Jump to content

Banner.jpg.b6007b69ccdf5c69bf18273ddfe023df.jpg

30th Birthday Present - What would you get with this budget?


Recommended Posts

Afternoon all, hope we're all making the most of this gorgeous weather this weekend!

I've heard through the grape vine that family want to get me a "dream" astronomy kit. I have also heard this budget is going to be in the region of £5,000

I'm no beginner to stargazing and very much enjoy using my 200P dob and Skymax 127 (when weather allows, of course). I particularly like the dob for deep sky, the mak for moon and can't wait to try it out on the planets when they're more favourably placed in the sky. When it comes to AP, however, I'm not even what I'd consider a beginner. I like to snap a few second exposures here and there using my phone and a mount for an eyepiece, but this isn't scratching that itch enough and I'm soon going to be making a purchase for my first AP OTA.  I feel like the direction I'm going toward is more photography, less visual, which is the opposite of what it is now. 

My garden is pretty much a no-go for stargazing, as it's quite heavily obstructed and light polluted. There is a small window of sky I can see and even that is heavily light polluted by close proximity street lighting. As such I normally like to take my kit out and about with me. I don't have a problem doing this at all - Up the shallow garden steps to the back gate and load the van up. I've normally got my 200P, 127 Mak and other kit in the van loaded ready to go within 10 mins. Physically I'm a fit young lad, physical job and in the gym regularly, so portability more comes down to "what can I fit in the van" than anything else.

So, what would you do? If your budget was £5k, what would you be spending it on?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, you lost me at 'not visual'.

I couldn't recommend an AP kit, but visual, I can do that!

If it were my 5k, it'd be going on solar HA. Without a doubt.

But whatever you spend it on: happy birthday!

Edited by Roy Challen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a really nice birthday present!  Picking up on what Roy said, and bearing in mind the focal lengths/FOV of your current scopes, maybe something like a Lunt 60MT.  Modular so you can use it for HA in the day, but also use it for wider field AP at night.  Its FPL-51 glass but if you did narrow band (or even dual-band filters with OSC I reckon) that shouldn't make that much difference.  Leaves ample budget for either a super portable harmonic mount (like AM5), or another more traditional EQ mount (HEQ5Pro) which wouldn't be a problem physically at all, and an AP camera like a 533MM or 533MC.

If you go for 2nd hand, then the kit could be even better.

Either way, enjoy!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe a nice used 12" to 15" custom truss Dob.  They come up used on American astro classifieds for a fraction of new price all the time.  As long as you're willing to drive part way to pick-up, they're a good deal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I won't be 30 until October so there's plenty of time to drool over the dream setup! That's two votes for a solar scope. Funnily enough I've never been that interested in the sun. Years and years ago I had a solar filter for a 4" meade refractor, saw a few sunspots and thought "huh, cool" but never grabbed my attention any more than that! 

Ooo what about a C11 EdgeHD CGX 🥴

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a lovely present! I can give you a very biased suggestion ... anything with Takahashi on it :)

FS60CB plus AP accessories. This'll do you as a travel scope and a wide field AP scope (though I am 99% visual so I know nothing about AP). Then get a longer focal length Tak for more zoomed in AP and it'll also be great visually (or could get the extender module for the 60CB to get longer focal length). Then I'd go for (and I don't have one so can't speak from experience) a Tak mount, just because it's a Tak :)

Might just bridge the gap between dabbling/starting in AP and fantastic visual!

Malcolm (who is not at all obsessed)

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

AP is a money pit that can swallow £5k without even a burp. I would be thinking an apo 'frac, an APS C CMOS and possibly LRGB filters, at least for the time being. From what Olly has said (And he should know) the Tak FS60CB is a very poor choice for AP with a worrying amount of blue bloat.

I think, from your other thread, that you already have an HEQ5, which would go nearly £k towards your goal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your budget is very generous and opens a whole avenue of possibilities.

An apochromatic 100-150mm refractor would be nice, you'd have to look at their f ratios as for imaging the lower the quicker you can capture signal for images, the 100-150mm range will also give you excellent views of the sun when paired with a DERF front objective filter (you need one for refractors of that aperture size) and a quark chromosphere  eyepiece, that way you have a scope for night and day. If you're looking to travel with it a 60-80mm will be better.

Another option is a RASA which works around f2 but they are quite widefield. An alternative to that is a fastar type Celestron sct, you have long FL for planetary in default configuration, with a 0.63 reducer you can image DSO and with a hyperstar you can make it RASA type speed and field of view.

A further option is a Newtonian astrograph designed for imaging.

A mono astro camera will be a good fit in light polluted skies paired with HSO filters you can shoot "through" the light pollution in narrowband. With LRGB filters you can image with each individually and combine to produce colour images, using a mono camera will provide better detail than a one shot colour (osc) camera due to every pixel recording signal with the filter you'd be imaging with. Osc cameras are also excellent for colour but can't image in narrowband, with either option make sure the camera is cooled. You'll need a second camera which can be a cheaper guide or planetary camera to pair with a guidescope or off axis guider so they can track the stars and make minute adjustments in declination and RA to a driven mount so you take long exposure images.

It is possible to take images unguided using the sidereal tracking rates built into driven mounts (so negating the second camera) but you'll get even better results adding in a computer.

Paired with something like an Asiair you can control the setup in the field without a laptop/pc with only a smartphone/tablet, makes it much easier and self contained, if you have a laptop/pc already you can also use that.

The cost for filters can be as much to many more times the value of the camera, if you want the best it will cost four figures for a set.

Above all for AP you'll need fairly decent computer processing skills and the relevant software though free options like deep sky stacker and GIMP are available for processing. Most of the result comes from post processing, but relies on good clean imaging data and calibration images.

Edited by Elp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, great post @Elp. The ASIair has definitely caught my attention being able to control things from my phone - that would save a bit of hassle. Obviously need to look into that a bit more so thanks for that!

Between the time I'd made my "Purchasing first OTA" post and now, I'd found out about this birthday thing, so I'd be forgetting the HEQ5 and going for the EQ6R instead - it's beautiful - and needless to say, futureproof. Gives me a few more options then in terms of OTAs. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing is 'future proof'.😊

Even us visual only observers are chopping and changing all the time as 'funds' become available.

I would decide on what it is that you want to image, if that's really what you want to do, and decide on the scope needed to do that. Then buy a mount capable of doing that, then, and only then, buy a scope that'll fit on the mount in the best way possible.

Check out other people's images, those you'd be inspired by and see what they use.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I had £5k going spare, I'd get:

https://www.widescreen-centre.co.uk/unistellar-evscope-2-smart-telescope-with-77mpixel-electronic-eyepiece-by-nikon.html

and

https://www.cameraworld.co.uk/canon-15x50-is-all-weather-binoculars-with-cashback-15501.html

 

 

 

Maybe.

or maybe not. Not much help, I'd admit. I'd have another idea the next day. But of all the things I used at Astrocamp (incl a 16" dob) these 2 were the things that blew my mind.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, OK Apricot said:

Afternoon all, hope we're all making the most of this gorgeous weather this weekend!

I've heard through the grape vine that family want to get me a "dream" astronomy kit. I have also heard this budget is going to be in the region of £5,000

I'm no beginner to stargazing and very much enjoy using my 200P dob and Skymax 127 (when weather allows, of course). I particularly like the dob for deep sky, the mak for moon and can't wait to try it out on the planets when they're more favourably placed in the sky. When it comes to AP, however, I'm not even what I'd consider a beginner. I like to snap a few second exposures here and there using my phone and a mount for an eyepiece, but this isn't scratching that itch enough and I'm soon going to be making a purchase for my first AP OTA.  I feel like the direction I'm going toward is more photography, less visual, which is the opposite of what it is now. 

My garden is pretty much a no-go for stargazing, as it's quite heavily obstructed and light polluted. There is a small window of sky I can see and even that is heavily light polluted by close proximity street lighting. As such I normally like to take my kit out and about with me. I don't have a problem doing this at all - Up the shallow garden steps to the back gate and load the van up. I've normally got my 200P, 127 Mak and other kit in the van loaded ready to go within 10 mins. Physically I'm a fit young lad, physical job and in the gym regularly, so portability more comes down to "what can I fit in the van" than anything else.

So, what would you do? If your budget was £5k, what would you be spending it on?

 

My circumstances are different, so despite light pollution I'm comfy observing in the garden with occasional trips away and don't harbour particularly expensive kit ambitions. So I'd exchange my 4" ED f7 refractor for an apo around 125mm f8, replace three or four of my eyepieces with Vixen SLVs and change my Celestron AVX mount for an alt az goto mount with a similar (or higher) weight capacity. As the gear being replaced would sell for around £1100 I'd still have around £2k left. That's when the hard decision making would come in and I really don't know what I'd spend it on. Maybe a very very small roll off/roll over obsy & pier or a decent used 12" dob, new camping gear or quality cold weather clothing... There's too many options!

Good luck with your choices. £5k for astro kit will get you quality gear to potentially last a lifetime, though the key is spending it wisely... 🙄

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
roll
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some interesting choices.

 @ScouseSpaceCadet camping and cold weather gear is definitely a good shout - I did buy some cheaper thermal gear but even at a pretty "gentle" -2°C, still felt the cold. I'd love the 16" Skywatcher GoTo flex tube, right within budget, couldn't find the space to store it if I tried! Saw one at PAS and it was lovely. Imagine that under dark skies 😳

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, OK Apricot said:

Some interesting choices.

 @ScouseSpaceCadet camping and cold weather gear is definitely a good shout - I did buy some cheaper thermal gear but even at a pretty "gentle" -2°C, still felt the cold. I'd love the 16" Skywatcher GoTo flex tube, right within budget, couldn't find the space to store it if I tried! Saw one at PAS and it was lovely. Imagine that under dark skies 😳

My cold weather gear is fine for garden observing, when you can nip in for a brew occasionally... Being outside for hours without respite is whole other ball game... So if you are one for regularly travelling to an observing site then higher end cold weather clothing and footwear would be a good investment. Also as you have a van, then the previously mentioned used 12" truss dob would be nice. You would still have plenty left for a portable ap kit.

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
Link to comment
Share on other sites

With a longer focal length scope you limit your targets, and the difficulty level goes up a couple of notches. Same for fast scopes - all margins become critical.

For a quality AP setup to get your teeth into, you'll find it hard to beat a EQ6R, Esprit 80 or 100 APO refractor, ASI2600MC Pro. Don't know what that adds up to but it would keep you happy for many's the year while you buy the add-ons, and you certainly won't be able to blame your kit for any poor quality images. Actually for this, the EQ6R would be a little overkill but it will stand to you when you get that EdgeHD or 10" imaging Newt.

Unfortunately the add-ons will be the other £5K 🙂. PSU or battery, Pocket Powerbox, Guide scope and cam, electronic focuser, mini-PC, LP filter(s), processing software, rotator, dew heaters, flat-panel, carry-bags, tube rings and Losmandy dovetail bars. All adds up. Some are optional but desirable. 

Then you'll want a mono camera (ASI533MM Pro just announced?), 7-slot electronic filter wheel and LRGBHaOiiiSii filter set.

Does that help at all??? 🙂 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 There is a lot to learn when you start AP, so for any beginner I always say “Keep it simple to start with”. Certain hardware choices bring additional learning challenges which complicate the process and slow your progress. Managing initial expectations is important to minimise disappointment and risk of early abandonment. Just remember AP comes with a warning “This hobby can damage your bank balance”.

May I suggest the following equipment for consideration given your fund potential;

EQ6R is an excellent mount choice that will deliver good guiding with extra weight capacity for equipment upgrades/changes as your imaging requirements evolve.

100mm triplet (wave, photoline are excellent value for money choices). High contrast images with good focal length able to frame many of the popular AP targets, especially when employed with a reasonably priced Reducer. Minimal maintenance and zero re-collimation demand for a well collimated APO.

As Padraic said, the new APS-C CMOs colour camera would be an excellent choice you will not regret. These high sensitivity, very low noise colour cameras offer good image framing for many popular AP targets and will deliver frames with good signal data for relatively short exposures 2-5 minutes (well within the capability of most reasonably priced mounts). The latest dual and triband filters will enable imaging to continue during moonlit nights and in areas of light pollution. 

While Mono camera’s will deliver the best AP images, I believe the added equipment demands/cost and complexity with processing are an unwelcome burden on someone starting AP. The new colour cameras are delivering amazing images that should  more than meet the aspirations of someone staring AP.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although I'm a strictly mono imager (For the time being) I concur that OSC is the best option as a wheel plus a full set of filters could eat a significant part of your budget.

Regarding going off site for imaging, will it be a quick "there and back in a night" or will you be camping, perhaps for a few days? If it's a one night stand then you will need something that can be set up and aligned quickly so as not to eat into imaging time, whereas if you're planning mabe 2-3 days then it's not quite so rushed.

As for "Future Proofing" no mount short of a Mesu (Which would eat you whole budget, and more) can be considered future proof, but the EQ6-R should do you for quite a long time.

I would definitely go for a triplet apo with flattener / reducer or one of the quintuplet astrographs from Sharpster (Disclaimer: I have no experience of the latter, just throwing it out as a suggestion), as any kind of reflector probably won't take kindly to being bounced around in a van, and will need re-collimating once you get to your remote site.

Also I would not break down the imaging train between trips unless maintenance is needed, because unlike the visual guys we're not constantly chopping and changing. It's hard enough to get everything playing nicely together, so once it's working, Leave It Alone.

That's my bit for th emo, I may have ideas to add later.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know anything about imaging other than that from the odd imaging conversation I happen to see on the forum it costs a lot and it's a big learning curve so I would recommend keeping a big chunk of the budget back to cover all the things you did not realise you wanted/needed at the start.

If you happen to change your mind and stick to visual I'd go for a great Ha solar set up or see if I could get a night vision set up together (which might or might not be possible).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, OK Apricot said:

Afternoon all, hope we're all making the most of this gorgeous weather this weekend!

I've heard through the grape vine that family want to get me a "dream" astronomy kit. I have also heard this budget is going to be in the region of £5,000

I'm no beginner to stargazing and very much enjoy using my 200P dob and Skymax 127 (when weather allows, of course). I particularly like the dob for deep sky, the mak for moon and can't wait to try it out on the planets when they're more favourably placed in the sky. When it comes to AP, however, I'm not even what I'd consider a beginner. I like to snap a few second exposures here and there using my phone and a mount for an eyepiece, but this isn't scratching that itch enough and I'm soon going to be making a purchase for my first AP OTA.  I feel like the direction I'm going toward is more photography, less visual, which is the opposite of what it is now. 

My garden is pretty much a no-go for stargazing, as it's quite heavily obstructed and light polluted. There is a small window of sky I can see and even that is heavily light polluted by close proximity street lighting. As such I normally like to take my kit out and about with me. I don't have a problem doing this at all - Up the shallow garden steps to the back gate and load the van up. I've normally got my 200P, 127 Mak and other kit in the van loaded ready to go within 10 mins. Physically I'm a fit young lad, physical job and in the gym regularly, so portability more comes down to "what can I fit in the van" than anything else.

So, what would you do? If your budget was £5k, what would you be spending it on?

I've no specific kit suggestions for you, but if you are looking to buy something that would be an item to keep long term, I would be looking at something optical - plenty of quality higher end refractors which would serve you well for both visual and AP.

Besides the weight of any kit, there is the time to set up and tear down - even if it is jus in the garden and you are not taking it to a more remote site. The harmonic drive mounts look interesting in this regard - easier and quicker set up (if you keep within the 'no counterweight limit) as well as being very portable. I am thinking I will probably get one in a couple of years to replace my AVX and AZ-GTI. The rainbow astro RST135 is available now, or you can wait a little and see what the reviews are like for the ZWO AM5 and similar priced (cheaper) mounts from Artesky etc. which would still leave plenty of room in your budget for other items.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Triplet apo, no larger than 100mm and probably less, flattener, cooled CMOS OSC and dual or tri-band filter, autoguider, EQ6, power supply, dewheater and good software. Don't forget that bit. We all like our own favourites and we should not presume to guess which ones would work best for you because we don't know how your mind works. Processing software's very personal so there's no point in my recommending what I use. You might not get on with it.

Avoid extremes, as others have said. Ultra fast F ratios, very long focal lengths, very high resolution all have their plusses on paper.  You won't be on paper, you'll be in a field.

:Dlly

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@ollypenrice makes a very good point about the software, and to that end I'm going to make a shout out for AstroArt, currently in V8. I think it's been unfairly overlooked in the mad rush for the latest flavour of the month. It's your one-stop-shop for capture with sequencing, plate-solving, guiding and autofocus, Then when you've got your data it has a blazingly fast stacking, that will also stack comets and spectra, plus the processing tools have had a huge upgrade, even from V7, and are now deceptively powerful.

I have also tried PixInsight, which did my head in, and Star Tools, which I couldn't get on with.

I'm not saying that it will necessarily be the choice that you get on with best, just don't forget about it, it's worth a look.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, DaveS said:

@ollypenrice makes a very good point about the software, and to that end I'm going to make a shout out for AstroArt, currently in V8. I think it's been unfairly overlooked in the mad rush for the latest flavour of the month. It's your one-stop-shop for capture with sequencing, plate-solving, guiding and autofocus, Then when you've got your data it has a blazingly fast stacking, that will also stack comets and spectra, plus the processing tools have had a huge upgrade, even from V7, and are now deceptively powerful.

I have also tried PixInsight, which did my head in, and Star Tools, which I couldn't get on with.

I'm not saying that it will necessarily be the choice that you get on with best, just don't forget about it, it's worth a look.

I'm only on V6 and now just use it for stacking and calibration, but I think it's great and, as you say, blazingly fast - which really does matter in an age of short-sub, high-pixel-count CMOS cameras. My head, like yours, is done in by Pixinsight!

😁lly

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The EQ6 range of mounts from SW are very good for the money but from my experience, when I started out and had access to a dark site, it gets very mentally tiring when you lug it all out to a dark site, set everything up, get an hour of images until cloud or rain, strip it down back into the boot, and home with little to show. If back garden imaging isn't an option then I would really focus on portability and ease of use.

ASI 2600MC, LP filter (or IR/UV) and a duo-band filter, AM5 mount (yet unproven I believe),an 80mm refractor of your choice and an ASI Air to control it all. Think that would be somewhere near the £5k mark. I really think if you go for a big mount and a big scope you will soon get fed up with it from a portability point of view, unless you are very dedicated and have the time to spend on it away from home until all hours of the morning, and utilise every clear night...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Great suggestions all. Me and the Mrs were having a go at the garden yesterday tidying things up and we've got a few plans actually, some general landscaping etc and after a small discussion we might even pave an area half way up the garden that I can start using for astro from home. Thoae obstructions? The trees I was on about? Yeah they'll be down soon, so that helps with the obstruction problem, a paved area opens up sight to the north for PA as I will be able to see over our roof, just have to deal with the street light. Tempting to open her up and pull a fuse or two 🤫

For the time being I'm more than happy lugging out whatever kit I need to - it is what it is. I guess when I said  "portable" I more meant that it will not be a permanent kit. Obviously the imaging nights at first will be those all night long forecasts where I can relax into it without putting any pressure on myself over clouds etc, but I currently head out with the Mak and 200P even for a couple hours clear sky. 

I purchased an Evostar 80ED over the weekend and very excited as it's my first high quality refractor. I guess this kind of focuses the route to go down in terms of camera, reducers filters etc. I've read good things about the ASI294MC Pro - seems to be a good fit for this scope? 

Edited by OK Apricot
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.