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Hello :hello:

I need your expert advise and opinions please. 

I currently have a Sky-watcher 114 telescope which has served me well for the few years I've had it, but I've always had trouble with balancing, aligning and generally finding the more difficult things in the night sky. So I feel now is the time to upgrade to a goto telescope as I am keen to take up astrophotography and image and share what I'm seeing. 

My theory is that if I have a computerised / goto telescope and mount, I would spend less time setting up and more time enjoying the night sky.

I have between £400 - £650 to spend I've done some research and I have come up with a few options but also welcome any suggestions you all come up with which I haven't thought of already. 

  • Celestron Nexstar 5 SE Computerised Telescope

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestron-NexStar-SE-Computerised-Telescope/dp/B000GUHOYE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1479455548&sr=8-5&keywords=celestron+nexstar

  • Sky-Watcher Skymax-127 SynScan Goto Telescope

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sky-Watcher-Skymax-127-SynScan-AZ-Telescope/product-reviews/B00A784RBS

  • Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT MaK Telescope 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestron-NexStar-127-Mak-Telescope/dp/B0038LX8XE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479455805&sr=8-1&keywords=celestron+nexstar+127

  • Meade ETX 90 Observer 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01E53GQ78/ref=pd_sbs_421_40?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=4PMZKN1FJBKW0Y2KBV8S

 

Ive chosen various Maksutov-Cassegrain Style scopes as I'm a bit of a short-Bottom and found that when I tried out this type of telescope, it was easier to use rather than what I currently have.

 

I await your wisdom :smile:

 

 

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In so far as a Maksutov, I would combine these instead...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-127-ota.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/sky-watcher-star-discovery-az-goto-mount.html

The Star Discovery go-to mount is superior to those of the SE, the SLT and the SynScan Goto, in that the telescope may be operated manually in the event of battery failure, or computer/motor failure in future.  If same occurred with the other three mentioned, the mounts would be as bricks, and with no way to move or direct the telescope.

"...I am keen to take up astrophotography and image and share what I'm seeing." 

Such is accomplished by holding a phone's camera or a small point-and-shoot camera up to the eyepiece and snapping a shot, and as I have done on occasion...

021816b.jpg

101915.jpg

M13.jpg

Such is called "afocal astrophotography", and the simplest method of imaging. 

Another form of imaging that can be performed with a Maksutov on said go-to is with a video astronomy camera, which can take stills in addition to video.

If you intend to attach a camera, like a DSLR, to the telescope in place of the eyepiece, and take short and long exposures, then a Maksutov is one of the poorest choices among telescopes with which to accomplish that.  A 130mm f/5 Newtonian or 80mm f/6 apochromatic refractor would be preferred instead; mounted on a larger, metal equatorial mount, and for deep-sky astrophotography.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Alan64 said:

In so far as a Maksutov, I would combine these instead...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-127-ota.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/sky-watcher-star-discovery-az-goto-mount.html

The Star Discovery go-to mount is superior to those of the SE, the SLT and the SynScan Goto, in that the telescope may be operated manually in the event of battery failure, or computer/motor failure in future.  If same occurred with the other three mentioned, the mounts would be as bricks, and with no way to move or direct the telescope.

"...I am keen to take up astrophotography and image and share what I'm seeing." 

Such is accomplished by holding a phone's camera or a small point-and-shoot camera up to the eyepiece and snapping a shot, and as I have done on occasion...

021816b.jpg

101915.jpg

M13.jpg

Such is called "afocal astrophotography", and the simplest method of imaging. 

Another form of imaging that can be performed with a Maksutov on said go-to is with a video astronomy camera, which can take stills in addition to video.

If you intend to attach a camera, like a DSLR, to the telescope in place of the eyepiece, and take short and long exposures, then a Maksutov is one of the poorest choices among telescopes with which to accomplish that.  A 130mm f/5 Newtonian or 80mm f/6 apochromatic refractor would be preferred instead; mounted on a larger, metal equatorial mount, and for deep-sky astrophotography.

 

 

Hi Alan, These are incredible images ! 

Thank you for your advise and suggestion and I take it all on board. Can you suggest a Newtonian that would better suit my needs?

 

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I can vouch for the stardiscovery mount. It works great, and the ability to move the scope around manually is a bonus especially when viewing objects far apart, although the mount does move pretty quickly even if you let it drive to its position too. I use it successfully with my all my three scopes, even my long 102mm Starwave f11 'frac. 

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If you had the mak for observing and planet or Moon imaging you could dip your toes into astrophotography using a dslr and camera lens on the star discovery mount. Yes it is an altaz mount but depending where in the sky it is pointing and mount tracking accuracy exposure length can be from 20 to 40 seconds before field rotation becomes evident. Take lots of images and stack then. Only you know how far you want to dip your feet into imaging. Have a look at the No EQ challenge thread to see images member's are getting by pushing the capability of these types of mount. 

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57 minutes ago, Hojo86 said:

Hi Alan, These are incredible images ! 

Thank you for your advise and suggestion and I take it all on board. Can you suggest a Newtonian that would better suit my needs?

 

 

Hello. If you are looking for a newt reflector then I understand the 150p and 200p can be used quite successfully and the pds model mounted on a good stable eq mount. These would probably be better also for all round including DSO . I do understand some people prefer the 150 version due to its smaller size and as not so big does not attract the wiind  factor, that can effect stability and  the performance .

Another very popular model worth considering I understand is the skywatcher refractor the ed80 to which i understand a lot of people use for AP with good success 

I hope the above helps and gives you some ideas ☺

 

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A popular telescope for people starting out in astro-photography is https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-ota.html

The minimum mount for this is probably the https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-eq3-pro-synscan-goto.html  The mount is, however, all important in the long term. So you might want to think whether you can stretch to a better mount right from the start, perhaps the https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-eq5-pro-synscan-goto.html

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If as you say

So I feel now is the time to upgrade to a goto telescope as I am keen to take up astrophotography and image and share what I'm seeing.

then really there is no off the shelf purchase. They are all aimed at the visual aspect of astronomy, and AP has a different set of requirements on the equipment.

What is going to happen to the 114mm scope? Are you keeping that for visual or will the new scope and mount be used for visual.

For both at least in some manner I suggest you consider an EQ5 Pro or whatever with goto, then for AP get a short refractor (70-72mm range) or the 130PDS. Either earlier or later get a scope for some visual.

If you want to throw caution (well money) to the wind a bit there is WO Megrez 90 in the classifieds, that will do for AP and is a good visual scope as well, I already have one but am still tempted by it - aperture may seem a bit limited but ignore that. Problem is if you did that then it is scope and mount now and you are looking at £1000. Everyone says AP is expensive and it is. I would say that first step into AP is a minimum of £1000-£1200. Mount and scope are the start. Flatener, Reducer, T-ring, Intervalometer, battery (power the mount) all add up, small cost and ignored but 2 or 3 16Gb memory cards. Those accessories alone will add up to around £200. To even stick a DSLR on you need the T-ring and the intervalometer and that is £60 to £70.

You can get a mount now and use the 114 on it to become familiar with it all then purchase an AP scope later. Items appear in the classifieds and ABSUK.

For AP in general terms a Mak or SCT is not usually the right scope, what it can image tends to be limited, mainly from the design/operation of the scope itself.

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20 minutes ago, ronin said:

What is going to happen to the 114mm scope? Are you keeping that for visual or will the new scope and mount be used for visual.

Mount and scope are the start. Flatener, Reducer, T-ring, Intervalometer, battery (power the mount) all add up, small cost and ignored but 2 or 3 16Gb memory cards. Those accessories alone will add up to around £200. To even stick a DSLR on you need the T-ring and the intervalometer and that is £60 to £70.

 

Hi Ronin

I haven't considered doing anything with the 114 to be honest, it works well and its in very good shape - I haven't ever considered just upgrading the mount to be honest because I didn't think it was possible but having seen the suggestions the others have posted, it may be a worth-while avenue to explore

As for equipment, I already have the various colour filters, a sun filter, a x2 and a x3 barlow lens, various mm eye pieces, my trusty Nikon D3300 with a suitable t-ring, the remote shutter clicker etc

it would be a shame to not use the equipment I've amassed over the years on a telescope they don't fit to.  

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13 hours ago, Hojo86 said:

Hi Alan, These are incredible images ! 

Thank you for your advise and suggestion and I take it all on board. Can you suggest a Newtonian that would better suit my needs?

 

Thank you!  However, they were taken by the simple afocal method as described, and I'm limited to a few star clusters, the Moon, and the Orion nebula, for the most part.  I'm overwhelmingly a visual observer, with eyepieces, but on occasion I like to show how a telescope may perform during a live view, with the eyes rather than with a camera.  Still, my shots fall short of the sharpness and clarity of a live view.

In the end, my afocal pot-shots simply cannot compare to those of a right proper imaging session. 

When imaging with your DSLR attached to the telescope in place of the eyepiece, you may then embark upon that which the eyes cannot readily see or see at all through the telescope when using eyepieces.  Also, the colours of the objects become much more evident when imaged. 

Some telescopes are for imaging large areas of the night sky(short focal-length and a wide field), whilst others are for imaging single objects at high magnifications(longer focal-length and a narrow field).

The 130P-DS is a very popular telescope for imaging...

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/210593-imaging-with-the-130pds/?page=1

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-ota.html

That would be a good all-around telescope, for somewhat wide-field deep-sky; and with a barlow integrated into the system, closer shots of single deep-sky objects, the Moon, and the larger planets perhaps.  Note that there are far more objects to observe and image in the deep sky, than there are within our solar system.

A Newtonian must be collimated, aligned, for best image quality, and on a regular basis.

When observing with the eyes, it doesn't matter so much if the telescope jiggles and shakes a little, from an occasional bump or when focussing; but when taking a photograph, particularly one of long-exposure, those little movements will ruin the photograph, softening and blurring it; and then there are the breezes and the winds blowing against the telescope to take into account.  Therefore, a telescope with a camera attached thereto must be held rigidly in place; steady as a rock, and impervious to said dynamics surrounding it.  For a 130mm f/5, you would need a mount like this, at least...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-eq5-pro-synscan-goto.html

...or this, ideally... https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-heq5-pro-synscan.html

It is possible to conduct shorter-timed exposures, and with the smaller go-to mounts previously mentioned; or even non-goto mounts with just a single motor, but harder to do.  It all depends on what you'd like to image in the sky, and on the level of quality of the images you'd like to produce.

Edited by Alan64

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