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Posted (edited)

Hi,

 

I am looking at buying one of these, and need some guidance.

Celestron Nexstar 4 SE

Sky-Watcher Explorer-130P Synscan AZ GOTO

Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT MAK

 

I ended up With these 3 Choices mostly because of the cost I am willing to do the first time, and it seems like they have some abilities (motorized with GoTo-options)

Priority 1: I want to observe nebulas, and galaxies (i.e. Andromeda)  on a decent "zoom" and focus.

Priority 2: I want to do astrophotography.

I've read elsewhere on the forum than its preferable to have an equatorial mount for astrophotography. As far as i can see none of the above have that, even if Celestron Nexstar 4SE is promoting astrophotography on the product info. Or have i misunderstood here and one of the above has an equatorial mount?
The Product info on the Celestron Nexstar 4 SE says it has Alt-Az, EQ North & EQ South. Does this mean it has both options, az-al and equatorial mount?.

 

I think should add that i consider myself at least an "above beginner"-photographer, and Photoshop user. I use NIKON D810 - is this even mountable on one of the telescopes mentioned here?
I also have the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mini. Can i setup one of the telescopes mentioned with this and call it a telescope with equatorial mount? 

I guess some of these questions might seem stupid to you, but I just dont know alot regarding telescopes yet:)

Thanks in advance for any replies.

 
 
Edited by masjstovel

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I should add that the 2 priorities i mentioned  come pretty close together. I mean that if the telescope is perfect for observing, but doesn't work for photography visa versa, it's not that interesting to me.

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Posted (edited)

I strongly urge you to stop right where you are and start your thinking again once you have done more research. Although astrophotography can be done with an alt-az mount, and there is a thread on here dedicated to that, the right mount for AP if you are driven by the idea of getting the best results is - just is - the equatorial.

A computer driven alt-az mount is very nice for observing, slightly preferable in my view to an equatorial. But an equatorial is vastly preferable to an alt-az for imaging.

When you begin to try deep sky (not lunar-planetary) imaging a short focal length will make your life much easier and give you much better results. You can do wonders in astrophotography below, even well below, 500mm focal length. Once you go for longer FL you introduce massive difficulties. Don't buy anything until you understand this argument.

Olly

Edit: I should add that when I saw your thread title 'astrophotography telescope' I knew in my heart that it was the wrong question to be asking. The right question would have been 'astrophotography mount' because the mount comes first. Every time, with no exceptions.

Edited by ollypenrice
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1 hour ago, masjstovel said:

I also have the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mini. Can i setup one of the telescopes mentioned with this and call it a telescope with equatorial mount? 

Have you used the Star Adventurer at all? It's an equatorial mount which allows long exposures to be taken. A motorized alt-az mount will also track an object across the sky but will suffer from field rotation, they are far less suitable for astrophotography as exposures will be limited to about 30 seconds. Reading the specs for the Star Adventurer Mini it suggests it's suitable for lenses of up to 100mm focal length. This may not sound a great deal but there are some very large objects up there, for example this quick shot of the Rosette and Cone was taken with a 135mm lens.

1135378956_RosetteandConeHa.thumb.JPG.aba326536ae2229f618c0333da4f0e09.JPG

The scopes you mention are not suitable for deep sky imaging, both because of the alt-az mounts and in the case of the Celestron scopes too long a focal length. I believe the 130P does not reach focus with a camera, the imaging version is the 130 pds and is quite popular. However, it would probably require an HEQ5 mount and guide scope to get the best out of it.

1 hour ago, masjstovel said:

I should add that the 2 priorities i mentioned  come pretty close together. I mean that if the telescope is perfect for observing, but doesn't work for photography visa versa, it's not that interesting to me.

Unfortunately visual and imaging scopes have very different requirements. For visual work aperture (and therefore light-gathering ability) is the most important attribute, dobsonians offer the best value for money and are often recommended. For imaging I'd recommend giving the Star Adventurer a try with your existing lenses. Everything is more forgiving at short focal lengths and it would give you the opportunity to learn the image processing skills required for AP.

Hope that's some help. 

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I reluctantly agree with Olly. I say reluctantly, because despite the advice of my betters, I did pretty much what you are thinking of doing. In my own defense, I did not start out with the specific intention of getting into astrophotography. It just turned out that way :).

I got a Skywatcher 127 Maksutov with an AltAz GoTo Wifi mount. Regardless of what I wrote above, I still maintain that it is a realy great mount (and telescope) at this pricerange. You will have hours and hours of fun with this setup. And yes, with a halfdecent digital camera and some T2 fittings, you will even be able to take some pretty cool pictures. Not only of the moon and planets (where the Mak truly shines) but also of nebulae and galaxies. Just know that your limit will be around the 20-25 second mark. Exposures longer than that, will start making trails and mess up your picture. But even with that exposure time, you can take some pretty great pictures and have a lot of fun doing it. I know *I* am :).

Here are two pictures that I have taken of the same target (Orion nebula). One is taken with my AltAz Goto mount and the other is taken with an equatorial Goto mount. I feel confident that you will be able to determine which is which without help. These are not 'showcase' pictures. I am a true novice in astrophotography. They are just to show how big a difference there is, even to a beginner like me, between the AltAz and the equatorial mount. And keep in mind that a 127mm Mak is propably the least useful telescope for a target such as this. Still, I hope you get the picture (pun intended) :).

 

 

2059360649_AltAzOrion.jpg.d032c63c27b8ac4cdb6122be0c22082e.jpg

 

1177832371_EQOrion.thumb.jpeg.f3ea86dd1287f85ecfac3212aaa71e46.jpeg

 

 

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31 minutes ago, George Gearless said:

I reluctantly agree with Olly. I say reluctantly, because despite the advice of my betters, I did pretty much what you are thinking of doing. In my own defense, I did not start out with the specific intention of getting into astrophotography. It just turned out that way :).

I got a Skywatcher 127 Maksutov with an AltAz GoTo Wifi mount. Regardless of what I wrote above, I still maintain that it is a realy great mount (and telescope) at this pricerange. You will have hours and hours of fun with this setup. And yes, with a halfdecent digital camera and some T2 fittings, you will even be able to take some pretty cool pictures. Not only of the moon and planets (where the Mak truly shines) but also of nebulae and galaxies. Just know that your limit will be around the 20-25 second mark. Exposures longer than that, will start making trails and mess up your picture. But even with that exposure time, you can take some pretty great pictures and have a lot of fun doing it. I know *I* am :).

Here are two pictures that I have taken of the same target (Orion nebula). One is taken with my AltAz Goto mount and the other is taken with an equatorial Goto mount. I feel confident that you will be able to determine which is which without help. These are not 'showcase' pictures. I am a true novice in astrophotography. They are just to show how big a difference there is, even to a beginner like me, between the AltAz and the equatorial mount. And keep in mind that a 127mm Mak is propably the least useful telescope for a target such as this. Still, I hope you get the picture (pun intended) :).

 

 

2059360649_AltAzOrion.jpg.d032c63c27b8ac4cdb6122be0c22082e.jpg

 

1177832371_EQOrion.thumb.jpeg.f3ea86dd1287f85ecfac3212aaa71e46.jpeg

 

 

Point well made, though I'm slightly sorry that your agreement is reluctant. The trouble is that the physics is very simple and cannot be refuted: over time an equatorial holds the camera in the same orientation with the sky and an alt az does not (for those of us fortunate enough not to be imaging at either of the poles... :icon_mrgreen:) It is certainly possible to work around the alt-az limitations for imaging and the thread on this subject is a worthy one, but nothing is going to persuade me that I should advise astrophotographers to use alt-az mounts if they are starting their thinking from scratch.

Olly

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If you want to have a telescope that would give you great visual experiences on a mount that would also allow you to also do some good quality imaging, you need to spend a bit more money unfortunately, and go for someting like this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-150p-ds-eq-5-pro-goto.html

If you only go for imaging you could buy a Star Advenurer mount but that will only hold a smaller (200 mm or maybe up to 300 mm) telephoto lens and a DSLR camera and would not be useful for visual. With the packages you are suggesting visual would be quite ok but trying to do imaging with them would probably only be a frustrating.

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Posted (edited)

I’m pretty new to this money pit....sorry hobby and I can’t offer to much advice but one thing I can advise is research and lots of it. 

Someone said I should buy this book and I thought yeh yeh but I did and it was absolutely brilliant advice. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

559D4928-0F1C-4D4F-A337-98A6F6AA5EF3.thumb.jpeg.3eeae60d9b18a3ca204ddcf5f52c4f9e.jpeg

 

The first thing I bought after the book was a HEQ5 mount and then I learned how to use it with just my DSLR. By the time I had decided on a scope and lots of questions and research later I was competent enough with the HEQ5 so the addition of my SW ED80 was pretty painless and not to much in one go....a nice steady learning curve to just get into it as the leaning will never stop.

Take your time and research as costly mistakes can easily be made. 

Good luck with you journey ??

Edited by Danjc

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@ollypenriceThanks alot you guys for replies. Olly: I can manage to hear the truth, so i am glad for your thoughts on the matter.

@Knight of Clear Skies Yes I've used it 1 time for Milkyway photography. My interest for getting a telescope sort of grew from that.. I got the Polar alignment, but used a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, so i cant tell about the accuracy, but i did a 240 second exposure and couldn't see any startrails or anything so i was quite satisfied. That was in september 2018. I live in Bergen, Norway.. If you're not familiar with what Bergen is known for - I can tell you that september 2018 was the last time with clear skies here. 

Anyways i would like to observe trough a telescope as well as AP, and i think it would be cheaper than getting for example a 500mm lens for my camera.

Would you reccomend getting a telescope for observing only, and keep my Star-adventurer for the AP? 

2 hours ago, gorann said:

If you want to have a telescope that would give you great visual experiences on a mount that would also allow you to also do some good quality imaging, you need to spend a bit more money unfortunately, and go for someting like this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-150p-ds-eq-5-pro-goto.html

If you only go for imaging you could buy a Star Advenurer mount but that will only hold a smaller (200 mm or maybe up to 300 mm) telephoto lens and a DSLR camera and would not be useful for visual. With the packages you are suggesting visual would be quite ok but trying to do imaging with them would probably only be a frustrating.

@gorann I studied the SkyWatcher Explorer 150p DS EQ5 PRO GoTo a little.
What exactly is the DS - "Dual Speed"? 
Would i be in the same ballpark With a SkyWatcher Explorer 150p EQ3-2, With a SkyWatcher Dual Axis drive installed? 


Again, thank you all for your replies. they're all on-topic, and very informative - I'm not used to that.

 

 

379.jpg

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Lovely photograph with both stars and cloud looking good.

I think the 'Dual Speed' will probably be referring to the focus knobs, one for coarse adjustment and one for fine.

Olly

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Yes, as Ollys says DS is Skywatchers name for their dual speed focuser so you have a fine adjustment nob inside the big nob on one side. Nice to have but not critical. However I do not think the EQ3-2 is sturdy enough for imaging. You really need an EQ5 or even HEQ5 for imaging with a telescope that size. A good combination could be an the 130P (a bit lighter) and an EQ5. However, I never used any of these so hopefully someone else can also make a comment.

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@ollypenrice Thanks alot! The fine tuning for focus or for movement?

@gorann I saw a couple of videos with the setup I described (?). I think many of these shots look pretty decent or? I see that one of the videos is With Nikon D3000 (around 500-600grams) and the other is With Canon 600D (around 600 grams). My Nikon D810 is 988 grams of weight. You think those extra 400 grams will have a negative effect?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqoHo2OgXhU,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWzSDuLg_9o



In the videos, it says for example "80x30''. The first number is the eyepiece? What is the second? 
Also it says what i presume is the exposures that are stacked together, for example "30 Dark, 30 offset, 15 flat". What does this mean? 

 

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Posted (edited)

I had a look at the video and it is far far from where you want to go in astrophotography after your first few attemps. It will rapidly limit your progress. What is shown in the video are all short exposure times on very bright objects like the moon and Orion nebula (the latter image is quite ugly in my mind - there is so much more to bring out in an Orion nebula image) and I expect you soon want to achieve more. So you will find a SkyWatcher Explorer 150p on an EQ3-2 rather limiting and frustrating as you will be limited to very short exposures and low resolution on very few objects. Even with the short exposures in that video you see that the mount is not up to the task and if you look closer the stars are not round but egg shaped. So, for going anywhere in astrophotography you need a more sturdy mount, like an EQ5 or better and HEQ5, and they would both handle and 130P better than the larger 150p.

Edited by gorann

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Previous posters have clearly stated the broadly-popular beginner's wisdom: high-quality EQ mount first, short-focal-length optics second, aperture takes a back seat.

Refractors are popular for this because they're small, light, don't require finicky collimation, and tend to be more compact. All this minimizes avoidable obstacles early on -- imaging, as it turns out, has plenty of challenges remaining!

For a given budget, a quality triplet refractor will have a much smaller aperture than its Newt or Mak stablemate. But that's fine! For imaging, that matters very very little.

Here's the secret, though: a small high-quality refractor is also a LOT OF FUN to look through! Yes, I can see dimmer objects and resolve finer details with my 11" Dob than with my 70mm Stellarvue APO. But these are improvements at the margin! I'm always blown away by the delights visible through the little scope.

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On 17/03/2019 at 23:14, masjstovel said:

 

@Knight of Clear Skies Yes I've used it 1 time for Milkyway photography. My interest for getting a telescope sort of grew from that.. I got the Polar alignment, but used a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, so i cant tell about the accuracy, but i did a 240 second exposure and couldn't see any startrails or anything so i was quite satisfied. That was in september 2018. I live in Bergen, Norway.. If you're not familiar with what Bergen is known for - I can tell you that september 2018 was the last time with clear skies here. 

Very nice Milky Way image. In terms of clouds we can certainly relate to that in the UK.

On 17/03/2019 at 23:14, masjstovel said:

Anyways i would like to observe trough a telescope as well as AP, and i think it would be cheaper than getting for example a 500mm lens for my camera.

Yes, it would make more sense to get a scope rather than a long lens for AP, I was wondering if you already had one.

On 17/03/2019 at 17:29, masjstovel said:

Would you reccomend getting a telescope for observing only, and keep my Star-adventurer for the AP? 

It depends what interests you and what your budget is, but a dobsonian for observing and Star-Adventurer for AP could be a good plan. What camera lenses do you currently own?

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Thanks again for your replies guys!

@gorann i definately see your point. Its a budget question, and i feel i must set an upper limit when i havent tried this before. Also i need to defend this for my girlfriend:D 

I've been in contact with a sky-watcher supplier whos checking out the price for a SW Explorer 150 PDS on a EQ3-2 mount as a package. They were only offering the 150p with the EQ3-2 My plan is then to just live with bad quality photos, andgo for a EQ-5 after some time. I know this is more costly way to go, but it sort of feels better to use $1400 over 4 months than $1000 in one go. You know what i mean, even if it may sound stupid?

 

I think I would prefer the 150PDS with a very cheap mount to see if this is for me, and then buy the EQ5 after some time, but i struggle with finding suppliers in Norway that offer other packages then the one i mentioned with the 150p.

@Knight of Clear Skies thanks alot!

i currently own the nikon 14-24mm f2.8, the 50mm f1.4 and a 24-75mm (f4?)

 

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Have you looked at the second hand market for a better mount?

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@spillage I have. But  without any luck. I think the Norwegian market is very small on telescopes. Unfortunately. And when i look outside the borders i have to take taxes in consideration

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There is a long thread on imaging using the eq3-2 and you can read and see what members have managed with it and gripes. The bigger the telescope the heavier it is an opportunity of it being a wind sail.

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20 hours ago, masjstovel said:

I've been in contact with a sky-watcher supplier whos checking out the price for a SW Explorer 150 PDS on a EQ3-2 mount as a package.

A few words of caution here. I haven't tried using a scope with my EQ3-2 but I have struggled when trying to use a heavy 200mm lens with it. It's not quite clear but the biggest weakness of the EQ3 may be the lightweight tripod, which may flex and ruin polar alignment. There is a thread here about imaging with this mount.

I believe you'd need a coma corrector to image with the 150 pds, is this something you've budgeted for? Also, I don't think the image circle of this scope will cover your full-frame sensor, although cropping the image down is an option.

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Posted (edited)

@Knight of Clear Skies ive decided to go for the 150 PDS with EQ5 and then add the synscan goto st another time. I made a post on the equipment beginner  forum, and were told it then would be exaclty the same performance as a EQ5 pro synscan goto. Correct?

With 9 kg limit on the mount i guess that would be stable enough with a 988grams nikon d810 added. 

No i havent even considered that. Thank you! What is a coma corrector? 

I also wonder what adaptor(s) i need to mount a Nikon full frame

Edited by masjstovel

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On 20/03/2019 at 08:02, masjstovel said:

@Knight of Clear Skies ive decided to go for the 150 PDS with EQ5 and then add the synscan goto st another time. I made a post on the equipment beginner  forum, and were told it then would be exaclty the same performance as a EQ5 pro synscan goto. Correct?

With 9 kg limit on the mount i guess that would be stable enough with a 988grams nikon d810 added. 

No i havent even considered that. Thank you! What is a coma corrector? 

I also wonder what adaptor(s) i need to mount a Nikon full frame

I think the 150 will be too much for a standard EQ5 - that requires a HEQ5 at minimum. You need to keep the weight down with the EQ5, so its either the 130pds or 80ED (or smaller.. perhaps the 72).

As a general rule of thumb for mounts at the chepaer end of the scale, your payload should not exceed 50% of the rated maximum load. A fully loaded 150pds with corrector, camera, and guider will probably take you well over 5kg which is too much for reliable and consistent guiding.

Oh, and the corrector (coma corrector) is an additional correcting lens to remove the coma/field curvature that you get from newtonian type optics - they are pretty much mandatory.

Or..

Push all the cash into an HEQ5 and use it with just the DSLR and whatever lenses you have to hand (any lens between 100-200mm will give good results). It might be worth scouring the for sale ads to see if there is one up for grabs at a knockdown price. The point of this is that you will not have to upgrade further down the line (false economy etc...) when you want to use a bigger, heavier telescope.

The mount is the heart of the setup, get it right first time :) 

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Posted (edited)
On 19/03/2019 at 14:52, masjstovel said:

@spillage I have. But  without any luck. I think the Norwegian market is very small on telescopes. Unfortunately. And when i look outside the borders i have to take taxes in consideration

I feel your pain here but with a little patience there are some good deals to be had on FINN.

Anyway, the point of my message was to let you know before you jump into the 150PDS perhaps you would like to contact me. I live in the Bergen area and could offer some advice on the route to take (more like not to take) based on my experience. I’ve gone through a similar thought process as you and if I could go through it all again I would do it all differently.

I’m not joking when I say I’ve got all the gear and no idea! I have accumulated a vast amount of gear that is way beyond my capabilities and it is having a negative impact on my progress. Right now I have more equipment than images!

 

I have the HEQ5 and Star Adventurer mounts. In terms of telescopes and lenses I have a SkyWatcher Esprit 100ED, SharpStar 60ED, SkyWatcher 90mm mak, Samyang 135mm and Samyang 14mm. Cameras I have a Nikon D600, Canon 500D and a ZWO ASI1600mm. 

I would  be happy to meet you and show you it all so you can get a feel for it. Plus, I’m probably looking to offload some stuff as I can’t justify keeping it all. PM me if your interested. 

 

Chris

Edited by Icesheet
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