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Hi all,

A new member here. I have recently bought a Skywatcher 200p EQ5 combo. Yet to pick up but am very much looking forward to using and getting to know the night sky (yes new to astronomy).

I am a keen amateur photographer and know that i will get the itch and want to get into AP. I have done some research online etc. I know that this kit is probably the lower limit for AP. So i have a few questions: (I have no GOTO fitted at present, but will upgrade in the near future) please note i want to learn the craft first, and will not be upgrading soon, know i need to learn the sky and basics before i run.

1. I realise that the kit is on the lower limit for AP, but can get away with it? 

2. Is this gear ok for planetary photography? i ask because i see the cameras a smaller and lighter?

3. Am i better upgrading the EQ mount or buying and better EQ mount, ie the HEQ6 etc in the future?

4. can i take photos of the moon (bright planets) etc with my current set up, ie: no goto?

Thanks

Max

 

 

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You can get started and definitely have a crack at the moon! You can get some nice shots with a DSLR, you just might need to get a "T-ring" to be able to fix the camera to the scope. "Proper" planetary work usually involves a webcam to take video, which is then split into individual frames, sorted for quality and then the best stacked to come up with the final image. This is possible without a tracking mount, but is trickier. Motors make it easier to take longer videos. Often the best way is to start with the moon and have a play and get a feel for it. If you think you want to go the whole hog with deep sky imagine and tracking/guiding, then get a copy of "Making Every Photon Count" - that explains all you need to know!

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

Then start saving up..... 😀

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Marky1973 said:

You can get started and definitely have a crack at the moon! You can get some nice shots with a DSLR, you just might need to get a "T-ring" to be able to fix the camera to the scope. "Proper" planetary work usually involves a webcam to take video, which is then split into individual frames, sorted for quality and then the best stacked to come up with the final image. This is possible without a tracking mount, but is trickier. Motors make it easier to take longer videos. Often the best way is to start with the moon and have a play and get a feel for it. If you think you want to go the whole hog with deep sky imagine and tracking/guiding, then get a copy of "Making Every Photon Count" - that explains all you need to know!

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

Then start saving up..... 😀

 

 

Thanks Marky,

I know i will want to take an image fairly soon! the moon is good with me for now.. thanks for the link to the book, i will definitely read. I think eventually i will go tracked. But like i said i need to learn the basics first! And yes i guessed i may need to start saving, or selling kidneys!!

 

Max

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The book is more about deep sky photography, but it is definitely worth a read well before you buy anything! And remember, you can only really get away with selling ONE kidney!

If you get a webcam/planetary cam (there are some great ones by ZWO) you can have a go at some close up moon shots as well - you will be limited by the lack of tracking and movement of the moon, but it can be done to get you started!

The most important thing is to experiment and try to remember, at 3 am in the morning, when your hands have gone numb, that it is fun! 🙂

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Answering points in turn:

1) Nothing wrong with a Skywatcher 200P as an OTA but it's a bit big for accurately guided photos on a HEQ5. You will get away with it some of the time if the kit is balanced and there is little wind, and you are using an autoguider, and your exposures (subs) are short. But realistically you would do better with an 80mm apo refractor  on that mount or the 200P on an EQ6.

2) You will do better on planetary because the tracking requirement is a lot less stringent. The exposures are much shorter, typically just a few milliseconds for bright planets. Autostakkert will take out the guiding error in the processing; it finds the planet centroid in each image and lines them up. Yes, the cameras are a lot cheaper and lighter because the chip area is smaller and they are not cooled. People have done planetary with Dobsonians letting the image drift across the sensor and the stacking still works, but you can stack far more frames if the scope is driven 

3) The mount is certainly the most important part of the equation for long exposure deep sky AP. The EQ6 is long in the tooth but still the standard affordable mount but have a look at the slightly more expensive derivatives, the AZ-EQ6GT and the EQ6R before shelling out the cash. Both have some worthwhile improvements. 

4) Yes you can. Modern planetary cameras have small pixels which are a reasonable match to the scope's resolution even at prime focus, but you might well do better with a *2 barlow lens included in the optical chain. Make sure your finder has crosshairs and is well aligned with the main scope. The hardest part is getting the planet on a very small sensor (even harder with a barlow but a bit of patience usually gets you there). You have no GOTO, but all you need for planets is the ability to make very fine adjustments to RA/DEC to centre the target. No autoguiding required. Reasonable polar alignment helps keep the planet in the middle.

Secondhand colour planetary cameras cost about £100 and can also be used for autoguiding when you start deep-sky stuff.

At the risk of repeating the usual advice ad nauseam..read "Making every photon count"

I can recommend Sharpcap for taking the images and Autostakkert for stacking but everyone has their favourite. I'd advise going for software where there is a good pdf manual.

Have a go...you might well be surprised! Especially on planets. A couple of hours practise is worth many evenings of web research.

RL

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5 minutes ago, Marky1973 said:

The book is more about deep sky photography, but it is definitely worth a read well before you buy anything! And remember, you can only really get away with selling ONE kidney!

If you get a webcam/planetary cam (there are some great ones by ZWO) you can have a go at some close up moon shots as well - you will be limited by the lack of tracking and movement of the moon, but it can be done to get you started!

The most important thing is to experiment and try to remember, at 3 am in the morning, when your hands have gone numb, that it is fun! 🙂

Oddly I call three in the morning with cold hands fun!! i like a challenge..

Will i need a moon filter for the DSLR?

I see you are from Glos, not a million miles away myself and from the area.

Max

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4 minutes ago, rl said:

Answering points in turn:

1) Nothing wrong with a Skywatcher 200P as an OTA but it's a bit big for accurately guided photos on a HEQ5. You will get away with it some of the time if the kit is balanced and there is little wind, and you are using an autoguider, and your exposures (subs) are short. But realistically you would do better with an 80mm apo refractor  on that mount or the 200P on an EQ6.

2) You will do better on planetary because the tracking requirement is a lot less stringent. The exposures are much shorter, typically just a few milliseconds for bright planets. Autostakkert will take out the guiding error in the processing; it finds the planet centroid in each image and lines them up. Yes, the cameras are a lot cheaper and lighter because the chip area is smaller and they are not cooled. People have done planetary with Dobsonians letting the image drift across the sensor and the stacking still works, but you can stack far more frames if the scope is driven 

3) The mount is certainly the most important part of the equation for long exposure deep sky AP. The EQ6 is long in the tooth but still the standard affordable mount but have a look at the slightly more expensive derivatives, the AZ-EQ6GT and the EQ6R before shelling out the cash. Both have some worthwhile improvements. 

4) Yes you can. Modern planetary cameras have small pixels which are a reasonable match to the scope's resolution even at prime focus, but you might well do better with a *2 barlow lens included in the optical chain. Make sure your finder has crosshairs and is well aligned with the main scope. The hardest part is getting the planet on a very small sensor (even harder with a barlow but a bit of patience usually gets you there). You have no GOTO, but all you need for planets is the ability to make very fine adjustments to RA/DEC to centre the target. No autoguiding required. Reasonable polar alignment helps keep the planet in the middle.

Secondhand colour planetary cameras cost about £100 and can also be used for autoguiding when you start deep-sky stuff.

At the risk of repeating the usual advice ad nauseam..read "Making every photon count"

I can recommend Sharpcap for taking the images and Autostakkert for stacking but everyone has their favourite. I'd advise going for software where there is a good pdf manual.

Have a go...you might well be surprised! Especially on planets. A couple of hours practise is worth many evenings of web research.

RL

Wow thanks for taking the time for that reply, much appreciated. So one thing i did not say is that i have ordered a 2x barlow and t ring for my DSLR (I still don't plan on using until i have learned the basics (Honest). I think planets is where i will start for AP. I will order the book tomorrow. Yes i intend to get out there as much as i can to be honest.

Thanks

Max

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5 minutes ago, Maxbem said:

Oddly I call three in the morning with cold hands fun!! i like a challenge..

Will i need a moon filter for the DSLR?

I see you are from Glos, not a million miles away myself and from the area.

Max

Ha! It certainly can be a challenge. Filters are not a requirement but they can help with detail and a moon filter can definitely help reduce the brightness...it can be very bright through en eyepiece when full! If using a DSLR you pretty much treat moon imaging the same as daytime imaging....short exposures and low ISO.

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Posted (edited)

A DSLR is good for the moon and deep sky stuff but you won't be able to take hundreds of frames quickly which is what "lucky imaging" on planets requires. A webcam is much better for this. However you can get lucky with just a few frames, and things are much easier to find given the field of view with a DSLR. 

With the kit you've already got the moon is the perfect target to get started. Don't get too bogged down in the technicalities....there will be plenty of time for that later on. Just go for it!

 

Edited by rl
clarification

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The video function on your DSLR, assuming it has one, is definitely worth trying for planetary imaging. They're not as good as a dedicated planetary camera but would give you a flavour and some frames to practice your stacking and processing on.

The attached is from a Canon 6d on a set up similar to yours but with motors to roughly track.

jupiter.tif

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, ShrewView said:

The video function on your DSLR, assuming it has one, is definitely worth trying for planetary imaging. They're not as good as a dedicated planetary camera but would give you a flavour and some frames to practice your stacking and processing on.

The attached is from a Canon 6d on a set up similar to yours but with motors to roughly track.

jupiter.tif

Ok thanks ShrewView, I am ok with stacking but have not processed the night sky before. Ok will give it a go. 

Thanks

Edited by Maxbem

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I second the comments from RL.  Since you've got that outfit, it's well worth having a go at planetary astrophotography with a video camera, provided the mount is motorised (GoTo not necessary).  You'll need a good finder (9x50).  Planetary nebulae are worth a try - I got some with my ASI120MC and a long exposure. 

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On ‎04‎/‎08‎/‎2018 at 11:59, Cosmic Geoff said:

I second the comments from RL.  Since you've got that outfit, it's well worth having a go at planetary astrophotography with a video camera, provided the mount is motorised (GoTo not necessary).  You'll need a good finder (9x50).  Planetary nebulae are worth a try - I got some with my ASI120MC and a long exposure. 

Thanks for the reply. So I don't have motorised at present, and I only has DSLR with T ring and 2 x barlow. Is it possible to take video and stack the stills with this set up or is it not worth the effort?

Also what would I be able to do this with, by this I mean which objects in the sky? For example could I get images of the milky way?

 

Thanks,

 

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You do not need a telescope to use your camera to image the milky way. You take lots of photos and stack them in deep sky stacker then process the resulting image. The wider the camera lens used the longer the exposures before star trails. If it's a full frame camera 600/lens focal length before star trails or swap 600 for 400 if not full frame sensor.

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3 hours ago, happy-kat said:

You do not need a telescope to use your camera to image the milky way. You take lots of photos and stack them in deep sky stacker then process the resulting image. The wider the camera lens used the longer the exposures before star trails. If it's a full frame camera 600/lens focal length before star trails or swap 600 for 400 if not full frame sensor.

Hi Happy Kat,

thanks for the reply. Sorry I should have explained, I am ok with the camera process but a bit unsure of the telescope process. Any help appreciated. 

I have a t ring and 2x Barlow and was wondering if I could capture the Milky Way with this set up?

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Posted (edited)

The milky way is huge and doesn't need a telescope. But it you were picking out a single deep space object within it then you could use a telescope but the rule still stands if it is a static mount. 400/telescope focal length before star trails as you are effectively using the telescope as a giant lens. Adding that barlow will make that focal length even longer.

(If a larger dslr sensor then use 600 instead of 400)

For the Moon and planets you would be shooting video so should be well fast enough to not be effected by any trailing.

Edited by happy-kat
Got the size wrong way around

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Telescope/barlow/camera. 

What barlow did you get?

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1 hour ago, happy-kat said:

Telescope/barlow/camera. 

What barlow did you get?

Just a 2 x basic with t ring adapter. 

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1 hour ago, happy-kat said:

The milky way is huge and doesn't need a telescope. But it you were picking out a single deep space object within it then you could use a telescope but the rule still stands if it is a static mount. 400/telescope focal length before star trails as you are effectively using the telescope as a giant lens. Adding that barlow will make that focal length even longer.

(If a smaller dslr sensor then use 500 instead of 400)

For the Moon and planets you would be shooting video so should be well fast enough to not be effected by any trailing.

Ok so essentially the fl is 1000mm so 2 sec exposures? Then add in Barlow = 1 sec exposures?

is that right? 

 

This is I where I get a bit lost!

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Posted (edited)

If your camera is small dslr sensor.

400/1000 = .4 of a second. Add a barlow that becomes .2 of a second.

Forest Takanar on YouTube shares using a long camera lens on a static mount and takes 400 plus images to make a photo of Andromeda.

Edited by happy-kat

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It's not exact the 400 or 600 or anything in the middle it's a calculation to give an exposure length to take a trial image with and access star trails.

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2 hours ago, happy-kat said:

It's not exact the 400 or 600 or anything in the middle it's a calculation to give an exposure length to take a trial image with and access star trails.

Ok thanks, I have a 1.6 crop sensor. So let’s say 500/1000 plus the 2x so.2 of a second. Even if I did stack those would that be enough light?

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I think that would be fine for Moon bright planets. DSO you don't want the barlow anyway in the mix.

Try it and see.

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