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Getting started on budget: £250


A McEwan
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Just for fun (or mostly for fun), can you suggest what would be a good effective way to get into lunar imaging with a limited budget of £250 tops!

Let's assume it applies to me (🤪) and that I'll be using either of my Taks on a driven GP non-goto mount, and I'm most interested in lunar, either full disc or closeup style images. I have a Macbook Pro with SSD drive and USB 3.0  Let's also assume that I'm not "extremely" techie, but I can follow instructions! ;) 

Although I do already own a DSLR it's really dedicated astro-style cameras/equipment that I'd like to see recommendations for.

Thanks! 🌙  :) 

Edited by A McEwan
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The ZWO ASI462MC is a good budget lunar / planetary camera and just within your budget.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi-462mc-usb-30-colour-camera.html

For purely lunar the ZWO ASI290 MM would be a bit better but a bit over budget.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi290mm-usb-3-mono-camera.html

Recently bought both. The 462 for planetary and the 290 for lunar. Will be using the 125 f7.8 APO and the CC8” using the AZ100 GOTO.

 

E1AD3358-3314-4EA5-944D-55D652F97953.jpeg

Edited by johninderby
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If you are interested mostly in lunar then having mono sensor makes sense as you can use NB filters with it to get sharper results.

What F/ratio are your Taks? As far as I can see that smaller one is F/10 and larger is F/7.4?

It would be good to get them both to same or close F/ratio and then match that F/ratio to pixel size.

Scopes around F/8-F/10 should aim for 2.4µm pixel size. Sensor size plays a part in lunar imaging as it takes less panels to do full disk image.

I think I'd go with this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi178mm-usb-3-mono-camera.html

It is a bit over budget.

If you absolutely must stay on budget, then this one:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi224mc-usb-3-colour-camera.html

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21 minutes ago, johninderby said:

The ZWO ASI462MC is a good budget lunar / planetary camera and just within your budget.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi-462mc-usb-30-colour-camera.html

For purely lunar the ZWO ASI290 MM would be a bit better bit a bit over budget.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi290mm-usb-3-mono-camera.html

Recently bought both. The 462 for planetary and the 290 for lunar. Will be using the 125 f7.8 APO and the CC8” using the AZ100 GOTO.

 

E1AD3358-3314-4EA5-944D-55D652F97953.jpeg

Am I right in saying the advantage of the 462 over the 290 is the increased resolution to capture larger areas and reduced noise level? (This is all a bit new to me, but I've seen ZWO cameras mentioned in a lot of places - and I like the red! ;) )

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10 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

If you are interested mostly in lunar then having mono sensor makes sense as you can use NB filters with it to get sharper results.

What F/ratio are your Taks? As far as I can see that smaller one is F/10 and larger is F/7.4?

It would be good to get them both to same or close F/ratio and then match that F/ratio to pixel size.

Scopes around F/8-F/10 should aim for 2.4µm pixel size. Sensor size plays a part in lunar imaging as it takes less panels to do full disk image.

I think I'd go with this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi178mm-usb-3-mono-camera.html

It is a bit over budget.

If you absolutely must stay on budget, then this one:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi224mc-usb-3-colour-camera.html

Thanks also. The 178 has a lot more megapixels - an advantage in information acquisition, I assume?

I think now some suggestions have been made I'll need to watch some reviews and see if I can work out the exact benefits of one over another, etc.  :) 

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3 minutes ago, A McEwan said:

Am I right in saying the advantage of the 462 over the 290 is the increased resolution to capture larger areas and reduced noise level?

How did you figure that out? Two sensors are identical as far as pixel count and pixel size.

In any case, it goes like this.

Telescope dictates what sort of detail you'll be able to capture - or more precisely aperture size. There is maximum detail that certain aperture can resolve. You need certain pixel size to record that level of detail. That pixel size depends on aperture size and focal length. You can change focal length of scope by using a barlow lens or telecentric lens.

In any case, if you want to capture best possible detail - you should match pixel size to F/ratio of the scope (+ any barlow used).

You have limited selection of pixel sizes available in planetary cameras: 2.4µm, 2.9µm, 3.75µm and few more.

2.4µm matches F/9.6 for full spectrum

2.9µm matches F/11.6 for full spectrum

3.75µm matches F/15 for full spectrum

For Ha light it's a bit different and

2.4µm matches F/7.32

2.9µm matches F/8.85

3.75µm matches F/11.44

General formula is

F/ratio = pixel size * 2 / wavelength of light (where full spectrum is usually taken at 500nm and narrowband at particular wavelength).

Noise levels for planetary are reflected in two important numbers - QE and read noise - you want first as high as possible and second as low as possible.

Once you have all of this - then FOV is just dictated by size of sensor. For Lunar and Solar - one wants larger sensor, while planets require very small sensor.

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3 minutes ago, A McEwan said:

The 178 has a lot more megapixels - an advantage in information acquisition, I assume?

It's just about covering the target. With FS60Q it would be like this:

image.png.4b1c5aef5eb4baf14475cf37ed62d4d4.png

Yellow is ASI178 - it can work on native F/10

Cyan is ASI290 - it needs x1.15 barlow to get critical sampling

Pink is ASI224 - it needs x1.5 barlow to get critical sampling.

You can cover whole moon in just 2 panels with ASI178, while you'd need at least 5-6 with asi290 and probably 8 or more with ASI224.

With larger scope - number of panels starts to rise.

 

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I have an Extender-q 1.6x so I can get the FC100 to operate at f11.8. I believe I can also use it on the FS-60Q to achieve f16, but have not tried it yet. I will try and absorb the above information.

Ant

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To be honest if you're just looking to do lunar a quality prime lens for your dslr may be best. Some of the best lunar images I've done via my dslr with single exposure images though they were done via my refractor.

Edited by Elp
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Ok, so I'm thinking I could probably increase my budget a little bit to get the ASI178. With the FS 60Q at f10 it would match the pixel size correctly, and if I could get the FC100 to ~f10 from f7.4 it would suit that too.

I see there are colour and mono versions. Mono is more sensitive, but colour means I wouldn't have to use colour filters if I turned it to planetary imaging as well. I don't want to spend lots on this - filters and wheels would be a step too far at this point. 

So as a first lunar/planetary cam, would you recommend mono or colour ASI178?

Ant

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It really depends if you want to capture color or not.

I think that for planetary imaging, OSC is much simpler than having filters and filter wheel - with exception of motorized filter wheel and motorized focuser - with software that can remember focus offset for given scope.

That can amount to quite a bit of expense there.

ASI178mc is not slouch either. I've taken this image of the moon with ASI178mc and Mak102:

 

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Colour then. If you get mono you WILL want all the filters and everything else. Mono takes more planning also.

I got the 224 as my first and it performs well, my profile pic was taken with that.

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10 hours ago, Elp said:

Colour then. If you get mono you WILL want all the filters and everything else. Mono takes more planning also.

I got the 224 as my first and it performs well, my profile pic was taken with that.

That's what I was thinking. Thanks! (Great Jupiter image by the way)

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