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Celestron Nexstar 8SE Astrophotography Stability

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#1 eholloway315

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 02:19 AM

Does anyone know any tricks or a gadget to purchase to help make the Celestron Nexstar 8SE more solid/stable for astrophotography? It seems a bit shaky and even pics of the moon has blur to it when using the camera timer.

#2 Kevdog

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 02:43 AM

I had the same problem with my Meade LT8. Very similar "one armed bandit". Anti vibration pads helped a bit, but what really helped was selling it and getting a C11 for stability!

It was fine for visual, but not good for photos.

#3 eholloway315

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:23 AM

Couldn't I just buy a different mount? Are there other mounts on the market that would work with the Celestron Nextar 8SE?

#4 Smittty692k4

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:21 AM

You can buy the CPC tripod by itself. The Nexstar fork drops right on to the CPC brackets.

I just bought one last night. 8 more days til it arrives. Check out the "Show off your Nexstar" thread in the Nexstar forum. There are several members with that setup. Looks beefy too.

#5 Smittty692k4

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:23 AM

But for long exposure you would need a wedge, and at that point you might as well buy a GEM. (Instead of the CPC tripod/wedge i mean)

#6 Cliff Hipsher

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:05 AM

Get thee to a GEM. That "one armed Bandit" is fine for visual, but just won't cut the mustard for imaging.

Look for something that with a Vixen style saddle, decent load capacity, and a guide port.

#7 eholloway315

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:56 AM

Can you helpful gents possibly post a few links for me to consider?

#8 Paco_Grande

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 11:05 AM

http://www.telescope.../Orion-Siriu...

If you plan to use a heavy scope, like a 4" or larger refractor, get this:

http://www.telescope.../Orion-Atlas...

#9 jerwin

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 12:32 PM

not to discourage you, but there is a good post at the top of this page called why oh why AP for beginners. It touches on some of the difficulties surrounding AP, and the associated costs. I spent a few grand trying to do AP before I realized defeat. Not a good feeling, but most of the equipment was easy enough to resell.

http://www.cloudynig...5377136/page...

Jim

#10 eholloway315

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 12:37 PM

Wow, the mounts are pricy... I wonder if I should just buy a C11 like the first comment suggested http://www.celestron...11-sgt-xlt.html and sell my brand new :( 8SE ?

#11 hawk

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 01:04 PM

Whoah, slow down there a bit.... The C11 itself isn't going to make AP much easier, and in fact, because of the extra weight, could make it harder. The important part of that setup you linked is the equatorial mount, and yes, you can get a new mount for your 8SE OTA. Smitty mentioned getting a better tripod will help, but that for long-exposure AP you probably want a solid, equatorial mount. Paco pointed to the Atlas, and I believe Celestron's "Advanced VX" mount already has the Vixen-style dovetail that your 8" tube should just slap right in, and it's an upgraded model from the CG5 in the link you posted.

If you just want better short-exposure images of bright objects, though, the 8SE can probably be tweaked a little to give some good improvement, e.g. through vibration suppression pads or better balancing, or you may even just need a longer shutter timer or remote control. It just depends on what you're hoping to do.

#12 jerwin

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 01:15 PM

The VX does take the dovetail that comes on the 8se OTA.

It's a nice little EQ mount, still a little on the light side where I can bump it and screw up my polar alignment.


eholloway315 another thing you need to consider is even if you have this on a new\better mount under light polluted skies, you won't be able to take super long exposures anyway, everything will start to turn orange. So you might need to travel to get to skies dark enough to use it for a night of longer AP exposures. Then even after you have your pictures, often people invest hours and hours of time stacking the exposures together, and adjusting the color balance in photoshop. It's typically way more time consuming than just snapping a picture and showing someone the thing you saw last night.

JIm

#13 eholloway315

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 01:29 PM

So if i get a heavy duty mount that will accept my 8SE, and given the right atmospheric conditions, should I expect to be able to image deep space objects as I learn more? I've been a professional hobbyist photographer for years, and using a Canon 5D Mark ii, which i'd be using for the photos. I already have the T adapter.

#14 AstroTatDad

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:24 PM

With a wedge and guide scope it can be done, if you can make a wedge that's even better. For me, buying a wedge and guide scope set up is about the same price as a good mount like a CG5 or VX. There is other mounts out there too, but in the long run will still need a guide scope. It can get up there in price very fast.

Check this out from another member from CN he built his own wedge and uses a guide scope. But he uses the 6se.
http://www.cloudynig...5924114/page...

#15 Kevdog

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:51 PM

Lemme chime back in here.

I got the C11, more for aperture fever than stability, but also so I'd have some chance of taking good photos. (I too am an am avid photographer). It's a whole different ballgame. You have to really want to do it. I did end up buying a wedge when I got my used C11 but I haven't had the patience/time to properly set it up. I did finally get it on the wedge once but didn't have it properly aligned and ran out of time and had to pack it all back up again.

Astrophotography goes like this: Take an hour or more to set up and align your tripod/mount. Take lots and lots of long exposures (hours of them) of the same object. Spend hours and hours post processing all the files (don't forget your darks and flats) to get a picture. It's much different than normal photography. I personally haven't had the time to do more than "snapshots"... and I'm not sure if I will take the time.... I'm too busy looking at things still.

And to do it properly, most people have a laptop outside, hooked to the scope and the camera and controlling the camera, the mount, the guiding (via another smaller camera with another telescope), etc etc etc. It gets complicated and expensive. That's not to say people haven't been able to make stunning photos without all that equipment. But rather than more money, then it takes even more time.

And really if you want to get started in AP, then you probably want a more simple/lighter scope on a decent mount so your focal length isn't as long. The longer the focal length, the more important guiding is (like image stabilization for long telephoto lenses) and the more critical the mount is (like a sturdy tripod by multiplied by 100).

Here's my attempts with the telescope photos:
https://picasaweb.go...s?authuser=0...

Most were taken through my Meade LT8. The last Jupiter pic was taken in my C11. The solar pictures were taken through my SolarMax 60 telescope on a sturdy manual GEM mount.

Don't throw out your 8SE yet! Look around and SEE what you can see. You can dabble with photography even on the 8SE mount, just to see what's involved. No, your pictures won't be great, but you'll get an idea of how much time and effort it will take. In the end I decided, not yet and concentrated on seeing what I could in the sky and enjoying the looking.

#16 jerwin

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 04:02 PM

So if i get a heavy duty mount that will accept my 8SE, and given the right atmospheric conditions, should I expect to be able to image deep space objects as I learn more? I've been a professional hobbyist photographer for years, and using a Canon 5D Mark ii, which i'd be using for the photos. I already have the T adapter.


I think the simple answer is yes you'll be able to image DSO's with your 8se OTA on a decent EQ mount with good conditions. However, there is still a lot of work that goes into the mount. Getting it properly polar aligned, getting it balanced perfect. You might need to get an auto guider on a guide scope, might need to tweak this that and the other. Your camera while being a nice camera won't pick up the reds the way a modified camera or mono ccd camera with different filters would.

So while the simple answer is yes, just realize there is still a lot more that goes into AP than attaching a camera to a scope, pointing it at the sky and leaving the shutter open for a few minutes.

I'd recommend reading through some posts in the imaging forums. You'll probably see a lot of people in a similar boat to yourself, and maybe you can try to avoid some of their mistakes before you have too much more into this investment.

Jim

#17 Pat at home

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 04:54 PM

A pre-owned EQ6 might be worth looking into. With the new AZ-EQ6 now available and the EQ8 showing promise there might be a few upgraders selling their EQ6 to fund a new toy.

#18 Pharquart

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:11 PM

As a professional hobbyist photographer, you know the tradeoff between F-stop and exposure time. Your 8SE is F/10. Putting your camera in the end is exactly like attaching a 2000mm F/10 zoom lens to your camera. Would you use an F/10 lens in dark conditions to take a photo (without a flash)? Probably not, or you'd have to use a long exposure (or really high ISO). Same is true of astrophotography. Large focal ratio means long exposures. Long exposures place much more demands on the mount to be absolutely stable for long periods and track EXACTLY. The SE alt/az mount is so-so for tracking, and because it's alt/az and not equatorial, you'll get what's called field rotation. All the stars in the field will rotate around the center of your shot at 1 degree in 4 minutes making stars at the edge of your shot look like lines instead of dots.

I'm not AT ALL saying that you can't take cool shots through your 8". Lots of people have amazing results using an 8" SCT, though all use guided equatorial mounts as far as I know. Most of the really awesome shots are done using smaller (and lighter) scopes with fast focal ratios, like an 80mm F/5 APO refractor. For AP, it's really about the size of the mount, not the size of the scope.

I dabbled with AP in my 8" SCT (fork mounted scope on a wedge) and got some pictures I like, but don't hold a candle to the good ones. I quickly discovered that the next step up was going to cost about $2000 in a guided mount and a few hundred in software. So I continue to dabble, but with low expectations.

Brian

#19 hawk

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:01 PM

I was just thinking I hadn't yet seen the obvious suggestion: if you haven't yet, check out the NexStar and beginning astrophotography forums here at CloudyNights. People have absolutely had some success with the 8SE for deep sky imaging, without a wedge and without an equatorial mount, and obviously they'll be happy to give you pointers; you may get more specific advice on stabilizing your 8SE mount for AP than what you'll get in the beginners forum. It can be done, albeit with limitations. There's a whole thread for NexStar AP images. Maybe they're just ambitious, but I'm amazed at what I've seen people pull off with the "lowly" SE mount. In fact, your 8SE is probably 'fastar' compatible, which puts the CCD/DSLR at the front of the scope, giving you an effective f/2 and making the whole thing much easier.

I've got an 8SE, and I personally expect I'll try my hand at AP sooner or later. If I get an EQ mount, I'll start by using the OTA from the 8SE; it's just a bog-standard Celestron C8, not diminished in any way. But even then, I'd probably still keep the SE mount because it's so darn portable and convenient.

#20 eholloway315

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 12:18 AM

Well, today I went and bought a Celestron Advanced VX. It's definitely a heavy and sturdy mount. However, it was DOA when I plugged it in. The power light would just briefly flash when I turned it on, then the hand controller said it was searching for something, the screen light would turn on, and the screen would go blank. I'm taking it back tomorrow for an exchange. I'll report back when I get everything working.

Thanks for everyones help! Much appreciated!

#21 setiv2

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 08:37 AM

You can do astrophotography with the Nexstar 8se. I made a homemade wedge and use an off axis guider. I can get 600" subs. I think it is a great telescope and it comes off the wedge very easy to use in alt/az mode for planet and terrestrial viewing. Here is the horsehead nebula from 13 x 300" subs.

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#22 setiv2

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 08:38 AM

M76 the Little Dumbbell with 10 x 600" subs

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#23 setiv2

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 08:39 AM

Star field near the star Caph using 5 x 600" subs.

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#24 Gvs

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 09:39 PM

A simple solution to stabilize the SE is to hang a 1gal bottle filed with water or sand, or else use tension cords. Both go a long way to stabilize the mount. Otherwise purchase a zeq25 and you are good to go.

On another thread, lamplite came up with a brilliant solution:

Just add a bungee cords at the bottom of your legs. This will stabilize the mount considerably. :) Wont help much with the mount, that does have some wiggle to it.






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