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Hi All! 

I am currently in the market for getting a new telescope, as I have outgrown my current one (celestron 130eq). I own a DSLR camera already and have been experimenting with some astrophotography (first stage of getting addicted). Over the last few months  I  have now developed an urge to purchase a telescope that will allow me to take semi-decent deep space photos (Second stage of addition). The crux: I have a fairly limited budged, of around $ 1,000-$1,500 AUD, but I can't seem to find one that fits within the scope (pun not intended) of astrophotography.  After doing some research, it seems that the ED80 is a great option, however, I can't find a EQ mount that will not exceed the limits of my budget. If anyone has any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated. 


Disclaimer: I already have a DSLR and T-ring (not included in the budget). 

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I think you've picked the right path but possibly the wrong budget :) An NEQ6 Pro sold for £550 a few days ago which would be your whole budget. ED80s pop up for about £350 quite regularly. If I was you I would spend the money on the mount and just use your DSLR on it until you can afford an ED80 as well

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Astro Photography on a tight budget is not easy but many have been very successful.

I am not sure if astro things down under are more expensive than UK so not sure how far that will stretch. Your top limit equates to around £850 which without the camera would give you a good start. 
Personally I would spend a good 2/3rds on the mount (you need a stable tracking mount) if you can which here would get you a 2nd hand HEQ5 (around £500) which is a perfect start and if looked after many go no further than them HEQ5. Only reason I did was because the weight got a little too much for it otherwise I was perfectly happy with it.

That leaves around £350 which would get you an ED80. However, I suspect prices in Austrailia will be higher that UK so maybe not possible and in that case as @JSeaman suggests I would use your available budget just on the mount and go for a HEQ5 / NEQ6 or similar and as said that would be a really good platform for AP, use what you currently have to start and get some images then save for the scope and other bits to add later.

So with your DSLR that gets you going and with a well polar aligned mount you should get pretty good 3 min subs without any major star trails.

I had a similar setup for at least a year before moving into guiding and a dedicated astro camera.

The, again personal preference save up a bit and try to get a guide scope and guide cam, if available 2nd hand then in UL this would be around £150, no need for a dedicated camera to take some great images. Now with the guide camera you will be able to take subs of 5 to 10 minutes easily.


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5 hours ago, BathamJ said:

I  have now developed an urge to purchase a telescope that will allow me to take semi-decent deep space photos

This will require a computerised tracking mount (never cheap!) possibly moving the telescope from your existing setup onto it and also a system for guiding the mount. While many people forget to include the cost of this in their considerations, it is not cheap either. Guiding will need at least another small camera and also a computer / laptop to run the software and control the mount. Plus cabling and power supply.

I would suggest having a look on the iceinspace forum. It is Australian and will give you better information about the local costs, vendors and also the second hand market in your country.

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Hi and welcome to SGL.

If you want to get very basic setup that will allow for AP, then here is the list of things to get:

- EQ5 mount

- RA tracking motor for EQ5. If you have DIY skills, you can save some money there by purchasing stepper motor and making controller to drive it at sidereal rate.

- 150PDS

- SW coma corrector

According to FLO prices that will cost:

£265 + £119 + £229 + £129 = £742 = ~ $1313.77 AUD

I included dual axis motor with hand controller that costs a bit more, but I'm sure you can add tracking motor in DIY for less money.

This will be very basic setup, but will enable you to get a bit longer exposures and as you say - get to stage 2.

You can easily add guiding to this setup on budget as well. Dual axis motor that I linked already has ST4 port and you'll get 6x30 finder which you can convert to little guide scope - again some DIY - should be fairly easy if you have access to 3D printer. Modified web cam can be used for guiding so that should not set you back much. Probably biggest cost will be that of laptop if you don't own one already.

A lot can be saved if you are prepared to go second hand, or DIY some things, or use combination of gear that might not provide you with best experience (like not getting full goto version but just getting regular mount and adding tracking motors). In any case, here is list of items I made original list with - so you can check local prices and availability:





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Thank you all so much for your help, I really appreciate it. Hopefully I can come across a cheaper second hand HEQ6/NEQ6, otherwise, i think the idea of doing some DIY may be the route (This way i can at least have the opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of the set up, as well as trouble shoot for the future). Again, i really appreciate the strong response from you all, as well as your valuable ideas. 


Kind regards,

BathamJ :)

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BathamJ, where do you see yourself going with imaging ?

The reason I ask is that we see a lot of posts similar to yours, where you try to fit the equipment to a low budget (and by low I mean for the arena that you are entering - Imaging really isn't cheap when compared to visual).  Often people like Vlaiv will do a lot of groundwork for you and suggest various options that fit the budget...with compromises such as entry level drives and DIY options. It will give you a working result, and I agree with his suggestions.... But the point I am trying to make is that sometimes it better to make the budget fit the equipment rather than vice-versa.

Often people (myself included) end up regretting not getting the rig they need for the one that fits the budget.  It tends to cost you more in the end as even purchasing the next mount up secondhand and the selling a perfectly decent hardly used mount you purchased a few months earlier cost you more than if you had purchased the package from the dealer in the first place.  To a degree I would say the mount is more important than the scope when it comes to imaging, so I would suggest you look at the HEQ5 as the most versatile mount.  It's sturdy enough to handle a 200mm F5 scope with cameras attached, yet still be manageable to make its suitable for taking to a dark site if you live in a town.  It has the higher precision stepper motors and controller.  The Goto function is a bonus...  With a 150PDS you have more options for guide scopes and cameras so if you do upgrade you won't need to upgrade the mount as well when you come to add additional equipment.

Don't rule out second hand.  I picked up my HEQ5 second hand, along with  an ST80 guides scope fitted with a QHY5 camera for a very reasonable price, but selling the 6 month old EQ5 pro goto mount, tripod and handset still didn't cover the cost of the secondhand gear, but it would have been an excellent way to get the original mount that I should have aimed for originally.  I know we could always extrapolate this, always suggesting the next mount up, EQ6, EQ8 etc, but respectively you then enter a different league altogether when spending £3000 on a mount.

DIY is the other option... There are things out there such as AstroEQ that provide the alternative to a synscan upgrade.  It all depends on your ability and outlook.  There are people who love to spend hours tinkering on old cars and making their own parts to replace long gone obsolete originals, then there's those who just want to jump in and drive without worrying too much about what's under the hood... 

The other factor is location.   You mentioned being in Australia, so it could be that you have access to really dark skies, so a 150pds could outperform a 200pds from a UK town.    So lots to consider  

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