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Cnnr21

New to Astrophotography

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Hi All,

 

I am looking to get into astrophotography and thought this would be the best place to ask the questions that I have.

 

I was looking at getting the HEQ5 equitorial mount and something like the 130pds for a telescope. What else would I need (Other than camera) and also I will have no idea how to use the mount which will be a learning curve for me.

 

If there is anything I should look into or learn before hand if you could let me know that would be great!

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Hello and welcome.

The standard reply is to get "making every photon count" which will help answer your questions. I would get familiar with the mount before trying to move on but a 130pds would not be a bad choice for DSO imaging. As you say, you will need a camera and also a guiding set up. This AP lark can get expensive rather quickly.

Peter

 

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Total agree with @PeterCPC you need to read this - maybe several times! Mine has fallen apart from being read so much.

I was in exactly your position two-plus years ago and after reading the above went down the NEQ6 + refractor route (SW ED80DS Pro).

You'd better be prepared for potential pains in the wallet - for which there is no known cure - it's a chronic condition.

Good luck!

Adrian

Edited by Adreneline
Typo
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If you're set on a 130pds then a Cheshire collimator, coma corrector and tring will also be needed. 

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31 minutes ago, geordie85 said:

If you're set on a 130pds then a Cheshire collimator, coma corrector and tring will also be needed. 

What's the tring is?

P.S.

Hacksaw to shorten the 130PDS focuser's Drawtube also will be in need after a while. 130PDS was done for imaging, but somehow, managed to fail in this part. Also, as mentioned above, guiding setup and coma corrector for sure!

Edited by RolandKol

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22 minutes ago, RolandKol said:

What's the tring is?

P.S.

Hacksaw to shorten the 130PDS focuser's Drawtube also will be in need after a while. 130PDS was done for imaging, but somehow, managed to fail in this part. Also, as mentioned above, guiding setup and coma corrector for sure!

I was wondering that as well but I think it will be T-ring! That's the camera to scope adapter.

Olly

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The HEQ5 is an excellent choice and the 130 PDS can produce excellent images in the right hands but you will need a coma corrector which will have the advantage of giving you a small amount of additional back-focus. It won't be long until you realise that to really get into deep sky imaging, you will need to start auto-guiding which will mean buying a guide camera and, assuming that you stick with your original idea of buying the 130PDS, a small guide telescope.

As an alternative, I would recommend that you consider buying a small refractor (apochromatic not achromatic) and focal reducer/field flattener in place of the 130 PDS as this will make imaging a little less fraught as refractors are are 'stable' in that they do not require collimation and they tend to keep dust away from the sensor. In this case, you could consider an off-axis-guider rather than a guide telescope for your auto-guiding when you move to this 'phase'!

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2 hours ago, RolandKol said:

What's the tring is?

P.S.

Hacksaw to shorten the 130PDS focuser's Drawtube also will be in need after a while. 130PDS was done for imaging, but somehow, managed to fail in this part. Also, as mentioned above, guiding setup and coma corrector for sure!

As stated above I mean T-ring. Sorry for my lack of punctuation and any confusion caused. 

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2 hours ago, steppenwolf said:

The HEQ5 is an excellent choice and the 130 PDS can produce excellent images in the right hands but you will need a coma corrector which will have the advantage of giving you a small amount of additional back-focus. It won't be long until you realise that to really get into deep sky imaging, you will need to start auto-guiding which will mean buying a guide camera and, assuming that you stick with your original idea of buying the 130PDS, a small guide telescope.

As an alternative, I would recommend that you consider buying a small refractor (apochromatic not achromatic) and focal reducer/field flattener in place of the 130 PDS as this will make imaging a little less fraught as refractors are are 'stable' in that they do not require collimation and they tend to keep dust away from the sensor. In this case, you could consider an off-axis-guider rather than a guide telescope for your auto-guiding when you move to this 'phase'!

Any recommendations to the alternative for the 130pds?

 

Thank you for all the responses, would it be good assumption that I can give astrophotography a shot with the mount, scope and camera to see how it is and if I enjoy and to then looking into the other bits I need in regards to guiding? 

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6 minutes ago, Cnnr21 said:

would it be good assumption that I can give astrophotography a shot with the mount, scope and camera to see how it is and if I enjoy and to then looking into the other bits I need in regards to guiding? 

Yes, definitely! Astrophotography (AP) is not for everyone by any means as it is harder to do than you might expect but if you enjoy it and have patience and some fortitude, it can be immensely rewarding but you don't have to dive in at the deep end - we are just pre-warning you that this is only the start!!!

9 minutes ago, Cnnr21 said:

Any recommendations to the alternative for the 130pds?

For AP rather then observing, the Sky-Watcher ED 80 and its matching focal reducer/field flattener would be a great place to start if you are working to a tighter budget - a proven track record and a competitive price but, it doesn't have the light grasp of the 130 if you want to observe with it as well.

The most important component for AP is the mount and with the HEQ5, you have made a really good choice so simply mounting your camera and a camera lens on the mount will give satisfying results so there is no rush.

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4 hours ago, Cnnr21 said:

anything I should look into or learn before hand

Hi. I think the best route is to go along to an astro club and ask for a demonstration of a 130pds on a heq5. You will be inundated with advice -and with myriad alternatives- but more importantly will be able to see the scale of the stuff and watch someone actually taking astro photos. First hand. Read first by all means, but in the end...

Just my €0.02 but HTH

 

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I started with a refractor and dslr and its happily kept me going for the last 10 months learning the intricacies. I very quickly realized I needed a guide scope and guide camera though to get anything more than 30 second exposures.

When I bought the scope I was thinking of going down the 130pds route, but had my opinion swayed in store and ended up with a 65mm quad refractor - it was at fair chunk of cash more but meant I didn't need to get a corrector. Im glad I did as its a lightweight solution that is relatively hassle free for me. I also bought my mount second hand which meant I could upgrade for the same money as new.

Now im getting the hang of it I am craving a bit more aperture though so already considering an upgrade ( its an addiction )

My best investment was a focus mask though. Couldn't survive without it.

There are some great videos on Youtube which helped me get the hang of the jargon, setup and differences in equipment choices, AstroBackyard, Galactic Hunter, AstronomyShed, Astrophotography Tutorials to name a few.

Oh, and if you can find yourself a cloud zapper, buy it. 🤣

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I use 130PDS on Neq6 but an heq5 is equally good. As someone wrote earlier “in the right hands, this combination can give outstanding results”. I add to it “a dark sky”.

Learning to nail your polar alignment is the key to AP. There are many threads here which would make your life easy and the learning curve faster. Without a guiding setup you would be able to take 30-45 sec exposures easily and even go higher if your PA is good. 

I started guiding after a year of AP only through perfect PA.

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I started with 130PDS and I can confirm,

it does not work out of the box perfectly... :)
It is a good scope from the box, but you will need to spend time and money to adjust it to the perfect level.

Collimation is the first thing... After transportation, the primary mirror is most likely to be a bit off and you will need to adjust it's collimation. Without collimation you will get quite nice images,

but you may have a bit weird diffraction spikes of the stars, - or may not, - depends on luck...

Cheap lasers do not work... you will need at least Cheshire... To collimate primary mirror is very easy, 1 minute at most, but takes time to read and learn.


the second issue, focusers drawtube... it is quite easy to shorten it (around 10minutes work)... however, it takes time and all kind of bad thoughts while shortening :) furthermore, once shortened, you cannot use scope for visual anymore.

On another hand, - 130PDS is almost DIY scope!!!!  Cheap as hell, you can put it a part into pieces and fit it back, upgrade, modificate,  even break it and easily buy the second one!!! :)

this is why I chose it :) as I like to keep my fingers busy. 

It produces quite nice results without any of the mods or adjustments, but you will want more as you grow and you will be able to improve with it.

I guess it is the best scope for the price... but with some headache in addition ;)
 

if you are not into DIY and if you feel you will afraid of some additional challenges in relation, - cross off Newtonians from the list as sooner or later, you will need to remove the primary mirror for cleaning and etc.

P.S.

If you will decide to go for 130PDS, - initially do not touch any of the collimation bolts of the secondary (they are OK from factory) and you can play with the Primary (larger) Mirror bolts quite bravely if you have Chesire by your hand! :) 

 

Edited by RolandKol
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6 hours ago, steppenwolf said:

 

As an alternative, I would recommend that you consider buying a small refractor (apochromatic not achromatic) and focal reducer/field flattener in place of the 130 PDS as this will make imaging a little less fraught as refractors are are 'stable' in that they do not require collimation and they tend to keep dust away from the sensor. In this case, you could consider an off-axis-guider rather than a guide telescope for your auto-guiding when you move to this 'phase'!

I wanted to say this but didn't dare to do so for fear of being beheaded by those who are dedicated to the 130PDS! But I agree with it. A small Apo makes life easy. The best 130PDS images speak for themselves and nobody is going to argue with them. The question is, how many complications do you want to add to a project which will never be short of complications however you go about it?

Olly

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16 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

I wanted to say this but didn't dare to do so for fear of being beheaded by those who are dedicated to the 130PDS! But I agree with it.

Can the person who took my head off please return it as I am unable to eat any more turkey without it? 😁

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I had to chuckle at the fear of offending  the 130pds fan club, of which I'm definitely a member! Sorry if we can be a little one eyed at times....

It IS a fantastic little scope, and great value, but if I can put aside my emotional attachment, the comments above are fair. If there's a club near to you, or another SGL member who has one then it's definitely a good idea to check out what you're letting yourself in for. My view is that this is all acceptable for a scope that can perform so well for the money, but you may feel differently.

For the mount, I've been using an HEQ5 for eighteen months now. As with the drawtube on 130pds, Skywatcher seem devoted to having one daft feature on each of their budget items- on the HEQ5 it's the altitude adjustment bolts. A few quid to upgrade those and you'll have yourself a superb mount. Mine was £500 second hand, which seems to be the going rate.

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Hi @Cnnr21 welcome to SGL.

As others have said, a good starting place is the book Making Every Photon Count.

There are lots of options to getting yourself setup for astro photography.  The main thing to realise is that the targets that you want to image require different focal lengths, this means that one scope will never be able to capture everything - well, not without lots of effort.

The mount is the most important thing, and you've mention the HEQ5, which I know is a popular mount.   The scope you mentioned I'm not familier with but others say it's ok.

 

After that yep, the camera is the next thing, there are loads of options.    But, before that, if you are going for DSO objects, then guiding is a must.  For that you'll need a guide camera and some kind of guiding setup.

There are several options that you can take....

1. a Guide scope - this is a second telescope, which is attached to your main scope. and has a camera which is used for guiding.

2. a finder guider - this is like a guide scope, but it's much smaller.   The cameras these days make this a great option.

3. off axis guider - this is where the guide camera uses some of the light from the main scope to capture the image for guiding.

 

Each has it's pro's and cons.  Personally, if setting out again, I'd take a serious look at the finder guider option.

 

You'll need a camera for capturing your main image.  Again there are loads of options, each with their pro's and cons.

 

Finally, you'll need something to control your setup. The cameras need to store the image somewhere, the guiding camera needs software to perform the guiding comparisons and issue the corrections to the mount.    There are three basic ways that you can do this...

 

1. Laptop/Desktop running windows

2. Laptop/Desktop running Linux

3. Stand alone units that don't need a computer!

 

The stand alone units that I'm talking about here is the method using stand alone auto guiders - like the SkyWatcher SynGuider II attached to the guide scope, and a DSLR camera as the main imaging camera.   I'd tried this route, and frankly, I do not recommend it.    The main problem that I found was getting the SynGuider to find a suitable guide star.  It caused me endless frustration trying to get the scope guiding - when it worked it was great, shame it didn't work as often as I wanted it to work, I could only get it to work on the brightest stars.  (It's a long story)

 

The option with a Laptop/Desktop opens up alot of options.    The route that I've taken is to have a decent laptop (Intel Core-i5 with 8GB of ram and 256GB SSD) running windows 10, and ascom to control the scope.  With that the software that I'm using is Sequence Generator Pro, Sharpcap, PHD2 and ANSVR for plate solving.

I know that you can do something very similar using Linux, with INDI to control the scope.     I've not done it myself, but that said, it does mean that you could use a Raspberry PI to control your scope.    It's a very interesting option, I'd have been looking into this myself if I'd not already taken the ASCOM Route.

 

Having access to a program like Sequence Generator Pro, can be a game changer.   It's got lots of capabilities to make your life very easy when it comes to capturing image sequences.

 

Now that I've filled your head with ideas.    Take your time to decide how you want to do things, what you think will work well for you and what's easy for you to capture great images with.   Don't rush and don't spend more money than you have too.   As others have said, this hobby can get very expensive.

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I can only say what has already been said. I own  both the 130pds and the ed80. Yes the ed80 just works with very little input (ff spacing) compared to the 130pds, but....I cannot see where you are located, if your in the UK then you like the rest of use will spend many nights indoors staring at your kit as it gathering dust. This for me is where the 130pds beats the ed80. You can strip it, flock it, adjust it until the clouds lift and then you will be rewarded with some great images from a remarkable cheap newt.

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Have to agree with all the above.  I have both an ED80 and a SW130PDS.  I love the SE130PDS but after some 18 months use I seem to have run into a bit of trouble trying to collimate the secondary and even with assistance I am not yet 100% convinced all is OK.  Whereas no such problem with the ED80.

HEQ5 I also own.  Great Mount.

My advice is to read the book recommended, and listen to advice, but don't try to run before you can walk.  Get the right kit but take one step at a time.  I don't see the necessity to get into complicated software and controlling the mount on the laptop from the outset.

One of the biggest considerations is what camera to buy.  

Many people start off with a DSLR (which needs modifying for astro use), and cut their teeth on that, as I did, but these are not cooled and will produce noiser images than a cooled camera.  They are also a lot cheaper than a dedicated cooled camera.

Cooled CCD cameras - there are One Shot colour (OSC) and Mono cameras.  Always a huge debate on which is best. 

Mono CCD cameras require filters to produce colours, and a filterwheel, cost more, but have a higher sensitivity (produce more detail) and can also be used for narrowband imaging (narrowband is also good for light polluted (LP) locations, and some targets are better in narrowband anyway.

OSC cooled CCD camera, will give you instant RGB colour, but IMO are more restrictive in detail and narrowband possibilities.

The new CMOS cameras are a fair bit cheaper and you can do shorter images but a lot more of them.   they come in OSC and Mono.  These have become very popular, but I have no experience of them.  You need a really high spec laptop for these as the masses of images fill up a computer very quickly.  

HTH 

Carole 

 

 

 

 

Edited by carastro
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Is it fair to say that, despite recommendation above, if the OP opts for a CMOS camera he can forget the added complication of guiding in the early stages?

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9 minutes ago, Grierson said:

Is it fair to say that, despite recommendation above, if the OP opts for a CMOS camera he can forget the added complication of guiding in the early stages?

I would say, at the very best, 'maybe.' Look me in the eyes and I'll say 'No.' Guiding is a quite incredible asset and the hard work, available for free, has been done for us. I'm as bad in IT as anybody on SGL and may literally be bottom dog but I guided from day one, as advised by Ian King. Like the rest of Ian's advice (Go for CCD, mono and filters from the 'off') I'm delighted that I heeded it and pass on the same advice now. All this was pre-CMOS astro cameras and on these it will be a while before I can come to a conclusion. I'll keep out of that discussion but guiding is the bit of genius which turns a sub £1000 mount into a £20,000 mount. How good is that?

Olly

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I'll agree with Olly in saying weeeel, maybe, but....

If your scope is short FL, pixels are relativly big and you can keep your exposures short (Say 60 or 90 sec), then perhaps, but your PA had better be spot on.

Going from unguided to guided, even with a DSLR (Before I bought my first cooled mono camera) was a huge leap in image quality, and PHD2 (For instance) has a very good drift function to really nail your PA.

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Yes, thanks. I pose the question as, in my very limited experience, there is enough to overcome for the OP without adding guiding to the mix if it can be avoided in the early days. When I started out a couple of years or so ago I put everything together in the mistaken belief that you simply switched the power on and away you went. Big, big mistake!! Lot of very frustrating times later I finally got guiding right but I would not wish the heart ache on anybody. 😒

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