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Equipment help


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Hello,

Recently I have gained some interest in astronomy and decided to get myself a telescope.

Skywatcher 130/650 EQ2

Skywatcher 150/750 EQ3-2

I'm aware that 150p is far better but it is kinda out of my budget.

The question being sooner or later I'd want to put my Digital SLR on the scope so is it good to go for Skywatcher 130/650 although it has an EQ2 mount?

Or should I wait it out for the better scope

 

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I image DSOs with a 130/650 on an EQ2 and have great fun, but not without a number of mods to the setup. The scope won't focus with a DSLR so I shortened it by 40mm. 

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Those scopes are not well designed for imaging unfortunately.

They lack sufficient focuser travel to bring a DSLR to focus without first carrying out some modifications (or using a barlow lens).

The EQ2 is also quite difficult to image with as it is hard to polar align well and isn't very stable. This can also be improved with some modifications though.  The right ascension motor kit is also required to be able to track.

 

I bought a 130P / EQ2 with similar aspirations when I started out, if I was to choose now I would probably go for the 130P dobsonian instead and then save up for a star adventurer to mount the DSLR on using its own lens for long exposures.

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1 hour ago, bobro said:

I image DSOs with a 130/650 on an EQ2 and have great fun, but not without a number of mods to the setup. The scope won't focus with a DSLR so I shortened it by 40mm. 

What other modifications are required?

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There are lots of savings to be had buying second hand. Have a look on the buy/sell section on this forum or on AstroBuySell. That way you could buy a suitably configured OTA, or one thats been modified, and a better mount as Peter suggests. It might mean stretching your budget a bit but would be a saving in the longer term.

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8 hours ago, bobro said:

I image DSOs with a 130/650 on an EQ2 and have great fun, but not without a number of mods to the setup. The scope won't focus with a DSLR so I shortened it by 40mm. 

This has grabbed my attention.

I have the 150P and intend to get the T ring kit for my Sony DSLR. I would be looking at Lunar imaging (not serious, more like the astro version of tourist happy snapping). Do I just need to put the Barlow twixt scope and camera for focus to be achievable?

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I have the 150p on eq3-2, now with motors. I have had great fun and to me, great success imaging with it at prime focus, and eyepiece projection to get lunar images, Jupiter and many DSO's. Massive learning curve and I'm still on it. Don't be put off by the apparent need for a £1,000 mount etc. Set your expectations and go for it. Check out some of my images on other threads or pm me and I'll send you some. 

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3 hours ago, Peter Drew said:

I would save for a better mount.  :icon_biggrin:

Yep, I second that. There are no mounts that are too good for astrophotographie, just mounts that are not good enough...

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But it all depends on what you want to get out of it and of course, your budget. I could save for years for the best mount and in the meantime never do any observing or basic imaging.  

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11 hours ago, Peco4321 said:

But it all depends on what you want to get out of it and of course, your budget. I could save for years for the best mount and in the meantime never do any observing or basic imaging.  

Absolutely true... but on the other hand the results could be so disappointing that you start doubting yourself and give up. So basically a matter of expectation.

Go for it, but do not expect great results with equipment that is not suited for the job. That is all I meant.

 

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2 hours ago, Waldemar said:

do not expect great results

That's the nail on the head, I am very envious of some of the images on here, taken with amazing equipment, skill, experience and processing abilities. But it is a journey to get to that point and I imagine most of the expert imagers started and learnt their craft on less than perfect equipment.  

If at the beginning I had won the lottery, moved to a nice dark site in the countryside, set up an observatory with the most amazing scope, on the sturdiest of tracking mounts, guide camera, ccd, expensive filters and huge fast computer with all the processing software imaginable, and then started my Astro photography journey, I'd be lost. 

My point is give it a go on whatever set up you have and be proud of what you get. I see afocal images of the moon that are many astronomers first efforts and wonder how many of the best out there started that way??  

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My rather blunt comment earlier was based on all these considerations. My feeling that a better rather than best mount would not incurr a lifetime of saving and might avoid some of the frustrations inherent from the use of unsuitable mounts that distort the learning curve. Having said that, I firmly believe that overcoming obstacles early on stands you in good stead when opportunities improve.   :icon_biggrin: 

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Even the basic 130/650 scopes are not created equally - SkyWatcher supply an aluminium tripod (with EQ3 too), whereas Celestron and Meade supply a steel tube tripod, which is more stable. A wobbly tripod certainly doesn't help imaging. 

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2 hours ago, bobro said:

SkyWatcher supply an aluminium tripod

Yes it is a bit frustrating the different tripods available on very similar scopes from different manufacturers. I feel the need to browse 2nd hand now.....

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2 hours ago, bobro said:

Even the basic 130/650 scopes are not created equally - SkyWatcher supply an aluminium tripod (with EQ3 too), whereas Celestron and Meade supply a steel tube tripod, which is more stable. A wobbly tripod certainly doesn't help imaging. 

I disagree which makes it even more confusing. In my experience the steel legged tripod of the celestron is less stable than the aluminium tripod of the Skywatcher. The steel legs, which look good but are of light gauge, are not as firmly held at the top pivot as they should and no matter how well they are tightened, the legs tend to twist and squeak. It is possible to shim them to improve the contact area, thus making it more secure, but I found the tripod a real irritation. Switching to a second hand aluminium tripod made a big difference. The heavier gauge steel legged tripods like that on the az4 is different and better prospect altogether .

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Hmm. The Celestron mount design looks a little different from the Meade,  but not by much. I find the Meade mount / tripod quite stable (no squeaking). If you touch the scope vibrations disappear within 2-3 secs. I normally leave the tripod permanently in the spread position, perhaps that helps. No problem imaging with it.

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4 hours ago, bobro said:

Hmm. The Celestron mount design looks a little different from the Meade,  but not by much. I find the Meade mount / tripod quite stable (no squeaking). If you touch the scope vibrations disappear within 2-3 secs. I normally leave the tripod permanently in the spread position, perhaps that helps. No problem imaging with it.

Glad your experience was different from mime, and it is possible that there are some differences Sometimes things that look alike are not quite so.

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On 5/5/2017 at 12:50, Peco4321 said:

I could save for years for the best mount and in the meantime never do any observing or basic imaging.

Or you could be wealthy and ask what is the best astrophotography setup possible, run out and buy it, and then gripe and moan about how hard it is to get everything to work together, and how much work it actually takes to capture astrophotos even with the best equipment.  This actually happened with someone at an astro imaging party.  More money than patience or interest.  Ideally, you'd be wealthy, patient, and interested.

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On 2017-5-7 at 03:17, Louis D said:

Or you could be wealthy and ask what is the best astrophotography setup possible, run out and buy it, and then gripe and moan about how hard it is to get everything to work together, and how much work it actually takes to capture astrophotos even with the best equipment.  This actually happened with someone at an astro imaging party.  More money than patience or interest.  Ideally, you'd be wealthy, patient, and interested.

Add smart and you've got a top astrophotographer in the making   :hello2:

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I understand others have implemented autoguiding without goto using stepper motors on the mount, normally meaning at least an EQ3 mount is used. What makes my setup unusual is the use of DC motors, which require much less power than stepper motors, and an EQ2 mount. My current setup only has 3 batteries : laptop, RA motor (PP3) and camera. The DEC motor is powered by the laptop. The laptop is an eeebook with 10 hours battery life in normal use. That means the guiding setup doesn't need mains power or a separate battery pack and so setup is very quick and portable.

Of course an EQ2 doesn't have the inherent stability of an EQ3/5 and DC motors don't have the inherent accuracy of stepper motors, so guiding accuracy isn't as good as with a regular setup. Nevertheless, decent images can be made. Entry cost is low : the scope complete with first RA motor cost £150 from Currys. 

I've just completed testing a low cost (£37) AR0130 sensor based guide camera. This sensor is used on low end commercial guide cameras, so has good sensitivity. It works with the polar alignment feature of SharpCap, so as well as using it as a guide camera, you get PoleMaster functionality for free! You can get an idea of the mount stability when accurately polar aligned but not guided in the post of 9th May 2017 in this thread, though I wouldn't suggest using it unguided for imaging due to periodic errors :

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/292376-low-cost-ar0130-guide-camera/

All of this is only for the DIY enthusiast - a (very bright) 16 year old in Florida has implemented the Raspberry PI version of this guiding setup successfully.

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