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Koje

Starting from a good place. What did you achieve?

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Ok long story short I have a couple of years experience and a 250PX Dob. Naturally I want to try my hand at imaging next.

I have already spent a long time reading up and asking questions. The three things that strike me most are it is not going to be cheap, the Mount is the single most important component and it will take time to learn once you have everything you need - that's fine.

As a starting point I am looking at the Skywatcher ED80 Pro and HEQ5 combo (maybe the new AZ EQ5GT or NEQ6 instead) as this is a proven beginner setup and a good start point. I will marry this with a DSLR to start.

What can I expect with base tracking (no guiding, so 1-2min subs?) and full colour exposures (no LRGB) and do you have examples of your first images you can post when you started (maybe you just have started). Also what did you do wrong when you started that you can share with others?

Thanks for sharing :)

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This is my first ever pic taken with an HEQ5, an SW120ED and a DSLR (7D I think) - No guiding at all. I no longer have the details about sub length or how many, but hopefully that gives you an idea of what is possible. Try some experimentation with the mount and scope - See how long you can go before the stars start to elongate. Then just take as many images at that exposure as you can!!

5330835086_ea47f3d7c9_z.jpg

M42 - Orion Nebula by Sara Wager, on Flickr

Edited by swag72
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i did a couple of polar alignments using the handset option, i normally use a guide scope so the 3 minute unguided sub with nice tight round stars was pleasant to see, i should have gone longer but maybe next time, get the PA and the Balance right and 1 or 2 minute subs will work every time.....

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For comparison, this was taken with a 200mm lens at f5.6, using unguided 75 second subs:

17682358049_00cea22a74_c.jpg

One mistake I've made is being too optimistic on the sub length. I've taken one and it's looked OK for trailing but then found I've had to discard a large percentage due to periodic error.

I'm finding processing to be a steeper learning curve than data capture. DSOs themselves are relatively easy but getting good backgrounds and star colours is tougher. The higher the signal-to-noise ratio in the subs the easier it is to work with them. This was one of my first efforts with a 135mm lens at f4.5:

15131674956_940490e3e7_c.jpg

It's only 12 minutes of data with minimal processing but it's come out fairly well.

Personally, I think widefield imaging with camera lenses is a good route into astrophotography. It's cheaper than guided imaging, it's possible to get results more quickly which is an important consideration in UK weather and exercises processing skills - but it's a question of what interests you.

Edited by Knight of Clear Skies
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Koje, I only got my NEQ6 a couple of weeks back so still figuring it all out, but on my first night out I did a polar alignment (as per Astronomy Shed tutorials on YouTube) but no 2/3 star alignment and got this image with 180 seconds, no guiding. Not perfect, and sorry for the JPEG quality, but I was impressed at that with very little attention paid to set up.

post-35662-0-13229800-1432387790_thumb.j

I pushed it up for another go at 5 minutes, but the image showed signs of trailing. As I then went on to guiding, I haven't tried unguided again but, I reckon, with careful and accurate PA and Alignment, I reckon I could get up to 5 minutes... might have to give it a go some time!

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Here is mine. HEQ5, ED80 and a Pentax K500 dslr. No guiding obviously and no laptop, so straight to SD card and 30 second exposures only. 22 of them to be precise. No calibration frames. Struggled with flattener distance, struggled with stacking, struggled with focus, struggled with aiming. All good fun though. No colour, star trailing even with 30 second subs. Extremely pleased with it :)

e2185b78f5c5c3f339af126cb622c9be.1824x0_

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Great images posted above.

If there is a source that can be recommended it is 'making every photon count', it will save you time, money and effort!

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I started with an ED80/HEQ5 combo but soon ditched this for fast camera lenses and a fast little scope.

One from the Borg 67FL Canon 60Da

hhtest.jpg

One from the 105mm Sigma macro lens

na105mm.jpg

One from the Canon EF 200mm L

napeilcantest.jpg

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Here is mine. HEQ5, ED80 and a Pentax K500 dslr. No guiding obviously and no laptop, so straight to SD card and 30 second exposures only. 22 of them to be precise. No calibration frames. Struggled with flattener distance, struggled with stacking, struggled with focus, struggled with aiming. All good fun though. No colour, star trailing even with 30 second subs. Extremely pleased with it :)

Is the lack of colour from the problems with the DCRAW library used in DSS 3.3.2 on Pentax camera's RAW images? I never could get colour to work sanely until I moved to 3.3.4 on my K-X.

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Thanks for sharing first images and especially experiences, please keep them coming. Very impressive images for first try's and good to see what is possible early on.

King of clear skies - How have you modded your 1100D? I have the same camera and I am considering removing the second (IR) filter but not replacing it. Does it make a big difference 1) Standard, 2) IR filter removed, 3) IR filter replaced (Baader for instance).

wxsatusa - What made you ditch the mount/scope combo? Lovely images.

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wxsatusa - What made you ditch the mount/scope combo? Lovely images.

I found the scope was to slow and I wanted a widerfield.

This is whats on the mount at this moment.

Canon 60Da, Sigma 105mm macro lens and an Altair 60mm guidescope.

setup1.jpg

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Koje

Here's my first go (yeah, sorry, it's M42 again!) with an astro modded  Canon 700d strapped to my SW200p.  30 second unguided subs (not many) at ISO 1600. 

I was so excited, I made almost every mistake possible!

I've since made a Bahtinov mask, acquired a light pollution filter, a field flattener, a small web cam attached to a finder scope for guiding via the Shoestring Astronomy Interface and as a result can manage up to 6 minute subs - which completely burn out any star cores brighter than mag 8, but hey! it's a learning curve and when a good result does occur, very satisfying.post-38153-0-38195000-1432837501_thumb.j

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An ED80 is good starter scope, you shouldn't go far wrong with one of these.

The biggest 'error' I made made in AP was not starting autoguiding sooner than I did.

Still, good things are possible- here's one of my early unguided ED80 M42 shots with an unmodified DSLR

M42Dsir6152_zps5ff113ba.jpg

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All very good images and show what can be obtained with our equipment. They certainly fill me with enthusiasm knowing that such images are within my reach. I look forward to longer darker skies.

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