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EQ Questions - newbie :D


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I am currently doing visual astronomy and have an AZ mount but have been more seriously considering different scopes as potential upgrades recently as well as their needed mounting options. For one of them to mount AZ I have been recommended a Skytee2 but another option would be an EQ5.

However, I don't have any direct experience of EQ mounts other than an understanding of the basics of what they are etc. from books so I can only apologize if my questions may be a bit silly!

- With the UK being cloud cover rich I often just throw my current scope out on its AZ mount and its effectively ready to go, is an EQ mounted telescope likely much more time consuming for quick sessions?

- I don't always have access to Polaris due to large trees, will this be a big issue? 

- I usually have to move around the garden a lot (due to the aforementioned trees), presumably I don't need to reset the polar alignment every time? 

- From an AZ perspective I do enjoy sometimes just slewing around to locate thing, is an EQ mount able to operate in a similar way or is it more restricted?

- The telescope I am considering is about 7-8kg OTA, would I ever be able to feasibly use the mount with motor drives for some (very) limited astrophotography if I wanted to maybe try that?

 

Edited by wibblefish
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10 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

With the UK being cloud cover rich I often just throw my current scope out on its AZ mount and its effectively ready to go, is an EQ mounted telescope likely much more time consuming for quick sessions?

Just a bit more time consuming - depending on how much precision you want.

You can roughly polar align and then you can track in one axis (slow motion track) - for limited amount of time before you need to issue correction in DEC axis as well

11 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

I don't always have access to Polaris due to large trees, will this be a big issue? 

Depends how accurate you want your polar align to be. You can get by with simple compass and roughly leveled tripod. This means that you'll be able to track objects in one axis with again - small corrections in DEC axis from time to time.

12 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

- I usually have to move around the garden a lot (due to the aforementioned trees), presumably I don't need to reset the polar alignment every time? 

Every time. Every time you move the mount, you'll need to do rough (or precise) polar alignment

13 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

From an AZ perspective I do enjoy sometimes just slewing around to locate thing, is an EQ mount able to operate in a similar way or is it more restricted?

You can just slew around with EQ as well - motion of the mount is somewhat unintuitive until you get the hang of it. Afterwards - it becomes natural (like tying shoe laces or riding a bike).

14 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

The telescope I am considering is about 7-8kg OTA, would I ever be able to feasibly use the mount with motor drives for some (very) limited astrophotography if I wanted to maybe try that?

Yes - very limited astrophotography - yes, no problem. You'll be limited in max exposure length for example - that will be determined by your polar alignment and mount precision. If you add some sort of guiding - you'll be able to do a bit longer exposures. For AP though - you'll need as precise polar alignment as you can get. There are techniques for doing that even if Polaris can't be seen (drift align for example).

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9 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

Many thanks @vlaiv I am just trying to decide if (presuming I get a tripod mounted scope) getting an EQ would be more future proof than an AZ :)

If you are planning to do AP in the future then EQ is more accurate, if you are going to stick with visual then IMO AZ is much more convenient.

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6 minutes ago, banjaxed said:

If you are planning to do AP in the future then EQ is more accurate, if you are going to stick with visual then IMO AZ is much more convenient.

I honestly can't see myself doing more than playing with AP at the moment just to see what it might be able to do, I certainly don't have the pennies to invest right now!

My other concern with the EQ mount is that with a nearly 8kg OTA (then add star diagonals / eyepeices presumably) I would be verging quite close to the maximum weight limit of 9kg whereas something like the Skytee is I think a 10kg capacity? 

Edited by wibblefish
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15 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

I am currently doing visual astronomy and have an AZ mount but have been more seriously considering different scopes as potential upgrades recently as well as their needed mounting options. For one of them to mount AZ I have been recommended a Skytee2 but another option would be an EQ5.

However, I don't have any direct experience of EQ mounts other than an understanding of the basics of what they are etc. from books so I can only apologize if my questions may be a bit silly!

- With the UK being cloud cover rich I often just throw my current scope out on its AZ mount and its effectively ready to go, is an EQ mounted telescope likely much more time consuming for quick sessions?

- I don't always have access to Polaris due to large trees, will this be a big issue? 

- I usually have to move around the garden a lot (due to the aforementioned trees), presumably I don't need to reset the polar alignment every time? 

- From an AZ perspective I do enjoy sometimes just slewing around to locate thing, is an EQ mount able to operate in a similar way or is it more restricted?

- The telescope I am considering is about 7-8kg OTA, would I ever be able to feasibly use the mount with motor drives for some (very) limited astrophotography if I wanted to maybe try that?

 

Not silly questions at all.

Polar alignment is a requirement of an EQ mount, so that is one process that would need to be done.  However, for visual observation it only needs to be an approximation, but the closer the better the tracking and goto's will be when / if you purchase an EQ5 with the pro goto kit.  Before I had my observatory I used a compass to mark out North on a patio, and then when I had polar aligned on a clear night, marked where the tripod legs were positioned.  The next day I drilled holes in the patio and screwed in three stainless steel washers as permanent markers.  Then it was just a case of placing the mount down on these markers and alignment was good enough 

You would need to polar align each time the scope is moved, again for visual use precise alignment is not such a requirement.  There are ways to PA when Polaris is not visible, but having sight of it makes life a tad easier.

An EQ mount will point at the same targets as an AZ mount, but often the positioning is not intuitive until you get used to it.  Once you get used to thinking in rotational positioning it all falls into place.

For imaging I personally would say a 8kg payload would be on the limit for an EQ5.  It really depends on the the scope.  Place a 200P on an EQ5 and even a slight wind will play havoc with tracking and taking stable images, especially when additional equipment such as guide scopes and cameras are added.  There used to be an accepted "rule" that the payload should be no more than 2/3 the stated load capacity of the mount when used for imaging.  But these days a short tube refractor can weigh 8kg and may perform very well on an EQ5 as it's not affected by the weather as much.

Astrophotography is a deep hole, with no real bottom.  At one end of the scale you can attach a mobile phone to an eyepiece and take an image, maybe assisted by a bracket costing just a few quid to hold the camera, right the way up to dedicated cameras and precision mounts that equals the cost of a luxury car.  My advice, having been through a change of mount form an EQ5 to and HEQ5 is to work out exactly what you want to do imaging wise and if you really want the frustrations that go with it.  If you are mainly a visual observer who wants to take the odd image then an AZ mount is still a possibility.  If you want to take hours worth of 5 minute exposures to be stacked and processed then an EQ mount is a must, mainly as it ellimiates field rotation over the period of the session.

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@malc-c thanks, would definitely be sticking in the realms of visual observing primary at the moment with the idea I might take the odd phone picture or perhaps play with some AP (and not expect to much) in the future with my dslr as I know it needs more planning to make the right investments. My only thought was if I was going to have to get a new mount for a new scope and I might end up liking AP I could then just get a more specific (lighter!) AP telescope and reuse the mount depending what I was doing on a night than having to buy more kit! :) 

Sorry I should have mentioned the telescope, this was when I was looking over a Bresser AR-127s/635 short tube (which likely wouldn't be that great for AP anyway) again recently as I wanted to get a clear idea of how much it would cost if I opted for something like that over say an 8" Dobsonian (and everything I read says the 8" would significantly outperform it but I keep circling back to the refractor with ideas like if I buy a mount now if I wanted to do X different in the future I could swap things over without rebuying :D).

Edited by wibblefish
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A lot of people do get put off EQ mounts but as said polar aligning can be simple and quick for visual and I certainly prefer these mounts for Lunar or Planetary observing and with a simple RA motor it will keep the object in the FOV for several minutes or more. Even a basic rough and ready set up will allow for some quick Planetary imaging or even a few minutes of widefield imaging with a DSLR and 50mm lens.

Alan

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  • wibblefish changed the title to EQ Questions - newbie :D
1 hour ago, Alien 13 said:

A lot of people do get put off EQ mounts but as said polar aligning can be simple and quick for visual and I certainly prefer these mounts for Lunar or Planetary observing and with a simple RA motor it will keep the object in the FOV for several minutes or more. Even a basic rough and ready set up will allow for some quick Planetary imaging or even a few minutes of widefield imaging with a DSLR and 50mm lens.

Alan

As Alan says.

I’ve been into this for less than a year but I now have a Skywatcher 1145p on a wobbly EQ1 with a cheap motor drive and a Skywatcher 200p Dob. 

Occasionally I’ll prefer the 1145p, especially for lunar and open clusters. Eg with lunar I can keep the moon in view, even at high magnification. This has been useful when pointing out lunar features to my daughter without the faff of having what we are observing drifting. When she wanted to know where some of the Apollo landing sites were I even attached the phone, put it on live video view and pointed out the sites on the screen. Then back to the eyepiece. All without having to nudge anything. And if the view remains steady you can often relax and see more.

At first an EQ mount can seem a confusing faff. But once you practice and get use to the setup it becomes second nature.

Edited by PeterStudz
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One thing to think about is if you opt for a Goto version of the EQ5 (or any goto system for that matter) is that you don't need to worry too much about the positioning as the goto handles that for you... whether you use the handset or a computer and software, once you told the system where a couple of stars are you simply select the target and and it does the rest :)

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If you  are not much interested in photography and need to shift around the garden to avoid obstructions , I'd have thought an alt/az would be a better choice.  Plenty of people whose interest is predominantly visual use alt az , the zero set up time, ease of use and intuitiveness make the mount practically un noticeable in use , which is what I want.

Heather

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3 hours ago, wibblefish said:

Sorry I should have mentioned the telescope, this was when I was looking over a Bresser AR-127s/635 short tube (which likely wouldn't be that great for AP anyway) 

I've not used one, but that looks a very capable scope, and if your current AZ mount (you've not told us what that is) can take the weight this could make for a very good imaging rig with a dSLR or dedicated astro video camera.  There was a  couple of recent SGL challenges of creating an image using 30s subs and non goto mounts and some of the results using non EQ mounts  were amazing.

What scope and mount do you currently own ?

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28 minutes ago, malc-c said:

I've not used one, but that looks a very capable scope, and if your current AZ mount (you've not told us what that is) can take the weight this could make for a very good imaging rig with a dSLR or dedicated astro video camera.  There was a  couple of recent SGL challenges of creating an image using 30s subs and non goto mounts and some of the results using non EQ mounts  were amazing.

What scope and mount do you currently own ?

Ah, my mount is no where near sturdy enough for this task :)

I own a SW 90/660 short tube refractor with an az pronto on an aluminium tripod (az3 type I think?). If I was to invest in a new refractor like the Bresser instead of say a 200p Dob I would likely look to move my current one on as I doubt I would have need for both I imagine.

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The problem with public forums is we all have differing opinions based on our own needs, or interests.   For me I originally purchased an explorer 200P on and EQ5 pro goto mount.  It was great, gave me nice bright views, and originally purchased as a visual scope, but soon got interested in imaging, and shoved an old Philips SPC900 CCD webcam in place of the eyepiece and took some video of the moon onto an old Asus Netbook... I was hooked, but then found that adding a DSLR camera to the set up and added camera cables etc I soon found the mount limited.  At that time (10 years ago !!) I was in the position to build an observatory and upgrade the mount to an HEQ5.  I modified a canon D400 and added a guidescope.  I made a loss when I sold the EQ5 and tripod, and with hind sight should / would have gone straight for the HEQ5/200PDS set up... but then at the time of purchase that would have pushed my budget to the max, and as mentioned I hadn't really considered imaging.

There are loads of people who love and use Dobsonians - they give the largest aperture per £, easy to use (can't get more basic than their design) and as mentioned basic photography can still be achieved using a Dob  or ALT/AZ mount.  There are countless threads on imaging, and recommendations form other members.  One option is a decent mount (ideally EQ) and using a camera with a 55-300mm range of lenses.  Ideal for wide field constellation shots, or nice tight images of bright galaxies, the Moon and bright nebula...  That's thrown another spanner in the works for you :)

 

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42 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

Ah, my mount is no where near sturdy enough for this task :)

I own a SW 90/660 short tube refractor with an az pronto on an aluminium tripod (az3 type I think?). If I was to invest in a new refractor like the Bresser instead of say a 200p Dob I would likely look to move my current one on as I doubt I would have need for both I imagine.

Don't assume you'd not use the little 'frac !

 In actual hours observed with them, my heritage dob and 127mak must be way ahead of it, but the 102 Bresser 'frac (600mm focal length) I've owned for a few months has had more (short) outings than both the other two together. It's not as good a light bucket for  DSOs as the dob , it doesn't have the long focal length of the mak for planetary and lunar, but I'm finding it very enjoyable , and it extends my chances of observing something , anything in our  increasingly rubbish weather.  Pick it up, carry it outside, plonk it down , start looking, clouds roll in, pick it up, go in.  No setup/cool down/fuss, just spur of the minute fun.

Heather

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21 minutes ago, Tiny Clanger said:

Don't assume you'd not use the little 'frac !

 In actual hours observed with them, my heritage dob and 127mak must be way ahead of it, but the 102 Bresser 'frac (600mm focal length) I've owned for a few months has had more (short) outings than both the other two together. It's not as good a light bucket for  DSOs as the dob , it doesn't have the long focal length of the mak for planetary and lunar, but I'm finding it very enjoyable , and it extends my chances of observing something , anything in our  increasingly rubbish weather.  Pick it up, carry it outside, plonk it down , start looking, clouds roll in, pick it up, go in.  No setup/cool down/fuss, just spur of the minute fun.

Heather

Its very difficult to know what to do, my head and all the forum advice would suggest a 8" Dob is going to be a good move but there is something that keeps me thinking a 5" frac might be quite a nice thing but do I need two fracs?

Also a dob does also work out far cheaper (think eq5 + bresser is like 800£ or maybe £1k if I went for a skytee2 whereas a the dob would only be £450!) as I don't have to buy a tripod but then again if I want to do AP or get a Mak 127 in future (which I will want to) upgrading to a EQ or Skytee now might be a good shout as then I can just buy an OTA. I am lucky enough to have some pennies inbound since its xmas + my 40th soon so just trying to get an idea what to do before people ask!

I am signed up to my local astro club now so I should at least be able to get a look at various EQ mounts and newtonians sometime soon for comparisons etc I just thought I'd bounce some of the basic questions I have had bouncing round in my mind off SG forums since everyone here is wonderfully knowledgeable! :)

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Frac. A 4.5 or 5 inch frac while smaller aperture wise than the 8 inch dob you will be using it straight off - no collie problems and images are good even while its cooling down.

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I'd like a Bresser 200mm dob, for me the weight saving over other brands, plus the better alt bearings are the deciders, but it's all academic at this point, with Bresser stock not expected for months. 😞

Anyway, the key question is , what do you rally want it for ? A 'scope is a tool, different tools are good for different jobs. There is no cheap, easily mounted, light, big aperture, equally good AP & visual, high mag, wide field ,fast set up, 'scope . Everything is a compromise, the hard part is deciding which compromises you are more willing to put up with ...

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45 minutes ago, Tiny Clanger said:

I'd like a Bresser 200mm dob, for me the weight saving over other brands, plus the better alt bearings are the deciders, but it's all academic at this point, with Bresser stock not expected for months. 😞

Anyway, the key question is , what do you rally want it for ? A 'scope is a tool, different tools are good for different jobs. There is no cheap, easily mounted, light, big aperture, equally good AP & visual, high mag, wide field ,fast set up, 'scope . Everything is a compromise, the hard part is deciding which compromises you are more willing to put up with ...

I was looking at the Stellalyra one actually but yeah stock for anything atm makes things academic exercises which is good as plenty of time to decide.

Yeah I haven't really found my niche, I mostly spend my time at present hunting DSO and Clusters, basically anything from the starcharts I have that drifts in to see if I can locate them and trying different objects to see what I can see such as doubles / planets. 

As I have only one tool at present I probably push the refractor to its limits to try and do a little of everything, which is kinda why I wondered if simply getting a slightly bigger one might be a answer but then I guess a Dob may also work (and better) as an all rounder. The only disappointments I usually have are generally when I struggle to locate something which is more down to experience of star hops / knowing what to expect (i.e. what does a planetary actually show as) rather than what it actually looks like since I know even buying a bigger aperture scope won't perform miracles! 

I would definitely like to get a 127 Mak at some point but I do feel like they are to specialist(?) and as I don't often get planetary views due to my garden layout probably more of a luxury unless I go for a few nights solely for splitting doubles (which I have done previously) as noone seems to rate them for much else.

So indecisive, maybe I need to win the lottery and buy one of everything right? :) 

Edited by wibblefish
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The Stellalyra 8 inch seems excellent - I recently purchased but not enough clear nights to give full appraisal yet. So far so good though, a highly versatile visual instrument. (Impressive build quality too). 

Edited by Astro_Dad
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31 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

I would definitely like to get a 127 Mak at some point but I do feel like they are to specialist(?) and as I don't often get planetary views due to my garden layout probably more of a luxury unless I go for a few nights solely for splitting doubles (which I have done previously) as noone seems to rate them for much else.

So indecisive, maybe I need to win the lottery and buy one of everything right? :) 

You know from much posting back & forth on here back last winter , I'm a big fan of the heritage dob (other dobs are available 🙂 ) / mak combo, and go for DSOs with the little dob , planets and lunar with the mak , but there are folk who do use the 127 mak more , er, widely , Suburban mak for instance (altho' he did get himself a widefield set-up based on an ST80 not that long ago ) .

 

 

 

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On 13/10/2021 at 15:18, Tiny Clanger said:

Don't assume you'd not use the little 'frac !

 In actual hours observed with them, my heritage dob and 127mak must be way ahead of it, but the 102 Bresser 'frac (600mm focal length) I've owned for a few months has had more (short) outings than both the other two together. It's not as good a light bucket for  DSOs as the dob , it doesn't have the long focal length of the mak for planetary and lunar, but I'm finding it very enjoyable , and it extends my chances of observing something , anything in our  increasingly rubbish weather.  Pick it up, carry it outside, plonk it down , start looking, clouds roll in, pick it up, go in.  No setup/cool down/fuss, just spur of the minute fun.

Heather

There is so much to be said for this - the old adage rings true again. I do find the Heritage 150p highly grab and go, quick cool down etc. but refractors have a certain allure. Owned an ST 102 on an Eq-1 at one point! @Tiny Clanger What mount are you using on your 102 Bresser? I’ve always been tempted by one of their 102 hexafoc refractors - look like nice designs. The 102/1350 would be v interesting! 🧐 

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1 minute ago, Astro_Dad said:

There is so much to be said for this - the old adage rings true again. I do find the Heritage 150p highly grab and go, quick cool down etc. but refractors have a certain allure. Owned an ST 102 on an Eq-1 at one point! @Tiny Clanger What mount are you using on your 102 Bresser? I’ve always been tempted by one of their 102 hexafoc refractors - look like nice designs. The 102/1350 would be v interesting! 🧐 

I have it on a tiny compact AZ6 from Telescop-Express in Germany, it's pushing the mount's capacity rather, but I'm happy to put up with that to get light weight and portability . It's all on a manfrotto 190 tripod

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