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smr

First telescope & mount for beginner

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smr    2

Hello

I'm a keen amateur photographer and have recently developed an interest in viewing more of the night sky. I have until now taken photos of the Moon with my Sigma 150-600 mm so I'm not totally clueless with photography in general. 

However I'd now like to see more of the night sky and would love to start viewing Nebulae and Star clusters etc. so I'm therefore looking at buying my first telescope. Having done a fair bit of reading up on telescopes yesterday it's clear that there's as much that goes into it as there is a beginner getting to grips with photography - and quite frankly I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment. 

My aims are to view the aforementioned objects and places in the deep sky with a view to hopefully recording some photographs with my Canon 80D DSLR in the future. After reading about I think that the Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P EQ5 Parabolic Telescope is well reviewed and would be a good first telescope? 

It sounds as though it would be a good starting point in terms of upgrade-ability too?

My budget is around £500 and for starting out I really don't want to spend more than this but I have a feeling that I would enjoy it. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when just sitting and star gazing on a clear night, thinking about the Universe, so if I can see more than that with a good telescope hopefully I'd be very happy, and if you can offer any advice to get me started I'd be greatly appreciative.

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scitmon    52

I think your first step is to purchase this book:  https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html  Astrophotography is an expensive hobby and this book will show you all that is required to make informed decisions about purchasing equipment.

£500 will not go a long way unfortunately.  The most important purchase is a sturdy equatorial mount, bare minimum would be a Skywatcher HEQ5 pro.  I also don't think the 200p is the way to go, its big and relatively heavy which causes stability problems without buying a heavy duty mount.  A widefield short refractor such as the Skywatcher 80ED DS-pro is much more forgiving and gives great images.

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Cosmic Geoff    238

I have this setup available as you can see from my signature. While the 200p/EQ5 is often offered as a setup, to be frank it is the last thing I would recommend as a starter scope.  In manual form, it is awkward to use.  It is big - if you fully extend the tripod and point it upwards, the eyepiece is about 7ft above the ground.  A 200mm reflector is good for deep sky objects, but with manual mount, it is difficult to find faint objects.

As a visual starter scope I would recommend something smaller and easy to manage, perhaps with GoTo.

For visual deep sky objects you have various choices from Dobsonian mounted Newtonian (cheap, well under your budget) to a SCT with GoTo (over budget by x3 but far more easy and pleasant to use).

For photographing deep sky objects I think you will find that you need different kit, and your £500 will not be sufficient.  A bigger and more expensive mount with GoTo, and a smaller telescope (even a professional sky survey managed with 115mm objectives).   For photography, a 200p Newt would need a heavier mount than the EQ-5.

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happy-kat    3,167

Welcome

The great thing about imaging is you don't need a telescope, you do need a mount, and your existing camera and lenses could be put to use for the capturing that aspect. There is a snazzy bit of kit called the skywatcher star adventurer, and then a dobsonian for visual use, if one item was second hand that would fit inside budget.

 

 

Edited by happy-kat

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glynnlondon    162

+1 for the every photon book recommendation AP can be a money pit and purchasing mistakes can be expensive.

A lot of imagers would have 2 setups one visual and one AP.

Small ed glass scope , large mount for photography and larger scope for visual , of maybe a dobsonian type for example.

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Luna-tic    191

I'm a relative newcomer too; and what everyone will tell you regarding astrophotography, it all comes down to the mount. Something solid, that will carry the telescope + accessories easily, that will track accurately. 

Go-To is a wonderful thing to find the objects you can't see naked-eye, and it will also track whatever you aim at (or it finds for you) If you're serious about getting started, and are willing to work your way into it, buy a good mount first. You already have the 'beginning' of a telescope: that 600mm lens will do nicely for a start. That's what, f/3.5-f/4 range? Good astrophotography telescopes are in the f/5-f/7 range, so you've got something that will do nicely with relatively short exposure times.

Good mounts aren't cheap, you'll spend more for it than the scope you put on it in many cases. I have Celestron's Advanced VX mount; it has go-to, and is rated for up to 30 pounds of equipment. Most people will say to limit what you hang on the mount to about 50-60% of its rated load. With something like a 6" SCT, or an 80mm refractor, you have pounds to spare. Go up to an 8" SCT or 100-105 mm refractor (plus accessories), you're close to the limit, but acceptable. You could start with a mount like that (Orion's Sirius EQ-G is similar but slightly more expensive). You can get a dovetail adapter that will allow you to attach your camera and telephoto lens to the mount, and start shooting away. As funds collect, then add the telescope of choice.

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brantuk    3,162

For a budget of £500 you can just about afford a good second hand HEQ5 - the minimum I'd recommend for astro photography - then save up for a scope. A small wide field doublet refractor - something like a 70ED or 80ED - is surprisingly powerful for capturing one heck of a lot of objects up there using a dslr. Meantime just mount the camera/lens on the HEQ5 - and think about saving for a shorter focal ratio lens maybe f-3 or f-2.

Or you could consider a slightly cheaper way of doing it with a Skywatcher Star Adventurer Astronomy bundle (see link) and mount it on a second hand EQ5 tripod for stability (around £50) using a mount adaptor to fit:

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

This would get you going with the camera and leave a little bit over towards incidental accessories - or maybe even a camera modification (most folks remove the red eye filter). I too would recommend a good read of Making Every Photon Count by Steve Richards - the astro imaging "bible". Avoid the large Newtonian though until you can afford a £1K plus mount - unless you like nightmares lol - it'll only put you off the hobby. :)

 

 

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smr    2

Thanks for the replies guys, I have a few other lenses too, would a 50mm 1.8 prime be good for astro purposes? I have that and a 10-18mm and 55-250mm.

Obviously it seems like the way to go is by investing in a decent mount first then. What differentiates the better mounts from the cheaper ones?

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scitmon    52

Mostly it's payload capacity.  Off the top of my head for the Skywatcher mounts its:

HEQ5 pro - perfectly fine for small widefield scopes

NEQ6 pro - same as HEQ5 but higher payload capacity

EQ6-r pro - high payload again and belt driven

there are also a couple of dual mode (Alt AZ & EQ mode) mounts, the AZ-EQ6-GT and AZ-EQ5-GT, both are belt driven and have capcities comparable to the EQ6-R and HEQ5 respectively.

 

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smr    2

Thanks. If I bought the Skywatcher Star Adventurer would I be able to use my Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod with it?

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brantuk    3,162

Photo tripods can certainly get you going and Manfrotto are generally well regarded. Plus the Star Adventurer is designed to fit on photo tripods. But soon as you start using heavier lenses and telescopes you'll want something more stable. In addition I would get the shutter release cable which is invaluable with the setup. If you want to see the SA before buying it you'd be welcome to pop round and look at my setup which is in the original red livery. Just drop me a pm to arrange. :)

Edited by brantuk
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happy-kat    3,167

Prime lenses are great to use. Many Canon cameras can be controlled by android devices using dslr controller app which saves using a laptop.

There an excellent thread running at the moment using the star adventurer with many images.

link here

Edited by happy-kat
link added

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smr    2

Thanks. What's the difference between the HEQ5 and HEQ5 Pro Mounts?

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happy-kat    3,167

Another thing to consider is observing/imaging location. If storage area is located some distance away and maybe has stairs involved then think about how many bits you are prepared to carry, how many trips and how heavy those bits might be. Equatorial mounts I gather get pretty heavy the more solid stable they are.

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smr    2

Thats actually something I was going to ask about. I have a conservatory with a glass roof - would it be suitable to shoot from inside the conservatory or is viewing and imaging through glass a no?

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happy-kat    3,167

If it is what you can manage in order to do the hobby then it's what you can manage. But. Inside rooms give off thermals, thermals spoil the view can make it unstable and shimmer. Setting up on concrete can also let out heat at night as can looking out over other houses, it's a mix of do the best you can with what you can't change. Makes portable gear versatile.

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smr    2

Ok thanks for your advice. I think I'm going to start off by buying a Star Adventurer bundle as recommended. 

This I think will be a sensible way of starting out with Astro Photography to see whether it's something I'll enjoy.

The kit I have at the moment photography wise is :

Canon 80D 
Remote Canon Shutter release
Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Tripod 
Manfrotto 3-Way Tilt Pan Head MHXPRO-3W

Canon 24mm f/2.8
Canon 50mm f/1.8
Sigma 105mm f/2.8
Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6
Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3

Which of these lenses would be suited best for capturing long exposures of objects like the Orion Nebula etc. I think the weight of the Sigma 150-600 might be too much for the star adventurer and long exposure photography?

Also, what other kit would I need to get started?


 

Edited by smr

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happy-kat    3,167

The lighter the lens the less demanding on the mount and easier to learn and get going with, so I'd start with your 105mm prime on that target.

Edited by happy-kat
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smr    2

Ok I thought the 105mm would be a good lens to start with as well - as it will bring me closer but with a fast aperture still. I'll have to look around as to how to make a dew shield.

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brantuk    3,162

Is there not a lens hood you could get for the 105mm? The payload of the SA is 5kg but the main point is to get it balanced right so there's no strain on the motors. The batteries last a surprising length of time - but bear in mind the best shots are achieved on a cold night when the atmosphere is more steady - in those conditions batteries run down quicker. At some stage you might want to consider a power supply. Otherwise I think you have a good starter AP setup there. :)

Edited by brantuk

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smr    2

Yes I have a lens hood for it, would that help reduce dew? 

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brantuk    3,162

Absolutely - depending how deep it is you may or may not need something a little longer - but they're easily made using a bit of black camping mat foam, or anything that rolls easily into a tube shape. It serves to help keep moisture off the lens and absorb stray light from entering. :)

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smr    2

Thanks. The lens hood isn't the longest.

 

Sigma-105mm-f-2.8-EX-DG-OS-HSM-Macro-Len

 

 

Edited by smr

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brantuk    3,162

I'd be tempted to extend it a couple of inches - the UK doesn't offer up many totally moisture free nights. :)

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