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GuideScopes: Should I or should I not


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Hey there guys, 

My name is Andrew and I've just recently got into looking at astrophotography and I must say it really blows me away. 

I am currently selling a current telescope that I have and saw a new rig I would like to possibly get, Mainly shown by astrobiscuit.  It's got a 72 ed refractor with the eq mount and everything and if I do sell my current setup I'd be able to afford it. Trouble is there is no off axis guider, nor any guide scope mentioned. 

I'd really love to start astrophotography, with a small, motorised rig that has everything I need, but would I need any guiding? 

If so could I have some suggestions on any budgety off axis guiders / guide scopes, and guide cameras. 

If not I'd be looking at using around £1000 GBP, any other setups I could get for that?

The rig I was looking at was in the region of £880.50 but I'm going to read his blog and prices again and tally them again to confirm.

If I won't require guiding it's even better. 😀

Seriously any help would be appreciated as I am very new to this.

Hope everyone has clear skies,

Andrew.

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Hi & welcome to SGL,

All i'll say is that you really dont need to start guiding straight away. Yes, you will want to take longer exposures at some point but theres so much to learn when your starting out that adding guiding to it is yet one more thing to think about.

I've been imaging for around 8 months now & although I have a guide scope (Skywatcher Evoguide 80ED) & guide camera (ZWO Asi 120Mm-S), I still haven't started guiding yet. I can happily take exposures up to 180 seconds without needing to guide. I've pretty much reached the point now where I want to start but I'm so glad I waited a while as I found there was plenty to learn right from the start & getting those first 'basic' steps learnt properly means theres less pressure when it comes to the guiding part.
 Just to show you what I mean,  this is my latest image from 2 weeks ago & its only 60 second exposures, 2 & a half hours of them. The main problem (as you can see in this image) is that shorter exposures & a shorter number of exposures can result in noisier images, longer exposures helps dial that noise down, this can be sorted in processing but means more work on that side & believe me, processing is at least 50% of this hobby, I've still to come back to this image & add more exposure time to it. Hopefully though this will show you that you can still produce good images without guiding. Its up to you though 🙂

May be an image of sky

Edited by nephilim
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8 hours ago, nephilim said:

All i'll say is that you really dont need to start guiding straight away. Yes, you will want to take longer exposures at some point but theres so much to learn when your starting out that adding guiding to it is yet one more thing to think about.

I'll second that 🙂 There is quite a lot to learn and @Andrew G you will need to get familiar with your scope, mount and software. Post processing is a whole new kettle of fish and that has a steep learning curve. I started my journey without guiding a little over a year ago (see link in my signature) and you can get very decent images with shorter exposures (you just need more of them). There is a term for it as well - lucky imaging. I have purchased a guidescope recently and learning to work with it. Good luck.

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Depends very much what you want to image and your field of view! If you're looking to do deep sky imaging then guiding will help a lot as it will mean longer sharp exposures. With a 72ED you'll have a fairly wide field of view with most cameras (use https://astronomy.tools/ to check any planned setup) and that means it won't be so sensitive to misalignment and drifting. If you're looking to image smaller dim targets with a narrow field of view it's a must-have.

It also depends where you're setting up. If you've got a permanent location to set up under cover (e.g. a Telegizmos cover or similar) then you can take your time to do a really precise polar alignment (drift alignment). If not, you might better spend the money on something like a Polemaster which will help you get a pretty good polar alignment very quickly and easily.

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10 minutes ago, discardedastro said:

If not, you might better spend the money on something like a Polemaster which will help you get a pretty good polar alignment very quickly and easily.

Polemaster is great. But in my experience you can get quite precise PA with SharpCap or Ekos PA assistant as well and these are a lot less expensive 🙂

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Hey there guys,

I would really like to thank you all for your recommendations and suggestions on all of this and will definitely be taking all this advice on board and hopefully producing some good photos some day. 

Thanks again for the help. 😃

Andrew.

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An alternative view:

Guiding? Just do it. It's the life blood of astrophotography, it's easy and and it makes everything else easier. I was given this advice when I started and it was a minority opinion then and probably still is, but I think it was good advice and I repeat it here.

What do you need? Optics of some kind. This could simply mean an old camera lens or a tatty old achromatic refractor which you could pick up at a car boot sale, or whatever, for next to nothing. You need to bolt it down firmly onto your imaging scope but you do not need expensive guide rings. These became obsolete years ago. Then you need a guide camera. This could be an old second hand Atik16ic, for instance, or some equivalent camera. Really anything with an ST4 port will do.  One of these, in an elderly Skywatcher ST80, has been guiding our very expensive rig from the outset and works perfectly. It doesn't need to be pretty. Ours isn't.

Don't complicate things by bringing in third party software and pulse guiding via ASCOM, just plug in an ST4 cable to connect camera to mount and guide in PHD2, which is free.

Imaging without guiding is like trying to sign your name with someone nudging your elbow.

Olly

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