Jump to content


Photo

Which Camera to Buy for Astrophotography?

  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Lew

Lew

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 30
  • Joined: 11 Nov 2011
  • Loc: Pittsburgh

Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:59 AM

I want to acquire a decent camera for astrophotography. I want to image the planets and deep space objects. I recently acquired the IEQ 45M and various OTAs and other stuff to do astrophotography. I have a DSI II I’ve been experimenting with trying to learn how to do it. I’ve had trouble trying to use it with Maxim and have decided to take the plunge for a better camera. I want to spend around $2K, but willing to go up to $3K. I’ve seen adds for lots of cameras (SBIG, Celestron, Canon DSLR, ATIK, QSI). Since I’m a newbie to Astronomy and esp. photography, I have several questions would like input on in choosing a camera for astrophotography. Any suggestions or advice on any of these is welcome.

1. Are ‘pure’ astro cameras (such as SBIG) better choice than a Canon DSLR (if people get the Canon because it can be used for regular photography, I don’t have any need for using it for regular photography)?

2. Color vs. B&W (I’d normally pick color, but saw something that might mean color has less resolution?)?

3. Views from owners / others on which camera to get?


Since I’m not sure which forum to post this in, I’ve posted in Equipment and Beginning Imaging. Thanks for any answers / suggestions.

Lew
Pgh, PA

Ioptron IEQ45M; Celestron 11" XLT; Orion 120mm EON; Orion 80mm CFT; Meade ACF LX 90; Meade ACF LS-6; Meade ETX 90PE. Various Celestron X-Cells and Meade 5000 HDs, Orion 12mm reticle, Astrotech 1.25" dialectric diagonal, Antares f/6.3 SCT reducer and Meade plossl set. Orion Mini-guider package; Orion Off-axis guider. Meade DSI II color and Orion Starshoot Deepspace video camera. Maxim DL v.5.

#2 Wouter D'hoye

Wouter D'hoye

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1521
  • Joined: 27 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Belgium

Posted 24 November 2012 - 12:56 PM

Hi,

First of al imaging planets and imaging deep sky are two quite different things, requiring different cameras if you want optimal results. Since I have no experience with planetary imaging i'll stick to deep sky with my recommendations.

A dedicated deep sky camera like SBIG, Atik,... is better than a dslr. They have better sensitivity, lower noice due to cooling, are native 16 bit cameras so they have better dynamic range,... So technically they are better in every respect than a dslr. The drawback is that for a similarly sized sensor you will pay substantially more for a deep sky camera than for a DSLR.

Color vs b&w depends on a whole lot of factors. And truth be told, resolution is the least important one of them. My persoanl preference goes towards a b&w camera due to the following reasons: higher sensitivity, more versatility (you can do narrow band imaging like H-alpha) The downside of this however is that you need a filterwheel and filters, those can add substantially to the cost of your system. If you live in a heavily light polluted area then i'd definately steer away from a color camera. But in the end with both color and b&w cameras similarly exellent results can be obtained. Usually color cameras require a bit less imaging time but at the cost of increased processing time to get the most of the images.

I persoanlly own an SBIG ST2000XM camera with CFW8 filterwheel, baader RGB and narrow band filters and an UHC-S filter. I bought the camera second had for a good discount over a new one. The added bonus of the ST series cameras of SBIG is the internal guiding chip. making guiding a breeze as you don't have to deal with off axis guiders or guide scopes.

Kind regards,

Wouter.

#3 averen

averen

    Vendor Main Sequence Software

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 578
  • Joined: 20 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Austin TX

Posted 24 November 2012 - 01:52 PM

Each has pros and cons...you're probably the best person to make this decision. Also if you're not already a member of a club I would join one or find some astro imaging buddies in your area! Cloudy Nights is great but it's also great to have someone to call or drop by to help you get things straightened out.

Also as Wouter mentioned planets and deep sky are two different things. You can do planets pretty decently with a $100 webcam and an adapter so given your budget I'm just going to assume you want to spend it all on the deep sky camera.

DSLR
If you have one you should start out with a DSLR. It will save you some money and you can take some nice images with it. Plus they're great for wide fields and generally easy to use. However if you don't own one and you don't have any desire to use it during the day then I wouldn't recommend one.

Color CCDs (OSCs)
These have the benefit of ease of use like DSLRs, but most of them have cooling. And if you get a CCD, you're going to want something that can be cooled and set at a particular temperature. This will make the image less noisy and will help you when you get to more advanced processing techniques like dark subtraction. These are generally more expensive than a DSLR but they have their benefits. I generally recommend most folks starting here as you can get good images fairly easily and worry about other areas when you're just starting out.

Mono CCDs
These are going to give you the best quality of images and the most flexibility. They're also the most difficult to learn and require additional processing steps to get good color images. Having said that there are things you can do with a Mono CCD that you can't do very well with a OSC or DSLR like narrowband imaging. This is where most people that consider themselves "serious imagers" will generally end up (not necessarily start out). If you have some buddies that are imagers and use Mono CCDs then this might be a good route for you. If not i would recommend going with an OSC to start out.

Now let's talk about your scopes a little bit...I'm assuming you're going to go with what you have listed?
Celestron 11" XLT - I wouldn't recommend you start out imaging with this one. It will make a great planetary scope! But if you are planning on starting imaging with this on I would highly recommend against it! All the focal length that this scope has will drive you crazy when guiding!

Orion 120mm EON, Orion 80mm CFT - These are both good candidates for beginner imaging scope. They have a relatively short focal length (the shorter the better to start out!) and they're both fairly well corrected with regards to chromatic aberration. You'll want to use one of these to start with.

Camera
As for the actual camera model...the 8300 chips are pretty popular these days and fairly reasonably priced. All major manufacturers have a model or two that contains this chip available in both color and mono. Plus the pixel size will match up nicely with your refractors.

I would do some research and figure out what works best for you. But if you go with a CCD you'll likely want the following things:
- Temperature controlled cooler - the more it can cool the better. I would recommend dual stage (not single stage)
- Even illumination shutter - this isn't a deal breaker but they're nice to have for lower exposures
- Cameras that use 1.25" or 36mm filters are nice as the filters are less expensive than ones that take 2" filters. (assuming you decide to get a mono camera)
- Image download time - some models take over 30 seconds to download a full image frame!
- Future growth - things like Canon lens adapters and the availablity of accessories and adapters for the camera (assuming it needs special adapters)

Jared

#4 Nate B.

Nate B.

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 379
  • Joined: 08 Mar 2007
  • Loc: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Posted 24 November 2012 - 01:58 PM

Lew,

Lots of things to consider here. Where are you planning to image from? I've imaged from many locations around PGH and have opinions (not that they're worth much!) on what kind of (satisfying) imaging can be done from different levels of light pollution.

What kind of targets are you going after? Any main interests at this point?

What kind of equipment are you matching the camera to? I see lots of equipment in your signature but recommendations change based on a C11 vs. an 80mm ED scope.

I still shoot with a DSLR, a Color CCD (QHY8), color webcam, monochrome video camera, and a mono 8300 camera depending on location (light pollution), target type, and imaging scope. I find they all have their uses.

Regards,
Nate

#5 Mike7Mak

Mike7Mak

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1277
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2011
  • Loc: New York

Posted 24 November 2012 - 02:32 PM

I agree with everything Wouter said.

If 'dual use' and cost aren't issues definitely go for a dedicated astro-cam. Imo QSI is the 'state of the art' in construction and value. But they start at $3k. The Atik 314L+ is probably the most popular choice under $2k. There's other things to consider besides cost however. Ideally a camera should be matched to the optics taking field of view and arc second per pixel into account.

BUT...there's really no reason you shouldn't be able to get satisfactory images with that DSI II. Details aside all digital cameras simply produce a grid of numbers that get translated into brightness and color values. Strange as it sounds the camera itself is one of the least critical elements involved in getting good images.

Getting your equipment 'tuned' to capture good data and learning how to calibrate and process that data is far and away more important than what camera you use.

I'd say try Nebulosity 3 with that DSI II and continue learning the ropes. By the time you're getting decent images from it you'll probably 'know' what camera you want next.

#6 Mike7Mak

Mike7Mak

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1277
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2011
  • Loc: New York

Posted 24 November 2012 - 03:02 PM

...when you get to more advanced processing techniques like dark subtraction....

Mono CCDs
These are going to give you the best quality of images and the most flexibility. They're also the most difficult to learn and require additional processing steps to get good color images....

Just a couple nits to pick...

'Dark subtraction' is not an "advanced processing technique". It's the most basic minimum requirement and generally the first processing skill to be learned.

Mono cameras are only 'more difficult' IF you try to do color imaging with them before you can even produce a good b/w image. Using a mono camera to produce b/w images is IMO the easiest way to begin climbing the learning curve.

#7 averen

averen

    Vendor Main Sequence Software

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 578
  • Joined: 20 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Austin TX

Posted 24 November 2012 - 03:34 PM

'Dark subtraction' is not an "advanced processing technique". It's the most basic minimum requirement and generally the first processing skill to be learned.


While I do consider dark subtraction to be pretty basic I think there are other skills that are generally more important to learn before going down the calibration path, such as stacking, stretching, etc. You can still get good images when starting out without darks. And when someone is just starting out they're going to want results sooner than later to stay interested. While darks and calibration frames are important I don't think they're 100% required when you're starting...IMHO.

Mono cameras are only 'more difficult' IF you try to do color imaging with them before you can even produce a good b/w image. Using a mono camera to produce b/w images is IMO the easiest way to begin climbing the learning curve.


This is true and a good point. Most people see Hubble images and what to see color images in all their glory. However some of the favorite images that I've taken have actually been b/w.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Once I get some time I do plan on adding S2 and O3 to these images. But you can do a lot with b/w. And that is a good avenue to get you into the camera you'll eventually be using if you stay in this hobby, provided you'll be happy with the initial b/w results.

Jared

#8 Mike7Mak

Mike7Mak

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1277
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2011
  • Loc: New York

Posted 24 November 2012 - 04:17 PM

While I do consider dark subtraction to be pretty basic I think there are other skills that are generally more important to learn before going down the calibration path, such as stacking, stretching, etc. You can still get good images when starting out without darks. And when someone is just starting out they're going to want results sooner than later to stay interested. While darks and calibration frames are important I don't think they're 100% required when you're starting...IMHO.

If we're talking recent generation Sony chips perhaps but even there skipping darks involves other techniques that are 'advanced' imo, such as dithering and bad pixel maps. Developing post processing skill on uncalibrated data, sooner or later, makes the need for darks and flats obvious. Whether that occurs before or after the novice is actually happy with the images he's producing will depend on how clean his camera chip is, and his expectations.

#9 Ron (Lubbock)

Ron (Lubbock)

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 447
  • Joined: 17 Aug 2012
  • Loc: West TX

Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:15 PM

My advice is not to buy something to save money, only to find that you are going to want to sell it in a couple of months to buy something better. I jumped straight into a mono CCD after doing my homework, and although it took me 3 months to get enough clear weekend nights to master RGB imaging and processing to my satisfaction, I am glad I went this route because it minimizes the amount of time one has to spend pounding on fainter objects to get high quality images.

#10 Maverick199

Maverick199

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12545
  • Joined: 27 Feb 2011
  • Loc: India

Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:18 AM

Lew, for DSO' can't beat the advice given by the folks here. I can only add with my limited experience, a Neximage 5 is proving to be a good economical investment for imaging the Planets and the Moon.

#11 Phil Sherman

Phil Sherman

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1569
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2010
  • Loc: Cleveland, Ohio

Posted 26 November 2012 - 04:12 PM

If you're just getting started, I'd hold off on the new camera and spend some time learning how to get great images from your DSI. Once you've gained some image processing experience, look for a better camera.

A mono camera and filters will always give better results than a camera with a color chip but the image processing is a bit more complex. For your price range, I would consider set point cooling to be one of the most important features. Used cameras can often allow you to get a lot more camera for the same price as a new one.

I'd also spend some time using trial versions of different image processing programs to see if you find one that's a great fit with your philosophy of image processing. Photoshop is expensive and has limited capabilities for doing initial processing of astro images unless you purchase additional plugins. Nebulosity, ImagesPlus (ny favorite), Pixinsight, Registax and others are ones to try.

Phil

#12 Jared

Jared

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5077
  • Joined: 11 Oct 2005
  • Loc: Piedmont, California, U.S.

Posted 26 November 2012 - 06:02 PM

I want to acquire a decent camera for astrophotography. I want to image the planets and deep space objects. I recently acquired the IEQ 45M and various OTAs and other stuff to do astrophotography. I have a DSI II I’ve been experimenting with trying to learn how to do it. I’ve had trouble trying to use it with Maxim and have decided to take the plunge for a better camera. I want to spend around $2K, but willing to go up to $3K. I’ve seen adds for lots of cameras (SBIG, Celestron, Canon DSLR, ATIK, QSI). Since I’m a newbie to Astronomy and esp. photography, I have several questions would like input on in choosing a camera for astrophotography. Any suggestions or advice on any of these is welcome.


As others have mentioned, deep sky cameras and planetary imaging cameras are completely different; don't try to combine these two requirements or you will end up with something that is good at neither. Planetary imaging requires small pixels (oversampling) and a high frame rate (multiple frames per second) but does not require cooling or a large chip size. Deep sky cameras generally do not have small pixels--or, at least, not as small as planetary--and cooling/control of dark current is emphasized since most exposures will be many seconds or minutes long. Most people want as large a chip as they can afford in a deep sky imaging camera since this provides the most flexibility in framing your subjects.

1. Are ‘pure’ astro cameras (such as SBIG) better choice than a Canon DSLR (if people get the Canon because it can be used for regular photography, I don’t have any need for using it for regular photography)?


I think it depends on what you want your experience to be like, and on what subjects you wish to photograph. DSLR's, even if you don't intend to use them for terrestrial photography, have some big advantages over astronomical CCD cameras. Specifically, because they are mass produced they provide the cheapest way to get a large chip. Even an inexpensive DSLR is likely to have a 12mm x 18mm chip in it, and you can get cameras up to 24mm x 36mm in your price range. Plus, you don't need to drag a computer into the field with you if you are imaging with a DSLR (though autoguiding will eventually push you there anyway). These advantages come with some costs, though... DSLR's are not cooled, so they have higher thermal noise levels. They can be harder to focus accurately than CCD cameras if you are not using a computer screen. They are generally much less sensitive to Hydrogen Alpha signals (emission nebulae) unless you modify them by removing/replacing the IR filter. Still, they are a great way to get into the hobby, but I think most astrophotographers who stay involved in the hobby eventually move to a dedicated CCD camera.

2. Color vs. B&W (I’d normally pick color, but saw something that might mean color has less resolution?)?


It's true that black and white cameras have the potential for more resolution. Since there is no Bayer matrix requiring interpolated brightness levels, a monochrome camera will, under certain circumstances, give more resolution. What are those circumstances? Well, the pixels need to be the right size for your aperture, focal length, and seeing conditions. As your pixels get smaller and smaller, it becomes more and more likely that a color camera will actually be able to capture the same spatial resolution as a monochrome camera. This is called "oversampling". It maximizes resolution, but at the cost of lower signal-to-noise ratio (meaning your pictures may look more grainy).

Net result: If you want the best quality image and aren't worried about additional processing time and complexity, you are probably better off with a monochrome camera. If you are willing to sacrifice (potentially) a small amount of image quality for some convenience in your processing, go with a one-shot color camera. A couple of other little things to keep in mind... One-shot color cameras are generally a bit less expensive since you won't need to buy color filters or a filter wheel. They (or a DSLR) are also a virtual requirement if you are going to be using Hyperstar--a specific way of using a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope with the camera mounted in front of the corrector plate. In this situation, color filter wheels simply take up too much space. Also, keep in mind that while monochrome cameras might require more computer time for a given result, they generally don't require any more data collection time--even if you are looking to produce a color image. Generally, a 1 hour integrated exposure with a one-shot color camera will be roughly comparable in "depth" to a 20/15/15/15 minute set of exposures through LRGB filters on a monochrome camera if you have the luminance frame set to bin 1x1 and the color frames set to bin 2x2. This is a rough guideline only, and there is some variation from subject to subject and camera to camera, but don't expect one-shot color cameras to shorten the total amount of exposure time you need--they don't. Finally, I will mention that monochrome cameras are much better suited for narrow band imaging--using Ha, OIII, and SII filters for emission nebulae, super nova remnants, planetary nebulae, and the like.

3. Views from owners / others on which camera to get?


My personal opinion is that, in your price range, the TrueSense 8300 based camera represent the best value going. They have fairly small pixels that are a good match for smaller telescopes, are quite sensitive, have good noise characteristics, give a fairly generous field of view (18mm x 12mm), and are not as expensive as cameras made with less commonly available chips. 8300 based cameras are made by SBIG, Orion, ATIK, FLI, Apogee... The list goes on. To stay within your $3,000 price target, you may need to choose a color version or start out without the filter wheel. Do a little comparison shopping and see. The camera makers with the best reputation (at least in the U.S.) for quality and service are SBIG, FLI, and Apogee. Their cameras are also the most expensive (though SBIG is pretty competitive with their 8300 cameras). Next level down would include manufacturers such as ATIK, Orion (at least for the Parsec cameras), and StarlightXPress. Again, this is subjective, so others might have different opinions. I think the Atik option might be just what you are looking for. Or perhaps a used SBIG/FLI/Apogee camera.


Since I’m not sure which forum to post this in, I’ve posted in Equipment and Beginning Imaging. Thanks for any answers / suggestions.

Lew
Pgh, PA

Ioptron IEQ45M; Celestron 11" XLT; Orion 120mm EON; Orion 80mm CFT; Meade ACF LX 90; Meade ACF LS-6; Meade ETX 90PE. Various Celestron X-Cells and Meade 5000 HDs, Orion 12mm reticle, Astrotech 1.25" dialectric diagonal, Antares f/6.3 SCT reducer and Meade plossl set. Orion Mini-guider package; Orion Off-axis guider. Meade DSI II color and Orion Starshoot Deepspace video camera. Maxim DL v.5.


One last thing to keep in mind in getting started in astrophotography... For planetary imaging, you will want all the aperture and focal length you can get, even if your tracking isn't spot-on-perfect. Your C11, for example, would be a great choice. For deep sky imaging, working with lots of aperture and lots of focal length creates HUGE challenges that will take lots of experience and probably some additional money to overcome. Start out with some of your smaller scopes for deep sky imaging--even if you are imaging galaxies and globulars. Your two small refractors are probably a good way to get going with deep sky imaging. You'll likely want a field flattener.

#13 CounterWeight

CounterWeight

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8237
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Palo alto, CA.

Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:44 AM

IMO if you know you want to do astro-imaging a good dedicated mono CCD with regulated cooling (and just how robust that needs be more determined by your location) is the way to go to get started. If I had it to do over again that is what I'd do. That said I did start with an unregulated one shot color CCD and rarely if ever look at the images I made with it. But it did serve the purpose of getting images while learning about mounts, guiding, calibrating and processing.

you've a line of scopes in your sigline and there are many options depending on which one you choose.

I'd try and narrow it down a bit by choosing deep space or planetary to start with.

I'm in the club that flatting and dark calibration is a 'square one' concept and practice to learn. Most follow on processing will be blessed by it - especially if you want to stretch the image, and I think that very likely.

Hyperstar is something to consider with the SCT as it allows for wider field and much shorter exposures. If you go that route you'll want a color CCD as filter wheels are large and impractical as far as I know.

Something to consider as well is your level of light pollution and practical exposure length where you will image. I do narrowband as I live and image from within a city. NB requires much longer exposure times and puts a lot on the mount quality, alignment , and guiding.

What makes imaging even more expensive than it is, is buying things more than once. A lot of ways that can happen.

Having MaximDL puts you way ahead of where I began - it's IMO a fantastic 'package', great automated capture / calibration and initial processing tools, guiding, dithereing, and mast folks make compat drivers for it.

Going with your refractor is the other route, and I think a bit easier - just my opinon.

#14 Lew

Lew

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 30
  • Joined: 11 Nov 2011
  • Loc: Pittsburgh

Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:39 PM

Jared,

I wanted to thank you, Mike, Wouter and others for the thoughtful responses and insights. Regarding the questions over the various equipment which I will use, after reading that the fork mounted scopes like the LX-90 I bought last year were not good for astrophoto., I recently bought the IEQ45M and the three OTAs - the 80mm as the learning tool for DSO photog., the 120mm to do more serious DSO photog. and the 11" SCT mainly for viewing and secondarily for planetary photog. Having read that planetary can easily be done with webcams, the Orion Starshoot Video Camera II which I have and didn't list correctly in my equipment list is a type of webcam. Is it too sensitive for planet imaging since it is designed to display deep space objects?

I've also decided to take the advice to hold off on the CCD imager until I get some more experience with how to do astrophotog. My forays with the DSI II and my LX-90 using Maxim DL have not thus far produced anything (I've found Maxim to be very complex and difficult to understand for a beginner). Since I checked and discovered how relatively cheap Canon DSLRs are, I did pick up a T3i to use along with the DSI II as learning tools before I acquire a CCD imager. Again, I want to thank everyone for the thoughful advice.

Lew

#15 Lew

Lew

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 30
  • Joined: 11 Nov 2011
  • Loc: Pittsburgh

Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:50 PM

Nate,

Thanks for the reply and inquiry about where I'm trying to do imaging. I use the scopes and image near North Park (obviously a major light pollution area) on a deck off of our home (I know that is not a good platform, esp. since it is a wood deck, but I have time contraints and on the ground the view is too obstructed by home and trees and the deck is the easiest, quickest place to set up quickly and I can run inside when it is cold). I've been toying with going to Pine Community Park which has fairly unobstructed views. Where have you gone for imaging (I'm guessing Deer Lakes would be on your list)?

Lew

#16 Hap Griffin

Hap Griffin

    Vendor (Imaging Infinity)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 215
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2008
  • Loc: Sumter, SC

Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:23 PM

The T3i will give you a great start. All of the skills that you will learn with DSLR imaging will translate easily to a CCD later, making your learning curve much easier when you decide to take that step.

#17 Nate B.

Nate B.

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 379
  • Joined: 08 Mar 2007
  • Loc: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:04 AM

Lew,

I used to image from Sq. Hill, Deer Lakes (Wagman Observatory), and Mingo Creek Observatory as well as the AAAP's dark site down in Greene County. I finally moved out of Sq. Hill and setup an observatory on the boarder of Sewickley and Franklin Park which is on par with Deer
Lakes for light pollution. I also purchased some land on the West Virginia boarder as a dark site that I drive about 65 miles to.

Imaging from home is certainly more convenient even if on a deck; I'd just stay off the deck when it's doing it's thing.

Even with the observatory at home now I find the trip to a dark site to be well worth the trouble for imaging in color (galaxies, reflection nebula, dark nebula, etc.) I only image in narrowband or do clusters from home.

The Canon DSLR will serve you well and I still use mine for widefield shots even though I've moved to several dedicated
ccds.

#18 Raginar

Raginar

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6138
  • Joined: 19 Oct 2010
  • Loc: Rapid CIty, SD

Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:35 AM

Hey Lew,

Have you thought about getting a few USB active repeater cables and just imaging from indoors? I've heard of people having good success with scopes on decks using that type of setup so you're not constantly 'bouncing' on the deck as you're imaging. Basically go outside and focus, come back in and start taking photos!

Good luck!

#19 Lew

Lew

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 30
  • Joined: 11 Nov 2011
  • Loc: Pittsburgh

Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:08 PM

Chris,

That's a great idea. I'll have to look into how to do it. Thanks.

Lew

Ioptron IEQ45M; OTAs: Celestron 11" XLT, Orion 120mm EON, and Orion 80mm CFT. Meade ACF 8" LX 90; Meade ACF LS-6; Meade ETX 90PE. Various Celestron X-Cells and Meade 5000 HDs, Orion 12mm reticle, Astrotech 1.25" dialectric diagonal, Antares f/6.3 SCT reducer and Meade plossl set. Orion Mini-guider package; Orion Off-axis guider. Meade DSI II color, Orion Starshoot Deepspace II video camera and Canon T3i (unmod). Maxim DL v.5.

#20 Lew

Lew

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 30
  • Joined: 11 Nov 2011
  • Loc: Pittsburgh

Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:55 PM

Nate,

You are definitely a serious imager to buy a parcel of land in W.VA to go to for AP. Hope it was in the Marcellus play and you could recoup some of the cost by leasing gas rights. I have a lot of friends in Franklin Park and Sewickley, I'm a little surprised you found an area as dark as Deer Lakes. I have a 'free' dark site I can get to (albeit further away) and use for AP without taking any time away from family :jump: - Kane, PA on the NY border where one of our kids has a home.

I see you have an Astro Physics mount. I couldn't quite justify buying one of those at this time given my complete lack of experience. When I asked about mounts three mos. ago, every reply I got on AP was they are that much better. Are you also in that camp?

Lastly, you mentioned going to AAAP's dark site, are you a member? I've tried to join it(one of the comments rightly suggested that I should join such a group to interface with people who know what they are doing). Other than AAAP cashed my check, I haven't gotten any response from them. Is there someone in it I should e-mail?

Thanks,

Lew

Ioptron IEQ45M; OTAs: Celestron 11" XLT, Orion 120mm EON, and Orion 80mm CFT. Meade ACF 8" LX 90; Meade ACF LS-6; Meade ETX 90PE. Various Celestron X-Cells and Meade 5000 HDs, Orion 12mm reticle, Astrotech 1.25" dialectric diagonal, Antares f/6.3 SCT reducer and Meade plossl set. Orion Mini-guider package; Orion Off-axis guider. Meade DSI II color, Orion Starshoot Deepspace II video camera and Canon T3i (unmod). Maxim DL v.5.

#21 Nate B.

Nate B.

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 379
  • Joined: 08 Mar 2007
  • Loc: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Posted 07 December 2012 - 06:24 PM

Lew,

I've experimented with a lot of equipment over the last few years and typically found that you get what you pay for. Probably the only partial exception to that being the Atlas mounts which for medium focal lengths have given me very good performance. I purchased the AP900 mount because I got a great deal on one and since I was putting in a permanent observatory and wanted a higher capacity mount for side by side mounting of deep sky imaging and planetary imaging setups as well as higher resolution deep sky work for planetary nebs etc. Otherwise, the Atlas mount performed quite well with the FSQ.

Practice at home and then take advantage of those dark sites; you'll find a couple hours at a dark site will vastly outdo a couple days or more at your light polluted site.

I sent you a private message regarding AAAP to answer your question.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics