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A scope for astrophotography


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I was about to buy a Celestron NextStar 6SE as a gift for my brother. He's into photography, and I figured I could lure him into astronomy via astrophotography. Seems like a great scope for the price, and portable too, which was the only requirement I got out of my brother when I asked. But I've been advised that equatorial is the only way to go for imaging...

I may have to persuade him that portability is a relative thing, I guess. With that in mind, can I get some suggestions about what to go for, given the implied budget?

Thanks

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A long focal length fork or arm mounted SCT is the last thing you want when trying to learn deep sky imaging - in my opinion, I heartlily stress.

A small apo refractor on an HEQ5 is the way to start, according to those who advised me. I ignored them but learned the hard way and now agree. For planetary and lunar and you can use a fast frame rate camera (webcam upwards) and here the SCT on altaz would do quite well. Many people I know have failed to get wedge mounted SCTs to work in practice for deep sky. I found mine a nightmare.

Olly.

Edited by ollypenrice
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The 5SE comes with a wedge, but I'm leaning towards Olly's advice in that I'm looking at some kind of 80ED to go on a CG-5 GT. I suspect my bro would like some kind of ultra portable astro-trac set up, but then he'll needing a richer brother for that...

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An 80ED on a CG5/HEQ5 would be an excellent start into imaging. My first proper setup was the Equinox 80 with ST80 on an NEQ6, you wouldnt really need a mount that big to start with but I new I wouldnt be content with just an 80ED which held true as within few months of getting it I got the Equinox 120 aswell.

The wedge is a horrible place to start AP with and I totally agree with Olly in every respect. I very nearly bought a Meade 10" LX200 on a wedge as my first setup but was advised to stay away and go for a beefy EQ mount. If your not set on the 6SE then I would suggest going the EQ route aswell.

I've just started on my AstroTrac journey, have a look at my AstroTrac reviews, part 1 and 2 are in the review section, part 3 will be first light which hopefully wont be too long in the offing. A complete setup including tripod and mounting equipment cost me about £700 and then obviously you have the camera equipment and lenses on top.

If he is really serious about getting into AP a good start would be a decent tripod and a camera and just mess about with some 30 second, 60 second exposures. Thats what I did, you can also try the star trails photo which always impresses when done right. I now use a Sigma 170-500mm APO lens which hopefully should replace a small 80ED scope, I'm not sure what the quality of the image will be but I have some I can compare with when I get out there with it. The 300D with that lens at 500mm gives a really nice fov to get the flame and horsehead nebulas in Orion, so fingers crossed. I'm also going to adapt a rear lens cover and stick a 1.25" EP holder on the back of it and see how it operates as a visual instrument aswell. Would be very handy for on holiday having a decent camera lens that doubles up as a portable scope.

Whichever way you choose to go I wish you luck and hope that you find the right setup for you the first time. I've been through three now and its only now that I feel truely happy with what I am using.

Edited by simon84
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