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#1 hwman

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 03:40 PM

So I've been having fun with a cheap bushnell that i got for free and I want more . . .

So I've decided I wanna put some money down and get me a new setup. I want to get something that will let me delve into astrophotography a bit. I'm thinking for the scope I'll probably end up with something like a 80-100mm ED doublet.

However, I'm not quite sure what to do with a mount. I'm looking at something under the thousand dollar mark that will work well. I'm definitely a noob in this subject but I'm wondering if a mount in this price range can work effectively for astrophotography. I already have a DSLR camera and will probably get some kind of webcam as well.

I guess my first question is what types of things are important in looking for a mount like this? Things I've gathered are things like PEC and an autoguiding port and making sure it has a sizeable weight allowance. Also, do pretty much all mounts work with pretty much all power supplies or do you have to get them matching. As far as software goes, does most of the commonly used apps make use of most scopes? or only certain brands.

In this price range the three I think look promising are the Celestron CG5, the Meade lxd75, and the SkyWatcher EQ5 - goto version. They all seem pretty similar and as someone not terribly familiar with them I'm not quite sure what sets them apart. At the present I am probably leaning towards the CG5. I haven't been able to find any reviews about the skywatcher EQ5 goto version and I've heard that the CG-5 might work a bit better then the lxd75 for what I'm looking for.

Any suggestions, input, ideas? What really separates the three mounts listed above and are there any other possibilities in this price range? thanks

#2 Al Canarelli

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 05:02 PM

The Celestron Advanced GT is probably the best buy in astronomy! I bought mine about 18 to 20 months ago and paid $799 at the time. Today you can get one new at a number of Celestron dealers @ $599 with free shipping. I use mine for astro photography as well as casual viewing and find it to be excellent!

#3 gordianknot

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:00 PM

CG-5 is a great deal right now and is IMHO a little nicer than the EQ-5 which is essentially the same mount but has a few small differences and a different hand controller. You might also want to take a look at the HEQ-5 (Orion Sirius) which can be had for $850 if you're willing to use EQMod or slightly over $1000 if you want a hand controller. HEQ-5 is slightly more burly than the CG-5, has lower tracking error and PEC. I don't think any of the other under $1k mounts (CG-5, EQ-5, LXD-75) have PEC.

As for what to look for in astro photography: capacity (IMHO there's no such thing as overmounting), tracking smoothness, PEC, hand controller if applicable, auto guider port. Most common apps (ex: The Sky, Starry Night) work with all the mounts under discussion and all these run on 12 V.

#4 Patrick

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 02:08 AM

Another vote for the CG-5GT. With the new All-Sky Polar align, it makes quick work of polar aligning. Also has excellent gotos.

Patrick

#5 skyjim

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 07:04 AM

I would vote for the Sirius EQ-G mount as well, I owned a very nice CG5GoTo mount before I picked the none goto EQ-G up. Sold the CG5GT head and kept the 2" SS tripod and placed the EQ-G on that. It is like a rock, had my C8 on it before I sold that scope and it was like nothing was on the EQ-G at all, rap test was less than 1 second dampimg time and with the HD tripod I would say it would do 30lbs payload with ease. I plan to set it up with a 7-8" MCT soon which will be around 20Lbs for some imaging and if I do want the goto hand controler that can always be picked up(maybe Orion will have one of there fire sales on the controler one day,who knows). I also have an older CG5 with the klunky drives on it which is ok with short exposures but not for long ones, with the 1.75" legs that came with the EQ-G it hold almost any scope very well for up to 15lbs. The EQ-G Sirius mount is so smooth in its operation over the CG5GoTo and IMO for under $1K is very nice but if money tight I have seen CG5GoTo's new for $499, now at that price nothing even comes close, the CG5GoTo will handle a C8 with most trimmings on it in fine style but when you go to a C9.25 or even a C11, forgetaboutit, just way to much jiggle n rock n roll, those OTA's are way to cumbersome for that mount.
Jim

#6 Luigi

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 07:18 AM

CG5ASGT. I find the CG5 to be an excellent mount for my 15 lb OTAs.

#7 t.r.

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 08:10 AM

Another vote for the CG5ASGT, served me admirably with narry an issue! I have put up to 22#'s on it.

#8 antilles72

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:29 AM

Hmm, I have to go with gordianknot. If you are going to go the computer software route, why not get the Orion Sirius mount without Goto. It seems to be a bit beefier than the CG5.

#9 Al Canarelli

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 01:17 PM

why not get the Orion Sirius mount without Goto. It seems to be a bit beefier than the CG5.
============================================================
They are basically the very same mount. Orion rates both at 30 lb. payload.

#10 gordianknot

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 02:11 PM

It's my feeling that the 30lbs for the rating for the CG-5 (I've seen some people rate it at 35) is ridiculously large. Yes, if well balanced the mount is still physically capable of moving with mammoth loads on it, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it for imaging.

It's quite obvious that the Sirius (HEQ-5) and the CG-5 are structurally totally different machines, despite having similar names.

#11 Al Canarelli

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 05:51 PM

I use my Advanced GT with my Celestron 80mm ED for photography all the time. Sometimes I use my Celestron 8" SCT with the same mount, also for astrophotography. I have had absolutely NO PROBLEM! What problems have you had?

#12 NotThePainter

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 10:24 PM

For a newbie, I'd say I'm happy with my ASGT, go for it.

See http://notthepainter...ome-processing/ for my results from my second night doing AP with it.

I have no idea what my stuff weighs. 5" refractor, Canon DSLR, Moonlight. I did put the 11 and I think 8 lb counter weights on it.

#13 gordianknot

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 01:57 AM

I don't think there are any major problems with the CG-5. As I said, I think it's a great deal and a lot of bang for the buck. However, I seriously question the weight capacity.

Here are generally my thoughts about the detriments of the CG-5:
1. DEC slip. This is particularly a problem with a long refractors used for imaging. It's relatively easy to overpower the DEC head due to imbalance which causes chain reaction problems (mount's no longer pointed in the right place, alignment is broken, etc).
2. It has terrible periodic error of +/- 40 arc seconds (80 peak to peak) (link).
3. It doesn't have PEC.
4. It can have backlash issues on both axes, this can be fixed by opening it up and adjusting gears. There is also "software correction" which is a little bit like calling a crutch a fix for a broken leg.
5. It's really noisy during slewing.
6. The encoders aren't accurate enough for extremely accurate pointing (this is probably also why it doesn't have PEC). For instance, you cannot use TPoint with this mount (why you'd use a $250 piece of software to point a $600 mount I don't know, but I'm just saying...)

None of these are truly major issues and many can be fixed or mitigated by guiding (exception: backlash which is an issue for guiding). This shouldn't be surprising, after all it's a $600 mount and it shouldn't be compared to a Mach1GTO and it's quite incredible what it does do for the price. I also definitely agree that you can get darned good images on it, though my analysis of mounts used by imaging contest finalists showed that over that period, the CG-5 was not used during the period I studied.

Lastly, I should point out that you're using a relatively light imaging package. The 80ED weighs only 4.5 lbs and the 8" SCT weighs 12.5 and has a very low moment of inertia because it's so short. That's far from the 30 lbs "rated capacity".

#14 hwman

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 11:45 AM

Thanks for the input. I would have to say atm I am definitely leaning towards the CG-5. The lowest I can find it currently is $550 including shipping. The sirius shipped comes in at $875 and it's not goto. I am planning on having a computer setup but as I've never worked with this before I'm not sure how it all works exactly.

Say I do get the sirius and have it set up with a computer. Can software run on the computer function as a type of 'goto' device to tell the mount where to point? Is there software where I could say, point to x, and it would do that? If so, what software do people normally use for that and how much does that run?

#15 hwman

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 11:51 AM

I was just looking at the manual for the sirius mount and it looks to me like the non-goto version does not have a computer interface jack. It looks like only the goto version has this jack and it is on the goto controller. Is this right? If so, does this preclude computer connectivity?

#16 adamsp123

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 12:15 PM

Hi hwman,

The Skywatcher EQ6 or USA equivalent is an awesome mount for heavy scopes and photography, I have just got a secondhand one for my 10"SNT for astrophotograhy.
However if you are thinking of using a Refractor (nice choice) consider seriously, if you can get one secondhand, the Vixen Sphinx mount.
The starbook is a joy to use, the mount is light but incredibly well built and sturdy, it takes the 10" SNT and will track fine for photography but it is right on the weight limit of the mount and as I am adding a guidescope hence the EQ6, but for my 120ED refractor the Vixen is perfect.

Pete

#17 groz

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 12:23 PM

There is another option. You say the sirius comes in at 875, for the non goto, and that would be in us dollars. The skywatcher HEQ5-Pro is basically the same mount, painted white, and lists in canada for $1049 canadian, complete with the goto controller. At current exchange rates, that's about $850us. Another difference between the skywatcher and orion mounts I believe, is the counterweights. If memory serves correctly, the orion variant of the mount comes with a single counterweight. Our HEQ5-Pro came with two counterweights.

Link

Your original post suggests the budget of $1000. After you do currency exchange on the list price in that link, the balance between the list price and your $1000 budget should more than cover the shipping. A much more cost effective way to the 'full meal deal'.

I can attest to the differences between the cg5 and the heq5 pro. We've got both the heq5-pro and the eq6-pro, and have had them set up amongst various cg5 type mounts at star party events. They are truely in a different class all around.

#18 Jeff Lee

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 12:52 PM

While its easier to hook the CG5 up with an autoguider, at $600 shipped from the supplier fo this site, the LXD75 is a nice mount. Depending on your preferences you might want to see Which HC works for you.

There are quite a few LXD75 happy campers here as well as on the yahoo LXD75 groups, many who image.

#19 gordianknot

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 08:39 PM

Take a look at EQMod's website for guidance on using an HEQ-5 or EQ-6 without the hand controller. Lots of people here on CN do it and I'm sure they can provide much guidance.

#20 AlienFirstClass

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 09:08 AM

CG-5 is a great deal right now and is IMHO a little nicer than the EQ-5 which is essentially the same mount but has a few small differences and a different hand controller. You might also want to take a look at the HEQ-5 (Orion Sirius) which can be had for $850 if you're willing to use EQMod or slightly over $1000 if you want a hand controller. HEQ-5 is slightly more burly than the CG-5, has lower tracking error and PEC. I don't think any of the other under $1k mounts (CG-5, EQ-5, LXD-75) have PEC.

As for what to look for in astro photography: capacity (IMHO there's no such thing as overmounting), tracking smoothness, PEC, hand controller if applicable, auto guider port. Most common apps (ex: The Sky, Starry Night) work with all the mounts under discussion and all these run on 12 V.


Is PEC a requirement now being that most imaging is done at shorter intervals?

#21 dpastern

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 08:53 PM

This is the route I'd go imho.

Remember to add not only OTA, but CWs and imaging equipment to the totaly tally for weight load. You probably want to realistically stick to a maximum of 75% of the listed load for the mount when astro imaging.

If you can wait a bit and push the funds, I'd recommend going the SkyWatcher EQ6PRO/Orion Atlas mounts.

I'd also recommend going GOTO - if you're out in the field and have laptop issues, there goes using the laptop to point the scope. I'd rather spend a bit more and have a redundancy feature of GOTO with the mount itself. Best of both worlds imho.

Just my honest 2.2c inc. GST worth.

Dave

There is another option. You say the sirius comes in at 875, for the non goto, and that would be in us dollars. The skywatcher HEQ5-Pro is basically the same mount, painted white, and lists in canada for $1049 canadian, complete with the goto controller. At current exchange rates, that's about $850us. Another difference between the skywatcher and orion mounts I believe, is the counterweights. If memory serves correctly, the orion variant of the mount comes with a single counterweight. Our HEQ5-Pro came with two counterweights.

Link

Your original post suggests the budget of $1000. After you do currency exchange on the list price in that link, the balance between the list price and your $1000 budget should more than cover the shipping. A much more cost effective way to the 'full meal deal'.

I can attest to the differences between the cg5 and the heq5 pro. We've got both the heq5-pro and the eq6-pro, and have had them set up amongst various cg5 type mounts at star party events. They are truely in a different class all around.



#22 gordianknot

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 09:36 PM

For most mounts, counterweights are not part of the rated weight capacity.

#23 dpastern

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 12:31 AM

Let me rephrase my previous comment - "Remember to add not only OTA, but CWs adn imaging equipment to the total tally for weight load for imaging purposes".

That better?

Dave

#24 skyjim

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 09:19 AM

I do own the Sirius EQ-G without the goto controller and would like to use my laptop, the EQ-MOD might just be the ticket but wonder how many CN'ers have done the same with good result with both visual and AP.
Jim

#25 Starhawk

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 01:00 PM

Anyone used the skywatcher version of the EQ5? It is listed on astronomics, and is supposed to have the ability to track with PEC with their hand controller. Andit would be elligible fir the CN discount. I just haven't laid hands on one.

-Rich






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