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First post - first scope - is this a good choice?

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#1 onion

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:24 PM

I'm wanting to get into astrophotography. I'm on a budget of about 1500. I have found a CELESTRON NEXSTAR 8 GPS for only 850. I was thinking that this may be a good starting point and will leave enough cash for some extras that I may need. Can someone please give me some feedback?

Thanks!

#2 jerwin

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:21 PM

I'd suggest reading the post at the top of this forum called "why oh why ap for beginners"

I spent a lot of money trying to do ap and it was an utter failure because I didn't understand the expanse involved.

Main point is it's more complicated than one thinks because of how quickly the sky is moving. To take the amazing pictures you see requires longer exposures. Longer exposures require precise tracking. (Otherwise you get star tails or stars that just aren't round) Precise tracking requires a good mount to be equatorially aligned, with counter weights configured properly, maybe even another scope and software running on a laptop to help you guide. And, to top it off, you want to transport most of this equipment to a very dark site. In the suburbs you start go get orange glow on your exposures after a short period of time.

Then to top it off, you need to spend a good deal of time stacking your photos, working with flats and darks and working in Photoshop to get the photo perfect.

It can all be done, people do it all the time, but just based on the simplicity of your post I'm guessing you didn't realize it's that complicated. When I first tried doing AP I thought what I see is pretty amazing. I'd like to put a camera where my eye is and take a picture of that and show it to someone. a few thousand dollars later I had a few shots that would wow a few people, but nothing worth the money or time I put into it.

The basic answer to your question is probably a no the Nexstar 8 would not be good without at least a wedge allowing you to follow the sky on one axis. The single arm of the nexstars can be problematic for very much weight. I'd probably argue $1500 is pretty low for an AP budget all together.

Sorry if I come off as a negative Nancy. You'll have to make up your own mind when buying a scope. I think a nexstar 8 is a nice scope for visual. For AP I'd be concerned.

Jim

#3 Greyhaven

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:59 PM

If you could be satisfied with photos such as these you could do AP with your budget. Sample photos are with a Nexstar 5i and Canon T3 DSLR on a tripod no wedge
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Using low or no cost processing programs and advice from our members.If you need to take super detailed photos that will give you a real !wow! factor to your work then you'll have to increase your skill in processing and increase your investment in equipment. There is no top end to the cost.
Be Well
Grey

#4 jerwin

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

Just a note, the 4/5se has a built in wedge. The 6 and 8 do not.

Jim

#5 Greyhaven

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:35 PM

I've never tried the wedge built into my 5i. The wedge is light duty and I think the tracking limitations of the mount would make little difference, your exposures would be have to be kept to 30 seconds or less either way and stacked, too short of a time for any rotation of field to have an adverse effect. I believe a focal reducer/field flatener might be a better investment than worrying about the wedge. There I just spent another $100. But it was not used in any of my photos.
Be well
Grey

#6 onion

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 04:11 PM

Thank you very much for the quick feedback. I have been doing some research for some time now. I do understand that I will need a wedge - this scope is not the single arm type - it's mounted in a yoke. I was thinking a SLR camera would do ok and getting an orion guide scope with an auto guider. I have the laptop ready to go. Aside from AP use - this is a good deal (850.00) on a good scope? No? Yes? Here is a link to the manual for the scope in question - http://www.celestron...r8GPS_11052.pdf

Thanks again

#7 onion

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 04:26 PM

Very nice pics Grey

#8 GeneT

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 04:42 PM

One issue is being satisfied with the equipment you can afford. One can get into AP fairly inexpensively. But, there is always a little better mount, better software, better camera chips and so on. On the expensive extreme--I have a friend who started out on the low cost end, but felt he needed better and better equipment. A year ago, a mount costing more than $10 Thou showed up at his doorstep. In addition, he bought a new telescope, and so on and so on. I believe that to be happy with this hobby, one must learn to live within his or her means, and be satisfied with the equipment he or she can afford. This applies to visual only viewers and AP. ;)

#9 Greyhaven

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:06 PM

Onion
Thank you for your kind words. I and many only use web cams DSLRs,orCCDs for AP. Are you considering film? You said SLR.
I hope you decide to give AP a try. Remember what ever you spend for equipment if you don't like the hobby you can always sell your equipment and recover half of your investment. :tonofbricks:
Be Well
Grey

#10 Greyhaven

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:14 PM

Gene
There is much truth in your words. If I had more to invest in my hobby I would. But I don't, so I won't.
Be Well
Grey

#11 onion

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:59 PM

Grey - no, I meant DSLR. There are so many options . . . . I watched the youtube videos by dugdog on AP. Good stuff by this guy. He recommends a refractor with a guide scope and a solid mount. While all of that makes much sense, I would rather use a scope that I can do AP with AND also use for simple observing for myself and my family. That's why I was looking towards this CELESTRON NEXSTAR 8 GPS. I also like the large Meade X200's. This NEXSTAR 8 GPS - with a CCD or DSLR camera attached (I think thats referred to as prime focus?) will this give me those wow shots? I'm aware that much of the work is done in the processing stage however, I want to make sure I have the capacity to take look exposures with great tracking. Hence my asking for help here on this great forum.

#12 onion

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 09:22 PM

GeneT - if I get the bug so bad that I spend 10k on a mount . . . . yikes . . lol

#13 bdcmd

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 01:48 AM

Aside from AP use - this is a good deal (850.00) on a good scope? No? Yes?


YES, it's a screaming deal, especially if it's one of the later versions with the upgradeable hand controller and motor controller software. I have an early NexStar 8 GPS, not upgradeable, but it tracks wonderfully well and is VERY robust in it's construction. You will need the heavy duty Celestron wedge for AP if you do any long exposures, but it is a superb visual instrument on the alt-az fork mount. For reference, I paid about $1200 for mine about 6 years ago. I bought it from a fellow who was doing AP with it, and he has told me on several occasions that he wishes he had never sold it to me as it was reliable and he took many good images with it. Sound like you have a good plan for your equipment, starting with a DSLR and guide scope for autoguiding. My friend used a modified webcam for planetary imaging, as well. Good luck. BDC

#14 Turf1

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:27 AM

Onion, I am in the same boat with a new telescope. I am new here, so will not pretend to "know" anything about AP.I have been an avid photogragher for about 35 yrs and plan on using my Nikon D50 with my new 11" Celestron if the clouds EVER go away for a first time use. In my opinion if this set-up is good enough for me, all is good.If I could get photos even half as good as Greyhaven I would be THRILLED!Your Celestron Nexstar 8 is a nice telescope, give ap a try as I am going to,and be happy with the challenge.DO NOT try to unrealistically create photos like the thousands of dollar investment shots we see. (unless you want to spend that money)Just enjoy the realistic challenge of some cool shots with that set-up.And of course the visuals are superb ;)

#15 Greyhaven

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:15 PM

Turf1 :rainbow: Thanks for the compliment.Using an 8"or 11" scope will give you great data on your photos. Your practical experience with photography will serve you well.I have been photographing with my scope for well less than a year and really don't do the post processing of my data as well as I will with more practice.I've seen my data retouched by others and I can take a lot better shot than these examples show. I just need more education in the old digital darkroom. I guess I would be disappointed if someone discouraged you or Onion from AP because of doubts on the quality of equipment they want or need to start with.
The equipment you both have chosen will give you even more data than mine.
I wish you both the best of times in your hobby.
Be Well
Grey

#16 onion

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:34 PM

Ok - I took the plunge and traveled 5 hours (round trip) and purchased the Nexstar 8 GPS! I came with Case of Extra plossls 4mm, 6mm, 9mm, 15mm, 32mm, 2X Barlow lens extender, 7 filters, Owners Manual, Glow in the Dark Star Chart Book, and Power Supply. This puppy looks brand spanking new. As you might have guessed - I'm a bit excited. It's also fastar compatible - from what I gather this will take the focal length down to f2. It looks like I'm going to need a wedge and some other equipment before I can start any AP but that will come in time. For now . . . I'm just going to wait for the next clear night and enjoy the show. I may have some questions (Well . . I know I will) about some other equipment that I want to purchase - I'm very thankful for this forum and all the help and feedback I've received this far. And hey - Grey - that little shed you have is very cool!

#17 onion

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:36 PM

oh - and Bdcmd - thank you too! @ Turf1 - good luck with your AP adventure & post pics soon.

#18 CJK

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:39 PM

Congrats on the new arrival! I'm envious -- still waiting impatiently on the UPS man here!

-- Chris

#19 Shawn Garbett

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:25 PM

Hats off to Greyhaven. Those are great examples of AP on a budget. This is where skill shines through.

#20 Gary Z

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:50 PM

Another decent source of information is to go on www.nightskiesnetwork.com and there are alot of folks using different equipment and you'll readily see the results of the equipment they are using and folks will gladly share their information. Seems a lot of folks are really enjoying the IEQ45 mount from Ioptron. Appears to be a very stable system.

#21 Greyhaven

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:21 PM

Onion
That shed is even cooler with the roof rolled off and a scope pointed skyward.I think you've got a great deal for your money. Now you'll have to connect the camera to the scope Here are a couple of ways: First you'll need a T ring It replaces the original lens on your camera and this is camera specific just order one for your brand camera and the next item would be the T adapter this screws into the
t ring and the other side will replace the Visual back on your SCT ,the visual back is the piece you would normally insert the eyepiece or diagonal in' it does just screw off and the T will replace it. Here's a shot of the T ring on the camera and the T adapter
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or you can just purchase the T ring and one of these 1.25 adapters that will screw into the T ring and then just slide into the regular eyepiece holder there available with or without built in barlow lens.
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A third option you would have to have if you wanted shots through the different eyepieces for higher magnifications using your regular camera lens is a universal afocal camera adapter they are better used with small point in shoot digital cameras as they my not allow enough room for a full sized camera and lens setup and the eyepiece side can't adjust to some larger eyepieces.
Maybe these are already in the accessories you got with your new scope. Maybe you could share a shot of your scope ,we all like to look at that kind of thing, we lead such sheltered lives. Sounds like you got a nice set up. Don't rush out and spend money on a wedge you will be hard put get the mount to work well enough for more than 30 second exposures and that is too short a time for field rotation to show up. If you are going to have a computer available at your AP site Back Yard EOS is a great program for setting up an observing session and will control your camera, check out their site they have a 30 day free trial and it cost is low if you decide to buy it. I wouldn't go with out it I have it installed in all three of my computers.
Be Well
Grey

#22 onion

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:23 PM

Grey,
I'm sure the shed does look better with the top rolled off. I have a shed on my wish list. Maybe sometime in the next few years. I'm going to take this slow. I went out last night for the first time with the new scope. Funny thing - I woke up at 1AM for some reason (pretty sure is was the new scope calling my name) and looked outside - clear skies! So.... without waking the family, I set the scope up in the driveway - not ideal I know but this was spur of the moment - Now, I've never used this scope (this is my first scope) so I'm trying to figure this out in the freezing cold :) I did the GPS align once - failed alignment?? Tried again...failed?? So I go inside and do a quick search in the net and find that the Nexstar GPS is off by about 20 d's on the GPS align mode. So . . .I go back out, try again. This time I slew around to the alignment stars that it thinks it's pointing to (using my nifty new star chart to help me find them ) and BOOM - well an hour later - I'm ready to go. I tell the scope to go to Jupiter - it does, but there is a problem. While Jupiter is in the finder scope it not in the 8"?? Long story short - at 4AM I put the scope away and while doing so, I noticed that the finder scope was not aligned! Doooh! Today - I aligned the scope and the finder scop so I should be all set for tonight. Clear skies are in the forcast and I think it's a new moon so maybe tonight I will have some luck. Not to mention Geminid meteor shower is in full swing tonight :)

This camera looks perfect! I would be interested in that for sure!

Not sure how to post a pic of my new scope on this forum - I'll figure that out and get a pic up asap!

Thanks again for all of your help.

Onion






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