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pipnina

Star adventurer / Star adventurer mini - right for me?

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Hello!

I have been using my Nikon D3200 + 18-55/105mm lenses and really like the casual wide-field astrophotography I can achieve with it, but (as you might expect) without any form of motorization the quality of the images is not so great.

I have heard a lot of people on here who are very happy with their star adventurers, so I have been looking at them but have a few questions :)

  • Has anyone used/seen both the star adventurer & the mini? How to they compare?
  • Are they relatively easy to set up? (i.e. good grab-and-go for backyard space-snaps?)
  • Are they motorized on declination only? (i.e. purely for tracking, right-ascension is human-set?)
  • What addons are best for them? There are several available and they bump the price up (Although FLO has the mini in a bundle with 3 extras for only £20 extra over the base unit, which is tempting me a fair bit)

Interested to hear thoughts, opinions and advice on the matter, thanks!

(p.s. hope you all had a happy Christmas yesterday!)

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41 minutes ago, pipnina said:

Are they motorized on declination only? (i.e. purely for tracking, right-ascension is human-set?)

I do not have one, but pretty sure it is the other way round, Tracks in RA only DEC is static

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2 minutes ago, JemC said:

I do not have one, but pretty sure it is the other way round, Tracks in RA only DEC is static

Oh, yes! I completely forgot which was which :happy8: haven't used a EQ for ages lol.

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There is a significant payload difference between the two models I thought and the main one can be guided if desired not sure if the mini can. I'd look out for one for sale or reduced and get the main one.

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55 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

I'd look out for one for sale or reduced and get the main one.

1+ for the main one. It can carry more, and as @happy-kat said, I don’t think the mini has the option to be guided.

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Hi,

As an advanced user i can help you:

  •The mini can go to 100mm for 60sec, the bigger brother 200mm 2min accurate

  •It track only in RA not dec

  •The bigger one can be guided with good polar align 

  •The SA is maybe the most easiest to set up and the best grab-and-go

  •The polar alignment is very easy

Here is my 200mm guided version of the M45 Pleiades

FB_IMG_1510513859729-1.jpg

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5 minutes ago, serbiadarksky said:

Hi,

As an advanced user i can help you:

  •The mini can go to 100mm for 60sec, the bigger brother 200mm 2min accurate

  •It track only in RA not dec

  •The bigger one can be guided with good polar align 

  •The SA is maybe the most easiest to set up and the best grab-and-go

  •The polar alignment is very easy

Here is my 200mm guided version of the M45 Pleiades

 

So since I have a 105mm lens and use APS-C sensor (So it's 150mm effective) I should definitely get the SA and not the SAM?

Also that's a very nice photo! What exposures & stacks did you do to make it?

 

EDIT: Also a sidenote: how sturdy should my tripod be? Mine are a little wobbly when in any way extended but stable completely folded, what kind of tripod is suitable?

Edited by pipnina

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SkyWatcher now do a tripod for the SA/SAM. But as long as you have a sturdy tripod then that should be OK.

Linky

By the way I'm not affiliated to the company in the link .

 

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9 minutes ago, pipnina said:

So since I have a 105mm lens and use APS-C sensor (So it's 150mm effective) I should definitely get the SA and not the SAM?

Nope, it is a 105mm lens and produces an image that corresponds to a 105mm lens. Forget this fallacy of it being somehow a "150"mm lens. It just is not true.

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As above ^

I view it as.

In essence the lens has a field of view of the 150mm lens but the magnification of the native 105mm lens that it is. Basically the field of view is tighter but you aren't really any closer to the subject..

Edited by happy-kat
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Go for the SA not the mini.

6-7 minute each arpund 90 images stacked and guided with 50mm guide scope (sold), prion starshoot guider (sold) and 600D modded (sold.......)

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Hi pipnina,

Thanks for your post.

I've only used the Star Adventurer (SA) mount so can't comment on the SA Mini or offer a practical comparison but I'm sure others will be able to help here.

The SA is very easy to set up but it is a good and accurate mount for lenses up to around 300mm and some people have used a WO 61mm telescope to good effect (though that would require guiding). To get the best out the mount a good polar alignment is needed and one can use the polar alignment capability on the free SAM app that can also be used with the larger SA mount as it has the same polar reticule and you can get a fine accuracy with good technique and practice. You need to spend some time aligning to get the best performance from your equipment. Used within its design limitations you have a good mount on your hands.

As regards accessories you will need to have a decent tripod to hold the mount steady.

I got the entire astro-bundle from FLO but the wedge wasn't great (it was hard to adjust and coarse) but that's just my experience. I happened to have a spare old Celestron heavy duty Alt-Az mount and it allows smooth, precise and quick movement when polar aligning.

The bracket and counterweight accessories are very useful when using longer lenses and heavier imaging equipment. Mine came with a free polar scope illuminator and an adapter to place on the bracket (it's not very good and easily falls off). Sticky velcro can help secure it. I'm currently looking at this-http://www.astrokraken.fr/dual-adapter-polemaster-polar-illuminator-for-star-adventurer-and-star-a131471114 to attach either the illuminator or a future PoleMaster.

Another accessory I've found useful is a right angled attachment to fit over the eye end of the polar scope (to avoid contortion), you need to look for one on the Internet. Then there's a red led finder scope attached to your DSLR will help when pointing the camera to the target. You will probably want to use a large, strong ball head to hold your camera.

After manual camera focusing I use BYEOS to control imaging and it is good on cold nights to control the process from indoors. On the subject of protecting equipment from the cold I attach a hand warmer on top of the SA mount above the battery comparment to keep the batteries from getting too cold, I have read of AA battery problems when imaging at below freezing temperatures. I have also made a number of lens hoods (from plant pots lined with black sticky felt) with pockets to accept a hand warmer, this keeps the lens from dewing or freezing.

Cheers,
Steve

 

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I also have the full SA setup and have managed to use it successfully with a DSLR and various lenses and also a full mono imaging setup with a TS60 scope, motorfocuser, full SX filter wheel and an ASI1600. If you have a fast imaging system, then you can ignore guiding, like I have done and never tried. I did 2 mins with a DSLR and a 50mm lens and 30 second exposures with the imaging rig, at 260mm FL. I attached a polemaster connector to the dovetail bar, as I already had a polemaster and using this for PA is much easier than contorting to look through the polarscope.

A decent tripod is a must though, as this will kind of make up for the crude wedge, which is the wobbliest bit of my setup.

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Could I just hijack the thread briefly to ask Matt what bracketry are you using to mount your Polemaster. Is it the same as Steve's above. Thanks - John 

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