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Your astro imaging top tips?


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I’m thinking about dipping a toe into the fun and games of Astro imaging.

So, all you successful imagers out there, what is the one thing you wished someone had told you before getting started?

Thanks, G

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5 hours ago, GSmith said:

I’m thinking about dipping a toe into the fun and games of Astro imaging.

So, all you successful imagers out there, what is the one thing you wished someone had told you before getting started?

Thanks, G

Well you do seem to have a sense of humour which is a good start. If you still have it after you’ve lost the toe be prepared for the foot, leg and the rest to quickly follow. Along with the dwindling bank account when you wake up one day & realise you have a hungry Obsy to feed!

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13 hours ago, GSmith said:

I’m thinking about dipping a toe into the fun and games of Astro imaging.

So, all you successful imagers out there, what is the one thing you wished someone had told you before getting started?

Thanks, G

Don't get started. 😉

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Decent mount/GOTO/ keep below f10/ try for az/eq type mount, az easier to get you going, then you can always switch the mount to EQ when familiar with it.

One Shot Colour Camera, Bhatinov Mask for focus, power supply.

And be prepared for frustrating clouds most of the year & a Moon lighting the sky up

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Just now, Planitair said:

Decent mount/GOTO/ keep below f10 for a scope/ try for az/eq type mount, az easier to get you going, then you can always switch the mount to EQ when familiar with it.

One Shot Colour Camera, Bhatinov Mask for focus, power supply.

And be prepared for frustrating clouds most of the year & a Moon lighting the sky up

 

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21 hours ago, GSmith said:

one thing you wished someone had told you

Join an astro club or contact locals who are already on the road to bankruptcy, see the equipment you need, how to use it and so always have someone on hand to tell you what you've done wrong when it doesn't work. No amount of reading is gonna get you anywhere near hands on;)

And @bobro's recommendation notwithstanding, that's advice from someone who is already in Spain!

Cheers

Edited by alacant
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Don't leave trying to use your equipment for the first time on the actual day there is a clear sky.

Practice and learn inside where it's warm and when it's cloudy outside.

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Mine may be a minority opinion but I hold it none the less, and spend a lot of time with beginners. Buy a good mount and autoguide from day one. Keep to a short focal length and, if you possibly can, miss out the DSLR stage and go straight to a cooled CMOS camera. 

Olly

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There's already alot of sound advice on here and alot of people advise for astrophotography the mount is probably most important.

One thing I have learned is to decide my target first before even setting up and stick with it. Data is what were after and when I first started I'd bouce around taking about half an hour's worth of data on several different targets and just have rubbish images. 

Data is key, spend a whole night or two on the same target.

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I'd say start big and spend more than you're comfortable to spend (without bankrupting yourself) and start experimenting, researching as much as you can and basically become obsessed by the hobby until you're coming out with the kind of images that your hoping for.... my theory is that if you spend that much or complex gear, you'll be PUSHED into mastering the hardware because it COST YOU HEAPS, selling it will be a waste of a lot of money and once you have successes, you already have the bigger mount and scope without needing to upgrade....

I started with a 8" SCT at f10.. needless to say, it was a massive learning curve and it took a while but now I'm coming out with images that I'm happy with... and the big spend kept me hungry, outside almost every clear night and researching the hobby during the "cloudy nights"... to be honest I've also spent a lot of time at work on the hobby instead of doing actual work.... I did become (almost unhealthly) obsessive for a while.... until I produced my first decent image, the Horsehead nebula... now my obsession is more of the healthy nature.

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Expect disappointment and frustration for a least the first couple of nights. 

Oh, and set up and use plate solving software from day one!

1 hour ago, ollypenrice said:

Mine may be a minority opinion but I hold it none the less, and spend a lot of time with beginners. Buy a good mount and autoguide from day one. Keep to a short focal length and, if you possibly can, miss out the DSLR stage and go straight to a cooled CMOS camera. 

Olly

Did three of those, so at least I'm doing something right 🙃

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Lots of this is personal preference, but if cost is a concern, you can definitely get started more cheaply if you're prepared to buy second hand and can wait a while to build up a collection of kit. I actually think a modded 2nd hand DSLR (for <£200) is a superb camera to get started with.

To echo other advice, don't be tempted to try to save money on a mount. Some people obtain good results with cheaper mounts, but most of those people know how to tune their mount - for a beginner, get a HEQ5 and you'll do fine!

Finally, treat image processing as a first class part of the hobby. I was very excited to capture my first set of data, only to realize I had no idea what to do next. It's a topic in itself, but there are numerous tools, with numerous pros and cons, at various price points. People obtain good results with many of them, but it's worth working out what your priorities are and finding something you're happy with and can spend some time mastering.

 

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Some good advice here, specifically regarding a good mount.

I would agree that if you can stretch to it, a cooled camera is a good option. I did do some DSLR imaging but the processing was a pain due to banding issues and the need to take darks at the right temperature. Having a darks library gives better images and gives more imaging time on the night. AP is hard enough without making it harder....

 

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