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Hi all,

have just joined after spending the last week looking at forums  trying to decide what equipment to buy as I’m looking to get my first “proper” telescope. I’ve been using some basic binoculars for getting to know my way around the sky and a basic telescope. As the title says I have around £400 to spend. I would like to do some astrophotography as that’s one of the main reasons on getting a telescope and also observation. I’ve seen the Sky-Watcher series tend to be the best for this. But confused in which to go for I have seen dobsonian telescopes that seem good bang for the buck but not ideal for imagery. I’m not looking for anything portable. I was looking from 130p-200p. Als I do I really need a mount with tracking for photography? ( still confused on what all the lenses do and which are the best)  Any recommendations or advice would help a lot. 

Edited by Revilo
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Have decided to go with 130pds, save for a bit longer and  get a eq5 Mount. Thank you all for the advice/help. I know it will be worth it in the long run.

130pds is a solid choice, lots of fans on here. But... and you could tell me to mind my own business here... but I was always taught “if you want to buy something, always wait for 1 month, then if you

As my marra and photographer has expressed interested in borrowing my future scope for learning astrophotography, I went to buy the book, took a detour to the Offers section and have spent the last ho

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Welcome to the forum.

I'm afraid £400 is a challenging budget for astro photography, but I suggest a first purchase should be the book 'Making Every Photon Count' by Steve Richards which will answer many of the questions you have.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

Is the £400 just for the scope or will it include the mount too? What camera would you use?

A possible entry starter might be a Skywatcher 130-PDS on a driven EQ5 mount. This thread has plenty of info and images taken with this scope, although it would be more normal to use an HEQ5 or EQ6.

Buy the book first though!

Enjoy the forum :) 

 

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Welcome to SGL.

In order of priority, you want a decent mount, a decent camera, a decent telescope.

You might try getting a second-hand mount and taking widefield shots with a DSLR and standard lens? This would give you experience of not only taking the shots, but of processing as well.

But, as Stu has said, £400 will be a real challenge if you have to purchase it all ...

Edited by Demonperformer
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This scope/mount combination might form the basis for the kind of beginners AP setup you'd be looking for:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-eq3-pro-goto.html

It's about £160 more than your budget if you buy brand new - however you could get similar on the second hand market for around £400 depending on age and condition and negotiating skills.

Something under 2yrs old and in full working order with only "cosmetic" and "normal use" markings is certainly achievable. Of course I'm assuming you already have a camera and it doesn't include guiding. I'd recommend a good read of "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards - at only £20'ish it's a great read and will tell you all you need to know about AP including equipment required and imaging techniques. Hth :)

(Keep an eye on the classifieds here on SGL and also UK Astro Buy Sell website - both popular astro sales websites)

Edited by brantuk
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As said above. Buy the book "making every photon count" and read it, it will save you 1000s of wasted pounds

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

 

If you already have a camera, then read up on the Skywatcher Star Adventurer

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

it allows you to mount your camera and get great widefield shots. It's within budget and is a great idea. Search out some shots taken with this mount in the imaging section.

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen
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Hello Revilo,

Take a look at these two threads:-

https://stargazerslounge.com/forum/226-imaging-challenge-3-30-second-exposures-now-closed/

Although in an ideal world I gather an EQ5 is the minimum requirement for imaging, the above threads show what can be achieved with a cheaper ALT AZ mount and sub 30 second exposures.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-ota.html and a https://www.firstlightoptics.com/alt-azimuth/skywatcher-az-goto-mount.html come in at below £400 and the mount would be much easier for visual too. Maybe worth considering to dip your toes in.

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12 hours ago, Stu said:

Just found this thread too which shows what can be achieved with a smaller mount, more likely to be within budget if  bought used.

 

 

7 hours ago, Demonperformer said:

Welcome to SGL.

In order of priority, you want a decent mount, a decent camera, a decent telescope.

You might try getting a second-hand mount and taking widefield shots with a DSLR and standard lens? This would give you experience of not only taking the shots, but of processing as well.

But, as Stu has said, £400 will be a real challenge if you have to purchase it all ...

Hi there thanks for the replies, well I was going to spend maybe £400 on the scope and mount I can save up until next year and maybe buy parts over say ever 6months or so. I have a friend who has a dslr which they don’t use and said I could buy it off them of half the cost. 

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13 hours ago, Stu said:

Welcome to the forum.

I'm afraid £400 is a challenging budget for astro photography, but I suggest a first purchase should be the book 'Making Every Photon Count' by Steve Richards which will answer many of the questions you have.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

Is the £400 just for the scope or will it include the mount too? What camera would you use?

A possible entry starter might be a Skywatcher 130-PDS on a driven EQ5 mount. This thread has plenty of info and images taken with this scope, although it would be more normal to use an HEQ5 or EQ6.

Buy the book first though!

Enjoy the forum :) 

 

Hi Stu, I’m looking to spend that amount on the scope and mount, I’ll look into that book you’ve suggested. As I’ve said on another reply I can maybe take longer time on saving up maybe over a year or so. I’ll probBl get a second hand dslr. Thanks for the help 

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4 hours ago, brantuk said:

This scope/mount combination might form the basis for the kind of beginners AP setup you'd be looking for:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-eq3-pro-goto.html

It's about £160 more than your budget if you buy brand new - however you could get similar on the second hand market for around £400 depending on age and condition and negotiating skills.

Something under 2yrs old and in full working order with only "cosmetic" and "normal use" markings is certainly achievable. Of course I'm assuming you already have a camera and it doesn't include guiding. I'd recommend a good read of "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards - at only £20'ish it's a great read and will tell you all you need to know about AP including equipment required and imaging techniques. Hth :)

(Keep an eye on the classifieds here on SGL and also UK Astro Buy Sell website - both popular astro sales websites)

Thanks for the advice it seems like the 130p ds is a good choice. Am I right in saying that  telescopes with “ds” are mainly for photography ?  Am I able to get good results with these for normal use? I’ll definitely buy that book as well. I could always wait and save up that extra money if  this is  a setup worth investing in.

 

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12 minutes ago, Revilo said:

Thanks for the advice it seems like the 130p ds is a good choice. Am I right in saying that  telescopes with “ds” are mainly for photography ?  Am I able to get good results with these for normal use? I’ll definitely buy that book as well. I could always wait and save up that extra money if  this is  a setup worth investing in.

Yes the 130p is a great choice for starter imaging - look through the photo sections of the forum and you'll see some great pictures achieved with this little scope. The "P" stands for a parabolic mirror (better focusing than concave), and the "ds" is for a dual speed focuser - very useful and popular in imaging applications - but also useful for observing too cos you can achieve a finer level of focus much easier than a single speed. :)

Edited by brantuk
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12 minutes ago, brantuk said:

Yes the 130p is a great choice for starter imaging - look through the photo sections of the forum and you'll see some great pictures achieved with this little scope. The "P" stands for a parabolic mirror (better focusing than concave), and the "ds" is for a dual speed focuser - very useful and popular in imaging applications - but also useful for observing too cos you can achieve a finer level of focus much easier than a single speed. :)

Will have a look, have been looking through Astro bin as well just to get an idea of what can be achieved. Thanks

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As my marra and photographer has expressed interested in borrowing my future scope for learning astrophotography, I went to buy the book, took a detour to the Offers section and have spent the last hour in tears reading the reviews for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Have yet to cash out on the book!

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It does depend on what you want to photograph - ideally you need an equatorial tracking mount for deep sky stuff (and a reasonably heavyweight high quality one at that) but for planetary and lunar you don’t need one at all. If you are happy with planetary then something like these would be great;

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi/sky-watcher-explorer-130ps-az-gti.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi/sky-watcher-skymax-102-az-gti.html

You can do deepsky photography with these too, but you’ll be limited to short exposures 20-30 seconds max (because of field rotation).

Another option is a lightweight tracking mount;

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

and put the rest of your budget towards a dslr, or use an existing camera if you have one. That mount will also handle a small scope/ camera combo.

Theres lots of options at that price point but there isn’t necessarily an easy upgrade route unless you start with an EQ5 Mount as the backbone of your setup and go from there but then the mount alone would blow your budget. But there are alternatives.

 

Edited by Mr niall
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Look at a Star Adventurer mini mount with camera + lenses. 400 is a tight budget, and going this route means you don't have to buy a telescope at all!

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1 hour ago, Mr niall said:

It does depend on what you want to photograph - ideally you need an equatorial tracking mount for deep sky stuff (and a reasonably heavyweight high quality one at that) but for planetary and lunar you don’t need one at all. If you are happy with planetary then something like these would be great;

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi/sky-watcher-explorer-130ps-az-gti.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi/sky-watcher-skymax-102-az-gti.html

You can do deepsky photography with these too, but you’ll be limited to short exposures 20-30 seconds max (because of field rotation).

Another option is a lightweight tracking mount;

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

and put the rest of your budget towards a dslr, or use an existing camera if you have one. That mount will also handle a small scope/ camera combo.

Theres lots of options at that price point but there isn’t necessarily an easy upgrade route unless you start with an EQ5 Mount as the backbone of your setup and go from there but then the mount alone would blow your budget. But there are alternatives.

 

Thanks for the links I would mainly want to do dso but also some planetary photography as well. I’ll have a look, I did look at some eq5 mounts and was put off by the price but if it is worth it I could wait longer to save up, if it’s worth it.

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1 hour ago, Ags said:

Look at a Star Adventurer mini mount with camera + lenses. 400 is a tight budget, and going this route means you don't have to buy a telescope at all!

Just had a look at this no idea these existed think I’ll save up for this. Then can save money for camera equipment.is there any difference between this and the normal star adventure . Which one would you recommend?

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21 minutes ago, Revilo said:

Just had a look at this no idea these existed think I’ll save up for this. Then can save money for camera equipment.is there any difference between this and the normal star adventure . Which one would you recommend?

From what I’ve read the tracking performance is more or less identical. The advantage the mini has is the small size and the WiFi control. But the advantages the star adventurer has is that it can take much more weight, useful for heavier setups or, for example using very long lenses or combining a camera with a scope and additionally it has an ST4 port so you can add a guidescope further down the line, giving you a future upgrade path.

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1 hour ago, Revilo said:

I would mainly want to do dso but also some planetary photography as well.

Trouble is, these are two fundamentally different disciplines requiring very different kit.

DSOs are, in general, larger and faint, requiring long exposures to gather enough light to pull out the detail. Often these are images via small aperture, optically fast scopes on steady mounts which can accurately track the targets.

Planets are small and bright, and are generally imaged with relatively larger aperture scopes with long focal lengths. Rather than long images, hundreds or thousands of very short exposures are taken in order to try to overcome the turbulence in the atmosphere which reduces detail at the high magnifications necessary to image planets. You take the best X% of the frames and stack and process them. Basic tracking is all that is needed for this kind of imaging.

The trouble is, if you try to do DSO imaging with a large aperture, long focal length scope you run into all sorts of problems with guiding a large scope which is prone to being blown by the wind as one example.

So. Pick one discipline and make sure your kit will do this well, rather than try to do both not quite so well.

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Fellow newbie here. I have the Skywatcher Explorer 130P on an EQ2 mount. Whilst it's not suitable for astrophotography, it is a good scope for a beginner like myself and figuring out how to use the mount & setting circles indoors has been fun whilst it's been raining. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p.html 
Not bad for the price and will leave you some change to buy the book about Photons.
I'd also recommend Turn Left At Orion to get you started.
(and you'll still have nearly half your budget for any accessories you fancy such as a red torch etc. :) )

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29 minutes ago, Mr niall said:

From what I’ve read the tracking performance is more or less identical. The advantage the mini has is the small size and the WiFi control. But the advantages the star adventurer has is that it can take much more weight, useful for heavier setups or, for example using very long lenses or combining a camera with a scope and additionally it has an ST4 port so you can add a guidescope further down the line, giving you a future upgrade path.

Thank you, this may sound like a stupid question but am I able to get good shots of DSO’s and planetary objects on this mount if I have the right camera equipment instead of using a telescope? Apreciate all the help.

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Just now, Redscouse said:

Fellow newbie here. I have the Skywatcher Explorer 130P on an EQ2 mount. Whilst it's not suitable for astrophotography, it is a good scope for a beginner like myself and figuring out how to use the mount & setting circles indoors has been fun whilst it's been raining. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p.html 
Not bad for the price and will leave you some change to buy the book about Photons.
I'd also recommend Turn Left At Orion to get you started.
(and you'll still have nearly half your budget for any accessories you fancy such as a red torch etc. :) )

Thank you  for the advice I’ve heard a lot of people talking about turn left at Orion both those books seem to be the go to for astronomy and astrophotography. Have you tried to take some photos through the 130p? 

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48 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

Long discussion topic with images taken with the Star Adventurer.

link here

Thanks quite impressive. Think I’ll read through make every photon count first just to get my head around it all still not certain yet but am leaning towards the star adventurer. Thank you for the help.

Edited by Revilo
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