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Upto £1700 to Spend...


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Hello All,

I'm moving on from my 12" DOB into the realm of astrophotography, advice needed on what equipment to go for,

I have around £1700 to spend and looking for some ideas, I'm currently thinking about a Celestron CPC 800 or 9.25. This will serve me well with visual but also provide a platform for the next step to astrophtography. I currently have a dslr at my disposal so no immediate rush to spend out on a CCD.

Will the Celestrons be any good for visual and photography or could my money be spent elsewhere, i really need something for both visual and photography.

Suggestions appreciated.

Stealth

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The 'something' you need, if you also want it to be easy for learning AP, does not exist. Big telescopes with long focal lengths are very demanding and not great to learn on. Little scopes don't see deeply in visual use. There you have it.

An 8 inch SCT has things going for it as a compromise but...

- it will disappoint visually after your big scope - and by a long way.

- in imaging, even with reducer, it will have a long focal length which needs very accurate tracking and alignment. There are also focus issues, and the question of mirror flop. Celestron are ahead of Meade here but no reducer exists for the Edge as yet so you are at f10. Way too slow in my book, especially at a long focal length. Exposure times go up, subs get longer, tracking has to be even better. Vicious circle.

A small fast refractor is a joy in imaging, where enough things can go wrong without your mirror moving, your corrector dewing up, your collimation being out and your guiding not being up to it. (Or the seeing not being good enough for your fl or the wind blowing a bit... etc etc! You can image with a fast little refractor in a hurricane.*)

ED80, reducer, EQ5 Pro, ST80 guidescope, good choice of autoguiders nowadays, power pack, dew heaters... You'll be knocking 'em out in no time and loving it.

Olly.

*Well, a stiff breeze!!

Edited by ollypenrice
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Cassegraines are great on planets but for deep sky the small wide field refractor is a good option. They can be had quite cheaply on the s/h market - you'll get a great one for £300-£500 leaving most of your budget for the mount wich'll need to be equatorial, beefy, and accurate. You may want a guide scope too (e.g. an ST80).

Equally the CPC can be a good guider with a small refractor mounted on top (best of both worlds).

Bear in mind you'll want two cameras for guided tracking - that said - webcams can be very effective guiders :icon_salut:

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As Olly runs an AP business, I think you should head his words wisely....

AP can be very expensive, good CCD cameras could use your entire budget and then the same again without even looking at scopes mounts etc.

As Olly suggests, a fastish refractor will make life easier for you! And remember, the Mount is just as important, if not more so, than the optics.

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ED80, reducer, EQ5 Pro, ST80 guidescope, good choice of autoguiders nowadays, power pack, dew heaters... You'll be knocking 'em out in no time and loving it.

Could you really mount an ED80 and ST80 guidescope on an EQ5 Pro? Genuine question, I really want to do some DSO imaging and hadn't considered a combo like this before which would work on my existing mount.

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OK, thanks for the advice so far... But I want to do GOTO visual as well as photography.

If I go for a NEQ6 and an ED80 for photography,

What could I mount on the NEQ6 to use for visual? please dont say my 300P.:icon_salut:

Stealth

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EQ6 pro, an 80mm ED80 of some description and an 8" SW newt. Get a losmandy side by side plate and saddle for the EQ6 and mount the 2 scopes side by side.

Ideally though, keep that dob for visual. Trying to mix and match visual with imaging is fraught with problems.

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Could you really mount an ED80 and ST80 guidescope on an EQ5 Pro? Genuine question, I really want to do some DSO imaging and hadn't considered a combo like this before which would work on my existing mount.

Dead easily. Larger than ED80 is possible too but ED80-ST 80 is really comfortable. Ideally go for side by side to reduce load on the mount, though I don't bother, I pile 'em on top of each other, but that's EQ sixes and Tak.

Okay, how else could you do it? Used LX200 10 inch for £1000. Don't bother trying to image with it, but piggyback a small refractor like a ZS72 for imaging and guide with the big one. I did this, it was possible, but it was not so pleasant to use and it can't be upgraded on the imaging side. It assumes an observatory setup. No wedges in the field for me!! I didn't like it that much but I got pictures out of it and obviously the LX200 has a good go-to and a fair view of the sky.

The LX is a lousy guidescope for finding stars. Small field, slow

f ratio. Counter-intuitive? Well yes, but there it is.

Or ED120/Meade 127 on EQ6. Pushing the budget but we love to do that don't we???!!! This way you get the pleasure of a big refractor to look through. It will not go as deep as your Dob, obviously, but you do get that special refractor 'something' (or I do, no fighting, now!) to make up for it. No other mid-sized alternative will do that. I often dither between the big Dob (20 inch) and the 5.5 inch apo for my own visual use because they give a different experience.

Or finally substitute the MN190 for the refractors above.

If going for the 5 inch refractor/MN190 route consider a better guidescope that could also image at short focal length. Worth a bit of cash, that, and very productive. Once you have the hang of it you could take a widefield in the small one then use Registar to drop in a detailed key area from the big one. That is a buzz, believe me.

Olly

Edit; crossed in the post with Martin, there. He makes a good point about keeping the two activities apart. Mucking about with your imaging system is a hassle and slows you down on those precious workable UK nights. I agree with what he said.

Edited by ollypenrice
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An 8 inch SCT has things going for it as a compromise but...

- in imaging, even with reducer, it will have a long focal length which needs very accurate tracking and alignment.

Not if you stick a CCD with a large pixel size on the end of it. Unfortunately these are becoming hard to find, although you can always on-chip bin a smaller pixel camera.

NigelM

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SCTs say the LX200s or Celestron Edge HD Series are slow. As stated they run at F10. But add a HyperStar and these run at about an F1.8 to an F2. But this will eat £500+(depending on size) of the budget. Thing about AP is that it just keeps increasing the budget maximum:icon_eek:

As others have said get the best mount you can. Then you should know what you have left for scopes,CCD,guiding equipment etc. I personal feel its a work in progress. People start with a decent starting kit then build it as funds allow.

Won't say what scope mount CCD I was looking at when I thought I had £15k incoming(locked down for a fair few yrs) but when I added up what I had chosen it had eaten around 8k and I still could of gotten more.

P.S. Olly has some really good tips ideas on how to get things set up and get you going within your budget limits .

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Not if you stick a CCD with a large pixel size on the end of it. Unfortunately these are becoming hard to find, although you can always on-chip bin a smaller pixel camera.

NigelM

I'm lost! Why will a large pixel size help your tracking and alignment? (I agree that long focal lengths like large pixels and that you can indeed bin small ones with mono cameras.) Most of the barriers in the way of a good image are physical - the stability and accuracy of the mount. Short focal lengths are tolerant, long ones are not. Fast f ratios need short exposures, slow ones need long. A double whammy in favour of the short fast imaging scope when it comes to guiding. That was my point.

You do see good SCT images, especially from the big ones in my view, really good. But then you look at the mounts that are carrying them and, more often than not, the two magic letters appear! Gimme an 'A' - Gimme a 'P' (Gimme a win on the lot-er-ree...)

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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I think its Quite Important to discover if AP is for you at ALL !!!!!

Many start out with aspirations of taking astounding images but soon fall by the wayside with the frustrations of imaging.

Why not start with just a HEQ5 (non pro) & an ED80 for budget

of around £5-600 secondhand to see if you like it first.

Brian

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As ever there us some great advice here from many who know more than me....but I'll chip in a few objective thoughts anyway. :o

First off....it's a slippery slope and easy to just throw money at, so my advice is plan long term.

Mount is critical. Neq6 is practically identical to eq6 pro and an excellent mount that will give you more capacity an future options than eq5.

It will also have a better resale value should you decide AP isn't for you.

Whilst we all know how frustrating astronomy can be waiting for clear skies etc. That frustration increases on a log scale as you try to refine practice and better your images, so beware, huge patience required.

So with that in mind why not plan a long term strategy.

Your suggest combo of 80mm & NeQ6 is perfect to Start with.

If you're happy and want to step up you'll easily be able to either add a sml 66 piggybacked for guiding. Or move up in aperture and use the 80 for guiding.

Typical guide setup is around £400ish for off the shelf autoguide but can be done alot cheaper with webcam and software. And of course you'll need another scope (£200ish) if you can get a 66....or maybe another 80mm.

As you'll probably be imaging DSOs with that setup I'd budget for a field flattener and don't forget some form of finder typically £40ish for telrad type.

So if you jumped all in at the start you'd be looking at around £2300 up

So build up from strong foundations and try to choose kit that you can reuse elsewhere rather than have to sell on t a later date.

Oh and look at ota packages since you'll not need a diagonal for astrophotography.

Hth

Michael

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My choice would be a SW MN190 on EQ6, and using an off axis guider, extra guidescopes are an unnecessary evil in my book :o

Although primarily an astrograph, the MN190 gives excellent good contrasty views visually, I'll never forget the first time I looked at M42 in it, the nebula was alive with intricate sharp detail, real depth to it. Barlowed to f10.6 2000mm fl you get very tasty planetary views too.

A lot will depend on what you actually want to photograph, as planets, galaxies and nebulae require different approaches.

If you aren't in a rush, the next SGL star party at the end of March could be really useful to you to see the various setups that imagers are using.

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Right i'm taking on board all of your good advice...

I'm thinking I should start with a good mount an eq6.

But moving from a DOB...

how difficult/frustrating will it be to set up?

I have read Astrobaby's eq5/6 guide and it looks daungting.

I will 90% of the time be using it in my back garden in roughly the same spot each time, so would the mount keep its settings?

The Mak Newt 190 look tempting, it has good reviews for AP and visual.

I'm pretty sure that to start with 90% of my time will be visual as I slowly try my hand at AP.

So could the Mak Newt 190 be the scope for me?

How would it compare visually to my 12" DOB?

How will I get on with the EQ6?, I know this is a long term mount,which I could mount any future scopes.

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Just to say that with the co-operation of SteveL I have been carefully comparing M13 imaged in his MN with my result in the TEC. The MN 190 was powermated to 2 metres (ish) focal length but it clearly outresolved my TEC working at 980mm. I was darned impressed, I can tell you. Pass me my cheque book...

Nadeem, get that smug grin off your face!!!

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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My 2Ks worth - is go for the best mount ie NEQ6 do not skimp on this, I have fallen desperately in love with my Mak Newt, sad but true.

"Making every photon count" by Steppenwolf (Steve) is an excellent book.

Regarding your mount set up, could you do something like this - http://stargazerslounge.com/diy-observatories/84335-what-lies-beneath.html

It saved so much set up time having the mount permanently ready.

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