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What To Buy For Astrophotography ?


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Hi,

I'm fairly new to astronomy and i'm looking for a telescope.

I want to be able to photograph what i see, assuming it's worth it.

I have about 800 pounds £ max to spend.

I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas?

I was looking these two, but i'm only guessing here...

Celestron C8-N GT (GOTO)

Skywatcher Explorer 200P with EQ5 PRO GOTO

I don't yet have a camera.

I might be happy with webcam pictures, i've no idea what can be done with webcams to be honest.

Any suggestions welcome.

I'm happy to get a second hand one also.

I am located in Ireland which seems to be a major factor in buying a telescope. People seem unwilling to sell me anything.

So if you know of any shops that are a bit more open to international sales let me know. There's nothing in Ireland.

Thanks

Mark.

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Yeah I read a lot about that webcam.

Is 1.3MP enough though?

I'm wondering if a DSLR might be better just a cheap second hand 5 or 6 mp one.

I'd like to see some results from the P200.

And also the EQ5 Pro goto mount.

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Before you jump in and simply to clarify. Imagers tend to use a small apo refractor on a solid mount. The imaging scope can be guided by a second scope with guide camera and laptop to control the system.

What they don't use is a big reflector on a mount that is probably too small (EQ5).

Not going to say that images will be impossible but depending on how good you want them please be aware of what is the prefered option.

I would seriously suspect that the EQ5 with a 200P on board is too small. Even with something like an 80mm refractor the preferred mount is the HEQ5 or better the EQ6. An 80mm refractor is a lot smaller then the 200P.

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Ronin,

Ahh, I had heard something about that, but didn't really grasp it.

What i really what to do it have the best view possible and ideally get a photo of it. Maybe that's no t possible.

Maybe not on my budget anyway.

I'm already fully stretched at that budget.

Any suggestions gear wise?

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If you are going to image, then you need the biggest mount you can afford.

The mount will last and you can build your OTA's as and when. Guide German mount is a most, maybe the HEQ5 goto Pro as minimum. That will take an OTA reflector upto 200m and a 150m Refractor. The SPC900 cam is ideal for Planets and Moon, DSLR for DSO

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The mount is probably 90% of a photography set-up. Or maybe even 95%!! The scope is secondary. You need to decide what you want to photograph. For DSO's a small APO refractor will fit the bill while for the Moon and planets you need a longer focal length, so maybe a 90mm - 127mm MAK would be better. For DSO's you will need at least a DSLR and for the Moon and planets a webcam will suffice. Don't forget that they will need adaptors etc to hold everything together.

Im would also suggest the book "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards (usual disclaimer) as this takes you through the whole process in clear and simple stages. It also tells you what NOT to buy - saving you a potential fortune in the process!!

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A good EQ Mount is a must, with regards to a scope, a good reflector or refractor for DSO, and for Planetary/Moon a MAK is a good option, just watch out for webcams not all of them are CCD, but CMOS, it's good advice to read whats in the box.

Edited by Si W
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:)hi, i started with a big reflector, which in my opinion was a mistake, hard to handle , and usually poor focusers. a skywatcher 80mm equinox is where i went next, try one second hand, say 350 . 80mm apteture and f 6.25 is quite fast, will work well with a webcam or dslr. you may get an heq5 pro for about 500. dont get a long focal length scope to start. wait till you start autoguiding. save a little more cash, while reading up on astrophotography. get an heq5 pro, equinox 80, and a dslr body. (cannon) t ring and 2 inch focal extender. say a grand. i wasted loads of cash on wrong gear. that has all long gone.:), cheers steve

Edited by dweebostar
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Don't buy anything at all until you have a fuller grasp of how it all works or doesn't work! Certainly don't base any decisions whatever on marketing blurbs because in those everything works just fine. Only it doesn't, of course...

Webcams are really for sun, moon and planets. They don't need great tracking accuracy and they do need long focal lengths to get the image scale up on tiny targets. The tracking is not an issue because thousands of short exposures are aligned and stacked at the end in free software.

Deep sky with DSLR or CCD is simply the opposite. Very long exposures need very accurate tracking indeed. Short focal lengths fit larger objects on the chip and make the very tricky tracking much easier.

The two types of imaging are diametrically opposed and Deep Sky is very expensive. The business of taking a deep sky image of a nebula or galaxy bears no resemblance to any kind of daytime photography.

Olly,

ollypenrice's Photos

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As it happens I came across a scope I went ahead and bought.

It's a LXD75 mount (which i hear is pretty study)

On top it has a Meade SN8.

Got the revelation eye piece set.

Meade LPI camera

Electronic Focuser

all for £600.

What i've seen of the results looks good enough for me.

The imaging i've seen looks ok to my eye.

I'm not expecting the Earth.

I'm most interested in deep sky stuff and imaging.

Not so bothered with planets etc.

I don't have the money (and wouldn't spend it if i did) to buy an apochromatic scope.

I'm hoping the mount is future proof to some degree.

Mark.

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Thanks, I'll look into that.

I have to assume that the telescope I've ordered is useful for something?

I see others here using them. Surely they can't be complete junk?

What I'm looking for is a text book on basic astronomy.

Rather than the photography part.

I don't want a book full of waffle, just facts and figures with equations etc would be fine. I'm a bit dyslexic and I can't take in waffle but I can absorb a text book in hours and retain it.

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The Meade LPI is a lunar and planetary imager (hence the name). It's OK for simple snapshots of those objects but can't do deep sky objects.

I'd really concentrate on getting well used how the scope and mount works before trying imaging.

The Steve Richards book is highly recommended but you will need to invest more in deep sky capable imagers and get really adept at polar alignment and tracking to venture into deep sky imaging.

A small apochromat seems to be the tool recommended by the experienced deep sky imagers (which I'm not) and I'd respect their advice.

The SN8 should work OK for visual but is a very "fast" scope so collimation will be pretty critical.

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Not easy to recommend a good book because I don't really know what you dismiss as waffle. If you try ABE books, the second hand book search engine, you might find the big textbook Universe (Freeman, Kauffmann.) It is an undergrad textbook with clear explanations, excellent graphics and the equations in boxed off sections. It might suit. All the facts, figures and theories are in there.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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jahmanson

Hi,

I've had telescopes on and off for years.

Never really bought what I would call an expensive one though.

Had an ETX70 a few years ago which i got some basic pictures with (believe it or not)

Also a cheapo 8" reflector from ebay which i got surprisingly good pics from considering i couldn't track with it due to the crappy motors they supplied not actually being strong enough to move the telescope.

I will however replace the LPI with the DSI from meade which looks to produce good pictures on this setup (seen some on here.)

I'll see how i go with this one before thinking about buying more.

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It's a LXD75 mount (which i hear is pretty study)

On top it has a Meade SN8.

Got the revelation eye piece set.

Meade LPI camera

Electronic Focuser

all for £600.

Hi Mark

That’s not a bad offer for £600, the LXD75 is a good study mount, the sn8 Newtonian is also a good scope and at F4 it's fast, you do have to be spot on with the collimation though. I also have the revelation eye piece set, there on a par with the Meade 4000 series EP's, yet again not bad, the Meade LPI is basically a webcam and has a CMOS and not a CCD, you will be restricted to Planetary and Luna imaging even with the sn8, I don’t have an Electronic Focuser, to be honest that’s one thing I don’t like about the sn OTA, the focuser is cheap plastic, I upgraded mine to a Duel Crayford focus which is easy to fit.

Cheers

Simon

Edited by Si W
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SiW,

Yeah I had heard they were plasticy, shame to let it down with that.

I didn't know the LPI was cmos. See why it's only good for planetary stuff now. I thought it was just low quality rather than cmos.

No doubt it will run hot on long exposures and create a load of hot spots and/or white/dead pixels. CMOS are so rubbish.

I had an EOS 350D a while back and they're only CMOS.

Will probably buy the Meade DSI rather than a camera as I never used the last one I had for much else.

I've got a few cmos web cams kicking about that have for project written all over them.

It also came with a pro version of starry night (v5 i think)

Thinking it was a good deal, still waiting courier, so we'll see.

No other way to buy in Ireland, nothing available and when it is it's double UK prices (which in turn are double the US.)

I tried to buy from the US but the shipping was crazy.

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Mark

To be honest the LPI is not bad as far as hot pixels are concerned, there are however better webcams out there for quality of image, its is good for luna/solar imaging, just be aware it only has a maximum of 15 second exposure with Meade software, what the LPI is good for is as an auto guider if there is a bright star in the field of view, you can also use it as a tool for Periodical errors checking your drive, if you do get the DSI it can do all the above anyway, I use the LPI every now and again on the Moon but that's about it. If you don't get any Meade software with the scope you can down load autostar suit from the Meade website, I would advice that you get the updated envisage 7.09, it's got a lot of bug fix's in it, and there is a Windows 7 version if your running that on a PC/Laptop. If you do need any help with it just give me a shout.

Edit: if you click on my profile i have a few picture of my setup it may give you some idea's for the future.

Cheers

Simon

Edited by Si W
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