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My first telescope purchase (help!)


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Hello,

My partner and I are currently in the process of looking for a telescope to purchase and if it is possible I would be very grateful for some advice.

We have already contacted a number of websites that sell telescopes and was informed of this forum by Martin of firstlightoptics.

We have a budget of up to £1,000 and would be looking to take images with our Sony dslr camera of planets, nebula and galaxies (if possible!). Being newcomers to astronomy in general we would expect there to be a steep learning curve when using the equipment and also in regards to knowing and learning about what we are seeing but I guess that is part of the fun!

We have enjoyed looking around the forum and seeing the images that have been taken here by people and it has inspired us to try it for ourselves.

Any advice would be great.

Many thanks,

Dan and Steph.

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First off, your budget is a healthy one to get started in astronomy in general but with regards to astrophotgraphy, objects like nebula and galaxies (...known as 'Deep Sky' objects) will require that most of your existing budget is used to purchase a decent mount, leaving a lot less for the scope etc. It is possible to video the moon and planets using a cheap web camera and that can be performed on any scope including a dobsonian. The thing to remember is that it is relatively straight forward to put a camera on a tripod and take a 'widefield' shot of the sky but anything more than that is a completely different ball game. There is also the processing requirements of handling the data that you have captured, which can utilize many free programs and others that will need to be bought.

I am not trying to put you off from astro imaging but as you don't mention anything about actually wanting to view some of these objects through an eyepiece, I need to help understand that it's not just a matter of attaching a camera to a scope and taking a snap - there is more to it. The most important thing is that you don't rush into anything and to that end, can I suggest you first purchases Steve Richards "Making Every Photon Count" (FLO £19.95) which is really good book that will explain what kit you need, why you need it to produce the kind of results that you want to achieve. It is a comprehensive book and may in fact save you money. The equipment required for imaging is not mutually the same as that for viewing which will mean that you will need to decide what route to go down. There are a lot of excellent imagers on here to help you if imaging is what you're after but you can't do it on the cheap after all they don't call it the 'Dark Side' for nothing. :)

James

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If you have aspirations to astrophotography, you can go two ways.

1. Start out modestly with a scope that is inexpensive - learn the sky and how to operate a scope (there's a few months fun in that alone, trust me!). Then upgrade to a real astrophoto setup as your 2nd scope. Many of us have more than one scope so we have both visual and photographic kit.

2. Others do their best to combine things and have one 'general purpose' telescope. This means jumping in with both feet and starting out with a pretty substantial mount and scope. As many have said in this forum - astrophotography is about mounting and tracking first - optics second. You will also find (somewhat to your financial cost) that a tracking "GoTo" mount that is great for visual may be weak sauce when it comes to imaging. Imaging places a much greater demand on the mount than visual work - this requires more precision mechanically, and much more mass. Think about what it takes to swing a 1-meter tube of 10-15 kg about with millimeter precision and move is so smoothly that there is NO vibration visible - even with a photograph taken over extended time at high magnification! You can see why photographic kit is so much more expensive!

I strongly suggest making a journey to the local astro club. There are lots of folks there who do both visual and photographic work, most will be thrilled to babble on about their kit and probably will let you have a go yourself (the visual stuff, anyway -- the photo folks sometimes get a bit tichy about others touching their high-precision stuff!) This is likely to save you much grief (and lots of cash), besides there are lots of astronomy mates in your area you just haven't met yet! :)

Good luck,

Dan

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Astrophotography:=

Decent mount, HEQ5 (minimum size reqd) £750.

Better EQ6 - £815

Triplet scope for absence of CA, say WO FLT98 - £1745

Guide cameras seem to be 230 to 300 for an inexpensive one.

Guide scope, small WO 72 around £350-390

So far that is £3200, add in several bits on top of that and that should get you going.

As JBM said, £1000 will get a decent mount.

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I've just set up an imaging rig for around a grand - part new, part second hand. Based around the Megrez 72mm F6 for wide field imaging on a CG5GT goto mount using an SW ST80 for guiding and mounted side by side on a dual bar.

You have a reasonable camera for the pics - on top you'll need an SPC900 (or flashed 880) for guiding. All the software is free to download: DSS for stacking, Gimp for processing, and Phd for guiding. There may be a little extra on connections, flatteners, and dew control - I'm in the middle of working that out now.

It can be done on your budget but you need to know what you're doing - I "think" I do lol - "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards (steppenwolf on SGL) is a must read first. I'll be putting up some pics soon in my albums :)

Edited by brantuk
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I've just set up an imaging rig for around a grand - part new, part second hand. Based around the Megrez 72mm F6 for wide field imaging on a CG5GT goto mount using an SW ST80 for guiding and mounted side by side on a dual bar.

You have a reasonable camera for the pics - on top you'll need an SPC900 (or flashed 880) for guiding. All the software is free to download: DSS for stacking, Gimp for processing, and Phd for guiding. There may be a little extra on connections, flatteners, and dew control - I'm in the middle of working that out now.

It can be done on your budget but you need to know what you're doing - I "think" I do lol - "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards (steppenwolf on SGL) is a must read first. I'll be putting up some pics soon in my albums :)

Well said that man there, a positive and 'can do' option that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Food for thought, for me anyway.

Al

Edited by alowen
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Thanks Ags and Al - It's a start, and I agree being positive is the only way forward. If someone has a grand spare to try the hobby out then why not go for it? And the good thing is you can get most of your money back (around 65-75% kept in good nick) if it all prooves too much lol :)

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Many thanks for the fast and informative responses. I think we will start off by ordering the book 'Making Every Photon Count' and just take things slowly by reading that and also looking to see what is out there in terms new and second hand equipment. Hopefully, once we get a better understanding of the types of equipment and what each item of equipment does we can make a more informed choice.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to our post,

Dan and Steph

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