the budget scopes take 'better than budget' pictures, which is good to know. Obvious ones are the Skwatcher 130P Newt (which as Sara says will need more input) and the venerable Skywatcher ED80 with reducer-flattener which is still a ridiculously good scope. I think you can have it from First Light Optics at the top of the page without some of the bits not needed for imaging.

If you are going to be portable then I think you'd find the HEQ5 mount easier to manage than the NEQ6. For the big and strong this is less of an issue but I'm small and getting on a bit...  :grin: . The HEQ5 is all you need for a small refractor.

Have you read up on autoguiding? If you are serious about AP then this is, quite simply, a 'must have' system.

Welcome to the whacky world of AP!

Olly

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