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Photography Query


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Hi all, 

I have a feeling this question might not be in the right place, so as a newbie I apologise.

I have the chance to accquire a Meade Polaris 114EQ from a friend for a small fee.

Would this telescope along with a Nikon D3300 DSLR camera be adequate for basic photography of the moon (to get me started) and to satisfy my aviation fix, capture planes which are transiting overhead anywhere from 28,000 to 36,000ft?

All advice welcome but it may lead to more questions so beware! Thanks

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Hm, short answer: probably not.

While such scope is capable of both types of photography that you mentioned - this particular model has a few drawbacks that will make it very difficult to use it like that.

First is focuser - it is simple 1.25" unit - fitting Nikon D3300 to it will be a tough job.

You will need suitable adapter to attempt to put it in prime focus - Nikon T2 adapter + T2 to 1.25" nose piece. There will be vignetting in this setup (but it might not matter for the Moon - you can probably crop it out). Then there is a matter of reaching the focus like already mentioned. Other option is to try to do eyepiece projection or afocal method. First needs suitable eyepiece / adapter + again Nikon T2 adapter for camera. Second one needs eyepiece + special adapter to hold camera. You will probably reach focus with Afocal method.

Difference between these methods is:

- prime focus - telescope is the lens, so setup is like this: telescope - camera sensor

- eyepiece projection - telescope + eyepiece is lens, setup: telescope - eyepiece - camera sensor

- afocal contains the most "glass" in optical path, so setup is like this: telescope - eyepiece - camera lens - camera sensor. This is "simplest" method as you can try it out without any investment in additional gear / adapters - if you have a steady hand. Put eyepiece in telescope - focus it for visual - point to the moon. Take camera, focus to infinity (or try auto focus) - place camera close to eyepiece - center on optical axis, about 2cm away and just shoot. Trick is to have a steady hand and proper camera placement. There are adapters that hold camera for you so there is no hand shake and placement can be adjusted for best effect.

Now, having said all this, there are numerous other obstacles to tackle - first, mount is not motorized, so when you point your scope to the moon it will slowly (or not so slowly, depending on magnification) drift out of view - you need to be fast to capture the image, and your exposure needs to be really short to avoid motion blur due to drift. When moon drifts away, you will need to use slow motion controls to bring it back into view (rinse / repeat).

This also means that planes are no go with this setup. I attempted to view airplanes with different kind of telescope, and had limited success - it was dobsonian mounted telescope (also not motorized) - but far easier to move around faster - still view was shaky and I could not keep plane in eyepiece longer than fraction of a second unless it was far on horizon and approaching (or going away) slowly - almost along the line of sight. Trying to capture it on camera using above method is going to be exercise in patience/frustration (and probably a failure).

All of the above is not meant to discourage you from trying, actually you can use afocal method and get really good results. Here is an example what afocal method with phone camera can achieve - it is single frame shot that friend of mine did (hand held) when we were observing solar eclipse on similar scope to that (also 1.25" focuser, manual EQ mount with slow motion controls - so nothing fancy, real basic stuff):




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Thank you both for the time in posting a reply. 

I will take the advice and carry on looking more closely into what might be best for what I want out of my kit. 

Wish me luck 

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