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Best Scope to use for Astrophotography.

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#1 jdoparnico

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:48 AM

I was wondering if you guys could help me out. I am looking at either getting a Meade 10" LX90-ACF, a Meade 10" LX-200 GPS, or a Celestron C11 Nextstar GPS. If you guys had any helpful tips on which would be best for me to use for personal viewing and Astrophotography. I would greatly appreciate it! I have heard the LX90 is a lot lighter as the LX-200 but does that effect the performance?

Thanks for the help,
Josh

#2 CounterWeight

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:33 AM

Welcome to the forums here Josh,

I loved my C11 for visual, the OTA itself was much lighter weight than the Meade equvalents - but I had on a GEM mount instead of the alt/az. Also loved my 10" LX200! a fantastic visual tool. For visual only I still think these scopes on an alt/az mount are wonderful. Aperture is great for visual and it's a very different story for imaging in ways, where aperture 'can' make things very complicated or difficult 'all depending' on how you go about it...

Are you asking this about imaging to use with the hyperstar type setup or more using the prime focus (imaging from where the eyepiece would be)?. Will you be using a DSLR or dedicated astro-imaging CCD?

I think a lot should be said about how you choose to mount the scopes. Alt/az mounted you are sort of stuck for exposure time before you encounter field rotation of the image. With a GEM type mount that won't be a problem. It's all about how the telescope is pointed at the unmoving object in the sky as the earth spins. GEM mount maintain orientation of the object, alt/az do not. In ways imaging is a bit more about the mount and it's accuracy than scopes. It's possible to get something called a 'wedge' for an alt/az mount to try and mimic what a GEM does but I was never happy with them.

As for my own opinion I think they are all quite difficult to learn imaging on. I like to recommend a small (80mm or so) widefield (about f/6) refractor with a field flattener on a GEM type mount. Not a lot better than a good pair of binoc's for visual but great for starting imaging. All just IMO but imaging and visual are very different animals and very difficult to choose one setup that works well for both.

#3 Alex McConahay

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:26 AM

I want to re-emp[hasize the point already made tht if you are just starting out in imaging, get yourself the best mount you can afford first, and put a three to four inch short focal length refractor on it. Do not start with a big SCT.....They are just so much less forgiving.

And again--the telescope is not the important thing. The mount is most critical.

Alex

#4 rflinn68

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:02 AM

X2!!! I would seriously consider the Astro-Tech AT65EDQ and the best German Equatorial mount you can afford. The CG5 will work just fine for the AT65EDQ but you'll probably want to get a bigger scope down the road. However, you will want a nice widefield scope anyway and the CG5 is a great grab and go. I own a CG5 and a CGEM DX and the CG5 sees way more use. I think its a perfect combo for getting into astrophotography. If you want something for both visual and AP you might want to look into a nice 80mm triplet but most of them will require a field flattener. The AT65EDQ has the flattener built in.

#5 CJK

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:23 AM

Totally agree with Alex. It's not that you can't image with an SCT -- too many spectacular images to count are produced with large aperture cats -- but you will raise your difficulty level significantly with a slow, long focal length scope. And AP has a steep enough learning curve as it is! (Ask me how I know!)

I also completely agree with concentrating on the mount -- no matter how good your optics are, it's all for naught with a mount that's not up to the task. (And there are many mounts that are excellent for visual that will immediately grow warts when attempting to use them for AP.)

Finally, +1 on a small apo refractor -- in addition to the AT astrograph mentioned, there are several excellent 80 mm apo doublets and triplets which work great for AP, give pleasing views visually, and won't break the bank.

-- Chris

#6 Fogboundturtle

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:37 AM

I want to re-emp[hasize the point already made tht if you are just starting out in imaging, get yourself the best mount you can afford first, and put a three to four inch short focal length refractor on it. Do not start with a big SCT.....They are just so much less forgiving.

And again--the telescope is not the important thing. The mount is most critical.

Alex


Yes so don't be afraid to invest in a HEQ5 Pro for an 80mm scope. You want the mount to be able to support twice the amount of weight you are going to put on it.

#7 jdoparnico

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:35 PM

Thanks for all the quick posts everyone!
Would you guys be able to show me some pictures of what you have taken with your smaller scopes?
I guess i got confused somewhere when I started looking into taking photographs.

I thought that too take better pictures you would need a bigger scope because you are taking in more light and will see more details depending on the scope.

--------------------------------------------
Are you asking this about imaging to use with the hyperstar type setup or more using the prime focus (imaging from where the eyepiece would be)?. Will you be using a DSLR or dedicated astro-imaging CCD?

CounterWeight, I was just going to use prime focus imaging with my 100d dslr. Can I use a dslr with the hyperstar option?

Also, I have a 6" Newtonian with a GEM mount and a clock drive attached. It does a great job of letting me take 30 second exposures, but I can never figure out how to zoom in close enough to get a larger picture of nebula. Do I need some sort of eyepiece adapter for the camera?

Thanks for all the help!
-Josh

#8 David Ault

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:08 PM

Josh,

You can follow the astrobin link in my signature to see what I've done with my AT65EDQ. Most everything in 2012 was imaged with the AT65EDQ. It's a fantastic scope.

Regards,
David

#9 Alex McConahay

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:35 PM

>>>>>I thought that too take better pictures you would need a bigger scope because you are taking in more light and will see more details depending on the scope.

In general, the bigger the aperture, the more light you let in. But how much light you let in is only one of many considerations.

You have to worry about Focal length--which when factored in with the dimensions of the imaging chip determines the field of view and apparent "magnification." ANd which also determines, in turn, just how well you need to guide the scope and cope with all the idiosyncracies of the drive.

All those who are suggesting you start with a short focus refractor (or your six inch newt would fit the category, probalby) are saying you should not start on a long focal length (like the SCT's at the beginning of this thread) because the learning curve will be so much higher.

Overall advice is to buy the best mount you will reasonably need. Then start with a short focus tube (like your newt or a short focus refractor---the refractor will be easier to mount!!!). Then, when you know what you are doing, you could move up to a big SCT.

Now, if what you want is big pictures of small objects, then, yes, you want to get to the big SCT's. They do a great job.

Alex

#10 obin robinson

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:08 PM

Welcome aboard new guy. The best piece of advice I can give you is to get the BEST EQ or astrophotgraphy mount you can afford. You will get better results with an overkill mount and a small telescope than you will with a big telescope on a wobbly mount. I just got started in astrophotography a short while ago but I am glad I have the Skyview Pro. The polar alignment scope is worth every penny. I've had planets or stars stay EXACTLY in their spot for hours.

Good luck and have fun! There is a lot of good advice to be found on this site.

obin :jump:

#11 zerro1

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:41 PM

All taken with an AT65EDQ and a mono CCD using a Hydrogen Alpha filter
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#12 shawnhar

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 12:01 AM

Josh, welcome to the site!
I am not as experienced as others but I have been imaging for about a year with an older 10" SCT fork mount and the same camera you have.
The focal length of your scope is directly related to the difficulty, sort of like the inverse square thing.
You said your 6" and clock drive can do 30 sec unguided, I am gonna guess your focal length is around 1000, a 10" SCT has a focal length of 2500, with a .63 focal reducer you get around 1750. The longer the focal length the longer you have to expose to ge the same brightness, yes you have more detail, but perfect polar alignment and guiding become mandatory, along with a higher quality mount, and you get a narrow field of view. I didn't understand why everyone suggested the short focal length refractor until I got one, now I do. It is MUCH more forgiving, tracking errors show more the longer the focal length.
If I had it to do over I would get an Atlas mount and 80mm apo or the AT65 mentioned above and a 8" RC and get the rings rails and gear to mount both on the Atlas. That and the guide camera you can image with the smaller scope for widefield and bigger scope for "zoomed in" and each one can guide the other. - just my humble opinion -

#13 jdoparnico

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:35 AM

Ok, so after reading everybodies posts. It seams like a smaller refractor is the way to go.

How's the CG-5? It's seams like a good mount for pretty cheap. I could get a nice refractor, this mount, and some other accessories like (powertank, reducer/corrector, power adapters, ect..) fairly cheap. I'm just wondering, because my price limit is about $1500 give or take. If I was to get any other mount, it would eat up almost my whole budget.


If I got this mount could I use a 9"-11" SCT on it in the future? I still would want to have one in the future, but don't wanna but another mount later on.

#14 Maverick199

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:21 AM

The CG-5 is an excellent entry level EQ mount for beginners and for 80mm Refractor, perhaps the best fit if you want to add an auto guider later on. Powertank is necessary if their is no A/C outlet nearby.

You could use the 9" SCT but for visual as imaging may be a bit too much. You can image Planets and Moon though.

#15 zerro1

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:49 AM

Ok, so after reading everybodies posts. It seams like a smaller refractor is the way to go.

How's the CG-5? It's seams like a good mount for pretty cheap. I could get a nice refractor, this mount, and some other accessories like (powertank, reducer/corrector, power adapters, ect..) fairly cheap. I'm just wondering, because my price limit is about $1500 give or take. If I was to get any other mount, it would eat up almost my whole budget.


If I got this mount could I use a 9"-11" SCT on it in the future? I still would want to have one in the future, but don't wanna but another mount later on.


If your heart is set on long FL imaging(eventually, we all want that) then the CG-5 will be a tough one to acheive that with. mount choice for imaging is based on different requirements than visual use. Rule of thumb = look at the mounts rated payload and subtract 50% of that capacity rating. So a mount that is rated to carry 40lbs would only be suggested for 20lbs for use as an imaging platform.

Can it be done with a less than desirable mount for an SCT? Yes: BUT you'll struggle and fight with it and have a lot of nights where nothing go's in your favor. A large SCT or Newt makes a wonderfull sail catching every little breeze and ruining every sub-exposure. (now how did he know that? :lol:) I've got an 8" SCT that I've imaged with on my meade LXD75(CG-5 class)...even if you pull it off to some degree, there is enough tracking error to degrade the resolution of most targets at that FL. :smirk:

You can have a couple or 3 years of learning and honing your skills at imaging before you're really ready to pump out some great images at 2000mm FL. There is a lot of aspects to get good at, and a lot of targets to practice on that do not fit in the long FL. Have fun, enjoy the journey... you'll encounter a new understanding of what a clear dark sky really is. :crazy:

I have an Orion Atlas EQ-G that I hope to use my SCT on this coming year; I would suggest that it would be the smallest mount one might consider for an 8" SCT plus a load of imaging gear...

#16 shawnhar

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:37 AM

Those CG5 GT mounts sell for 500-550 in the classifieds all the time and sell quick. It doesn't have to be the last mount you ever own.

#17 jdoparnico

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 03:25 PM

Thanks for the tip shawnhar! That'S alot better than $750.

I found one pretty on astromart! And I found a pretty cheap AT65EDQ scope as well. So im definitely going to try out everyones suggestions!

And maybe some day I will get that larger scope!

#18 CJK

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 03:28 PM

:waytogo:

-- Chris

#19 Hap Griffin

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:04 PM

I agree with most of what has been said here. Stay away from long focal length fork mounted SCT's for a beginning photographer. You will spend most of your time tearing your hair out trying to get the mount to track well enough for pinpoint star images at that focal length. It can be done, mind you, but only after a lot of tweaking and patience. Get a GOOD GEM...the most you can afford. Spend most of your money there. A cheap mount is a waste of your time and money. Then use a short focal length refractor for imaging...an APO if you can afford it. Some of the finest images in all of astrophotography have been taken with a Takahashi FSQ-106...a 4" f/5 refractor with a 530mm focal length. So don't fear the small aperture.

#20 ghataa

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:20 AM

The CG-5's successor has just been released: The AVX ($800). It appears to have cleaned up a lot of the CG5's shortcomings and early reports have been positive. It may be worth a look now that the CG5 is being phased out.

Best,

George

#21 jdoparnico

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:07 PM

Hey guys,

Thanks for the idea ghataa!!

I actually am not having much luck finding a AT65EDQ online thats not backordered. Is there any other Scopes you guys would suggest? are there anymore Scopes like that one with a built in flattener? Or is there some I could get with a flattener and whatever other accessories for about the same price?

#22 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 04:06 AM

. It appears to have cleaned up a lot of the CG5's shortcomings


Maybe one day I will find out what these so called shortcomings are.. Until then... May the force be with you.

#23 ghataa

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:57 AM

Dave,

I don't own an AVX but from I have read there are some general positive improvements. Threaded power cord, better alt/azm knobs, smaller motor housings, tracking past meridian, PPEC, new motors, beefier bolts in saddle, additional aux port and a few other things I don't recall.

I use a CG5 and have been productive with it but if I was new to market I would definitely give the AVX a look.

Best,

George

#24 ponz

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 10:51 AM

Hey guys,

Thanks for the idea ghataa!!

I actually am not having much luck finding a AT65EDQ online thats not backordered. Is there any other Scopes you guys would suggest? are there anymore Scopes like that one with a built in flattener? Or is there some I could get with a flattener and whatever other accessories for about the same price?


I'm almost as new as you are. I went with the ATLAS mount and the SkyWatcher Prp 80ED. Haven't hd a chance to do any imaging yet. Still wrapping my head around the gear, the sky, etc....

BTW - Many here beat me over the head with above suggestion and I truly appreciate them.

Welcome!
Ponz

#25 HenryV1598

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 05:11 PM

Owning a CG-5 myself I can echo some of the above. A faster scope (shorter focal length/focal ratio) is your best option. I run an 80mm refractor and an 8" SCT on my CG-5. The images through the 8" are nearly unusable - lots of egg-shaped (or worse!) stars. That's with the best alignment I can muster and no wind. When I add in a focal reducer and drop from F/10 to F/6.3, it gets a little better - but I am still limited to 30 second exposures. The guys who say buy the best mount you can are right.

I've played with the 8" version of the NexStar GPS. On a wedge, its a good scope and I've seen work done by someone out there that's downright excellent. Its inner workings are significantly better than those of the CG-5. You need the wedge, however, or you will run into field rotation issues. Its also trickier to work with due to the placement of the fork pieces at times, but with a focal reducer getting you down to F/6.3-ish, it probably would work. The Hyperstar option, however, would be even better. You get down to an F/2.8 - a very fast scope! The Hyperstar for a C8 won't take a DSLR, but the C11 is supposed to. If you can afford that route, it's definitely worth considering.






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