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Looking to get started in astro-imaging


Martye
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I currently have an 8in dob (Skywatcher 200P) and love the thing to bits. I get some really good views with it. However recently I’ve really started to get the urge to be able to take photos of what I see. It started with images of the moon which is easy with my scope and connecting my DSLR to it with a T-Ring. But being a Dob that is all I am able to do.

So now I’m looking to change my equipment. Does anyone have any advice about what is the best way to proceed? I have two real directions I was looking at:

1. Do I have to go down the routeof buying a whole new set up

2. Is it possible to use my existing scope bearing in mind it has a pretty long body at least in the interim and spread the costs?

Sorry forgot to add that I am a bit of a budget, certainly to start with.

Any help or advice is really appreciated.

Marty

Edited by Martye
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Sadly "bit of a budget" and imaging don't sit very well together, it's an expensive game. What are you interested in imaging? The moon/planets, or long-exposure deep sky?

The problem with the 200p OTA is that - as you've said - it's big and therefore places hefty demands on the mount. I'd be looking at an EQ6, especially if you're going to add a guidescope. While there's expense in buying a refractor for imaging, that's offset by being able to use a lighter mount. So IMO best to keep the Dob for what it's best at. But depends too on what you ultimately want to do.

Edited by Ben Ritchie
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Bit of a budget doesn't tell us enough unfortunately! You could put the 200P on a heavy duty mount using tube rings but as Ben says, for DSO work it would really need to be an EQ6.

Can you give us a bit more information on what you really want to image because this will very much determine the advice you are given.

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Thanks for the replies and helping me galvanise my thoughts a bit more. I would love to be able to focus on DSO's and my budget would initially have to be below £800 - there is some wiggle room with this.

I realise the sky is the limit (no pun) in terms of expense but I am really looking at a decent entry level setup. I've looked around and found there are so many options and gets confusing.

From what has been said it seems to imply what I had already thought that it is possibly better to keep my dob for what it is good at and go for a complete new setup. So it looks like I need to focus more on a decent mount with some form of guidance and a more basic scope if I am to keep the budget down. Is this correct? What do you recommend as a good combination.

Cheers

Marty

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I always feel that when starting out in DSO imaging you need to think short focal length. Wider fields of view put less emphasis on mount performance but don't try to use that as an excuse for not getting a decent mount!! For DSO imaging, you need the best mount you can possibly afford and the HEQ5 comes within your budget. In fact you could get the HEQ5 mount and a Sky-Watcher 80ED pro refractor for around your budget but you would not have enough to get autoguiding as well which is a pity as this would have allowed you to start taking 5 minute or longer exposure images.

I'd be tempted to consider this combo, get going with 2 minute exposures (and lots of them) and when funds allow get a guide 'scope and guide camera. This will give you lots of fun and experience and you could also get some cracking shots with just your DSLR camera mounted on the mount using your camera lenses for some really widefield Milky Way shots.

You WILL want to do some kind of guiding in the future though.......

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...what Steve said :-)

...and I'll be the first to say 'buy Steve's book!' too :-) I think there's a link in his sig.

I came on here and asked the same question about 2 months ago... I've gone with the HEQ5-Pro and 80ED DS Pro and a digital SLR.

I haven't used it in anger yet but... that set up is almost in budget, well, the HEQ5 Syntrek plus the 80ED is about £900 - £1K new... though you may pick one or t'other up 2nd hand and save a few quid.

Start with shorter exposures (that's what I'm doing) upgrade to a guiding set up later. I had the budget to start guiding from the outset but chose not to for the simple reason that I wanted to take this in steps and the unguided set up was more than enough to learn in one go without adding guide cameras and secondary guide scopes to the equation.

Keep the big scope for observing, you'd be on to a loosing streak and end up getting frustrated and ultimately spending even more money trying to use that for DSO imaging I think.

Ben

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I have the HEQ5 pro and the explorer 200 PDS (roughly same as yours), and it works quite ok, and even with a skywatcher capricorn (70mm refractor, 900mm) on top it didn't have any problems guiding well with a webcam and a bright star. But had troubble balancing it though, as teh HEQ5 weights are only enough for the explorer 200 tube itself, and maybe a tiny tiny guidescope, but that's it...

However, on bright stars, i've had good success in guiding with just the 9x50 finderscope and a webcam put in front of the EP on the finderscope with PHD guiding. It's nt perfect, and you need a bright star close by. But it's an insanely cheap way to start on guiding.

I would say the EQ5 would be an absolute minimum for imaging with nothing else on top (but the 150PDS would be a better fit for it), but if you're going to add a guidescope also, i'd say the HEQ5 as a minimum, and preferably EQ6 if you can aford it so you have some extra to go on. A mount struggeling to move the scope where it wants to move it, isn't a good thing...

But, be awere, i've never been as frustrated and broke as this before i connected my DSLR to the tube... :o

It's fun, very fun. and you'll see a lot more then you can with only the eyes, but it might turn out expensive as there's no limit on improvement. I'd probably buy the hubble if i had the money... :(

Edited by Jannis
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I've always had to wrestle with a very tight budget - i don't doubt the quality of the skywatcher mounts but I went with a Celestron CG5-GT mount and 8" newt bundle which cost about £700 new 18 months ago and I've not regretted it. I'm guiding with a SKywatcher 88mm refractor and an old Mk1 Meade DSI - pulse guiding through the handset.

I started out on lunar planetary and then moved on to deep sky work but initially unguided until I could afford a further scope and camera. I've built the kit up over the last 3 years and just done what I can with the kit I've got as I go along. What pushed the cost up for me was that I had to get a laptop and a DSLR - If you've got those already, your half way there.

Regards

John

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Thanks for all the replies and ideas. You've given me quite a bit to think about. I think I'll use the summer months when the nights are short to begin to put something together. It gives me some time now rather than rushing in - a bad habit of mine.

Marty

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  • 6 months later...

I have 200p myself too and figuring this EQ mount thingy.

EQ5 Pro synscan: Is this too weak? after all its on the limit, (9-10kg load)...

or

HEQ5 syntrek

And i was thinking to add guiding scope to balance rod.

Though I wonder are cheaper normal webcams up for the task? Can I point the guider scope anywhere on sky (brightest stars)? My Guider scope is f/6,3

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