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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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WesC
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 02/06/13

Loc: La Crescenta, CA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834844 - 05/01/13 05:22 PM

Also... I think people fall too easily for the, as I would term it, patently misleading advertising of the big scope makers. You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount. Even my $1,500 CGEM isn't really up to it with my C11HD on its back. I still have people telling me its a "perfect" AP platform, and I just shake my head. When I see the hell people have gone through I know that I will need at LEAST an AP1200 or equivalent to to any serious AP at the level I would aspire to. I'm just not ready to invest that kind of money.

Look what NASA had to spend and go through to get the amazing images we've all seen from the Hubble! And then those same scope marketers start using THOSE images to sell low end $1,500 "AP-ready" telescope rigs to unsuspecting enthusiasts, making them think they're going to be able to get that result. For shame.


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bunyon
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834853 - 05/01/13 05:27 PM

I guess it depends what you aspire to, Wes. I have a $700 mount (and have had cheaper ones) and have been very happy with it. If you require taking images that you could sell for top dollar, no, you can't do it. But there are plenty of people taking excellent images with a CGEM.

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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834871 - 05/01/13 05:38 PM

Not really. As more than a few worthies have found to their dismay, throwing money at it DOES NOT guarantee success in astrophotography. It may make it easier, but only a little easier; especially in the beginning.

Whether or not you will like astrophotography or not depends a lot on your mindset and how hard you are willing to work. You may find, as many of us have, that while your picture of M57 ain't gonna compete with Bob Gendler's work, the fact that it is YOURS makes all the difference. Also, with the equipment available today, you can actually get very nice results with a VX or a CG5 or an Atlas or a CGEM. Most of us are not after the "18 hours through 8 different filters" type of shots that require the top of the line gear, anyway.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5834880 - 05/01/13 05:41 PM

Quote:

Can someone please give a logical, rational explanation of how getting a good polar alignment will eliminate periodic error?

Chris




It won't. What it (a decent polar alignment, which, depending on your focal length and exposure length does not necessarily have to be a drift alignment) will do is lessen/eliminate drift in declination and field rotation, making it easier to guide and stack the resulting images.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834886 - 05/01/13 05:43 PM

Quote:

Also... I think people fall too easily for the, as I would term it, patently misleading advertising of the big scope makers. You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount.




Not at all. What matters most is still the man or woman behind the camera. You might not be able to duplicate the work of the top of the top, but you most assuredly can do good astrophotography with these mounts and similar--IF YOU WANT TO.


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834924 - 05/01/13 06:06 PM

I disagree about not being able to do astrophotography with a $700 mount, or at least with an AVX, because I am doing it. I find it quite straightforward to set up.

The trick is to choose your battles. Don't try long unguided exposures, or long focal length.

Use a fairly short focal length refractor - an 80mm ED for example - and a second scope or finder guider for guiding. Narrow band helps if you have light pollution.

Don't go for huge exposure lengths to start with, I use 5 minutes for NB, 2 minutes for RGB. Don't be afraid to bin the images to get the pixel size and sensitivity up.

Don't worry about highly precise polar alignment, ASPA is good enough. Guiding takes care of the Dec drift and field rotation will be small and if there's some over the duration of all the exposures then the stacking program can remove it.

Have some fun. Get some images of your own. Learn processing. Don't start with impossible expectations. You aren't going to get an APOD quality image on your first night.

The most important things here are to keep the focal length and exposure duration down - and the fun of course.

Chris

PS What are these advertising sites that are using Hubble images? I've had a bit of a look and don't see this. Many sites have the images credited to people, some with details of what equipment was used. Do you have links to them?
C


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bunyon
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5834961 - 05/01/13 06:23 PM

" You aren't going to get an APOD quality image on your first night."


In fact, you very well, probably, may never get an APOD quality image.


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Footbag
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Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: bunyon]
      #5835074 - 05/01/13 07:29 PM

You can do great astrophotography with a $700 mount. It's all about matching the mounts capabilities with the focal length. That is why I always suggest beginners go widefield to begin with. Camera lenses are great and cheap! The biggest misconception, and one I fell for, is that you need long FL to get good images. My best images were taken with my 66mm refractor.

I think processing is probably one of the major factors not typically brought up. Someone with processing skills can make OK data look good. That's not the case with a beginner who is typically dealing with OK data. They must ride the learning curve and eventually, their images begin to improve as they work their techniques.

That, in and of itself, is a huge learning curve to be brought upon a beginner. Now, if you give an AVX or similar mount to a pro, I'd bet they would get great images out of it.


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5835347 - 05/01/13 10:27 PM

Quote:

I have still got the Polar scope to try, and AlignMaster, then I guess I will try auto guiding, I will try the Panasonic G3 live video out as a auto guiding camera, and I also have a 50mm guide scope, a Firefly MV Mono camera, and Celestron NexImage 5, to try as a guide camera, if all that fails I will try drift alignment.

When I get good weather I will try again.




The Panasonic G3 live video out worked as a guiding camera except that when you take a picture it changes the image displayed, to say its taking the image, and then you lose the lock on the star, but I have two other older long zoom pocket cameras that both have video out, so I may try one of them piggy back on the telescope as a guide camera/scope.

I tried a Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope, it was only able to see bright stars, the camera sensitivity with the 50mm guide scope is about the same as your naked eye, it was the first time using PHD, it was cloudy, and I may not have had the best focus on the guide scope, so my 60 second exposure was no better than my last attempt, but this time the star trails were left and right, with a slight bulge in the center,
stars looked to be hamburger patties, LOL.

I am thinking about getting the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider, is there anything better for around $300?


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Cliff Hipsher
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: North Chesterfield, VA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5835809 - 05/02/13 08:42 AM

Quote:

Also... I think people fall too easily for the, as I would term it, patently misleading advertising of the big scope makers. You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount. Even my $1,500 CGEM isn't really up to it with my C11HD on its back. I still have people telling me its a "perfect" AP platform, and I just shake my head. When I see the hell people have gone through I know that I will need at LEAST an AP1200 or equivalent to to any serious AP at the level I would aspire to. I'm just not ready to invest that kind of money.

Look what NASA had to spend and go through to get the amazing images we've all seen from the Hubble! And then those same scope marketers start using THOSE images to sell low end $1,500 "AP-ready" telescope rigs to unsuspecting enthusiasts, making them think they're going to be able to get that result. For shame.




I disagree. Admittedly there is some truth stretching in the advertising, but on the other hand, "caveat emptor" still applies.

It is a shame that most rookies are mislead into believing you can just plop a mount down, add a camera, sit back and have a cold one, and before you know it you have something to brag about.

What is really sad is that when those individuals seek assistance, those who respond tend to look down their noses and berate the new kid's equipment.

I got the same grief when I started racing sports cars back in the '90s. I showed up at a Driver Ed event with a 1986 Porsche 951 Turbo, and all of the 911 jockys were in stitches laughing. That all ended when I started spankin' 'em in the corners.

The deal was, I didn't have tons of cash, so I did my own work, and I knew what my car could and could not do. Instead of bemoaning the fact that a newer 911 would out run me (I top ended at 165..), I gloated over the fact that I could out brake and out corner 'em, and its a real treat to out brake some smug rich kid and watch him have an OTE (Off Track Excursion) and wind up in the gravel...

The same goes with this hobby. Sure, you're gonna have to spend some money, but you don't have to buy brand new. I'm running a used Meade 2080 SCT that came off of a 1989 LX5. That whole rig cost me a whopping $350.00, and it was turn key. I used that rig to learn the sky and learn what my optics could do. I saved my pennies and bought a used LXD75 and a dove tail bar. Now I'm up to around $800.00. Some more learning and some tweaking. Now I can punch a button and the mount does the rest. Next was a planetary camera, and another $100.00. Got some decent pictures, but found out I needed a flip mirror. Found one used for $40.00. Works like a charm. Pictures got better, so I figured I'd try DSOs, but I need a CCD.... Snagged a Meade DSI Color for $100.00, and its magic....

So yeah, you have to spend some time and invest some cash, but you don't need to do it all at once, and you don't have to buy new, and you don't have to have the latest and greatest to be successful either...


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5859123 - 05/14/13 03:30 AM

Quote:

I tried a Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope, it was only able to see bright stars, the camera sensitivity with the 50mm guide scope is about the same as your naked eye, it was the first time using PHD, it was cloudy, and I may not have had the best focus on the guide scope, so my 60 second exposure was no better than my last attempt, but this time the star trails were left and right, with a slight bulge in the center,
stars looked to be hamburger patties, LOL.

I am thinking about getting the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider, is there anything better for around $300?




I had thought about getting a Samsung SDC-435 or SCB-2000 security camera and use a Dazzle DVC100 video capture device, and a 50mm or larger lens, for use with PHD, but the cost would have been around $175 and I thought about saving up to get something like the QHY5L II Mono, but then I found a used Orion StarShoot AutoGuider cheap, so now it's just a wait on shipping.

I am also going to try something like this to help setup the tripod.

Re: Using compass to polar align


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gmartin02
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5859677 - 05/14/13 11:40 AM Attachment (11 downloads)

Quote:

You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount.



Going off topic, but I felt compelled to respond to this.

That is a pretty general statement. It would probably be pretty challenging to impossible to get really good long exposures out of a cg-5 with a long focal length telescope like a Schmidt Cassegrain. On the other hand, imaging with a short focal length telescope almost takes the mount out of the equation with guided images as long as the mount is set up correctly.

There are so many other things besides the mount that need to be mastered using any mount before you can produce really good images (guiding camera, flexure, imaging camera, incorrect exposure times, processing techniques, etc, etc, etc.)

I know, because I am a newb astrophotographer. I have been imaging for about 18 months, fist with unguided images on a CG-5, then with guided images on a CGEM. (The CGEM was also having problems with Dec guiding until the latest beta firmware upgrades which solves the problem).

Looking back on images from when I first started imaging, I can't believe how much better my images are now than when I first started 18 months ago, due to improving on all aspects of AP setup, imaging, and processing. I still have a LONG, LONG way to go to get images that rival some of the others that I have seen, but the mount is not what needs to be improved at this point - it' everything else. As long as you can get round unbloated stars on the images (which is certainly possible with a CG-5 or CGEM, again depending on the scope f/l and the rest of the setup), it is all of the other things that prevent really good images.

Here is my very first newb guided image on the CG-5, taken with a Takahahashi FS-60CB & Canon DSLR camera about 3 months ago. These were with 2 minute sub exposures (combined with 30 second sub exposures), although with this f/l I can get 5 minute subs on the CG-5 with perfectly round stars.


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gmartin02
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5859731 - 05/14/13 12:06 PM Attachment (12 downloads)

Quote:

Even my $1,500 CGEM isn't really up to it with my C11HD on its back. I still have people telling me its a "perfect" AP platform, and I just shake my head. When I see the hell people have gone through I know that I will need at LEAST an AP1200 or equivalent to to any serious AP at the level I would aspire to. I'm just not ready to invest that kind of money.




I would agree that a CGEM with a C11 is not a "perfect" imaging platform, but shooting with a telescope with that long a f/l on ANY mount and expecting good images falls into the category of advanced imaging. I wouldn't recommend that anyone try this without at least a couple of years experience imaging with shorter length telescopes first (unless they are into masochism).

To have any hope tho image with a C11 (on any mount) I think would require a focal reducer and an OAG with a very sensitive guiding camera (like SX Lodestar).

I have had success recently on the CGEM (with the beta Dec guiding firmware fix).

Here is another newb image, this one from the CGEM with a AT8RC & AP CCDT67 focal reducer (1089mm f/l), 4 minute subs (combined with 45 second subs for the center of the image). This was the very first time I used the focal reducer, taken about a week ago.

Perhaps this isn't a very good image, but the mount is not degrading the image (perfectly round unbloated stars) - it is the rest of my inexperience that is keeping this from being a better image (although I continue to learn & get a little bit better for each new imaging session).


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gmartin02
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5859747 - 05/14/13 12:11 PM

Back to the topic - the OP has a Sky-Watcher Pro 80ED on the VX. Based on my experience with the CG-5, the VX should be able to get very good images with that telescope, as long as the mount (and every thing else) is set up and used correctly.

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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5862570 - 05/15/13 04:29 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I tried a Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope, it was only able to see bright stars, the camera sensitivity with the 50mm guide scope is about the same as your naked eye, it was the first time using PHD, it was cloudy, and I may not have had the best focus on the guide scope, so my 60 second exposure was no better than my last attempt, but this time the star trails were left and right, with a slight bulge in the center,
stars looked to be hamburger patties, LOL.

I am thinking about getting the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider, is there anything better for around $300?




I had thought about getting a Samsung SDC-435 or SCB-2000 security camera and use a Dazzle DVC100 video capture device, and a 50mm or larger lens, for use with PHD, but the cost would have been around $175 and I thought about saving up to get something like the QHY5L II Mono, but then I found a used Orion StarShoot AutoGuider cheap, so now it's just a wait on shipping.

I am also going to try something like this to help setup the tripod.

Re: Using compass to polar align




I tried again, this time using a correctly centred poler scope, and using a military surplus compass, along with using a modified 16-in x 24-in Aluminum Square bolted to the top Celestron VX tripod during the levelling and pointing of the tripod, I used the Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope for autoguiding, and I had some trouble finding stars with the the Firefly MV Mono camera, as it only seems be able to see brighter stars, but was able to get "one" 60 second exposure, that had round stars .

I had taken eight images that night, only one was good, what I did was take an image, stop the guiding, move the scope, then lock on to a new star, and start the guiding again, the first image was good, but then the stars started to elongate and I even had a few images that every star was a double star.

Are there any PHD settings that need to be changed for the Celestron VX mount, and what about when I get the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider.

Here are some images:


A modified 16-in x 24-in Aluminum Square with the shorter side cut off, bolted to the top of the Celestron VX tripod.



A zoom of the good image.



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Footbag
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5862594 - 05/15/13 04:52 PM

I think I may see your problem. You don't have the spreader on your tripod.

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bunyon
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Footbag]
      #5862619 - 05/15/13 05:08 PM

The spreader will help stabilize things. The "double star" phenomenon is probably from a periodic error. You should check to see if the trailing and doubling is in RA or Dec (East/West or North/South). If RA, it's periodic error. If Dec, it's polar alignment error.

Level isn't that big a deal as long as everything is stable. If you get the polar axis aligned with the pole, a little off level won't hurt (during tracking, you only turn around the polar axis).


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Footbag]
      #5862679 - 05/15/13 05:25 PM

Quote:

I think I may see your problem. You don't have the spreader on your tripod.




Its just like that during levelling and pointing the tripod, I don’t install the spreader until I put the VX head on the tripod.


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Brian Risley
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/04/06

Loc: SW Florida
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5870346 - 05/18/13 09:59 PM

The spreader will usually change level when tightened fully!
Brian


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Brian Risley]
      #5876341 - 05/21/13 04:59 PM

I got the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider in, and used it with my my 50mm guidescope, used PHD with default settings, out of about 15 images only about 4 were usable, they were 60 second exposures, the tripod was level, pointed north, I used a polarscope, and did the all star alignment.

Some of the images were double stars, but showing one of the two stars smaller than the other, it looked like the telescope shifted during the exposure.

And at least one time PHD seemed to lose control of the telescope allowing the star to drift about an inch across my screen.

And when I look at the 15 or so images I see that the stars are moving one image to the next.

Is it the settings in PHD, or my mount?


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