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Can anyone help me with my budget


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Hi all , i have been trying to decide on a telescope to buy since the begining of january and have changed my mind more times than i care to remember. I have read many posts about different pieces of equipment i have been looking at all of which have split opinions on thier uses.

As a complete novice to astronomy my brain is near frazzled trying to take in all the advice i have read on lenses , barlows x2 x4 x5 , filters etc

I would be most grateful for comprehensive advice on what to buy within my budget and the expectations i have about my new hobby(if its even possible :rolleyes: )

Here goes , my budget currently stands at £500 and would like to be able to observe half decent images of mostly planets to begin with , but i think my stronger desire would be imaging , i understand there is a balance between the two. At the moment i am interested in the Skywatcher Explorer 130P SupaTrak AUTO

SW130PSupaTrakAUTO.jpg

If i am correct this equipment would suffice a beginner in both observing and imaging with webcam and stacking software but im still unsure of which lenses and filters to buy to basically get me going straight away

my apologies for such a long winded question and thank anyone who has the patience for reading in the first place :eek:

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Hi, unfortunately its not quite as simple as a compromise on a budget of £500. imaging requires one set of parameters visual another. For 500 you can get a good visual set up. or you can get the mount to start you on your way to imaging. before deciding either way to spend your money try reading this Books - Making Every Photon Count - Steve Richards it will tell you all you need to know before ypu start imaging

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Thank you Kris , this was actually one of the first scopes i looked at. do you know if the mount can be fitted with an auto trak system for imaging also ?

Not sure about the auto trak someone on here who knows more about that will be able to tell you if that can be done but for long exposure astrophotgraphy you really need a E Q mount unless you take short exposures but i think should get the visual side done first get your scope & get out there when the clouds go away also you should keep a eye on the for sale thread .

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An EQ is really required for proper long exposure imaging. However, an Alt Az can be used within limits. You are limited to a max of 2 minutes, low in the east and west, and down to about 30 seconds, directly N or S and at the zenith. A lot can be achieved in those times. Focal length is not an issue (so I've read) on the maximum tracking times, before you get trailing caused by rotation, but... the longer the focal length, the more accurate the drives need to be, and the smaller AltAz mounts just can't achieve it well.

I was able to hit 2 minute exposures low in the east with my NexStar SLT, but.. due to drive train errors, lost 50% of them.

And... AltAz imaging, can get very frustrating...

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True, to a point... my NexStar SLT (pretty much the same mount) isn't able to track accurately enough for getting in close on things... It is a great little mount, don't get me wrong, superb for visual use and some simple shorter focal length imaging.

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Here goes , my budget currently stands at £500 and would like to be able to observe half decent images of mostly planets to begin with , but i think my stronger desire would be imaging ,

I think you don't know how difficult imaging is. But if you're serious about imaging, with that kind of budget, you should get an f/5 150mm reflector on an EQ5-class mount with a dual speed focuser (and a 5x barlow if you want to image planets).

If all you want to image are planets (with a webcam derived sensor), then another alternative could be a 127mm Mak on a recent NEQ3 mount with steel tripod.

No GoTo, though, because that will eat budget better spent elsewhere. Lesson #1 is that you want a stable mount, and that it is actually more important than the optics and certainly more important than GoTo.

But I'd strongly advise you to consider just a 200mm Dob (or 200mm reflector on an EQ5) if you're not interested in imaging. Better still, try to attend a star party near to where you are to see the scopes in the flesh.

Edited by sixela
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I have the 130p and alt-az goto mount and yes its great for visual work but i really wished i had an eq mount now even after only owning it for a month. Im looking at doing simple image captures but im at a major disadvantage with this type of mount. Id reccomend the scope for its optics without hesitation but the mount is really only good for visual work. Not the end of the world but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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Thank you all for your replies , lots of sound advice in there , im really torn between good visuals and decent images . I get the feeling if im out observing with a good scope i will be saying to my self " wish i could capture that image " lol . looks like i need to think long and hard about what im going to use my scope for the most

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If you are interested in imaging at all I would allways go for an EQ mount. At least that opens up the possibility of planetary and dso imaging. I think the moment you see your first dso's you'll want to snap them lol.

You don't neccessarily need goto but definitely you'll want tracking and imho you can't go wrong with an EQ-5 or CG5 with RA motor for a good solid starter mount (or equivalent). You can get them for around £200 new or £100 s/h leaving good budget for a variety of ota's. RA/Dec tracking will cost around £90 new or £60-£70 s/h. I'd suggest a small Mak or Sct for planetary imaging, a short tube wide angle refractor for dso imaging, or a 150P/200P newt for observing/imaging generally.

I doubt you'd be able to guide effectively on your budget, but the above would give you time to get going whilst saving for a cheap guiding solution e.g. maybe a finder/guider.

When buying goto's allways remember the more you put into the electronics the less you have in your budget for good quality optics. If you're dead set on imaging I'd definitely look to the s/h market where you can get some very good bargains. Stick to stuff that's under 12-18 months old in good condition. PM me and I'll give you a breakdown of prices for my imaging setup for a great example.

Hope that helps to clarify your choices :rolleyes:

Edited by brantuk
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Thank you all for your replies , lots of sound advice in there , im really torn between good visuals and decent images . I get the feeling if im out observing with a good scope i will be saying to my self " wish i could capture that image " lol . looks like i need to think long and hard about what im going to use my scope for the most

If you are out observing then you would have to stop and accurately set up the system for imaging. Imaging requires much better setup and alignment then does visual. Someone has aloready said that visual and imaging are separate things and that is the best way to look upon it.

Have you seen a good imaging setup for decent images?

If not I suggest that you spend the time to do so.

Without causing arguments it is not a reflector and not an Alt/Az mount. Go and find a local club and get information.

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For imaging you need to build from the ground up, for visual you can go the other way, and therein lies the rub financially so to speak. You can get a dirty great Dobsonian for 500 sobs which would be excellent visually but virtually useless for DSO imaging. But you can easily spend you budget just on a mount for imaging use.

Get Steves' book have a good read first before spending out, that would be my advice.

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Beware! Astronomy is like drug addiction. Once you get hooked, you find that you have to spend more and more – not just money but time, reading up on what you need to buy next. Very soon, you will find that you have to give up alcohol and smoking so that you can pay for that next eyepiece or laser finder. Your food intake will be reduced to hot tea and biscuits. Those late, starry nights mean that you loose precious sleep. You may not notice at first but your friends and family will. The first sign that you are on your way out is that telltale ring round just one eye! Be warned. Join a knitting circle before it is too late...too late...too late...

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i had a 130p autotrak, great little scope good for webcaming planets but if you don`t live somewhere it is very dark skies you will hardly be able to see many dso`s, m42 and some of the brighter ones you will see.

if you really get into imaging the the focuser on the 130p will not hold up, it will not hold a canon 1000d or a ccd camera with all the extras on. i.e. filter wheels and so on.

if you have a budget of £500 and was starting off again i`d go for a good second hand celestron cg5 gt mount, these are motored goto mounts and can be bought in good condition second hand for £300 ish, as for scope a 8" newtonian would be a good offering, these again can be bought for £220 new so second hand knock a third off, then a webcam spc880 flashed to 900 £10 adapter £12 and uv/ir filter £20 ish, means you could be up and running with quality gear for £500 and maybe have alittle left over

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hi there brantuk its jimmythemoonlight here i have got a skywatcher explorer 130 newt 5" aperture what i would like to know is i have just bought the set up for taking photos is my telescope ok for this i have a 25mm wide angled lens 10mm super and a x2 barlow by the way can you tell me what these mean dso's mak sct and ota's many thanx

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Hi Jimmy - you'll be able to photograph planets with a webcam. If it's an EQ mount you might be able to get up to 2mins exposures on brighter dso's but you'll need very a very dark site with that aperture.

Dso = deep space object (galaxies, nebulas, etc)

Ota = optical tube assembly (ie the actual scope tube)

Mak - Maksutov Cassegraine

Sct = Schmitt Cassegraine

(the last two being short tube compound scopes that fold the light to achieve long focal length) :rolleyes:

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Thank you all for all opinions and advice , escpecially brantuk for your detailed break down of my required budget . i have now made up my mind and im going to buy a decent scope for visuals then save for an imaging scope so i have both to suit whatever my needs require :rolleyes: ...looks like a toss up between a skywatcher 150pl on eq mount and a 200 dobsonion . thanks again to you all for taking the time to read an reply to my questions

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