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So you think clouds are problem!


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Hello all, 

As a camera club photographer with 20 years of dabbling in almost every genre, and after spending half a dozen nights imaging and then processing Milky Way and star trails with a full frame DSLR and decided that in my retirement I was going to become better acquainted with the rest of the universe. Well, if only it were that simple.......

I've now spent a week or more over the last couple of months watching numerous you tube vids and loving the wonders that are captured by talented individuals who generously share their experience with the uninitiated. 

On the basis that I don't want to spend more than is necessary, but don't want spend too little buying  equipment that isn't going to give me acceptable results any guidance would be welcome.

So far I think I need an equatorial goto mount, a triplet refractor, a mono camera , a filter wheel and filters and a guide scope.

The six million dollar question I suppose, is what do I want to image, and the answer is I don't know yet. I am attracted to galaxies, and nebulae, but I suppose that it would be remiss not to look at other objects as well. Presumably with the right mount and connectors and perhaps a second shorter focal length scope, wider field images could also be taken.

I am not averse to buying used if that helps me achieve more versatility for my budget which is around £3.5k

I understand I've a long way to go from novice to achieving results that I will be happy with, but we all have to start somewhere. Oh and I realise that there will be many frustrations of user error  to encounter and also other accessories that I am blissfully unaware of that will become the next must have in search of Nirvana, but how else would I spend my retirement?

So I know one day clouds will be my problem, as well as light pollution, but for now not knowing what to buy is what I'm finding insurmountable. Your suggestions are eagerly awaited

Edited by Rayand
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Hi and welcome to SGL.

Fact that you decided to go down triplet refractor route does pose a problem. Refractors, especially triplets are expensive scopes and if you want to shoot a bit of everything, well, then you want larger refractor.

Something with about 120-130mm of aperture. These instruments don't come cheap. You want very good mount as well. I'm not sure I would be able to put together rig that will suit your needs and wants within a given budget.

Let's give it a go, "bare minimum" for what you need:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/sky-watcher-heq5-pro-with-rowan-belt-mod-upgrade.html

With FTDI cable that is roughly ~£1000

Refractor in 4"/100mm class will set you back additional ~£1500, here are some offers:

https://www.altairastro.com/altair-wave-series-102mm-f7-super-ed-triplet-apo-102715-452-p.asp

https://www.altairastro.com/altair-wave-series-115-f7-ed-triplet-apo-453-p.asp

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/esprit-professional-refractors.html

Another ~£1000-1200 for mono CMOS camera:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi-183mm-pro-usb-3-cooled-mono-camera.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi1600mm-pro-usb-3-mono-camera.html

And there goes your budget ... We still did not look at field flattener/reducer £200-300, filters (Baader 1.25" LRGB set for £200 and £250 for Narrow band set), Filter wheel (£175 electronic), Motor focuser (well, if you have electronic filter wheel, then why not motor focuser as well), guide scope and camera another £300 or so ...

Various adapters ...

Easily £5000 or more.

In order to hit your budget, I would say we need to cut corners here and there. If you want to do it all, I would say maybe instead get this scope:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-150p-ds-ota.html

It is £230 and more aperture while having good focal length for general work - 750mm. You'll need coma corrector with it, but that is another £130.

You can also save up if you don't get narrowband set of filters right away, get manual filter wheel and skip motor focuser.

Get above mount (heq5) and camera (ASI1600), guide scope and camera and you are roughly in your budget range.

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Hm, if you are after triplet refractor - than have a look at this:

just be careful - that scope is going to push Heq5 to its limits, it really needs a bit heavier mount.

It is the scope I was initially going to recommend, but new is rather more expensive than those listed above.

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IF you're wondering what kind of images you can expect to be able to achieve with any particular scope/camera combo, then astrobin is your friend.

Astrobin is a repository for astrophotography images, and it's searchable, so for example if you want to see what kind of images you could get from a 150pds the Vlaiv mentions above:

  • go to https://www.astrobin.com/ and make yourself an account
  • on the home page, click Explore at the top
  • then the big wall/advanced search
  • click show filters, then input "150pds" into the search terms box

This will bring up all images that have 150pds listed in the imaging equipment, clicking on the thumbnails brings up the image plus all the capture details.

 

 

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Welcome. I can’t help at all with imaging equipment but others will and, I see, already are.

Just a thought, don’t let any perceived frustration get you down. It’s meant to be fun so enjoy yourself on the journey ... 🙂

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Personally I'd stay away from mono as a beginner. The cost and processing requirements will soon become tiresome, not to mention the 3-4 times imaging time required over OSC and lets face it, the UK weather is crap at the best of times for AP.

My recommendation would be this

80mm Triplet, many about and you don't need to spend over £1000 for a good one + £150 or so for a flattener/reducer

EQ6R-Pro mount - this will serve you well for the future and cope with larger 130 refractors without issue - £1200

OSC Camera like an ASI533 - No amp glow for easier integration - £900

ZWO EAF or Sesto Senso focuser - £200

Optolong L-Pro for Galaxies and IDAS NBX for Nebulae - £400

50mm Guide Scope + ASI120mini - £180

Pegasus Pocket Power Box + PSU £200

Dew Heaters - £50

 

Prices are rough but close, total approx £4280

You could manually focus, save there, you could get a cheaper OSC, 2nd hand ASI183 for example, cheaper mount (really not worth it, spend your money here!)

 

Hope that helps?

 

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What camera kit do you already own? If it includes a reasonable focal length telephoto (300mm and above) then the scope and new camera purchase could be put on the back burner for a while. Use what you've already got together with an equatorial mount and possibly guide scope/camera to get started and see where that takes you.

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4 minutes ago, Seelive said:

What camera kit do you already own? If it includes a reasonable focal length telephoto (300mm and above) then the scope and new camera purchase could be put on the back burner for a while. Use what you've already got together with an equatorial mount and possibly guide scope/camera to get started and see where that takes you.

 

I second that: a telephoto lens is great for a lot of the larger deep sky objects. The most important equipment needed is the equatorial mount to allow for longer exposures. Here is a modest example taken with camera and telephoto lens:

Andromeda.thumb.jpg.4fb95d0b875bdf0719300b4fec9f3de1.jpg

 

I took this image with Canon 250D and old Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 lens using EQ5 with RA motor.

Cost of DSLR: £500, Lens: £300 (second hand from ebay), EQ5 mount plus motors: £350 (from FLO)

There were just 10 exposures of 30 seconds at 800ISO (clouds interrupted). I stacked these 10 images in Deepskystacker and then cropped and played with the curves in GIMP.

The image is too noisy  and there are far far better ones. I just want to illustrate that even with modest and relatively cheap equipment it's possible to capture a lot of stuff in the sky and have fun.  

Clear skies!

Nikolay

 

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Before spending any money buy yourself This book and read it at least twice. You will inevitably have more questions so come back and we'll try to answer them.

Beware: it's very easy to end up spending a lot of money, only to have to go back and start again if you're not careful

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33 minutes ago, DaveS said:

Before spending any money buy yourself This book and read it at least twice. You will inevitably have more questions so come back and we'll try to answer them.

Beware: it's very easy to end up spending a lot of money, only to have to go back and start again if you're not careful

+1 for this book 👍

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