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Help needed - beginner Telescope for Astrophotography


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I've been doing visual observations for a few years now with an AZ mount. I'm planning on getting more serious about it and want to try astrophotography. 

I'm planning on getting the HEQ5 with SynScan, but I'm still unsure about the telescope. I'm mainly planning on doing DSO.

 I was originally planning on getting the Evostar 120, but as it wasn't the "ED" version, I was told it wasn't great for DSO photography. I later started looking at reflectors as they were a lot cheaper for the same *performance*. Specifically the Explorer 150PDS, 200P and the 200PDS. 

Yet again I was told I shouldn't get any of those as reflectors aren't great for beginners in astrophotography. Hard to maintain and use for photography in general, for a beginner at least. 

I'm currently looking at the Evostar 80ED, but it's a bit over my budget. I'm only 17. I'm still really considering the 200P or the 200PDS and maybe the Evostar 80ED if someone gives me a good reason to go for it. 

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Ivar, Norway. 

Edited by Ivar
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IMO, the 200 is a bit the limit for the HEQ5. I use a 150p on mine and it's a great setup. 

But I concur that a reflector is slighly more complex to master than a refractor. Yet, I also have a Skywatcher ED80 I used as a first imaging scope, and there is really no comparison between the two! The frac doesn't get much use, nowadays. 

All the best, 

Fabio

 

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1 hour ago, joe aguiar said:

Remember to budget for u may need auto guilder camera focal reducer compater(laptop)software, powertanks etc.

AP is alot more complex and expensive 

Joejaguar 

Yeah, I'm aware. I think I have covered most of these already. I know autoguiding is pretty useful for longer exposures, but is it really needed for the first year or so while I learn the basics? I feel like it's something I can add later on if needed.

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2 hours ago, FaDG said:

IMO, the 200 is a bit the limit for the HEQ5. I use a 150p on mine and it's a great setup. 

But I concur that a reflector is slighly more complex to master than a refractor. Yet, I also have a Skywatcher ED80 I used as a first imaging scope, and there is really no comparison between the two! The frac doesn't get much use, nowadays. 

All the best, 

Fabio

 

Do you use autoguiding? Also, the max recommended weight for astrophotography on the HEQ5 is 10kg I believe. The 200pds is 8kg + camera 0.6kg. I didn't really think it would be an issue as I didn't intend to use autoguiding for at least the first year. The weight of the autoguiding may cause an issue later. I'm not sure how much that stuff weighs tho. So yeah, the 150pds may be a good option, thanks.

I really wanted to have the 200mm though. How much of a difference is it between having a 150mm compared to a 200mm? I'm not expecting you to have any good examples, but just in case you have some insight on that.

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I currently use a Skywatcher 200p with an EQ5 mount. I haven't really run into many issues but it can't really be balanced in declination due to the weight of the camera and guidescope. As a first scope for astrophotography, I would recommed to start of with something with a shorter focal lenght. It gives you more margin for error in any tracking than if you turn up the magnification while you get used to perfecting mount balance, polar alginment and getting the camera set up correctly.

 

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50 minutes ago, CloudMagnet said:

I currently use a Skywatcher 200p with an EQ5 mount. I haven't really run into many issues but it can't really be balanced in declination due to the weight of the camera and guidescope. As a first scope for astrophotography, I would recommed to start of with something with a shorter focal lenght. It gives you more margin for error in any tracking than if you turn up the magnification while you get used to perfecting mount balance, polar alginment and getting the camera set up correctly.

 

I think the tracking will be a lot better with a 150PDS on a HEQ5 mount, (with or without guiding). 

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It will be yes. So if it can be done on an EQ5 with a 200p then there is no reason why you cant do it on the HEQ5. There normally is rule of thumb that your setup should be around half the weight of the total load limit of the mount. I am running near the limit of the EQ5 and it hasnt been too bad so i think you could get away with the 200 as well.

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14 minutes ago, CloudMagnet said:

It will be yes. So if it can be done on an EQ5 with a 200p then there is no reason why you cant do it on the HEQ5. There normally is rule of thumb that your setup should be around half the weight of the total load limit of the mount. I am running near the limit of the EQ5 and it hasnt been too bad so i think you could get away with the 200 as well.

Alright, thanks for your input. It's really tricky to start out, appreciate all the information I can get!

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If you're going to stick to reflectors (and lots of people do!) then I would strongly suggest going down the off-axis guider route if you need to do guiding. It may require a more sensitive camera than a guidescope but it's a lighter solution and mostly immune to differential flexure, and with modern CMOS cameras it's not a big deal to get sensitive enough.

For DSOs, a reflector will give you more aperture for your money, and it's probably the way to go. On a HEQ5 I'd probably stick to a 150, but well-balanced you might get away with a 200.

You will need to collimate so include that in your budgeting. A decent laser (and a Barlow if you've not already got one, so you can do the Barlowed laser trick) and a sight tube are all you need to do a pretty good job of things. Other than that, Newts aren't that hard to care for. If you're in a cold area then a cheap dew shield will eliminate most/all dew issues, but you may need a heater if you add a coma corrector down the line.

This blog post I wrote sums up most of my learnings from being an AP newbie through to being vaguely "sorted": https://www.talkunafraid.co.uk/2019/02/how-to-fail-at-astrophotography/ - I've since "fixed" my flexure issue with some custom guide tube rings and replaced my focuser, but I've not really added anything else and I can make halfway decent images (some of which are at https://www.astrobin.com/users/discardedastro/ but more on this place). The focuser was a huge improvement - I wouldn't say you have to do that at the outset but if you can get a cheap focus motor and a dual-speed focuser to fit it to (the 200PDS and Sesto Senso or ZWO focus motor are good options) it'll change your software control.

Getting the mount into software control is a huge win - this is easily done with an eqmod cable. The open source software stack is these days very good - INDI/KStars will get you a very long way and it'll save you a bunch over things like SGP/SharpCap/etc. Once you get the mount pointing itself and plate solving locally you'll find it much easier to get things framed and focused.

It is a tricky thing to start in but it's an awesome hobby, at least if you ask me - you will be able to achieve great things with any of the scopes listed. The only real limit is to avoid non-APO refractors, at least for DSO work - there's no real fix for chromatic aberration. But awesome astrophotography is done at all scales of cost and scope - don't feel you have to splurge on a huge scope to get fantastic results. I'd absolutely go for a smaller scope (though I'd stick to the Newts) and appoint it well in terms of tools and accessories. Those are all portable, so if you fancy an upgrade, you won't throw it all away!

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21 minutes ago, discardedastro said:

If you're going to stick to reflectors (and lots of people do!) then I would strongly suggest going down the off-axis guider route if you need to do guiding. It may require a more sensitive camera than a guidescope but it's a lighter solution and mostly immune to differential flexure, and with modern CMOS cameras it's not a big deal to get sensitive enough.

For DSOs, a reflector will give you more aperture for your money, and it's probably the way to go. On a HEQ5 I'd probably stick to a 150, but well-balanced you might get away with a 200.

You will need to collimate so include that in your budgeting. A decent laser (and a Barlow if you've not already got one, so you can do the Barlowed laser trick) and a sight tube are all you need to do a pretty good job of things. Other than that, Newts aren't that hard to care for. If you're in a cold area then a cheap dew shield will eliminate most/all dew issues, but you may need a heater if you add a coma corrector down the line.

This blog post I wrote sums up most of my learnings from being an AP newbie through to being vaguely "sorted": https://www.talkunafraid.co.uk/2019/02/how-to-fail-at-astrophotography/ - I've since "fixed" my flexure issue with some custom guide tube rings and replaced my focuser, but I've not really added anything else and I can make halfway decent images (some of which are at https://www.astrobin.com/users/discardedastro/ but more on this place). The focuser was a huge improvement - I wouldn't say you have to do that at the outset but if you can get a cheap focus motor and a dual-speed focuser to fit it to (the 200PDS and Sesto Senso or ZWO focus motor are good options) it'll change your software control.

Getting the mount into software control is a huge win - this is easily done with an eqmod cable. The open source software stack is these days very good - INDI/KStars will get you a very long way and it'll save you a bunch over things like SGP/SharpCap/etc. Once you get the mount pointing itself and plate solving locally you'll find it much easier to get things framed and focused.

It is a tricky thing to start in but it's an awesome hobby, at least if you ask me - you will be able to achieve great things with any of the scopes listed. The only real limit is to avoid non-APO refractors, at least for DSO work - there's no real fix for chromatic aberration. But awesome astrophotography is done at all scales of cost and scope - don't feel you have to splurge on a huge scope to get fantastic results. I'd absolutely go for a smaller scope (though I'd stick to the Newts) and appoint it well in terms of tools and accessories. Those are all portable, so if you fancy an upgrade, you won't throw it all away!

oh man, thanks a lot!

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A few mixed answer to specific points in previous posts:

3 hours ago, Ivar said:

Do you use autoguiding?

Yes, definitely. Life is too short to lose frames due to trailing. I wouldn't run my 72ED @ 320mm unguided, let alone the 150/750! And by no means a 200!

3 hours ago, Ivar said:

I really wanted to have the 200mm though

Feel free to try, but be informed that I bought my HEQ5 second hand from a guy that wasn't satisfied of its performance with a 200p. For me it's just magical with my 150.

Additionally to the collimator mentioned above, you'll find a coma corrector quite a must. 

Warning if going the OAG route. Most newtons don't have enough backfocus for that. My 150p not for sure, more so with the comacorr. 

And, depending on where you live, filters might be in order. I image from the centre of Rome, so narrowband is the only way 

Edited by FaDG
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Yeah, I live in the middle of Oslo so I will probably need a light pollution lens. Have a cabin out in the forrest, that's been my main astronomy point for years now so I guess that's fine. I'll be sure to get a comacorrector as well. Think I'll stick to normal guiding as it sounds way simpler haha. Thanks. 

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A small refractor such as a 72mm or 80mm ED will work well. There are plenty of choices out there,  they have an easier learning curve and are easier on the mount.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pro-series/skywatcher-evostar-80ed-ds-pro-outfit.html

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p4964_TS-Optics-ED-102-mm-f-7-Refractor-Telescope-with-2-5--R-P-focuser.html

I have seen great results on those short focal length reflectors (F4) that are available at good prices. You need a coma corrector as well  You are looking at the best part of £600 for a 8" scope with corrector. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pro-series/skywatcher-quattro-f4-imaging-newtonian.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pro-series/skywatcher-f4-aplanatic-coma-corrector.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/coma-correctors/baader-mpcc.html

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