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Hi all,

There is a TL;DR at the bottom for those who want to skip the background info.

Last year I bought myself a Skymax127 and an EQ-5 mount for viewing, knowing at some point I was going to want to dip my toe into AP, felt the mount was overkill for what I wanted but also had the idea at some point I was going to upgrade my scope at least in the future depending on what I wanted to do. I was not disappointed with my upgrade, my previous scope I was using was the Bresser 70/700 refractor that was available from Lidl that was bought for me while I was quite young, which sat for years unused, so anything would likely have been a step up from that. It got me really interested in the hobby and kept me entertained for a couple of years, looking at the moon every other month while I decided what I wanted to do with my life after having finished my final year of schooling and A-Levels.

I've been enjoying the views with the MCT but wishing to dabble with imaging, I bought a phone mount and have been playing about with that, using the pro settings on my phone (Galaxy S8+) snapping some of the moon and trying to get some of Jupiter and Saturn when they were visible. I'm not that let down by the quality of the moon images but they could definitely have used some stacking as there is a very clear lack of crispness (is this a word? I hope you all understand what I mean) in the single frame photos I was getting. I have attached one of these single lunar frames to show you all.

IMG_20190521_130508_416.jpg.1ccbbd7efed5bb135fbe92745866f592.jpg

My problem with continuing to use the mobile phone is that I can never seem to get a stackable video from my phone of the planets due to the inability to record with variable ISO and shutter speed. I am forced to record using automated settings which always (literally every single time) resulted in a huge glaring white dot in the photo now what way I worked the settings of the stacking software.

So, I have been continuing to use the setup for viewing but with the setback of being left with the phone camera and limited knowledge of the software and how to use it, I kinda started getting the idea of AP out of my head. I know I was likely doing something wrong here but as I was in the middle of my degree, I didn't really have the time to invest to learn the software thoroughly.

Now that the planets are coming back into view and my degree is finished for good (all being well) in a little over two weeks (16 days to be exact) I would very much like to get a bit more serious about it again, and being cooped up with nothing else to do I'm getting pretty hyped about the idea.

TL;DR

Scope: Skymax 127 MCT

Mount: Manual EQ-5

Imaging: Samsung Galaxy S8+ with mount and shutterwire

So with all that boring and possibly unnecessary information out of the way, would anybody be able to help a beginner out:

  1. Is there any recommendations for what I can do, read or watch to help me fully understand the software? I have tried using Registax but as I'm running into my problems here, I don't really get much further and onto anything else. Any other software you would all recommend?
  2. I'm thinking of upping my imaging capabilities to a much less restricted DSLR. I have been playing with the idea of getting a Canon 4000D or 2000D body only as I'm not interested in landscape photography (could very well be swayed to it though) and also since I'm still living a mostly broke student life, I can't exactly splash out on the gear at the moment so cutting financial corners where think I can (I know I'm not in the hobby to cut financial corners so hoping this is only going to be a temporary setback). Any others you all could recommend with a reasonable price or is this even necessary and could I still get by using this phone camera and mount for the time being?
  3. I know there's an entire sky full of things to look at but for now I'm okay with lunar and planetary, mostly because of how limited I am with the 127 being a F/11.81, making it a slow scope but also because I have the goal of having a decent image of at least one of the planets and a lovely crisp mineral moon image by the end of the summer season. I'm open (already considering) to the idea of a OnStep (be it homemade or bought) or other GoTo tracking addons that will be required if it gets me closer to my goal.
  4. I'm at quite a loss for other things to use in terms of equipment... Eyepieces, Barlows, Filters... that sort of thing so absolutely no idea where to start with them mainly because I never cared enough when I first bought this scope, and that's my bad, feel like I did make a mistake here not learning about these sooner. Any recommendations of where I can learn about them and what the best ones to be for my goal?

Any tips or am I in way over my head here?

Edited by TheDoogsAstro
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First thing is get a camera app like Open Camera or Camera FV5 Pro which will give you proper control of your smartphones camera. FV5 gives you more options than Open Camera but costs a few £.

Yes a proper astro camera with a laptop to capture images will be far better but obviously more expensive and you’ll need a barlow and a focal reducer.

A single frame image of the moon taken with smartphone and Open Camera using an f/10 refractor.

47D013AE-7280-4ED4-81C2-1317BE9659E6.jpeg

Edited by johninderby
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