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Good scope for both viewing and video?

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#1 sprinter

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 03:02 PM

Okay, you guys have got me rethinking my whole purchase strategy, and just when I thought I had it figured out, too :)

 

I'm close to ordering a 10" dob as my first scope in a long time but now I discover this AV thing that has me all interested in that.  I've been doing a lot of exploring on the net about AV and I definitely want to do it, but probably not exclusively and I'd still like to have something good for visual as well.

 

Would it be reasonable to go ahead with the dob for visual and supplement it with something like a fast achro refractor on a driven mount, or would a single scope that would be suitable for both be a better solution for similar money?  I'm thinking something like a C8 Edge on VX mount here (ala Uncle Rod). 

 

Some things about my situation.  I'm a retired guy and my eyes are the same age as the rest of me although I'm not sure how that should affect my equipment decisions.   We're in a pretty dark rural area.    I won't be traveling away from home much with equipment so portablity isn't too important.  In fact, I may end up finding a good spot in the yard and just keep it there under a Telegizmos 365 cover.   I'm in rainy Pac NW without a whole lot of good days except summer.  Not all the money in the world, but could probably manage around 2K or so at least at first.

 

Thanks for any help with this.

 

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 



#2 jgraham

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 03:35 PM

I'd say that you're on the right track. The most versatile scope I own is an 8" SCT on a GEM. It does a fine job with visual, imaging, and camera-assisted observing (my version of video). The 8" SCT is relatively light as does very well on mounts like the VX. For video I'd add a focal reducer (is the a reducer available for the Edge?), for visual I'd leave it at its native focal length.

 

Have fun!


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#3 iam1ru12

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 04:42 PM

I too am not 100% video or AP so I like having a good visual scope as well.  I have a CPC 1100 for both.  However I also have a 102 f/6.5 for wide field views.  I need to buy the balance kit for my CPC 1100 before I piggy-back my 102 (10.4 pounds) so I can have the best of both worlds on one driven mount.  I would put some serious thought into having a flexible package with a range of focal lengths (i.e. 2 scopes and 1 goto mount that can handle both scopes) as well as another mount (driven or not) that you have have around when you want video on one scope and visual on another.

 

I would look for a good used Nexstar 11 or CPC 1100 (or comparable 10" or 12" Meade).  You should be able to get something for around $1,500 to $1,700 on the used market.  Then get a good, fast achro reflector; I really like my Explore Scientific AR102, an Orion 120 f/5 or may be even an Orion ED80.

 

If you are really set on a dob, you could go route of an Orion goto dob ($1,329 for the 10" new and $1,779 for the 12" new).  However I don't know how good goto dobs are for video.  I don't have any issues with the tracking on my CPC 1100 in alt azm mode without any effect on the image quality that I can discern.

 

-Mike



#4 Relativist

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:18 PM

Sounds to me you have a good idea of what's required. Especially when you mention an EdgeHD.

All that said, for visual, in light polluted skies I mainly like to look at brighter objects.

Besides the scope, have you figured out an EAA device you want to use? There are many flavors to chose from.

#5 Don Rudny

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:24 PM

Hi Ron,

 

like John said, you're on the right track.  The one concern about the Edge besides cost is that for EAA, you'll definitely need focal reduction and the Edge has limited expensive options from what I hear.  Why not consider a standard 8"SCT.  You can get a new Meade now for $750.  With the VX mount, you'll have enough left for a nice NRTV camera.  My suggestion on that is a Lodestar X2 either mono or color that just came out.  Plenty of focal reducers options available and the scope will provide excellent visual viewing.  The camera viewing is so good, that it may change your mind on visual.

 

just some thoughts from another retired guy.


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#6 sprinter

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:23 PM

A lot of nice replies already.  Thanks.  A few comments:

 

I'm not really that acquainted with any of the possible SCTs.  So far, I've only considered a dob because transporting isn't an issue and I figured I could get along with a dob type mount until I wanted something else later.  I'm not really interested in hard core imaging (yet anyway), so a GEM mount hasn't been something I've looked  into.  However, it seems like AV is a good imaging modality and much less demanding of gear.  But it seems like for decent results, I'd still have to have some kind of tracking and frankly with my poor skill at star hopping, goto is quite a tempting feature.  So that's why I'm giving some thought to SCTs and goto mounts.  

 

Anybody know if a reducer is available for the 8" Edge?  I just assumed there was.  I could also be talked into a non-edge 9.25 if it would be okay on a VX mount and had a reducer.  I don't think I want anything heavier than that for a mount.  I've heard that the 9.25 needs the Edge treatment less than the other sizes.  I'll also look into the Meade line of SCT's, but I may start a thread on that subject.  Like I say, this discussion may delay my purchase a bit...

 

Oh, also, my main AV objects would be DSOs.  I may try the webcam thing for planets.

 

If I went with a dob for visual, would something like an AR102 or even an ED80 be good for AV?  I like the idea of having a wide field scope as a supplement anyway.  I love the views through my 10x50s.  

 

I figured I'd start with a simple integrating camera to see how I got along with AV.  Something like the Micro or AVS's version.  Then I could go up from there if I wanted to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#7 Don Rudny

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:49 PM

Just another couple of thoughts, Ron.  I love DSO's and visual is nice for some, but EAA opens up a whole new world.  I don't think it does much for lunar or planets.  I still like using visual for them.  Looking at things like the Hickon Compact Group of galaxies can only be done practically with EAA.  To do it visually, you really need a 20 inch and then you will probably need some averted imagination to see them all.  Here's a link to some of the things I have seen with a 4" ed refractor and an 8" Meade SCT.  All are mono.  I'm partial to mono because it makes it more like visual observing, if that makes sense.  I only capture the image to record the event.  These were all done in EAA viewing sessions.

 

http://stargazerslou.../36930-hilodon/


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#8 jgraham

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:50 PM

I would be hesitant to consider an achromat for imaging/video. The chromic abberation can really stand out in a camera. An ED would work okay.



#9 mclewis1

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:24 PM

There really isn't a general limitation on focal reducers for the EdgeHD scopes. There certainly is a limitation on reducers that are capable of maintaining a large and optically flat image circle ... the kind of thing you want when you are using a large sensor camera with one of these scopes.

 

But for small sensor cameras (like the 1/2" sensors in the cameras popular for EAA) the EdgeHD scopes can use many of the popular focal reducers. You want to use the smaller 1.25" models that mount relatively close to the camera's sensor (on the nose piece for example). EdgeHD scopes also have a more pronounced optical  "sweet spot" so some thought needs to be given to the position of the camera and focal reducer. Positioned appropriately there are many camera/reducer combinations that will work just fine with the EdgeHD scopes.


Edited by mclewis1, 13 August 2014 - 11:37 PM.


#10 Relativist

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 09:51 PM

There are reducers available, for example, if you were using one of the video cameras, there are reducers available from both Mallincam and from AVS for SCTs. You have not yet said if your going to be using such a camera I don't think. What's your budget, and what are you considering using? Will you be using a laptop/computer, or go directly to a monitor, or will you be using a night vision type device?



#11 sprinter

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:50 PM

There are reducers available, for example, if you were using one of the video cameras, there are reducers available from both Mallincam and from AVS for SCTs. You have not yet said if your going to be using such a camera I don't think. What's your budget, and what are you considering using? Will you be using a laptop/computer, or go directly to a monitor, or will you be using a night vision type device?

Yes, I'm looking at a Mallincam or similar camera.  For starts, I just wanted to keep it simple with an entry level camera and see how it goes.  If I love it, I'll spend more.   Probably use my laptop with a frame grabber and probably experiment with a software package for enhancement.  

 

There really isn't a general limitation on focal reducers for the EdgeHD scopes. There certainly is a limitation on reducers that are capable of maintaining a large and optically flat image circle ... the kind of thing you want when you are using a large sensor camera with one of these scopes.

 

But for small sensor cameras (like the 1/2" sensors in the cameras popular for EAA) the EdgeHD scopes can use many of the popular focal reducers. You want to use the smaller 1.25" models that mount close to the camera's (on the nose piece for example). EdgeHD scopes also have a more pronounced optical  "sweet spot" so some thought needs to be given to the position of the camera and focal reducer. Positioned appropriately there are many camera/reducer combinations that will work just fine with the EdgeHD scopes.

One other reason I'm looking at the Edge's is I keep reading that they are more pleasing visually as well as for AP, but I'm sure I'd want to use a reducer for video since the sensors are so small, especially 1/3".  So far, I can't see me getting into large format CCD AP or  DSLR.  



#12 sprinter

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:55 PM

I would be hesitant to consider an achromat for imaging/video. The chromic abberation can really stand out in a camera. An ED would work okay.

Does this hold true even for DSOs?  I've been under the impression that CA with refractors is mostly a problem for brighter objects like the moon and brighter planets.  But maybe cameras amplify that?  



#13 sprinter

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 11:02 PM

Just another couple of thoughts, Ron.  I love DSO's and visual is nice for some, but EAA opens up a whole new world.  I don't think it does much for lunar or planets.  I still like using visual for them.  Looking at things like the Hickon Compact Group of galaxies can only be done practically with EAA.  To do it visually, you really need a 20 inch and then you will probably need some averted imagination to see them all.  Here's a link to some of the things I have seen with a 4" ed refractor and an 8" Meade SCT.  All are mono.  I'm partial to mono because it makes it more like visual observing, if that makes sense.  I only capture the image to record the event.  These were all done in EAA viewing sessions.

 

http://stargazerslou.../36930-hilodon/

Don, thanks for your link. Your images are awesome.  It's pretty amazing what can be done with relatively modest equipment and that's what has my interest.  Although I'm not going to minimize the effort and skill that I'm sure goes into it.  Like they say, it's not the camera it's the photographer...



#14 Don Rudny

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 11:37 PM

Thanks, Ron, but there was not much skill involved.  It was all equipment.  The biggest challenge was getting the alignment and tracking right.  The Lodestar did the rest.  I'm relatively new to astronomy.  The first time I looked through a telescope was about three years ago. This website and the knowledgeable people that post here have made the learning curve a lot shorter, and I thank them for that.  Please keep us informed of your decision. 



#15 Charles Copeland

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 05:46 PM

My age and bad back have limited what I can deal with. Gone are the days I can haul around a 8" LX200 or 10" dob.  I chose the NexStar 6SE because of its lightweight.  Adding Astro Video has really got me exciting due to boosted visual ability and the recent drop in astro video cameras prices.  I am going to start out with an LN300 camera and later on upgrade to a state of the art $500 camera if that works out.

 

I've read as we pass age 50 our eyes loss 30% of their ability to dilate which means you need a 30% more aperature! The answer is astro video.

 

I will be amazing if I can have the light weight and portability of a 6SE and see electronically what would require a 12" dob visually!!!


Edited by Charles Copeland, 14 August 2014 - 06:24 PM.

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#16 Blues Dr

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 07:48 PM

Hi Ron.  Just thought I would chime in here about my set up.  I bought a Nexstar 8SE, then added an Ioptron ZEQ25 mount.  Its kind of nice having the option of which mount to use, especially if involved in outreach events.  That being said, if I had to choose one mount, it would be an equatorial goto. 

 

For the camera, I went with the Micro EX , and it does a very good job, however, getting color (at least for a beginner like me) is a challenge, but I'm getting there.  The real trick is having good alignment and tracking so you can increase the exposure time and stack the image.  If I had it to do over, I probably would have started with the Jr Pro, as it has more functions that I found myself  wishing I had available.  At the time I was looking more at the initial cost of all the equipment, since I bought everything within a couple of months.  However, the camera issue is no longer a concern as I came a cross an incredible deal on an Xtreme 2, and pick that up, though, I have not had the chance to really work with it yet. 

 

There are a few software programs out there that allow you to both view the image and operate the camera, with Miloslick and AstroLive probably being the most common.  Some will also allow operation of the goto mount, focuser, still camera, etc. all from your computer. 

 

Another great resource, in addition to Cloudy Nights, is Night Skies Network.  The folks there are very willing to help out beginners (like us), and provide advise on anything related to video observation.  I'm sure whatever way you end up going, you will get many hours of enjoyment from electronically assisted astronomy.

 

Mike


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#17 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 10:32 PM

Ron,

 

An SCT with Fastar compatibility would be my suggestion for a single scope with the most versatility.  You can use it at f/2 for very fast wide field views at a large aperture, at native f/10 for small DSO's and with a focal reducer like the one from Mallincam for ~f/4.5.  AVS has a f/1.8 reducer which I have not tired yet which would eliminate the need for Fastar.   I have the Celestron 9.25 and it is a great scope, many claim with a much better image than the other apertures, but mine is not an Edge and is therefore not Fastar compatible, but my C14 is and I have used it in that mode for video and have been very satisfied with the results.  You can see some of my images and some comments on equipment in a presentation I gave last Feb here:

 

http://www.trivalley.../2014-02-21.pdf

 

Good luck!

Curtis


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#18 sprinter

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 05:08 PM

Thanks again for the great ideas. 

 

I'm confused about Fastar and Hyperstar.  The Celestron site says that Fastar was discontinued in 2005 but that Hyperstar is identical.  True?  they also say that the Fastar system is a corrector for curvature/coma/astigmatism in addition to being a reducer.  They also say that all Edges have a Fastar cell.  All that would imply that sticking in a Hyperstar would turn any SCT into an Edge basically.   But Hyperstar doesn't say anything about the correction feature, just the focal reduction.  Could you fill me in on all that?


Edited by sprinter, 15 August 2014 - 05:10 PM.


#19 mclewis1

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 05:35 PM

fastar was originally a Celestron product. It was only produced for a short period of time for only a few different scopes and camera combinations. As Celestron exited the maket Starizona started to offer a new lens assembly and called it Hyperstar.  Only Hyperstar continues to be sold today. They are not identical but are very similar. Hyperstar has also gone through a few iterations and is now in it's third version (Hyperstar III), it now works with a wider variety of cameras, many with much larger sensors than what was originally available.

 

Either fastar or Hyperstar can be installed on a scope with a fastar compatible secondary mirror holder. Hyperstar can also be installed on a scope that originally didn't come with a removable fastar compatible secondary but that instead has had the Starizona Hyperstar adapter kit installed.

 

fastar/Hyperstar doesn't have anything specific to do with the EdgeHD scopes. It does appear however that all EdgeHD scopes also come with the fastar compatible secondary mirror holder. Hyperstar completely bypasses the additional EdgeHD optics. A standard SCT and an EdgeHD scope will perform exactly the same way with a Hyperstar installed. When using Hyperstar the light path no longer goes down the baffle tube and therefore the EdgeHD corrector optics don't come into play.


Edited by mclewis1, 15 August 2014 - 05:41 PM.


#20 sprinter

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 09:00 PM

Thanks for the explanation.  So is there any point to installing a Hyperstar into an Edge?  Or, which would be better, a non-Edge SCT with Hyperstar or an Edge with a reducer?  



#21 dr.who

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 09:47 PM

The 8" Edge on the AVX is an ideal scope for visual, VEAA (video electronic assisted astronomy), and AP. It rides quite comfortably on the AVX, gives you good aperture for weight, with a 2" visual back and diagonal gets you a wider field (more with the Edge FR), works well with the Mallincam CCD's and focal reducers, and is Hyperstar ready. It is also in your price range and gives you the most flexibility and options. You could even mount one of the new Stellarvue 60mm $600 APO's to it to use for extra wide field viewing, as a guider for the Edge, and guide with the Edge and image with the 60mm for wide field AP.

It is the scope I use for VEAA and for going deeper on regions of large DSO's, planetary, and small DSO. I use it both on my AVX and CGEM. For VEAA specifically I use the Mallincam JR PC and the Mallincam focal reducers. It works well for this.

Visually I can also see almost all of the Messier objects without a filter from my white zone front yard with decent detail (order of magnitude better with VEAA though). So it should do well with your conditions.


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#22 dr.who

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 10:00 PM

To use Hyperstar you must have either an older Faststar scope or an Edge series. Keep in mind that anything smaller than a 9.25 (pushing it) you cannot use a DSLR and need a CCD due to the obstruction caused by the size of the DSLR.

 

personally I would instead get a small APO  refractor for the same price. It gives you much more flexibility for both visual and AP. For Example the 80mm Explore Scientific Essentials with Parallax rings and rail is about $700 (and a good alternative to the 60mm Stellarvue I mentioned) would work very well. You want the rings because the shoe it comes with is absolute rubbish. 



#23 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 11:15 PM

Ron, 

 

Yes, there is a point to installing a Hyperstar on an Edge as I tried to explain in my earlier post.  You get a focal ratio of f/2 which gives a wide field and a faster scope for shorter exposures or more detail at the same exposure.  My overall messaget was, an 8" SCT with Fastar (Hyperstar - don't get wrapped around the axel on the terminology change) allows you to do f/2 with Hyperstar, f/10 native, f/6.3 with the Celestron focal reducer and ~f/4.5 with the MC MFR5 focal reducer.  You will end up using the scope mostly at f/4.5 or f/2 for video.  8" is a good size for the AVX mount allowing some latitude as others have mentioned to add a small refractor.  And, as Apollo noted, if you want to use a DSLR (which is not what I think you have indicated) the 8" Hypersar will be fairly obstructed.  But it will not be a problem with a video camera like the Mallincams or similar.

 

 

Regards,

Curtis



#24 nytecam

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 02:54 AM

My age and bad back have limited what I can deal with......I've read as we pass age 50 our eyes loss 30% of their ability to dilate which means you need a 30% more aperature! The answer is astro video. ....I will be amazing if I can have the light weight and portability of a 6SE and see electronically what would require a 12" dob visually!!!

Driven 6" - 8" SCTs are relatively lightweight and compact scopes and good for visual and electronic assist 'viewing' [I've use the Lodestar for 5yrs]. The jump in effective light grasp [with the bonus of colour!] is IMHO greater than moving up from 6" to 12" aperture and without the agro the larger aperture will cause. 

 

The Hyperstar is an unneccessary distraction for OP to 'video' work. Here's my recent M13 via a compact Meade 4-1/4" f/4 Newt in 30 sec exposure so big apertures are not essential - for EAA. :grin:

Attached Files


Edited by nytecam, 16 August 2014 - 03:52 AM.


#25 RightWill

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 04:38 AM

Ron,

 

 I have a 12" DOB and it is a manual scope and it is killing my back while star hopping, so I need a different rig. I'm headed in the same direction as you are. I want to do VA and visual. No plans for AP at the moment. I am looking at the C9.25 AVX rig with either a Mallincam Jr Pro or AVS APU-1 camera. I was also considering the EdgeHD 8" but if I'm not going to do AP, I'm not sure the advantage. Maybe someone will comment on that. I think VA is wonderful and we will probably see many products flood the market in the near future. But who wants to wait, dive right in... :lol:








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