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There is an old saying "there is a fine line between tough and stupid". I tend to flirt with that line every time I take a scope out. My folks bought a telescope for the family when I was about 10, they just sold (pronounced "gave it away") it s few years ago at a garage sale. Since then life has thrown yet another curve at me, and I find myself with some gas left in the tank, a small amount of disposable income, and a lot of time on my hands.

Around a year and a half ago I spotted a Celestron 130SLT on Kijiji. Wasn't more than a few hours later (rural guy here) and it was sitting at my place. I welcomed the wonders that the night sky offered. Well, me being me, you just can't have one. Right?  It didn't take long to figure out there are a lot of telescopes around gathering dust, however finding people who wear 'em out is tough to do.

Here is my dilemma. I have gathered up a flock of scopes that should let me do pretty well any type of astronomy there is, with-in reason.  I don't own anything that you would call "top end". It is a work in progress. In addition to the 130 reflector I own a Celestron C8 (f/10), Orion ST80 (f/5), Orion 90mm frac (f/10), and a SkyWatcher 120mm (f/5) frac.  Mounts include a CGEM, CG-4 and a bunch of inexpensive mounts that came bundled with the scopes. I installed a home built pier this summer, and have an observatory that I built last winter. Here I will add that none of my scopes were purchased new. As a mater of fact, there are only a couple things I've purchased new, the CG-4 mount and a ZWO ASI120MM CMOS camera.

Oh, here is where I better admit to my weakness, AP. While I have gotten 96 Messier objects under my belt, AP and the rabbit hole have a strong pull.  Stronger than my ability, and equipment to capture Deep Sky Objects. I started out with a Canon 1100D, then I bought the ZWO. Yesterday the latest used purchase arrived, a Atik Infinity. Even though it was snowing (yes, October 1st) I had to take ift out and make sure it worked.... It does!!!

Here is the issue, figuring out what works best with what. I have had the help of a Solar guy with processing. I have bought a license for "Capture" program, but have yet to purchase any licenses for processing. I am a true believer that IF you should strive to capture the best image your equipment and your ability allow.  Thankfully I live on a rural farm site with Bortle 2 sky. My nemisis is the wind! That is the reason I built the observatory. 

Believe it or not astronomy related stuff is not available closer than 500km. I am a touch and feel kind of guy, and not being able to look the retailer in the eye and analyzing if he is pulling your leg has left me with a few items not worth having. Case-in-point  a .50 Antares focal reducer, hey, at least it was a relatively cheap indiscretion. This type thing has brought me to posting this request.

I have become fairly good a polar alignment, a lot of my images done with just tracking are kind of proof of that. I have delved into guiding a bit. Guiding has improved my  images a bit with both the DSLR and somewhat with the CMOS. But the messin' around time, and extra equipment is what got me looking at the Atik hardware and included software. My motto has always been "get everything you can out of what you have". And being an OLD 4-H member, their motto is "learn to do by doing".  

I have tried about every combination of camera/mount and capture equipment. Always interested in hear others success and disappointment stories. Feel free to share.




M11 DSSRS.jpg

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The sky finally cleared so I could try out the new-to-me Atik Infinity.  While clear it was -5C with a 11-17 km/hr breeze making it feel like -10C.  The humidity was 92%. These sessions (first time) are usually pretty comical.

I started out with it stuck directly in the back of my C8. This scope has a GSO focuser and I was able to achieve focus, no problem on M31.  Figuring out the capture software took a while, but I did manage to capture something. Wasn't long before the Dew monster attacked the corrector plate of the scope. No biggie, another one was cooled and ready to be put on the mount.

The ST120 SkyWatcher (f/5) was a different cat to capture with. Once focused the images had a terrible orange hue to them. This morning I read where I was probably short on exposure time, and could/should have switched to Manual color Balance, bumping up the Blue.

Sadly tonight will probably be a bust, as the clouds are supposed to stick with us.

I have messed around with both the above mentioned scopes trying to get a decent image of M31 with a 1100D Canon DSLR. I may have not had enough data, but this target isn't real easy for me to capture. Others may disagree!

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Bortle 2 skies at home? I have to spend big £ to go somewhere that good!

My recommendation is to keep it simple at the start< Use the ST80 with the ASI on the CGEM mount.

You'll get less trailing because the focal length is short AND f5 is fast at capturing those sparse photons.

Next step: Have you got a filter wheel? At least use a luminance filter to stop the IR bloating your stars...

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Thanks Paul, as a matter of fact I do have a filter wheel. Got it shortly after picking up the ASI 120MM. It is the 5 space ZWO that came with RGB plus another filter (almost clear), but I haven't been able to determine what the clear(ish) one is exactly.  I have all 4 filters in the wheel which leaves me an empty slot, so I can use i the wheel to get me back far enough so I can focus.

I haven't used the ZWO  many times for DSO AP. The chip is pretty small... but works well on Luna and the planets. DSO AP sure seems to be different than DSO.  Just pulled the ST80 off the C8 (was using it as a guide scope) and geting ready for the next clear(ish) night...98769678_20180730_193614(Large).jpg.d8d62a3786ebcbeb2b606f2052c15744.jpg

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