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Best Mount for AP under $1000

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#1 WOBentley

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:44 PM

Hi All,
Can anyone recommend an GEM that will work well for Astrophotography, and allow for some expansion. I'd like to stay under $1000 (under $750 would be even better!) I think 35-40lbs payload capacity (not including counterweights) will be more than I will need and still not load past 60% capacity or so... I am willing to do some work to tune if needed and used is fine. I have just heard so many opinions about quality of various mounts and so many are made by the same manufacturer but sold under a different name. I could use a little guidance.
Current Astrophotography equipment is a DSI III OSC and a 80mm refractor. Plan to expand to An AT RC astrograph (likely the 8") and an 8300 based camera in the next year or so...
Any suggestions? Is this do-able or do I need to save more $$$
Feel free to refer me to old threads that I did not find!

#2 drksky

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:12 PM

Pickings are slim for under $1K. There's a used GM-8 on the A-M right now for like $975 (non-goto). New, you're looking at a CG-5 ASGT which are about $750 new or $450-$500 new.

With the scope and camera you're looking to get in the future, I'd save up a bit and try to pick up a used Sirius or CGEM, usually $1K to $1200. Think you can get a new CGEM at OPT for $1399 w/ free shipping.

#3 roamer

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:34 PM

Save up and get an Orion Atlas EQ-G. You won't be sorry for waiting. They are smooth, quiet and accurate and great for AP.

I also know where you just may be able to get an AT RC 8" for a VERY decent price.

#4 WOBentley

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 11:16 PM

I also know where you just may be able to get an AT RC 8" for a VERY decent price.

OK, you have my interest! :)

#5 roamer

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 11:22 PM

Send me a PM for details if interested.

#6 WOBentley

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 08:05 AM

PM sent!

#7 7331Peg

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 12:11 AM

Dave, if you're going to be looking for an Atlas, send me a PM.

John

#8 WOBentley

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 10:24 AM

Another PM sent!

#9 Shadowalker

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 12:14 PM

I had very good results with the GP-DX from Vixen. I used the Meade Autostar LXD55 motors and controller. Link

#10 groz

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 12:28 PM

Current Astrophotography equipment is a DSI III OSC and a 80mm refractor. Plan to expand to An AT RC astrograph (likely the 8") and an 8300 based camera in the next year or so...
Any suggestions?


My suggestion is simple. Forget the camera/telescope upgrades, and put the money first into a mount, then look at what's left for cameras and telescopes. Bottom line, it really doesn't matter how good your camera/telescope combination is, without a decent mount under it, you will never get the potential from the camera/telescope.

The above comment suggests you are looking at spending $2k on a camera, and another $1K on telescope, then trying to mount it all for under $1K. That's a recipe for 'mediocre results' at best. This also suggests a total budget in the $4K range when they are all tallied up. I'd strongly suggest you re-think the priorities, allocate a substantially larger chunk to the mount, then re-think the camera/telescope, finding something that'll fit what's left over in the budget.

The 8300 camera is relatively small pixels, and the 8 inch rc is getting into some pretty decently long focal length. Combined, they are going to require some pretty stellar tracking. We have an HEQ5-Pro and an EQ6-Pro, and I wouldn't put that rc+8300 combination on the HEQ5, it would go on the EQ6, and require an autoguider to get the tracking that combination needs. The EQ6-Pro (atlas in orionspeak) with a minimal autugide setup (qhy5 in the 9x50) will do the job, but the combination is going to chew up $2K of that budget. Anything less, and my advice would be 'dont bother, just going to be an endless source of frustration'. Been there, done that, got that t-shirt many times over. For perspective, both of those mounts run well over your $1K suggestion. The HEQ5 today carries a Megrez 110, and the EQ6 carries a C8. We've also got an NEQ3 with sysnscan, the 'sub $1000' mount out of that series, and I've done extensive measurements of all 3 for photography.

For the scope/camera combination you are proposing, I wouldn't consider any of the 3 other than the EQ6, with at a minimum, the KwiqGuide setup on it, which is exactly what I use for the C8 today, with an sxv-h9 camera.

#11 WOBentley

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 05:37 PM

put the money first into a mount, then look at what's left for cameras and telescopes. Bottom line, it really doesn't matter how good your camera/telescope combination is, without a decent mount under it, you will never get the potential from the camera/telescope.

I have to admit I have heard this before, and likely you are indeed correct. Maybe I need a rethink and a rebudget...
What I would like to do is get something for my current setup and that was the basis for this post, and upgrade for the next step...maybe money best spent on only one mount as I will likely keep the scope I have for a grab and go and use the DSI for guiding when I do upgrade...
Thanks for all the input...

#12 hydrogia

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 12:10 PM

Definitely get a better mount first. I've seen G-11s being sold here and Astromart for $1200 to $1500 w/o Gemini. A G-11 (or even a GM8 for ~$1000) would be enough mount for a long time. With the Losmandy mounts, you don't need the GOTO computer for auto-guide support or for PEC, like you do with other mounts.

When you're ready, or if you need it now, the great thing about Gemini is that you can add it whenever and it's adaptable to just about any other mount out there.

It really is true that it's always better to be over mounted and it will allow you more options for bigger better optical tubes and cameras without constantly having to upgrade the mount. I've been down this road, I'm coming back up and telling you it's a dead end down there.

Take $1200 from your camera budget and add it to the 1K for the mount budget. $2200 will get you an awful nice mount for just about anything you can think to put on it.

#13 Bowmoreman

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:25 AM

I'd weigh in same as the other advice...

Get the mount first, allocate at least 50% of your funds to it...

Then learn to take as good pictures as you can with it...

THEN, and only then, upgrade scope and camera...

I like the earlier suggestions of Atlas/EQ6 class mounts... even better (capacity wise) might be to score a used CGE or G11 Gemini...

But, you are going to have to spend from $1500 (Atlas new) to $2200 (Used CGE) to $2500 (Used G11 Gemini) to get an AP quality mount with the capacity you ULTIMATELY want to get to (E.g. that RC scope and a big chip, small pixel camera...)

High capacity, quality go-to mounts make AP so much less frustrating... ;)

Now, if you were shooting a fast 80mm Apo, then CG5 class would be excellent (or Vixen equivalent GP/DX, etc.)...

I'd also recommend getting a copy of Ron Wodaski's "The New CCD Astronomy"...

clear enough skies

#14 Patrick

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 11:36 PM

Hi WOBentley,

What I would like to do is get something for my current setup and that was the basis for this post, and upgrade for the next step...maybe money best spent on only one mount as I will likely keep the scope I have for a grab and go and use the DSI for guiding when I do upgrade...



I guess I'll go against the conventional wisdom...again.

You don't say what you currently have your 80mm refractor mounted on, but if you want a mount to get started in astrophotography using your existing equipment for an investment well under $1000, I don't think you can go wrong with the Celestron CG5-GT. In fact, you can pick one up at High Point Scientific for $575 shipped to your door.

With an 80mm refractor and a small guide scope such as the Quik Guider (QHY5 and 9x50 finderscope), the mount is more than capable of meeting your immediate needs. Astrophotography is one of those hobbies where the accessories you'll need will eat you out of house and home. I'd worry more about learning how to acquire and process images and determine what 'other' things you're going to need before spending all your dough on an expensive mount.

When you want to upgrade to a larger mount or longer focal length scope, sell the CG5-GT and keep all the accessories for use on your new setup. I've bought and sold 3 CG5 setups, and never had trouble doing it. I still have and use all the gear from my first setup such as cameras, dew buster, batteries, laptop, software, autoguiders, filters, cables, and etc...etc.

The CG5 has accurate goto's and can be autoguided quite well at focal lengths under 800mm-1000mm. Polar aligning is much faster with Celestrons polar alignment routine than drift aligning. If you keep the loads on the mount below 25 lbs and don't hang heavy gear on the end of the scope you will find the mount to be rock solid. I've imaged quite successfully with a C6 and AT66ED refractor on the CG5-GT. I measured the PE on my CG5 to be +/-20 arc seconds.

For $575, you're getting quite a bargain. Think of the difference between what you pay for it and what you'll sell it for as a rental fee while you learn the AP ropes.

Patrick

#15 Bowmoreman

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 08:15 AM

Patrick: I would totally agree with you if OP were going to be imaging with the 80mm + guidescope, etc...

But there's no way I'd suggest trying to image with OP's stated/planned 8" AT RC, etc. on a CG5 class mount... too long a focal length, too much total load, etc...

Now, if OP wants to start with CG5/ASGT and the 80mm, learn the imaging chops, and THEN plan to upgrade to the AT RC and the 8300 chip camera... that makes sense... and is what I'd advise... in fact, I'd advise it strongly in the short term - it'd save money while learning valuable, and re-applicable, skills.

But... I got the sense that OP wanted a mount with an imaging load capacity of 35-40 pounds, and the CG5/ASGT won't "cut that mustard" so to speak...

So, I don't see you as offering fundamentally different advice than the rest of us...

Clear enough skies

#16 Patrick

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 10:58 AM

Dave,

I agree, I don't think we're that far a part in our suggestions. Quite frequently I'll hear recommendations to pull all the stops out and spend a huge sum of money just for the mount regardless of the scope's focal length.

The OP's original request for a 35-40 lb load was modified later in the thread to

"What I would like to do is get something for my current setup and that was the basis for this post, and upgrade for the next step"

to which I responded that a CG5 would meet his current setup requirements and when it came time to upgrade, then he could sell the CG5 and get a larger mount. I think that's the part that goes against the conventional wisdom (which says to get the largest/best mount you can afford upfront).

Clear skies,

Patrick






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