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Author Topic: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice  (Read 8020 times)

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Offline Batman7617

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New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« on: 23:18:13, 17 July, 2013 »
Hi all,

My name is Mike, newcomer to the forum, after around a month of looking through reviews, weighing up pro's and cons etc, i'm about as confused as I can possibly be and thought it'd be best to seek advice from straight talking people who have the knowledge that can help me spend my money and get me the best kit for both my experience and budget.

I have a Canon EOS 550D DSLR so I have the camera sorted, I have a very good spec laptop also and I'm looking to do DSO Photography - nebulae, galaxies, long exposure times etc, I have a budget of £2,000

I need:

1) A Mount
2) A Scope or scopes
3) Advice on 'off axis' guiding vs having two scopes piggybacked or do I stick to one scope/ one camera?
4) Advice on my EOS DSLR, is it up to the job or is a decent cooled CCD required?
5) Other accessories that would be required?

I have the basic knowledge, know how to polar align etc, I have a 130P Newt and a 127 Mak goto, taken many photos using the eyepiece projection method with my MAK, want to move to a next stage where I can start to delve deep into acquiring knowledge and experience using more advanced equipment.

Your comments and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Mike


 
Primary Scopes: Opticstar ED80 Gold, Skywatcher 150 MAK
Guidescope: Opticstar AR80S Guidescope
Mount: NEQ6 PRO
Cameras: AG-131M Coolair Guider, Canon EOS 600D

Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #1 on: 23:27:11, 17 July, 2013 »
Mike - forgive me as I'm just heading to bed but wanted to first welcome you to UKAI.  Good to have you with us.

I'll reply in more detail tomorrow to your questions !

S.
Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Offline Batman7617

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #2 on: 23:35:57, 17 July, 2013 »
Thank you for your welcome Simon.

I'm looking forward to being a part of the community and getting some cracking photos, very much look forward to your advice tomorrow.

Mike
Primary Scopes: Opticstar ED80 Gold, Skywatcher 150 MAK
Guidescope: Opticstar AR80S Guidescope
Mount: NEQ6 PRO
Cameras: AG-131M Coolair Guider, Canon EOS 600D

Offline swashy

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #3 on: 07:45:49, 18 July, 2013 »
Hi Mike

The camera you have will be capable of some great DSO imaging, you may eventually want to go the CCD route but the budget will have to be increased for this

For your budget, I would be looking to get either an HEQ5 or EQ6 mount, an ED graded 80-100mm refractor (such as the ever popular 80ED), and for guiding I would go with a 50mm finder/guider scope and a budget guidecam such as QHY5v or QHYII (off axis has it's headaches, so keep I'd keep it simple)

bung in a few accessories, CLS filter, field flattener, APT software, and I think you would have a great setup for the budget

I'm sure others with have variations on this but it's a good solid foundation to start imaging with, I hope this helps

Welcome to UKAI btw  8)

Ade
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Online chris.bailey

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #4 on: 08:03:27, 18 July, 2013 »
Hi Mike and welcome to UKAI.

A lot of your questions are answered in this http://ukastroimaging.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=57767.0

Guiding is a little bit of a black art but once you have it cracked, it opens up a lot of doors to long exposures. As Ade says using an off axis guider introduces a lot of complications, not least getting co focus for the two cameras! Piggybacking two scopes is one route but I think it is more prone to movement of the guide scope in relation to the imaging scope (differential flexure) and places more load on the mount (as more counterweight is needed to balance the off axis load). My preference would be a side by side rail such as http://www.altairastro.com/product.php?productid=16594&cat=309&page=1. There are options for using a finder scope as a guider and this can work very well for shortish focal length scopes.

Hope that all assists

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline tomhow

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #5 on: 08:38:58, 18 July, 2013 »
Mike - looks like you are in this for the long run, so I'd focus on spending as much as you dare on the mount (EQ6 etc) to  start off with. At least half the budget.

Do you have (or planning) an observatory at home or are you one of these chaps who packs everything up and drives off into the middle of nowhere each night?

Tak Sky 90, Atik 490, Homemade Mount, OAG, Lodestar

The Curdridge Observatory

Offline Batman7617

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #6 on: 10:29:02, 18 July, 2013 »
Hi Tom,

Thanks for your reply :)

I'm definitely in this for the long haul, i'll be trading in the dog and the missus next year through aperture fever most likely! lol

Looking at something semi-portable, I live in Ellesmere Port which on the whole isn't the worst place for 'Light Pollution' but I'd like to pack my car up and go to meetings and nights out with astro - groups etc.

From what I have learnt through reading and weighing up, HEQ5 or 6 is the mount of choice which, as you say, takes up half my budget . . .

The scope (s) selection is where I'm stuck, I've been looking at an 80mm Flurite APO for the camera, and another 80mm APO (non flurite) for guiding, I've also looked at a decent 8" Schmidt - Cass with off axis kit, also looked at a 8" Newt PDS with a 80mm Flurite APO on its back, the combinations are endless and I havent the knowledge to make judgement on the best setup for both my experience and budget.

One thing I do know . . . once this starts, it's a slippery slope all the way down into the depths of my wallet lol

Mike
Primary Scopes: Opticstar ED80 Gold, Skywatcher 150 MAK
Guidescope: Opticstar AR80S Guidescope
Mount: NEQ6 PRO
Cameras: AG-131M Coolair Guider, Canon EOS 600D

Offline Batman7617

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #7 on: 10:39:07, 18 July, 2013 »
Thank you Ade and Chris for your advice.

I can already see the steer to which each and all of you are pointing which is giving me a lot of confidence knowing that I'm in safe hands (so to speak)

Its settled that an HEQ5/6 is required, I feel like Ted Bundy - Grand Gone!!!, unless I can pick a decent 2nd hand one up.

I'm going to have a look today at a kit list and post later for comments.

Many thanks guys, you're a great help! :)

Mike

Primary Scopes: Opticstar ED80 Gold, Skywatcher 150 MAK
Guidescope: Opticstar AR80S Guidescope
Mount: NEQ6 PRO
Cameras: AG-131M Coolair Guider, Canon EOS 600D

Online chris.bailey

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #8 on: 10:59:54, 18 July, 2013 »
Mike

The EQ5/6 is the only real choice at that level, you need to spend a lot lot more to gain much more. If you can run to it the EQ6 is a little more robust and future proof but is quite a bit heavier if you are intending portable use. The beauty of the EQ5/6 is that they do guide very will. Worth looking at EQMod too at some point and getting rid of the pesky hand controller.

If it were me, I would head for an ED80 or the Altair 80mmm and add a TS60 as a guide scope/wide angle option. Mount them side by side and they will do a great job on a huge range of targets. No collimation worries and very portable.

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline tomhow

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #9 on: 11:06:31, 18 July, 2013 »
as for guiding, the most affordable way of getting up and running is something along these lines

http://www.altairastro.com/product.php?productid=16468

A suitable guide camera runs from about £150 for the QHY offerings to nearly £400 for the SX Lodestar (Which is worth every penny!!)

So how much does that leave us?
Tak Sky 90, Atik 490, Homemade Mount, OAG, Lodestar

The Curdridge Observatory

Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #10 on: 11:22:30, 18 July, 2013 »
Hey Mike

I'm wide awake now....

I think the other guys have actually covered most of it but just a couple of things to add... in answer to your last question regarding Fluorite APO etc. the first thing to say is that you don't need a "good" scope to guide with... this can be a bog standard achromatic (i.e. not an apochromatic at all !!).  

As already mentioned Off Axis Guiding is an art in it's own right and whilst it will often lead to the best results there's a lot more other stuff to "get right" before the difference in guiding method matters.

I used to guide using a side-by-side setup but a year or so ago I moved to the Altair Astro 60mm Finder/Guider as per Toms post and I've not looked back.  You don't have any of the balancing issue you have with a side-by-side and it also eliminates the vast majority of flexure (but obviously not as much as a OAG does) but as I say you initially won't notice the difference.  This method will be good for focal length up to 800/900mm.  Over that and a longer focal length guider would be needed.

As Ade says you will do very well with the 550d... I've been at this for quite a few years and my main imaging camera is the 600d (I'm still saving the pennies for a large chip dedicated cooled CCD).

Right, that just leaves the scope... I would seriously suggest you start with a shortish focal length scope like an ED80 to 100mm.  I would also suggest you start with a refractor as SCT's / Newts require a whole new area requiring attention; that of collimation (making sure the mirrors are aligned).  I think this is even more important if you want to travel with your kit as there's nothing worse than a scope bouncing around in the boot of a car to upset the alignment.  You have none of those problems with a refractor.

One the question of Flourite vs non... the important thing is colour correction so if your budget can afford it get a Triplet (which has three lenses to pull each colour to focus at the same place).  Failing that go for a good quality Doublet.  Whichever one you go with you will probably need a field flattener (to remove coma [egg shapped stars] from the edges) but I'd suggest putting this down the list as it's something you can add to the system once you're up and running.

Another suggestion would be to save up for a webcam type camera (DMK21 or QHY5L-II).  Not only can you use it for guiding as Tom again says, but this will also let you get the best out of your existing scopes which are ideal for Planetary/Lunar imaging but require high frame rate camera's like the DMK over the single shot camera like the 550d.  

Some of the best images of Jupiter I've seen have come out of a 127Mak (have a look in the planets imaging board !).  Not exactly Damian Peach but hey I'd get good images of the planets if I had his kit (and went to Bermuda to image them !).

My final suggestion would be to keep it as simple as possible initially... always try and buy kit that is future proofed as much as possible (like a HEQ5 / EQ6 mount) but trying to get to grip with all the different things that skills that need mastering from the off set is a pretty tall order and usually ends in you getting angry/frustrated which is one of the biggest killers of astro imaging and please, please, please don't get aperture fever... I guess it's like chicken pox in children... we all get it at some stage but thankfully most of us (in the world of astro imaging) recover from it pretty quickly.  Just look at the scopes that are being used on UKAI to give you an idea of the norm.  A nice 80-100mm APO is in just about everyone's tool kit !

Last but not least, again, big welcome to UKAI !
S.

Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Offline Batman7617

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #11 on: 12:35:11, 18 July, 2013 »
Thanks for all of your advice guys, the direction is so much more clearer, here is a little shopping list I have put together based on all of your input, see what you think:

HEQ5 Pro Syncscan
Evostar 80ED DS PRO Flourite APO
Altair 60mm Mini Guider
QHY5 Mono Camera
Side by Side Dovetail Bar
CLS Filter
Field Flattener
17ah Power Tank
*Not Sure about APT software and which one to use**

Buying new, leaves me with £100.00

Mike
Primary Scopes: Opticstar ED80 Gold, Skywatcher 150 MAK
Guidescope: Opticstar AR80S Guidescope
Mount: NEQ6 PRO
Cameras: AG-131M Coolair Guider, Canon EOS 600D

Offline tomhow

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #12 on: 13:03:07, 18 July, 2013 »
ref your 550D, has it had its filter modified? You will not get the full benefit of the CLS filter unless the camera has been modified - so you'd be better spending the money getting that done (or diy) instead of buying the cls straight away.
Tak Sky 90, Atik 490, Homemade Mount, OAG, Lodestar

The Curdridge Observatory

Online chris.bailey

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #13 on: 13:06:12, 18 July, 2013 »
Mike

If you are going the mini guider route you probably wont need to use a side by side rail as the guider will fit in the finder shoe.

APT is a very neat piece of aquisition software that works well with a DSLR. Well worth the investment.

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline Batman7617

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Re: New Kid On The Block Seeks Advice
« Reply #14 on: 13:08:38, 18 July, 2013 »
I've not had the mod done no . . .  I know this may sound a silly question but is there a major difference in having the camera filter modified?
Primary Scopes: Opticstar ED80 Gold, Skywatcher 150 MAK
Guidescope: Opticstar AR80S Guidescope
Mount: NEQ6 PRO
Cameras: AG-131M Coolair Guider, Canon EOS 600D

 

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