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Celestron Nexstar vs Skywatcher Synscan GOTO pointing accuracy

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#1 Moromete

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 01:30 AM

1) From your experience, which mounts have better GOTO pointing accuracy, Celestron GEMs or Skywatcher/Orion GEMs?

2) Is any significant difference between Celestron and Skywatcher hand controller software in respect of GOTO accuracy/efficiency or ease of initial star alignment?

3) Are Skywatcher mounts more dependant on EQ mode on a better polar alignment than Celestron for better GOTOs?

4) What about GOTO precision of Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 in Alt-Az mode compared to a Celestron CPC?






Let's compare mainly the hand controllers GOTOs of Celestron CG5-GT or CGEM to Skywatcher HEQ5 or EQ6/AZ-EQ6/ATLAS, considering Celestron Nexstar uses 2+4 alignment stars and Skywatcher uses only 2+1 stars.

By "better GOTOs" I'm referring to the mount being able to center a DSO in the middle of the eyepiece at ~100x or in the middle of DSLR sensor used with a C11 reduced at F/6.

#2 Moromete

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 03:32 AM

No one had both Celestron and Skywatcher mounts to make a GOTO accuracy comparison?

#3 rmollise

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 08:24 AM

No one had both Celestron and Skywatcher mounts to make a GOTO accuracy comparison?


Hold your horses. You just axed. :lol:

The pointing accuracy of both can be equally good...BUT...

The user has to be more careful about choice of alignment stars with SynScan. You can't just choose the first star you are offered for star 1, etc. Follow the guidelines in the manual and you will be OK. With a 3-star alignment, my EQ-6 will put anything from horizon to horizon in the field of my C8.

However...the NexStar controller is considerably more advanced. Just accept and center the stars you are offered and you are done. It also supports a 2+4 star go-to alignment which is considerably more sophisticated. Finally, the NexStar HC has more features

That said, Synta (who also makes the Celestron scopes) has been upgrading the SynScan software, adding more features, etc. to the point where it is approaching NexStar functionality. The down side? I've heard rumblings that there are bugs in the latest update. ;)

#4 Mike X.

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 08:39 AM

I quote uncle Rod.
(I got Both the CG5-GT and the AZEQ6GT)
I think the pointing accuracy is virtually identical..if..someone does things properly.

The Nexstar software is more ergonomic, thats true,however the Synscan is not that bad at all.
I got used to it in a heart bit.

#5 Moromete

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 10:09 AM

Hold your horses. You just axed. :lol:


Ok. :roflmao:

I would like an Az-Eq6 quite badly but I've read on astro forums more opinions of people not so content with EQ6 or AZ-EQ6 GOTOs accuracy and than CGEM's GOTOs. In fact I rarely have seen people complaining about CGEM or CG5-GT GOTOs accuracy.
I know that CGEM is not so good for photography at >1000mm due to cogging issue which affects DEC guidance and 8/3 issue, the last one being a hardware flaw which can't be fixed with a software update.
Secondly the CGEM is just too heavy for my back.

Till now I've heard good things about AZ-EQ6 but it seems that some people are not so content with GOTO accuracy of this mount in AZ mode. I heavn't read opinions regarding the GOTOs of AZ-EQ6 in EQ mode but I suppose they are quite identical with the GOTOs of EQ6 Pro.

Regarding EQ6 Pro GOTOs I've read that they are very much dependant of an accurate polar alignment in contrast with Celestron mounts GOTOs which seem to be much less dependant on accurate polar alignment.
On the other hand it seemed to me that, as Astrobabay said somewhere, with EQ6 it's better to align only on 2 stars and not on 3 if you want workable GOTOs, which is somehow weird.
In plus some users said about EQ6 that if it's GOTOs were quite good for first part of the observing sesion than suddenly they degraded badly without understanding why.

Now I have a C11 on a CG5-GT which has accurate GOTOs after 2+2 stars alignment and with very rough polar alignment (Polaris outside the polar scope FOV) and I like it but the C11 is too heavy for the mount. I have put the mount on pier and reduced Custom Rate 9 to 6 to avoid stalling and stressing the motors when slewing but now slewing became too slow.

The only things which keep me back from buying AZ-EQ6 are GOTO accuracy in both EQ/Alt-Az modes and cord wrap problem in Alt-Az mode.
Otherwise I would like to use the AZ-EQ6 with the C11 and Meade AR5 mounted in parallel in Alt-Az mode.

I know AZ-Eq6 has lower noise too when slewing than CGEM and has much less weight.

From personal experince I know that CG5-GT has very good GOTOs due to 2+2 star alignment and not being so dependant on accurate polar alignment and I suppose the CGEM is the same in this respect. Lousy polar alignment with CG5-GT means bad traking but really inaccurate GOTOs.
With CG5-GT I always pick the stars I want for initial alignment and refuse the ones given by the hand controller and GOTOs are very good which means Celestron software does a good job for me.



I really would like to put the C11 on a more serious mount but under 2000 USD and if I spend so much money on a new mount than the first priority for me are accurate GOTOs (e.g. placing a DSO on DSLRs frame with C11 at F6 or in the FOV at ~100x visually) and than mount must perform well when guided for exposures up to 5 minutes at 1700mm)!





So can the AZ-Eq6 GOTOs put a DSO on the middle of a Canon 550D(T2i) frame with C11 at F6 or in the FOV at ~100x visually) and than mount must perform well when guided for exposures up to 5 minutes at 1700mm) or only the CGEM can do this?



Do you think Synta will offer a 2+4 alignment in EQ mode or an Auto Two Star Align (like Celestron CPC scopes have) in Alt-Az mode for AZ-EQ6 in the near future (1-2 years)?

#6 rmollise

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 10:33 AM


Ok. :roflmao:

I would like an Az-Eq6 quite badly but I've read on astro forums more opinions of people not so content with EQ6 or AZ-EQ6 GOTOs accuracy and than CGEM's GOTOs. In fact I rarely have seen people complaining about CGEM or CG5-GT GOTOs accuracy.
I know that CGEM is not so good for photography at >1000mm due to cogging issue which affects DEC guidance and 8/3 issue, the last one being a hardware flaw which can't be fixed with a software update.
Secondly the CGEM is just too heavy for my back.

Till now I've heard good things about AZ-EQ6 but it seems that some people are not so content with GOTO accuracy of this mount in AZ mode. I heavn't read opinions regarding the GOTOs of AZ-EQ6 in EQ mode but I suppose they are quite identical with the GOTOs of EQ6 Pro.

Regarding EQ6 Pro GOTOs I've read that they are very much dependant of an accurate polar alignment in contrast with Celestron mounts GOTOs which seem to be much less dependant on accurate polar alignment.
On the other hand it seemed to me that, as Astrobabay said somewhere, with EQ6 it's better to align only on 2 stars and not on 3 if you want workable GOTOs, which is somehow weird.
In plus some users said about EQ6 that if it's GOTOs were quite good for first part of the observing sesion than suddenly they degraded badly without understanding why.

Now I have a C11 on a CG5-GT which has accurate GOTOs after 2+2 stars alignment and with very rough polar alignment (Polaris outside the polar scope FOV) and I like it but the C11 is too heavy for the mount. I have put the mount on pier and reduced Custom Rate 9 to 6 to avoid stalling and stressing the motors when slewing but now slewing became too slow.

The only things which keep me back from buying AZ-EQ6 are GOTO accuracy in both EQ/Alt-Az modes and cord wrap problem in Alt-Az mode.
Otherwise I would like to use the AZ-EQ6 with the C11 and Meade AR5 mounted in parallel in Alt-Az mode.

I know AZ-Eq6 has lower noise too when slewing than CGEM and has much less weight.

From personal experince I know that CG5-GT has very good GOTOs due to 2+2 star alignment and not being so dependant on accurate polar alignment and I suppose the CGEM is the same in this respect. Lousy polar alignment with CG5-GT means bad traking but really inaccurate GOTOs.
With CG5-GT I always pick the stars I want for initial alignment and refuse the ones given by the hand controller and GOTOs are very good which means Celestron software does a good job for me.



I really would like to put the C11 on a more serious mount but under 2000 USD and if I spend so much money on a new mount than the first priority for me are accurate GOTOs (e.g. placing a DSO on DSLRs frame with C11 at F6 or in the FOV at ~100x visually) and than mount must perform well when guided for exposures up to 5 minutes at 1700mm)!





So can the AZ-Eq6 GOTOs put a DSO on the middle of a Canon 550D(T2i) frame with C11 at F6 or in the FOV at ~100x visually) and than mount must perform well when guided for exposures up to 5 minutes at 1700mm) or only the CGEM can do this?



Do you think Synta will offer a 2+4 alignment in EQ mode or an Auto Two Star Align (like Celestron CPC scopes have) in Alt-Az mode for AZ-EQ6 in the near future (1-2 years)?


You hear a lot of things here and in other places online. All I can say is what I have already told you: If you follow the instructions in the manual, the Atlas/EQ-6 will put whatever you request in the field of a medium power eyepiece. I have certainly never had a problem with its go-to accuracy with the HC, and the EQMOD program can give it go-to pointing accuracy on the other of a few arc minutes or better.

Maybe what you are hearing is complaints about the new SynScan software. As I said, there may be some bugs there, but I have little doubt they will be resolved.

I did a blog on the more recent firmware and the atlas here.

Many, many excellent astrophotos have been made with the CGEM, and the software update to fix the "cogging" issue that has affected some (but hardly all) people will make it even easier, no doubt.

I have no idea what the AZ-EQ will do because I don't own one. The EQ-6 will most assuredly put objects on the chip of my Canon DSLR every time. Again, IF there is a problem with go-to accuracy with the new mount, I have no doubt the software will be fixed.

As for the 2+4 go-to alignment coming to the SynScan controller? I have no idea, but Synta did recently implement the AllStar polar alignment routine for the SynScan controllers, so it's certainly possible.

#7 Moromete

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 01:43 PM

Thx Rod for helping. I bought the C11 ASGT guided by your advice and I was pleased with this combo especially after I put the CG5-GT on pier and fitted an ADM Dual Saddle to it which eliminated almost all shackiness.
Maybe I become so much in love with Celestron Nextsar GOTO accuracy that now I'm afraid to make the swap to Skywatcher Synscan software.

Here is a link to German forum were users tested firmware 3.35 with EQ6 and AZ-Eq6 and they seem not too happy about GOTO accuracy. http://translate.goo...&prev=_t&amp...

#8 Mike X.

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 09:38 PM

Guiding at 1700mm is not a walk in the park for any Synta mount of this class but is achievable if used properly.
The re are many guys imaging at 1600+ with rc8s anyways.
A c11 is heavy and big though and it has to be taken in consideration this fact.I find it a borderline setup for a mount of this class but this is my personal opinion of course,

A few months ago I was in the dilemma between Cgem dx ,Cgem and azeq6.
The use I am doing is 99,9% photographic.
I was biased towards the nexstar protocol because of my very positive previous experience with the cg5.
After trying the pointing accuracy of the new mount in eq mode I never looked back again.
I can't really find any visible differences in the performance.Maybe there are but I can't as much as it concerns my expectations.
The only thing I haven't tried yet is the new ASPA routine of the new mount as I was using it with the 3.34 firmware till a few days ago.

I guess all these mounts are pretty much equivalent. ( neq6,azeq6,Cgem) in terms of performance.
My main fear back then,before deciding,was the cogging issue with the Cgem mount...I must admit that this was the reason that pushed me towards the skywatcher series.
Maybe my fear was without basis,maybe not..in any case I think that all these mounts offer pretty nice pointing accuracy.I just wouldn't overload them and expect perfect guiding or at ,east not without issues...;)
So far I am very pleased with the mount but I am still in the stage of testing it.some autoguiding runs at 945mm have been very positive..but that's about what I have done so far.
Pointing accuracy at 1500mm seemed to be similar to my cg5 at least visually.

I hope I've been of help

Ps:sorry for the typos, I'm not used typing from a tablet... :tonofbricks:

#9 johnpd

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 12:45 AM

Moromete,

Are you sure that you pointed to the correct post thread? That thread is almost a year old before either the mount or firmware were released. I see nothing regarding GoTo accuracy.

This is my first Skywatcher mount which I had to order from Canada because SkyWatcher mounts are not available in the U.S. although Orion now has its version available. I took a leap of faith getting this. I was hoping the Meade LX80 would work out, but that turned out to be a disaster. I have been using a C-8 on it and attached a Mallincam video camera to the C-8 at f/3.3. This gives me about a FOV of about .5 degree. With few exceptions as I had noted, I have no problem getting objects on the camera chip. As Rod has mentioned, Synta seems to be very good at updating firmware when a problem has been found. I have reported my issues to my dealer and he is contacting Synta regarding them. Hopefully the issues will be fixed shortly.

JohnD

#10 Moromete

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:06 AM

Thx Mike. Sure you helped.

I'm looking forward to see a review from you for AZ-EQ6 which will be usefull for many potential buyers of this mount.

With what scope and eyepiece have you tried the pointing accuracy of this mount in EQ mode? Were the viewed objects in the center of the FOV?

Regarding Skywatcher ASPA precision I have some concerns because of this: before using ASPA with Celestron mounts you have to align on 2+4 stars but with Skywatcher ASPA is calculated after aligning the mount only on 2+1 stars, which I suppose means a lower precision in calculating Polaris position. Does it make any sense?

Another thing that puzzled me about EQ6/Az-Eq6 pointing precision is that many users say they obtain much better GOTOs after only 2 stars alignment than 2+1 stars which seems to make things worse and computes cone error strangely. Have you experienced this situation in EQ mode?

Regarding the Alt-Az pointing accuracy I see that there are problems according to the end of this review http://www.astroshop...her-azeq6gt.asp

#11 Moromete

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:11 AM

John, you are right. Sorry for mistake. Here is the correct link http://translate.goo...&prev=_t&amp...

According to the German users of EQ6/AZ-EQ6 there are still problems with ASPA with firmware 3.35. Read the second page of the translated thread.

#12 johnpd

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 05:01 AM

I think you mean this thread:

Synscan v3.35 Firmware

JohnD

#13 Moromete

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 05:28 AM

Yes, that is the link. I don't know what happens with my computer.

#14 Mike X.

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 05:04 AM

Thx Mike. Sure you helped.

I'm looking forward to see a review from you for AZ-EQ6 which will be usefull for many potential buyers of this mount.

With what scope and eyepiece have you tried the pointing accuracy of this mount in EQ mode? Were the viewed objects in the center of the FOV?

Regarding Skywatcher ASPA precision I have some concerns because of this: before using ASPA with Celestron mounts you have to align on 2+4 stars but with Skywatcher ASPA is calculated after aligning the mount only on 2+1 stars, which I suppose means a lower precision in calculating Polaris position. Does it make any sense?

Another thing that puzzled me about EQ6/Az-Eq6 pointing precision is that many users say they obtain much better GOTOs after only 2 stars alignment than 2+1 stars which seems to make things worse and computes cone error strangely. Have you experienced this situation in EQ mode?

Regarding the Alt-Az pointing accuracy I see that there are problems according to the end of this review http://www.astroshop...her-azeq6gt.asp


I'm glad i've been of help,as soon as finish my photographic sessions this summer i will gladly post my impressions regarding the mount ;)
Now,i have used only the 3 star aling and with the encoders off during aligment, just as the manual states so i can't help you regarding the rest of the allingment procedures.
Anywasy i was using my C6 (F:1500) and a 20mm eyepiece.
Gotos were near the center.(but..i had done a good polar alignment before).I was not using the newest firmware at that time but the 3.34.
The mount would bring the DSO in the midle of the DSLR FOV at 945mm with ease anyways.

I haven't tried the Skywatcher version of the ASPA routine either...but i'm willing to do so ASAP ;)
The mount has been used only in EQ mode.

#15 Moromete

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 09:47 AM

Mike, I'm glad you had good GOTOs at 75x with 3 star alignment in EQ mode and encoders off.By saying "i had done a good polar alignment before" I hope you didn't do a drift alignment because I don't have ever the mood for doing drift alignment but just simple polar alignment through the polar scope.

Regarding using 2 scopes in Alt-Az with AZ-EQ6 (which is very desirable, by the way), I think this piece of hardware from iOptron ( http://www.ioptron.c...06e0c77-2eb5... ) is easier to use than the Skywatcher puck which must be screwed in and makes changing from Alt-Az mode to EQ mode during an observing sesion much harder in the dark.

One last thing about the dual encoders. For me it seems vey weird to have such encoders designed for slewing the mount manually but forcing you to disable them because they destroy your GOTOs when you want to use again the hand controller during the night to find different objects for you. The idea of encoders is very nice and usefull but it seems it's not functional as it should be at least which is a shame. Why put encoders with such low resolution that makes GOTOs unusable it's beyond my understanding.

All these things hold me from buying an AZ-EQ6 even if I want one badly. It seems like an unfinished/unpolished product somehow.I really like the look and functionality of AZ-EQ6 but these design mistakes keep me on standby.

I wonder if and when Celestron will offer an AZ-EQ6 mount (like CGEM replica to EQ6) with CPC Alt-Az software and 2+4 alignment in EQ mode.Do you think we'll be able to buy such a product in 1 or 2 years?

#16 Mike X.

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 10:52 AM

Hi Moromete,yes i usually do drift alingment but i'm pretty sure you will get very similar results in goto accuracy by only using the polarscope.

Regarding the encoders,they suggest to keep them off only during initial alingment with in EQ mode.I believe because there could be a confilt between the Synscan system which is using a microstep system to count the actual position of the moun and the encoders reading the position.

When i tried the encoders, i found that they maintained goto accuracy pretty well.I guess the resolution of 3-4' they give is not bad for keeping the goto.
I don't believe at all it is an unfinished product, actually i think it is a very nice mount for the money.It has it pros and cons.
The synscan firmware is allways on evolution and that's for all the mounts not only AZEQ6.

If it helps..i will tell you that i believe the AZEQ6 is much more finished and mature project than the CGEM.At least from what i've been reading about the cogging issue and the motors.To me that's way more important than the polar alingment routine or the software.

It is based on the NEQ6 basically and they eliminated the transmission gear by adding a belt.
To me seems it keeps all the goodies of the NEQ6/Atlas, and gets rid of the bad noise and some periodic error probably.

The AZ mode and the Canon SNAP port and the encoders are extras..nice but extras, at least form my point of view.

If i have to consider the AZEQ6 only in EQ mode...i think it is the safe counterpart of the CGEM mount

A NEQ6 with much better altitude adjustment bolt and at least to me, upgraded wedge.
I would suggest it with no problems at all.

PS:One word regarding the encoders and the AZ mode.
Ok it's fine, i like'em..but i must say it is only good if someone wants both in 1 mount.
Personally i don't think i'll use them.I bought the mount just for photography..and if i wanted to push my telescope..i would use a Dobson..but that's just me :)

#17 johnpd

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 07:32 PM

Moromete,

Regarding switching the AZ-EQ6 between EQ and AZ Modes, it is very simple especially when you see what you have to do with iOptron's iEQ45-AZ. With iOptron's you have to remove the polarscope first in order to switch which leaves you with the possibility of misaligning the polarscope when you reinstall it if going back to EQ Mode.

I think the design of the mount is excellent especially the large clutches which makes it very easy to use them. I do wish they incorporated the capability of automatically slewing the mount to the first alignment star when in AZ Mode. If you started from a set position (such as zero Az and zero Alt), I would think that could be done unless there is some patent issue with having that as part of the firmware. Manually moving the scope to the first alignment star can cause some issues especially if you want to use a not so bright star.

Again the 4 calibration stars in Celestron's alignment procedure helps eliminate cone error. That is what the third alignment star is supposed to do on the Synta mounts. Obviously Synta needs some work on the alignment in their firmware but I am sure they will get it right eventually.

The auxiliary encoders are useful if you want to bypass the alignment procedure and manually go directly to an object. This is useful during early twilight or daytime when alignment stars may not be visible.

JohnD

#18 Mike X.

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 12:29 PM

If i remember well Moromette you were asking about some info also regarding guiding with the AZEQ6
Yesterday i did a small test of the mount and the new CCD.Nothing exceptional, just a test to check if everything works.
So i pointer Altair and i did a few shots.
The polar alingment was less than perfect (on purpose)so the autoguider had to work a lot in Dec to compensate the drift.

I was autoguiding at 945mm with a Qhy5m
The shot was taken with a Skywatcher Equinox 80 ED and a Qhy8l
8x300" with respective darks and light.
Just tacking and calibration with DSS an a small histogram strech with PS.I didn't used any denoising again on purpose.

Personally i am glad with the result considering the conditions.
Posted Image

You may check also an actual pixel version of this shot here:
http://www.astrobin....?mod=none&real=

No field flattener used:
at 945mm i was getting an RMS of 0.39 in PHD.
I didn't noticed any kind of saw tooth graph on about 3 hours i let the mount guide.

Hope it helps.

#19 Raginar

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 09:57 AM

If you're willing to put a simple imaging camera on your scope (say a ST80 with a small camera like a QHY5 or one of those new ASIs) you could platesolve using Astrotorilla pretty easily and end up with spot on GOTO performance.

#20 Moromete

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:27 PM

Porca mizeria segniore, very nice picture Mike! :cool: I think Altair looks magical in your shot.

With AZ-EQ6 I intend to do guided photography in EQ mode at 1700mm with a C11 (reduced at F/6) + APS-C DSLR and I need GOTOs which will put the DSO in the frame for up to 5 min exposure, otherwise I'm getting nervous for paying useless GOTO.
Secondly I'll use the mount unguided (preferably in AZ mode) for video astronomy with a CCTV and C11 at F/3. It would be nice to have round stars in AZ mode after a 90s-120s exposure with AZ-EQ6 but I don't know if it's possible.

In any case I need efficient GOTOs both visually in both AZ & EQ modes and photographically in EQ mode especially because I have short observing sessions and I don't like to find DSO manually.

Is this possible easily with AZ-EQ6 or I'm dreaming with my eyes open?

#21 johnpd

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 05:11 PM

Moromete,

It is very unlikely that you would get perfectly round stars imaging in Az with any mount for that length of time. I use a Mallincam Xtreme video camera on a C-8 @ f/3.3 and I would not go much beyond a minute. I had no GoTo issues with that configuration except with the problems I had indicated. When Synta resolves the current intermittent GoTo problems with v3.35, the mount should be very good.

JohnD

#22 Mike X.

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 06:42 PM

Hello Moromete, thank you, you are too kind :)

Well a C11 as i said before i think it's a borderline OTA for this class of mounts both because of the weight and the focal Lenght.That's regarding DSO photography.But..with patience it can be done.
Regarding the GOTOs i think it wouldn't be hard to have the mount put a DSO in an APS-C sensor format (Most non full frame DSLRs).
Regarding the AZ mode i'm afraid i have no clue to help you with as i never tried it.
I am only guessing that if it tracks ok for visual observing it should be ok also for video astronomy but..still..maybe a friend that has used the mount in AZ mode can help you more than me.

#23 johnpd

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 07:08 PM

I just read a post in a Yahoo group from another AZ-EQ6 owner that Synta is aware of the GoTo issue and a fix will be released in the next firmware update. No release date was mentioned.

JohnD

#24 Patrick

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 12:32 AM

I owned and tested both the CGEM and Atlas mount side by side. I still have the CGEM. I found that the accuracy of the CGEM with a 2+2 alignment was dead on accurate, while the 3 star alignment with the Atlas was within the field of view of a wide field eyepiece, meaning it was not quite as accurate. One of the big issues for me though was that the CGEM offered more alignment star choices than the Atlas. This can be a issue if you have a lot of trees or obstructions in your observing area like I do. There were a few times when I could not find three alignment stars with the Atlas.

Patrick

#25 rmollise

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 07:11 AM

You might get some shots at this f/l with a C11 in alt-az mode, but only in a couple of areas. Usually field rotation will mean you will have non-round stars with exposures this long.






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