Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
· Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt · Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green Gu… uh, User

Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | (show all)
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Buying a telescope...how important is the mount?
      #6329790 - 01/23/14 02:32 AM

Hello all. I have been in the market for a telescope for a while now. Over a year, to be exact, however last year I opted to buy the Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II lens, which clocks in at $12,800 instead of a telescope, as wildlife and bird photography is an equal passion. Now that the nature photography lens has been purchased, I've been saving my funds for a telescope. I hope to buy something this year, hopefully by the time summer rolls around so I can enjoy the warmer nights (but we'll see how the funds accumulate, and what kinds of decisions I make about specific gear.)

Anyway, regarding the mount. I understand that the mount is an important piece of equipment, and that one needs to invest properly in a quality mount that will last over the years, and support a whole range of possible OTAs over those years. I am curious exactly how important the mount is, though. I am still debating about exactly which OTA to get...on the top of my list are the Celestron EdgeHD 11" and 14" SCTs, the Officina Stellare Hiper APO refractors, and maybe the AT10RC.

I really like what I've read about Celestron mounts. The two mounts I am interested in are the CGEM DX and the CGE Pro. There is a pretty big price gap between these two, with the Pro being more than twice as expensive. I've read a number of threads here, but I haven't really found enough information to really help me zero in on which mount I should get. I want to save money where I can, but I don't want to cut corners that shouldn't be cut. Is the Pro overkill? Is the DX more than sufficient to hold any one of the telescopes on my list? I'll probably have more than one scope at some point, and I'm wondering if the DX would be a good enough mount for all of them, if I needed to buy more than one.

Anyway, thanks for any insight!

UPDATE: Based on earlier replies, I have evolved my plans considerably. Read down the first page to find more relevant and up to date information before responding to the original post above! Thanks!

Edited by Jon Rista (01/23/14 09:32 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Chuckwagon
member


Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Orem, Utah, USA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6329792 - 01/23/14 02:47 AM

What will be your primary usage for your telescope? Visual use, photographic, a combo of the two? Knowing how you hope to use your setup will help folks make recommendations. If you hope to do photography, and you want the best photographic results, then the mount becomes critical. Visual use is generally more forgiving, so the mount won't be as critical. But generally speaking, erring on the side of a better mount than you "need" is less annoying than discovering you went the other way.

Good luck with you research.

Charles


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Chuckwagon]
      #6329795 - 01/23/14 02:53 AM

Oh, sorry, forgot to add that. I'm primarily interested in DSO astrophotography, however I intend to do some visual observing as well. I'll start with a 5D III as my imager, but in the long run I intend to get a dedicated astro cam and guiding setup. I also intend to do Fastar, or maybe Hyperstar if I don't get a Celestron OTA.

Edited by Jon Rista (01/23/14 03:02 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6329809 - 01/23/14 03:18 AM

If that is the case, put as much money as you can into the best mount you can get. For example a second hand Mach1 GTO can be had for less than $7000 with all the trimmings. If I can afford one, I would get one too.

If you have the money for it, you could go for an ASA DDM60 or a 10Micron 1000HPS. I have not used any of these myself, but the owners of these mounts would defend them to their death from what I have read here on cloudy nights and other forums.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
neptun2
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 03/04/07

Loc: Bulgaria
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6329823 - 01/23/14 03:47 AM

Well you can't overmount a telescope so the short answer is to get the most stable mount that you can afford. Unfortunately it is not so simple. One thing that you should also consider is the portability. Do you intend to build permanent observatory or you will frequently travel to dark skies? If it will be permanent - get high capacity mount. If it will be portable - well you know how heavy mount you can tolerate to move around. For me personally anything heavier than EQ6 (Atlas) or CGEM DX becomes more or less a hassle to move around.

Looking at the instruments that you pointed - except the refractors all are long focal length ones which requires better mount. I personally don't think that C11 or C14 without reducer/hyperstar will work well on cgem dx. If it is not urgent for you i would also wait several months to see the impressions from the new ioptron CEM60. Especially the EC version with high precision encoders looks very promising and it is also very light.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: neptun2]
      #6329897 - 01/23/14 05:49 AM

Thanks Neptune2. From what Celestron says, the CGEM DX was created specifically such that it could handle an EdgeHD 11" or 14". I watched a little video they had on the EdgeHD DX 1100. Seems the DX mount is the default option for that telescope, and the 14" is explicitly supported. Apparently they wanted some "middle ground" mount that would support their largest OTA as another option to their expensive and very heavy CGE Pro. The tripod of the DX is the same tripod of the CGE Pro, and the mount itself was apparently designed to handle both telescopes, so it's better than the original CGEM.

When you say you don't think the C11 or C14 will work without a reducer or hyperstar, do you mean the C11 and C14, or EdgeHD 11 and EdgeHD 14? Or is it the same diff? And is the concern that at a longer focal length, any vibration in the assembly will show up in AP imaging? How do anti-vibration pads work? And if I use an autoguider, will that affect how well something like the EdgeHD 1100 works on the CGEM DX without converting to hyperstar or using a focal reducer?

I do have plenty of time before I actually intend to buy...probably summer at the earliest. So I'll definitely check out the iOptron CEM60, and keep an eye out for reviews. The 60lb capacity is intriguing, and their 300,000 object GOTO database sounds amazing.

---

Hilmi, thanks for the mount options! I'll have to take a look at those, see what the options are. Looking at the weight capacities of those mounts (including the CGEM DX), it brings another question to mind:

What kind of buffer for capacity do you want in a mount? If the largest tube you intend to put on the thing is 46lb, and the mount can handle 50lb (which is the case with the CGEM DX), is that enough? Or do you want more of a buffer for stability? The Mach1 GTO you mentioned is actually 1lb short on capacity, so it wouldn't be able to handle a 14" OTA. :\

The CGE Pro has the highest capacity support of any mount I've seen, including the ones you mentioned, at 90lb (41kg)...I mean, that isn't just a little bit more than any other mount, its a TON more than any other mount. The darn thing itself weighs 154lb in total (between the 'pod, computer, alt/az part and ra/dec part.) I honestly can't really see lugging that thing around all the time. I have aspirations to buy some land outside of town under darker skies, built a house, and built my own personal observatory, but that is years off in the future at the moment. I suspect something less than half the weight of the CGE Pro is more realistic for now due to the fact that I have to drive a decent ways to find dark skies.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6329905 - 01/23/14 05:59 AM

The difference is when an astrophysics mount says it can handle a certain load it really can handle that load. You can get AP900 second hand for around $7000 too and that has larger capacity.

I am not saying you have to buy a top tier mount but I am saying if you do you will be a much happier man


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
james7ca
sage


Reged: 05/21/11

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6329928 - 01/23/14 06:28 AM

You can forget the CGEM DX if you want to do medium to long exposure astrophotography with anything other than a widefield refractor or a reduced focal length, medium-sized, folded-mirror system (and that wouldn't include either your 11" or 14" SCT). I can't say much about the CGE Pro, it should work but as you already know it would be an absolute "beast" to move around or to transport regularly to a remote site.

In general for astrophotography and when talking about mounts under about $4K you want to use only about one half of their rated weight capacity. Higher-end mounts like those from Astro-Physics (and some others) can probably be used closer to their stated capacity.

Celestron makes some very good goto mounts for VISUAL work, but for astrophotography at more than (let's say) 2000mm focal length anything less than the CGE Pro would be taking a risk or just asking for trouble. And unfortunately, your mileage will vary since mounts at the low to medium price point will probably show quite a bit of variability -- some samples may work and some may not. Certainly that can be true at any price (lemons happen), but I would be surprised if you could find anything at less than $4K that would be a CERTAIN success with an 11" or 14" SCT.

In any case, you might want to rethink the size or type of scope that you will buy. I think you might be happier starting off with a small to medium sized, short-focus APO refractor or a six to eight inch SCT or RC or short focus Newtonian. In fact, your 600mm Canon telephoto might be a good place to start.

If, however, you want to concentrate on high-magnification lunar and planetary photography then a C11 or C14 would be a very good system given an appropriate leaning curve (perhaps even on the CGEM DX). In fact, maybe the DX could work if you use the 600mm Canon lens for your DSOs and a C11 or C14 for visual, lunar and planetary photography (with an occasional DSO capture thrown in with the SCT).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6329960 - 01/23/14 07:09 AM

Quote:

I am not saying you have to buy a top tier mount but I am saying if you do you will be a much happier man




Aye, I totally understand. Getting up to $7000 for just the mount, while again I'm not afraid to spend the money where it should be spent, is going to really stress my budget. I could get the mount this year, but that would be it. I wouldn't be able to get an actual telescope, or the autoguider, or anything else for another year...I guess I'd like to avoid that scenario if possible. I've put off astrophotography (and astronomy in general) for so long, I'm really itching to get some good equipment and start doing it this year if I can.

Quote:

The difference is when an astrophysics mount says it can handle a certain load it really can handle that load. You can get AP900 second hand for around $7000 too and that has larger capacity.




So, how do you know whether a mount can actually handle it's capacity or not (how do you know if you can trust a manufacturers specifications for astrophotography purposes?) And what is the actual difference to the results? I ask, because I've seen a lot of pretty good astrophotography done with various 10-12" scopes on the CGEM DX. Maybe I just haven't seen how much better the results can be with a better mount?

Any links to images where I can compare between say a good Astro-Physics setup vs. setups similar to the CGEM DX (doesn't necessarily need to be just the DX)?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: james7ca]
      #6329977 - 01/23/14 07:25 AM

Quote:

You can forget the CGEM DX if you want to do medium to long exposure astrophotography with anything other than a widefield refractor or a reduced focal length, medium-sized, folded-mirror system (and that wouldn't include either your 11" or 14" SCT). I don't know about the CGE Pro, it should work but as you already know it would be an absolute "beast" to move around or to transport regularly to a remote site.

In general for astrophotography and when talking about mounts under about $4K you want to use only about one half of their rated weight capacity. Higher end mounts like those from Astro-Physics (and some others) can probably be used closer to their stated capacity.




Thanks. That was what I figured regarding actual weight vs. capacity.

Let me ask this. I don't expect I'll be doing much DSO AP work with the EdgeHD 11" at it's full focal length. One way or another, it will be focal reduced. I'll either use a focal reducer, or simply go with hyperstar and f/2 imaging. While I love the night sky, I have too many other responsibilities to be spending eight hours a night imaging an object. I intend to do what I can to reduce my exposure times, and from what I understand hyperstar f/2 can reduce hours to maybe an hour at most, and a focal reducer can reduce many hours to a couple hours.

For that kind of work, as a starting point, what would be the lowest-end Astro-Physics mount (and maybe some of those "others") that would be sufficient?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6329991 - 01/23/14 07:38 AM

My take on your question.

Top tier manufacturers are few and well known. Their word is gold and when they state a certain load, you know they can handle it.

In the US these are:
-Astrophysics (respected worldwide)
-Software Bisque (makers of the Paramount mounts, again respected worldwide)

From Europe, you have manufacturers that are only now gaining traction internationally, but are well established in the European market. My theory is that it was a lack of internet chatter in English language which has delayed their fame.
-ASA
-10Micron (Now has US distributor)

For second level, many people have had good success with mounts like Losmandy, I am not one of those people, but I am not a representative sample. One thing I can tell you is that Scott Losmandy gives top grade customer service and many users (apart from me and a small number of others) are extremely happy with his mounts. For load carrying capacity, most people rate Losmandy mounts at around 2/3rd stated capacity.

For most other mounts almost everybody agrees that for Astrophotography, stick to half the rated load.

If you can afford one of these top tier mounts, you will be very happy and will get stellar results. With your camera lenses you can start off getting great Astro-photos and don't need to rush getting a telescope. Consider the short focal length (your 600 mm lens) as your training and initiation period. At that focal length, you will not even need an auto-guider if you stick to 5 minute subs.

What you learn from the shorter focal length is easier to learn at shorter focal lengths but is equally applicable to longer focal lengths you will get from a telescope.

Basically, I'm saying you can still get lots of amazing photos even if you can't afford a telescope till a year later.

I took this shot without autoguiding using a DSLR and camera lens on a simple camera tracking mount.


On the other hand, I have not had even half this much success with my telescope and G11 mount with an auto-guider


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6329995 - 01/23/14 07:42 AM

Ohh yeah, you can get an Orion 50mm guider and guide scope for very cheap. Maybe you can even pick one up second hand.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330006 - 01/23/14 07:48 AM

I had a CGEM. Note had.

I have a Mach1.

There is absolutely no comparison (as it should be for more than four times the cost). The Mach1 weighs less than the CGEM but is so much more precise it isn't funny.

Suggest you forget about the C11 or C14 for AP. Why would you need such a long focal length? if you want to image small things then use a smaller scope with a small-pixel camera like a Starlight Xpress Trius 694. Even your 5D MkIII has fairly small pixels.

You generally want your pixel scale to be about 1 arc-second to 1.5 arc-seconds per pixel. A bit less if you're using a Bayer camera like all DSLR's. So let's say 0.7 arc-seconds per pixel. With the 5d Mk III, that's a focal length of around 2000mm. That is a C8.

You can't do hyperstar with a C8 and 5d Mk III though (the DSLR is too large and would block the front of the C8).

If you only use a C8, you can get by with an Atlas or CGEM. The CGEM + EDGE8 combination is much cheaper than buying the parts separately. I would not put anything more than the 8" on the CGEM for AP. Get the 0.7X reducer or the Optec Lepus to make it f7 which will shorten the focal length and exposure times.

I had a 9.25" on my CGEM and it was a complete pain to use.

Now the CGEM DX is sold with the 11" and 14" - but the only difference between the DX and non-DX is the beefy tripod. And the CGEM's problem is imprecision in its gears. Whether in DX form or not, it simply can't carry an 11" or 14" precisely enough for AP unless you add an adaptive-optics unit (another $2000+) because the 11" and 14" are heavier and have a longer focal length.

You know the 1/f rule for shutter speed right? same thing at work here. The bigger scopes have larger f, and are heavier, so...

Or... buy a Mach1 (or AP900) for under $7000. Forget everything else. Use your Canon 600mm as an astrograph, that lens is in the same class as a Takahashi FSQ106ED.

One thing, you buy a CGEM new, you lose $500 (1/3 of its value) when you sell it. You buy a Mach1 used, you lose pretty much nothing (except shipping) when you sell it.

Buying a Mach1 is like buying your 600/4L. Why did you buy that 4L instead of an Opteka 800mm mirror lens? they are both long teles, they can both get pictures of that bald eagle.

But how many in-focus, sharp shots would you get with the Opteka compared to your 600/4L?

People post nice images from CGEMs and other lower-end mounts all the time. Just as the guy with the Opteka will occasionally show a fantastic photo of a bird in flight.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6330056 - 01/23/14 08:21 AM

Thanks for all the input, guys! I think my plan is evolving, a LOT. I now think I truly understand the value of a high quality mount, and I am going to shift my funds towards a better mount, and work on getting a more ideal OTA later on. Part of this is because I just found the Astro-Tech 6" f/9 RC Astrograph: https://www.astronomytechnologies.com/astro-tech-6-inch-ritchey-chretien-astr...

For $400, given that it's a ritchey-chretien, I think I could settle for that in the interim, get a real hang of astrophotography, THEN put more money into a better tube. I also am evolving my plan because of what Hilmi said here:

Quote:


If you can afford one of these top tier mounts, you will be very happy and will get stellar results. With your camera lenses you can start off getting great Astro-photos and don't need to rush getting a telescope. Consider the short focal length (your 600 mm lens) as your training and initiation period. At that focal length, you will not even need an auto-guider if you stick to 5 minute subs.

What you learn from the shorter focal length is easier to learn at shorter focal lengths but is equally applicable to longer focal lengths you will get from a telescope.

Basically, I'm saying you can still get lots of amazing photos even if you can't afford a telescope till a year later.

I took this shot without autoguiding using a DSLR and camera lens on a simple camera tracking mount.
[image]http://astrob.in/71130/0/rawthumb/gallery/get.jpg[/image]

On the other hand, I have not had even half this much success with my telescope and G11 mount with an auto-guider




And what orlyandico said here:

Quote:


Or... buy a Mach1 (or AP900) for under $7000. Forget everything else. Use your Canon 600mm as an astrograph, that lens is in the same class as a Takahashi FSQ106ED.

One thing, you buy a CGEM new, you lose $500 (1/3 of its value) when you sell it. You buy a Mach1 used, you lose pretty much nothing (except shipping) when you sell it.

Buying a Mach1 is like buying your 600/4L. Why did you buy that 4L instead of an Opteka 800mm mirror lens? that's the comparison to a CGEM.





I have thought of using the 600mm camera lens as an apo refractor. Actually, I have used it a telescope a few times...just with excessively short exposures and some stacking. The results are ok, but I really need a tracking mount to take full advantage of it. Here is what I was able to do with no tracking at all on a very windy night:

[image]http://jonrista.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/orion-nebula-dark-skies.jpg?w=1140[/image]

I just wasn't sure if that was possible, but the sample image you linked is pretty awesome! I am sure I will have questions about polar-aligning it once it's on a mount, but if I CAN use it as a refractor at the start, then I'm HAPPY to do so! It would get me that much more value for the near thirteen grand I spent on it!

I also think the $400 AT6RC will be more than sufficient for a longer focal length OTA until I can afford something better. In the longer term, it seems like an AT12RC would be a great OTA. It indicates that the mirrors are fixed, and that a focuser is an OPTIONAL piece of equipment...I haven't found that piece of equipment anywhere yet, so I don't know how much it would add to the cost, if it is even necessary for AP imaging. I couldn't find anything about hyperstar with Astro-Tech's RC tubes...I very much like the idea of hyperstar/fastar, and would ultimately prefer something that can widen the field and do f/2 imaging, even if it requires more maintenance to keep the mirrors aligned and collimated.

-----

The big question now is exactly what mount to get. The Astro-Physics 1100GTO supports 110lb, lists for $8800. That is still a bit pricey, but it seems to be the cheapest one they have available that can handle larger tubes (such as if I eventually purchase something like the EdgeHD 14" or maybe even the Astr-Tech 12" or 16" RC Truss that apparently just started going on sale). The AP1100GTO has two additional options, the AE and AEL. These use their "absolute encoders" that apparently support extremely high precision for unguided astrophotography. They also seem to double the price if you order them pre-installed at the factory. Supposedly the absolute encoder will be available as a self-install addon package as well, however no idea how much that costs as they aren't shipping it yet.

Would an AP1100GTO without the absolute encoders work with autoguiders? Would an autoguider still be more precise than their absolute encoders? (I figure an autoguider would still be vastly more cost effective, given that the encoders are almost another eight grand in and of themselves...not sure I could justify that regardless.)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330073 - 01/23/14 08:26 AM

Don't be fooled by that price tag. That price is without tripod/pier or counterweights or many other little things you might need. The reason they sell it that way is so that you can buy only the bits you need according to your requirements and or taste.

The store you are buying from should be able to help you configure it according to your needs. You don't have to buy so many counter weights now if you have only a DSLR, you can buy those in the future as you upgrade to heavier gear. This is especially true if you are living in the USA where there is no significant savings in shipping cost if you buy it all at once. If the seller you are buying from can't advice you on a configuration, walk away and go buy from somebody else or directly from Astro-physics.

Please note there is a waiting list of a few months on most of their mounts.

Edited by Hilmi (01/23/14 08:30 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
james7ca
sage


Reged: 05/21/11

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330082 - 01/23/14 08:31 AM

If you used the Hyperstar system and kept the remainder of the weight as low as possible I'd think that a Mach1 GTO would be more than fine with a C11. Don't know about the C14, that might be pushing it.

Unless you have a really dark site you are going to reach sky-fog pretty quickly with an f/2 system. Going narrow band would help and with shorter exposures the mount becomes less of an issue. However, at f/2 the 11" EdgeHD would result in only about 550mm of effective focal length which is a little short for most galaxies and smaller nebulae. However, I'm pretty sure the Mach1 GTO would work well at f/7 or with whatever other reducer you might select.

In any case, if you go Astro-Physics I hope you are a fairly young person, since otherwise you might not live long enough to actually find one. If you are lucky you might be able to get one of their smaller mounts in 2014, but I wouldn't count on it unless you put your money down soon or just happen to find a used unit for sale when you're ready.

As for the CGEM DX, yes you'll find some nice photos that have been taken on that and even lesser mounts. The question then becomes how often will you be able to reproduce those results (night after night) and what is the likelihood of you actually getting a sample that will perform as well as the one that produced that photo. You can take your chances, be ready to suffer some aggravation, and hope for the best and maybe succeed. I think there are probably only two ways to guarantee success, either you keep the focal length and weight down to something pretty low or you invest in a high-end mount.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330087 - 01/23/14 08:34 AM

Quote:

Don't be fooled by that price tag. That price is without tripod/pier or counterweights or many other little things you might need. The reason they sell it that way is so that you can buy only the bits you need according to your requirements and or taste.

The store you are buying from should be able to help you configure it according to your needs. You don't have to buy so many counter weights now if you have only a DSLR, you can buy those in the future as you upgrade to heavier gear. This is especially true if you are living in the USA where there is no significant savings in shipping cost if you buy it all at once. If the seller you are buying from can't advice you on a configuration, walk away and go buy from somebody else or directly from Astro-physics.

Please note there is a waiting list of a few months on most of their mounts.




Hmm, just the mount, eh? I think the 1100 is out of my price range. What's the 900 cost, used, with all the necessary bits and pieces (pod, mount, counterweights, and the computerized control system and guide ports)?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330098 - 01/23/14 08:38 AM

900 is no longer in production it was replaced by the 1100. That's why I was pointing you to the second hand market. As people start receiving their 1100 upgrades, they are selling of their 900's at bargain prices. I found 2 last week on Astromart. I have purchased second hand items before on the internet, it is generally a good experience. Most people want to protect their reputation. Just buy from somebody with lots of stars in their rating

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330106 - 01/23/14 08:41 AM Attachment (28 downloads)

Quote:

Part of this is because I just found the Astro-Tech 6" f/9 RC Astrograph




Why would you mess with that, when you already have this?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6330112 - 01/23/14 08:47 AM

Terry,

I never tried that particular lens, but my 70-200 F2.8 L still has chromatic aberrations even at F5. If you split the 3 channels you find the blue channel stars twice as big as the other channels. My 8" RC on the other hand gives tight stars in all colors, although it is very slow in comparison. It also has more pleasing diffraction pattern.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: james7ca]
      #6330113 - 01/23/14 08:47 AM

Quote:

If you used the Hyperstar system and kept the remainder of the weight as low as possible I'd think that a Mach1 GTO would be more than fine with a C11. Don't know about the C14, that might be pushing it.





It seems like it would. Looked up the weight of the C11, it is 28lb (13kg) and the Mach1 supports 45lb (20kg). That should leave enough room for a finder scope, astrocam/DSLR, and all the necessary guiding and cabling aparatus, right?

I am basically writing off the C14. I think it will be an EdgeHD 11" or maybe an AT12RC (depends on whether the Astro-Tech works with hyperstar or not.)

The Mach1 should be more than enough with my 600mm lens. That puppy, thanks to multiple fluorite elements and light weight barrel materials, only weighs 8.3lb. The camera is only a couple pounds more.

Quote:


Unless you have a really dark site you are going to reach sky-fog pretty quickly with an f/2 system. Going narrow band would help and with shorter exposures the mount becomes less of an issue. However, at f/2 the 11" EdgeHD would result in only about 550mm of effective focal length which is a little short for most galaxies and smaller nebulae. However, I'm pretty sure the Mach1 GTO would work well at f/7 or with whatever other reducer you might select.





I plan to image every DSO there is in the long run...so large nebula that span wide fields, as well as smaller nebula, and maybe even small regions of larger nebula (like M42). I also plan to get a proper CCD with dual-stage TEC and built-in guiding and all that in the long run as well, so the camera won't be as heavy as the 5D III in the end, I think.

Quote:


In any case, if you go Astro-Physics I hope you are a fairly young person, since otherwise you might not live long enough to actually find one. If you are lucky you might be able to get one of their smaller mounts in 2014, but I wouldn't count on it unless you put your money down soon or just happen to find a used unit for sale when you're ready.





Well, I'm 34. Not exactly young, but not old either. ;P When you say "smaller mounts", does the Mach1 qualify?

Quote:


As for the CGEM DX, yes you'll find some nice photos that have been taken on that and even lesser mounts. The question then becomes how often will you be able to reproduce those results (night after night) and what is the likelihood of you actually getting a sample that will perform as well as the one that produced that photo. You can take your chances, be ready to suffer some aggravation, and hope for the best and maybe succeed. I think there are probably only two ways to guarantee success, either you keep the focal length and weight down to something pretty low or you invest in a high-end mount.




Yeah, based on what everyone here, including yourself, has said, I'm pretty much writing off the CGEM DX. It sounds like it just isn't up to snuff, and while I am basically diving in head first here with my first telescope, I really do intend to be serious about astrophotography. I'm the kind of person who likes to invest in what will do the job, do it well, and last for decades. (Hence the EF 600mm f/4 L IS II...)

It sounds like Astro-Physics is the place to go for that kind of quality. That said, if I am UNABLE to find an Astro-Physics mount in a reasonable time frame, what would be the next best thing? Someone mentioned the iOptron CEM60 earlier. That sounds like an interesting mount, and it also seems to have an enhanced encoder for high precision tracking. It doesn't seem like it is available yet, but would that be a mount of similar quality? Or are we talking about something of a lesser order than Astro-Physics?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6330116 - 01/23/14 08:49 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Part of this is because I just found the Astro-Tech 6" f/9 RC Astrograph




Why would you mess with that, when you already have this?




OOH! How in the world did you get an SBIG mounted on there!? SBIG cams are on the top of my list once I get the mount and scope. If I can mount an SBIG right to the 600mm f/4, wow, I'd be one ecstatically happy dude!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330118 - 01/23/14 08:52 AM

Quote:

Terry,

I never tried that particular lens, but my 70-200 F2.8 L still has chromatic aberrations even at F5. If you split the 3 channels you find the blue channel stars twice as big as the other channels. My 8" RC on the other hand gives tight stars in all colors, although it is very slow in comparison. It also has more pleasing diffraction pattern.




CA on the Canon EF 600mm f/4 Mark II's is VERY low. They use both UD (same thing as ED) glass as well as two Fluorite elements. Aberrations are very low. Maybe not quite as low as a quadruplet apochromat like the Takahashi, but still about as low as you are going to find in a DSLR lens. The low aberrations at maximum aperture and the weight were the two reasons why I spent the dough on the new Mark II, instead of picking up the older 600mm f/4 Mark I for half the price (and almost four more pounds of weight.)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330120 - 01/23/14 08:52 AM

Paramount MX should be your plan B at the budget you indicated if you have to have new.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330123 - 01/23/14 08:54 AM

Quote:

Paramount MX should be your plan B at the budget you indicated if you have to have new.




Paramount MX...going to look that up now. I don't have to have new...I am actually thinking the 900GTO might be exactly what I need, if I can find a whole package deal used from someone.

BTW, does anyone know how many objects the Astro-Physics controller has? And, for that matter, how many of those objects are really the things you would be interested in observing and imaging anyway? I've seen counts from 20,000 to 40,000 to 300,000+...does it matter if you have more than 20,000 pre-programmed objects?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330143 - 01/23/14 09:04 AM

Object count is mostly irrelevant for astro-imaging, as most likely you will be using a laptop with planetarium software to plan and frame shots. Especially if you are planing to move to CCD imaging in the future.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330169 - 01/23/14 09:14 AM

Ok, so, here we go:

You're buying a mount, and that will determine what telescope you can use.

If you want to do f/2 with a DSLR, that's hyperstar, and it only works with Celestron OTAs. Fastar was the original version from the late 1980s which supported cameras with tiny chips compared to APS format DSLRs. Hyperstar is a very good start because f/2 will give you images with the least tracking difficulty.

If you're in The city and need to go mobile for astrophotography, you really need to pay attention to weight and setup difficulty. If you want to support big OTAs like a C14, you will be moving hundreds of pounds of equipment every time you set up.

-Rich

Quote:

Hello all. I have been in the market for a telescope for a while now. Over a year, to be exact, however last year I opted to buy the Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II lens, which clocks in at $12,800 instead of a telescope, as wildlife and bird photography is an equal passion. Now that the nature photography lens has been purchased, I've been saving my funds for a telescope. I hope to buy something this year, hopefully by the time summer rolls around so I can enjoy the warmer nights (but we'll see how the funds accumulate, and what kinds of decisions I make about specific gear.)

Anyway, regarding the mount. I understand that the mount is an important piece of equipment, and that one needs to invest properly in a quality mount that will last over the years, and support a whole range of possible OTAs over those years. I am curious exactly how important the mount is, though. I am still debating about exactly which OTA to get...on the top of my list are the Celestron EdgeHD 11" and 14" SCTs, the Officina Stellare Hiper APO refractors, and maybe the AT10RC.

I really like what I've read about Celestron mounts. The two mounts I am interested in are the CGEM DX and the CGE Pro. There is a pretty big price gap between these two, with the Pro being more than twice as expensive. I've read a number of threads here, but I haven't really found enough information to really help me zero in on which mount I should get. I want to save money where I can, but I don't want to cut corners that shouldn't be cut. Is the Pro overkill? Is the DX more than sufficient to hold any one of the telescopes on my list? I'll probably have more than one scope at some point, and I'm wondering if the DX would be a good enough mount for all of them, if I needed to buy more than one.

Anyway, thanks for any insight!




Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330190 - 01/23/14 09:30 AM

Quote:

Object count is mostly irrelevant for astro-imaging, as most likely you will be using a laptop with planetarium software to plan and frame shots. Especially if you are planing to move to CCD imaging in the future.




Ah, interesting. I had my eye on Nebulosity 3 for capture software, and PHD for guiding. I am not sure if either of those have a planetarium catalog of objects. What are the options here? I was also planning to use a Windows 8 tablet, as they are much more energy efficient and lighter to use out in the field than a full blown laptop...but a lot of software like Starry Night does not seem to work with Windows 8. *sob*


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330203 - 01/23/14 09:44 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Object count is mostly irrelevant for astro-imaging, as most likely you will be using a laptop with planetarium software to plan and frame shots. Especially if you are planing to move to CCD imaging in the future.




Ah, interesting. I had my eye on Nebulosity 3 for capture software, and PHD for guiding. I am not sure if either of those have a planetarium catalog of objects. What are the options here? I was also planning to use a Windows 8 tablet, as they are much more energy efficient and lighter to use out in the field than a full blown laptop...but a lot of software like Starry Night does not seem to work with Windows 8. *sob*





Well this is a hot topic this morning and some excellent points made by many people here.

My 2 cents worth:

* I use Nebulosity - excellent software.
* I also avoid Windows like the plague. Being energy efficient I work with a MacBook Pro and am migrating to a MacBookAir for more field use. I also run SkySafari wirelessly from my iPad and iPhone (and Mac Pros). Excellent piece of software.
--> Side note: after my current project (A cubesat on the ISS), we are planning a working on more AstroSoftware for the iPad and MacOS. We just need some free time.
* AP1100, Paramount MX - excellent mounts worth considering. I have chosen the AP1100 to add to my fleet of mounts (God help me - I am becoming a GEM Mount hoarder!).
* Mach1GTO - Excellent mount and more portable than the above.
* You should consider the LX850 mount your list. This is the real deal. Also, it easily handles the 90 lbs, none of this "50%" malarky.
* If you are observing from home - wonderful. But as Rich has said, if you are going to remote sites you may want to rethink how big of an OTA you will run in the field. Definitely consider how much gear you will be hauling out to your site and power you will use up.

I really love my 14" f/8 ACF, but I won't be traveling much with it - it is a beast, as it should be.

If you go out in the field much you may want to consider the Mach1GTO with an excellent APO that is tied in with an iPad and/or MacBook Air. Even at home, I do use my APOs with my 14" and I go back and forth what to use (depends on the object and picture I want to take).

All good advice here, lots of options!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6330229 - 01/23/14 10:01 AM

Thanks Spacetravelerx! Everyone seems to have pretty good things to say about the Mach1GTO...I think that puppy is at the top of my list right now. I am hoping more opinions roll in through the day...I'm interested in hearing what others have to say, see what other options there may be.

I'd looked at the Meade LX850 mount before. It seems to be pretty much on par with the Celestron CGE Pro, almost point for point. I've also seen the CGE Pro slew a big 14" EdgeHD around like it was nothing...so I am pretty sure it could handle the 90lb weight as well. I used to love Meade as a kid, but lately it seems they have a number of problems, including legal issues? Anyway, I decided a while ago that I was going to avoid Meade...just doesn't seem like a safe company over the long term, in case I ever need replacement parts or whatnot. I have a bit of an affinity for Celestron these days anyway, I think.

As for Apple, not gonna happen with me. I can't stand apple products, and that isn't for a lack of using them, either...I have reluctantly had to use them a lot. I've had multiple generations of iPhone, iPads, even a brand new Retina MacBook just a few months back. Never liked Apple products, don't think I ever will. They just don't jive with the way I do things. Not to mention the fact that a Surface Pro 2 is a far more capable device than an iPad will ever be, with stellar battery life to boot (thing can go for like 15 hours.) My whole entire house is Microsoft now that I've expunged all Apple products... ;P Only seems logical to stick with it now. I just have to light a fire under Starry Night and Redshift and whoever else develops that kind of software and get em moving on Windows 8 updates.

Regarding observing, just so everyone knows...it will all be away from my home for the foreseeable future. I live pretty close the the outskirts of the Denver metropolitan area in Colorado. If I drive a bit over the speed limit, I can get to some VERY dark skies (albeit with two bubbles of LP on the southern and western horizons) within 50 minutes. In Bortle Scale terms, probably zones 2-3 (rural dark to true dark). If I drive for two to three hours, I can find exceptionally dark sights. It's one of the better things about Colorado...we don't have to travel half the country to find truly dark skies. Denver metro and Colorado Springs are the main LP regions...move east for an hour, or move west for two hours, and you can find REALLY DARK skies. Some of those dark skies are up at 11,000 feet or more, so the air can be incredibly crisp and clear and clean...seeing is pretty darn good up on the western side of the divide.

Edited by Jon Rista (01/23/14 10:02 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330246 - 01/23/14 10:12 AM

Software is another matter. One thing at a time. Which software depends on many things.

Sequence Generator Pro has been getting a lot of attention lately for image acquisition as it does almost all the automation stuff and is very cheap for it's capabilities.

For image processing the current hotest trending program is Pixinsight. Nasty user interface, but once you get around it the results you can produce using that software are nothing short of stunning.

Personally, I don't use Sequence Generator Pro because I had already invested in MaximDL/CCDAutopilot Combo. Also, MaximDL is the program supported by most other programs as it has been around for ages and has sort of become the defacto standard for scripting and automation. I would still recommend SGP though, simply because it would do more than you would ever want to do for the first few years and is far more affordable than MaximDL.

MaximDL contains processing, but very few people use it for processing as the results are far superior with PixInsight.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
David PavlichAdministrator
Transmographied
*****

Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330324 - 01/23/14 10:58 AM

Before you get too much money wrapped up in imaging, you might consider looking for a used Celestron CGE and something like a used triplet refractor like a Stellarvue or William Optics in the 110-120mm aperture. Get a good guide scope like a Borg mini 50 in solid rings, not guide rings, a good guide camera, hook up your MkIII with a laptop and Nebulosity for acquisition and PHD Guiding to keep the mount in place and see if you like imaging.

Then there's processing the images. To begin with, Deep Sky Stacker for pre-processing and I'm guessing that you already have Photoshop. Look online for tutorials on processing and make some pictures!

Once you find out that imaging is just too cool, then you can look at Mach 1s or MXs, Ritcheys, Hyperstars, etc, etc. Mid sized refractors take nice images and are very forgiving and a great platform to learn this part of the hobby.

David


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
WadeH237
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330335 - 01/23/14 11:02 AM

This is an interesting thread, with lots of good advice. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts:

There's been lots of mention of Hyperstar. You already have a 600mm F/4 APO refractor in that Canon lens. Hyperstar isn't going to get you anything significant that you can't do with that lens.

You've mentioned the AT6RC scope at $400. I think that's a great idea. I've got one and it's lots of fun to use - one of the better bargains in astrophotography. It's 1360mm focal length is a nice next step from your 600mm lens.

The 3 most important things in astrophotography are the mount, the mount and the mount. You are on the right track thinking about the Mach1. You should also look at the AP1100 (the Mach1's bigger brother), the Paramount MX and the 10Micron GM1000hps. Any of these mounts will serve you quite well.

That said, the are many successful astrophotographers that are perfectly happy with CGEMs, Atlases, etc. If you have budget constraints and are not sure that you are committed to the hobby (it can be hard to know until you actually try it), they make good entry level imaging mounts. And they can easily carry your Canon lens and DSLR.

Some of us get pretty carried away when we're spending other people's money. It's really easy to recommend premium mounts when we're not the ones footing the bill. To be sure, you do get what you pay for with them. And if you end up getting bitten by the astro imaging bug, you can save money by jumping in at the deep end instead of buying cheaper equipment first and upgrading.

Of the mounts listed here, the only one I would tend to avoid is the CGE Pro. This is not anything against the mount. I've used them and they are fine mounts. But for your stated goals, they are big and heavy (really huge, in fact). For the extra money, you'd be better off getting a premium mount with a bit less capacity, given what you are trying to do.

I hope that this is helpful,
-Wade


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330429 - 01/23/14 11:46 AM

Quote:


OOH! How in the world did you get an SBIG mounted on there!? SBIG cams are on the top of my list once I get the mount and scope. If I can mount an SBIG right to the 600mm f/4, wow, I'd be one ecstatically happy dude!




There are other ways to mount a CCD to a Canon EF lens but SBIG are one of the few that make it really easy. SBIG EOS Lens Adapter.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Whichwayisnorth
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/04/11

Loc: Southern California
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330463 - 01/23/14 11:55 AM

Quote:

Thanks Spacetravelerx! Everyone seems to have pretty good things to say about the Mach1GTO...I think that puppy is at the top of my list right now. I am hoping more opinions roll in through the day...I'm interested in hearing what others have to say, see what other options there may be.

I'd looked at the Meade LX850 mount before. It seems to be pretty much on par with the Celestron CGE Pro, almost point for point. I've also seen the CGE Pro slew a big 14" EdgeHD around like it was nothing...so I am pretty sure it could handle the 90lb weight as well. I used to love Meade as a kid, but lately it seems they have a number of problems, including legal issues? Anyway, I decided a while ago that I was going to avoid Meade...just doesn't seem like a safe company over the long term, in case I ever need replacement parts or whatnot. I have a bit of an affinity for Celestron these days anyway, I think.

As for Apple, not gonna happen with me. I can't stand apple products, and that isn't for a lack of using them, either...I have reluctantly had to use them a lot. I've had multiple generations of iPhone, iPads, even a brand new Retina MacBook just a few months back. Never liked Apple products, don't think I ever will. They just don't jive with the way I do things. Not to mention the fact that a Surface Pro 2 is a far more capable device than an iPad will ever be, with stellar battery life to boot (thing can go for like 15 hours.) My whole entire house is Microsoft now that I've expunged all Apple products... ;P Only seems logical to stick with it now. I just have to light a fire under Starry Night and Redshift and whoever else develops that kind of software and get em moving on Windows 8 updates.

Regarding observing, just so everyone knows...it will all be away from my home for the foreseeable future. I live pretty close the the outskirts of the Denver metropolitan area in Colorado. If I drive a bit over the speed limit, I can get to some VERY dark skies (albeit with two bubbles of LP on the southern and western horizons) within 50 minutes. In Bortle Scale terms, probably zones 2-3 (rural dark to true dark). If I drive for two to three hours, I can find exceptionally dark sights. It's one of the better things about Colorado...we don't have to travel half the country to find truly dark skies. Denver metro and Colorado Springs are the main LP regions...move east for an hour, or move west for two hours, and you can find REALLY DARK skies. Some of those dark skies are up at 11,000 feet or more, so the air can be incredibly crisp and clear and clean...seeing is pretty darn good up on the western side of the divide.




I really like you and hope you post more often.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330508 - 01/23/14 12:09 PM

Quote:

Thanks Spacetravelerx! Everyone seems to have pretty good things to say about the Mach1GTO...I think that puppy is at the top of my list right now. I am hoping more opinions roll in through the day...I'm interested in hearing what others have to say, see what other options there may be.

I'd looked at the Meade LX850 mount before. It seems to be pretty much on par with the Celestron CGE Pro, almost point for point. I've also seen the CGE Pro slew a big 14" EdgeHD around like it was nothing...so I am pretty sure it could handle the 90lb weight as well. I used to love Meade as a kid, but lately it seems they have a number of problems, including legal issues? Anyway, I decided a while ago that I was going to avoid Meade...just doesn't seem like a safe company over the long term, in case I ever need replacement parts or whatnot. I have a bit of an affinity for Celestron these days anyway, I think.

As for Apple, not gonna happen with me. I can't stand apple products, and that isn't for a lack of using them, either...I have reluctantly had to use them a lot. I've had multiple generations of iPhone, iPads, even a brand new Retina MacBook just a few months back. Never liked Apple products, don't think I ever will. They just don't jive with the way I do things. Not to mention the fact that a Surface Pro 2 is a far more capable device than an iPad will ever be, with stellar battery life to boot (thing can go for like 15 hours.) My whole entire house is Microsoft now that I've expunged all Apple products... ;P Only seems logical to stick with it now. I just have to light a fire under Starry Night and Redshift and whoever else develops that kind of software and get em moving on Windows 8 updates.

Regarding observing, just so everyone knows...it will all be away from my home for the foreseeable future. I live pretty close the the outskirts of the Denver metropolitan area in Colorado. If I drive a bit over the speed limit, I can get to some VERY dark skies (albeit with two bubbles of LP on the southern and western horizons) within 50 minutes. In Bortle Scale terms, probably zones 2-3 (rural dark to true dark). If I drive for two to three hours, I can find exceptionally dark sights. It's one of the better things about Colorado...we don't have to travel half the country to find truly dark skies. Denver metro and Colorado Springs are the main LP regions...move east for an hour, or move west for two hours, and you can find REALLY DARK skies. Some of those dark skies are up at 11,000 feet or more, so the air can be incredibly crisp and clear and clean...seeing is pretty darn good up on the western side of the divide.





Jon,

Based on your observing information I would just go with the Mach1GTO, your cameras and an APO and drive into the mountains. My variation is the AP1100, but I will be traveling with the LX850 until the AP arrives (the LX850 will eventually go in an observatory).

Meade is legally and financially fine. There should be no issues there - there certainly have been none for myself with Meade. Great folks over there and fun to work with!

As far as Apple-Windows goes that is I guess one of those religious things, though we have 100% expunged Windows from our work, and for our flight programs so have our customers. We have many issues with the Surface Pro 2 and it is banned (so are the Android tablets, but for different reasons), but your mileage may vary. Our team and customers are really sold on the MacOS and iOS and we could not get rid of Windows fast enough. Other development for our side is on the ARM based processors and Linux which is fun. But that is a whole different topic.

Final verdict for me - Mach1GTO to the mountains! You can throw that thing in a backpack easily!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6330594 - 01/23/14 12:44 PM

I'd be interested in how well the camera lens does as an astrograph. Astrophotography is a significantly harsher critic than daylight photography, so remember to remain calm, no matter what you see.

The AP Mach 1 GTO is a lifetime travel mount- you'll want to get an accessory for it called RAPAS for quick setup.

Please keep in mind what you are proposing is an extreme learning curve. Good astrophotos require taking lots of bad astrophotos. What you have learned in daylight will not help you. At all.

If you get a really good mount from the start, you will at least avoid the brutal lesson on how there just is no substitute for a good mount. Some things to keep in mind:

Many of the really interesting DSOs are enormous- on the order of 6 full moons across if you are talking about the andromeda galaxy or the rosette nebula. Photographing things like the Horsehead, M42, or the Pleiades are likewise all wide-field imaging targets. This is good, since low magnifications are forgiving while you learn to hyper-dial in alignment, and you can simply forego guiding.

Don't expect success early- what you are embarking on is very, very, very difficult. People who master this are about as numerous as people who have flown in space- don't expect this to be easy.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6330595 - 01/23/14 12:44 PM

I'd be interested in how well the camera lens does as an astrograph. Astrophotography is a significantly harsher critic than daylight photography, so remember to remain calm, no matter what you see.

The AP Mach 1 GTO is a lifetime travel mount- you'll want to get an accessory for it called RAPAS for quick setup.

Please keep in mind what you are proposing is an extreme learning curve. Good astrophotos require taking lots of bad astrophotos. What you have learned in daylight will not help you. At all.

If you get a really good mount from the start, you will at least avoid the brutal lesson on how there just is no substitute for a good mount. Some things to keep in mind:

Many of the really interesting DSOs are enormous- on the order of 6 full moons across if you are talking about the andromeda galaxy or the rosette nebula. Photographing things like the Horsehead, M42, or the Pleiades are likewise all wide-field imaging targets. This is good, since low magnifications are forgiving while you learn to hyper-dial in alignment, and you can simply forego guiding.

Don't expect success early- what you are embarking on is very, very, very difficult. People who master this are about as numerous as people who have flown in space- don't expect this to be easy.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gary-sue69
sage
*****

Reged: 07/19/07

Loc: Maybee MI.
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6330619 - 01/23/14 12:55 PM

Hi. I like the Mead LX 850 not the 800. they had a lot of trouble with the LX 800 which I had. I really did like it but to many bugs. Meade was great to offer me to wait for the fixes. or my money back. I went with money back. But and a big BUT in short I love the technology behind it. So this time instead of the LX 850 which I think is a great Mount. I am going with the Meade LX 600 14' on a wedged. but it will be in an observatory. This is their web site. http://meade.com/lx850 good luck.

Edited by gary-sue69 (01/23/14 01:29 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Whichwayisnorth]
      #6330668 - 01/23/14 01:17 PM

Quote:

I really like you and hope you post more often.




Well, thanks! Appreciate that. I do intend to stick around...I've had intentions of doing astrophotography for a very long time, just either never had the time or the funds. Now, I should have some of both on a fairly regular basis, and I've always learned a lot on these forums, even before I was a member.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330675 - 01/23/14 01:20 PM

Quote:

Software is another matter. One thing at a time. Which software depends on many things.

Sequence Generator Pro has been getting a lot of attention lately for image acquisition as it does almost all the automation stuff and is very cheap for it's capabilities.

For image processing the current hotest trending program is Pixinsight. Nasty user interface, but once you get around it the results you can produce using that software are nothing short of stunning.

Personally, I don't use Sequence Generator Pro because I had already invested in MaximDL/CCDAutopilot Combo. Also, MaximDL is the program supported by most other programs as it has been around for ages and has sort of become the defacto standard for scripting and automation. I would still recommend SGP though, simply because it would do more than you would ever want to do for the first few years and is far more affordable than MaximDL.

MaximDL contains processing, but very few people use it for processing as the results are far superior with PixInsight.




Thanks for the software tips. I think I might start another topic on that one, once the time comes. I've had my eye on Nebulosity 3, PHD, and PixInsight for a while. All of them sound good, but taking a quick look at SGP, I'll have to do more evaluating. Would rather not get into the software in this thread though...as you said, it's another matter, one thing at a time!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #6330694 - 01/23/14 01:28 PM

Quote:

Before you get too much money wrapped up in imaging, you might consider looking for a used Celestron CGE and something like a used triplet refractor like a Stellarvue or William Optics in the 110-120mm aperture. Get a good guide scope like a Borg mini 50 in solid rings, not guide rings, a good guide camera, hook up your MkIII with a laptop and Nebulosity for acquisition and PHD Guiding to keep the mount in place and see if you like imaging.

Then there's processing the images. To begin with, Deep Sky Stacker for pre-processing and I'm guessing that you already have Photoshop. Look online for tutorials on processing and make some pictures!

Once you find out that imaging is just too cool, then you can look at Mach 1s or MXs, Ritcheys, Hyperstars, etc, etc. Mid sized refractors take nice images and are very forgiving and a great platform to learn this part of the hobby.

David




Aye, very true about getting too much money wrapped up too early. I am pretty serious about astrophotography. I've been drooling over telescopes for years, and I'm finally in a position where I will actually have enough time to dedicate to it on a regular basis to actually make something out of it.

The price tags on these mounts is a little daunting, though...$8000 for just the mount, more for the 'pod, and even more for the controller? Little scary. I'm hoping more people throw in their ideas on the mount front. The more information I have to work with, the better decision I can make in the long run when I finally go for it. I don't want to dump a fortune into the mount if I don't really have to. As I mentioned earlier, I have access to very dark skies within an hour or two, and I'm ok going with lesser gear than a 14" SCT or RC if it will get me up and running a bit sooner with less total cost.

As for the telescope, I think I'm going to stick with my 600mm f/4 L II lens for now. It's a stellar lens. Great center and midframe performance. Corners are not as good as a dedicated optical assembly for astrophotography...but I can live with that for now. I have plenty to learn and master before I start obsessing too much over a flat field and all that jazz.

I actually have and use Deep Sky Stacker. I've tried to do some non-tracked astrophotography for a while now. Did not have much success for a while, but recently I've had some luck. DSS has been valuable at times, but its tools to tweak the final result are a bit cumbersome. I've actually managed to extract some pretty decent results with just Photoshop, manual layer alignment, and SmartObject Median-mode stacking. I think software is another topic for another day though, but I plan to start a thread much like this one on the subject when I get around to dealing with choosing software and learning how to use it.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
wargrafix
sage


Reged: 04/10/13

Loc: Trinidad
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330709 - 01/23/14 01:33 PM

The thing about this forum is that when you have an issue, you think that all hope is lost, someone will jump in and propose a solution which brings everything back to good and sometimes even better than you were expecting. I remember my CG5 mount no response error and everyone helped and solved it.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #6330716 - 01/23/14 01:36 PM

Quote:

This is an interesting thread, with lots of good advice. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts:

There's been lots of mention of Hyperstar. You already have a 600mm F/4 APO refractor in that Canon lens. Hyperstar isn't going to get you anything significant that you can't do with that lens.





That's what I'm realizing. I mean, f/2 imaging would be pretty amazing, but I know f/4 is nothing to sneeze at.

Quote:


You've mentioned the AT6RC scope at $400. I think that's a great idea. I've got one and it's lots of fun to use - one of the better bargains in astrophotography. It's 1360mm focal length is a nice next step from your 600mm lens.





I took a closer look at the AT6RC. It's 1360mm focal length isn't all that much longer than my 600mm with a 2x teleconverter. With the 2x TC, I have a 1200mm f/8 telescope, which from a relative aperture standpoint is actually a bit better than the AT6RC, which is f/9. I think the 600mm lens can hold me in pretty good stead for a good long while, until I have nothing left to do but obsess over how pinpoint my pinpoint stars are, and where in the field they start going cometary.

Quote:


The 3 most important things in astrophotography are the mount, the mount and the mount. You are on the right track thinking about the Mach1. You should also look at the AP1100 (the Mach1's bigger brother), the Paramount MX and the 10Micron GM1000hps. Any of these mounts will serve you quite well.





The AP1100 and Paramount MX are two others that have been mentioned before as well. I think the 1100 is ultimately out of my price range, once all the various bits and pieces are factored in...the price is well over $10,000. It's on the list, but not at the top. The Paramount MX looks pretty nice. I'd say that with your recommendation and the priors, it's currently got the second spot on my list. Maybe tied with the forthcoming iOpteron CME60.

Quote:


That said, the are many successful astrophotographers that are perfectly happy with CGEMs, Atlases, etc. If you have budget constraints and are not sure that you are committed to the hobby (it can be hard to know until you actually try it), they make good entry level imaging mounts. And they can easily carry your Canon lens and DSLR.





I'd really like to see the kind of results people get with CGEMS, Atlases, etc. I read those names a fair bit on these forums, I suspect because they are more accessible from a price standpoint. I know I've seen some pretty decent results online from people who use those mounts. I'm a stickler or quality, and I generally like to buy things once and have the full benefit of their flexibility and longevity. However, as reality usually has its way, I inevitably end up getting one or two lesser products before I finally land on "the one" that will tide me over for decades. I may well need to do that in the case of astrophotography as well. The CGEM DX is still on the list...maybe after the iOpteron CEM60. I've written the CGE Pro off the list...154lb is just too much weight to be lugging around Colorado.

Quote:


Some of us get pretty carried away when we're spending other people's money. It's really easy to recommend premium mounts when we're not the ones footing the bill. To be sure, you do get what you pay for with them. And if you end up getting bitten by the astro imaging bug, you can save money by jumping in at the deep end instead of buying cheaper equipment first and upgrading.

Of the mounts listed here, the only one I would tend to avoid is the CGE Pro. This is not anything against the mount. I've used them and they are fine mounts. But for your stated goals, they are big and heavy (really huge, in fact). For the extra money, you'd be better off getting a premium mount with a bit less capacity, given what you are trying to do.

I hope that this is helpful,
-Wade




Yes, very helpful stuff! Thanks! I appreciate your honesty about getting carried away, and I appreciate the honest opinions.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6330722 - 01/23/14 01:40 PM

Quote:

Quote:


OOH! How in the world did you get an SBIG mounted on there!? SBIG cams are on the top of my list once I get the mount and scope. If I can mount an SBIG right to the 600mm f/4, wow, I'd be one ecstatically happy dude!




There are other ways to mount a CCD to a Canon EF lens but SBIG are one of the few that make it really easy. SBIG EOS Lens Adapter.




Sweet! I admit, I didn't dig through their entire site. I guess I had a bit of sticker shock at some of the prices for the CCD's I gravitated towards. I didn't even look at the accessories at all, I just put SBIG on my astrocam brands list, alongside the QHY11, QHY22, and QHY23 (less sticker shock, but they still appear to be excellent CCDs.)

It seems there are EF adapters for some of the older QHY cams, but the 22 and 23 don't seem to be listed. I am not sure if they are compatible or not. The cam is down the road a ways, and I'll probably start a thread on that, too, when the time comes.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330732 - 01/23/14 01:44 PM

Quote:

Some of us get pretty carried away when we're spending other people's money.




Or saving other peoples money. We learn from our mistakes so others don't have to repeat them. As has been said by others on the forum, it is possible to get good results with a lesser mount, but with a premium mount if you don't it's unlikely to be from the mount. The original poster has clearly indicated he had a healthy budget by implication, why not get the best. The argument about if you change your mind doesnt hold either, because I've been looking at posts and a 3 year old Mach 1 GTO sells for minimal loss in value. if you buy second hand, you can probably sell it off for almost the same amount you pay for it.

That sure beats going through 3 mounts till you reach "The One True Love" mount. I'd say it's a bargain. If a person can afford it and has the money to spend, I will always recommend a top tier mount.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6330761 - 01/23/14 01:56 PM

Quote:

I'd be interested in how well the camera lens does as an astrograph. Astrophotography is a significantly harsher critic than daylight photography, so remember to remain calm, no matter what you see.

The AP Mach 1 GTO is a lifetime travel mount- you'll want to get an accessory for it called RAPAS for quick setup.

Please keep in mind what you are proposing is an extreme learning curve. Good astrophotos require taking lots of bad astrophotos. What you have learned in daylight will not help you. At all.

If you get a really good mount from the start, you will at least avoid the brutal lesson on how there just is no substitute for a good mount. Some things to keep in mind:

Many of the really interesting DSOs are enormous- on the order of 6 full moons across if you are talking about the andromeda galaxy or the rosette nebula. Photographing things like the Horsehead, M42, or the Pleiades are likewise all wide-field imaging targets. This is good, since low magnifications are forgiving while you learn to hyper-dial in alignment, and you can simply forego guiding.

Don't expect success early- what you are embarking on is very, very, very difficult. People who master this are about as numerous as people who have flown in space- don't expect this to be easy.

-Rich




Thank you for the insights. I really appreciate them. I have no illusions that corner performance on my 600mm will be good...it will have some slight CA, and will stretch just a bit. It is excellent center and midframe, though. I also suspect that you don't usually use the entire field with astrophotography? There has to be some cropping involved, yes?

I also am pretty prepared to get started with astrophotography. I have actually been doing some non-tracked astrophotography with my EF 100mm f/2.8 and EF 600mm f/4 lenses. I started around the beginning of summer, and only managed to get images I felt were barely good enough to share online this past December. Took about six months to get things figured out enough without tracking to get a barely acceptable result...so I am prepared for what's ahead.

I'm pretty careful and methodical when I decide to do something. I've been digging around, researching gear, learning what's different between astrophotography and normal photography, learning about all the various software tools, how to do guiding, etc. for the last two years. I still don't even have a mount or a scope. :P I'm ok with it taking a while. I don't expect to become a world-class astrophotographer by summer this year.

That said, I do have aspirations to become a world-class astrophotographer in the end. It doesn't really matter to me if that takes years...when I decide to do something, I invest the money, the time, and the effort to master it. I started bird, wildlife, and landscape photography four years ago, and only felt that I began to get the kind of results I really wanted the latter part of last year. I don't expect to master it for years more, as I still see the gap between my work and the pros that inspire me. When it comes to astrophotography, I'll fly in space, one way or another.

I have a good deal of theoretical knowledge under my belt as well. I understand the nuances of polar alignment...I purchased a Celestron AstroMaster newtonian beginner scope in December, just for the purpose of learning. I already have experience with Polaris alignment, NCP alignment, and declination drift refinement. Still need to work on dec. drift...I gather that's where the bulk of fine tuning your alignment comes into play, and that it can be quite time consuming to really dial in really good alignment (5-10 minutes without drift). I returned the AstroMaster...I can't imagine how that thing could be called a beginners device. It was actually horrible to use. Painfully horrible to use. The lack of GOTO makes everything orders of magnitude more difficult...and the whole assembly has multiple stop points where some part of the assembly catches something somewhere preventing you from tracking further. It also seemed to have a slight error that, even after carefully aligning on NCP, would still result in a couple minutes misalignment when trying to dial in a well-known object in RA/Dec. After all the frustrations with that scope, I suspect a GOTO will be a pure dream, and the only thing I'll really have to work at is declination drift.

I guess my only real concern is I spend the right amount of money on the right product up front. I like to find the perfect product that will last me forever, and just buy something once. The risk with that is you end up finding something you think is perfect, when it's not, and spend a LOT of money on something that ultimately sits on a shelf. I'm really hoping to avoid that...and with all of the advice you wonderful people have offered, I think I'll be able to pick up the right device. Sounds like the AP Mach1GTO is it, but I'm all ears for anyone and everyone else's advice! I want to hear everyone's opinions before I make a decision (and I have plenty of time, I won't be ordering anything for a few months yet.)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gary-sue69
sage
*****

Reged: 07/19/07

Loc: Maybee MI.
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330764 - 01/23/14 01:57 PM

if I recall correctly, you said you do not have a lot of time to do AP processing. Mallincam has 2 cameras you might be interested in. Mallincam extreme ex which takes live color video images that you can share online or at star parties. you can 'stack' those to create a photo. or Mallincam universe which is made for AP work but can be used for video as well.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330771 - 01/23/14 01:59 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Some of us get pretty carried away when we're spending other people's money.




Or saving other peoples money. We learn from our mistakes so others don't have to repeat them. As has been said by others on the forum, it is possible to get good results with a lesser mount, but with a premium mount if you don't it's unlikely to be from the mount. The original poster has clearly indicated he had a healthy budget by implication, why not get the best. The argument about if you change your mind doesnt hold either, because I've been looking at posts and a 3 year old Mach 1 GTO sells for minimal loss in value. if you buy second hand, you can probably sell it off for almost the same amount you pay for it.

That sure beats going through 3 mounts till you reach "The One True Love" mount. I'd say it's a bargain. If a person can afford it and has the money to spend, I will always recommend a top tier mount.




I do appreciate all your advice. BTW, what are the top places to find used astronomy gear like the Mach1? I guess I should start looking out for that really good deal from that really good seller so I can nab it when the opportunity comes along (and I have the funds.)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Dwight J
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/14/09

Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330775 - 01/23/14 01:59 PM

Another mount option to consider are Takahashi EM 200 or NJP. The EM200 can carry a C11 and the NJP can carry a C14. They are pricey when new but are more often seen available on the used market. An advantage over Astrophysics (albeit a very small one) is that Tak mounts are available without waiting on a list. The Ioptron CM 60 is worth a look too as is the EQ8 ( soon to be sold by Orion) and these are in the $4000 range.
As has been said many times, spend as much money on a mount as you can. It will save you money in the long run as you won't have to upgrade when you can't get a lower cost mount to perform and hours of frustrated tinkering to get it working. I learned this lesson the hard (read expensive) way.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6330782 - 01/23/14 02:03 PM

Quote:


As for the telescope, I think I'm going to stick with my 600mm f/4 L II lens for now. It's a stellar lens. Great center and midframe performance.




"Big" Canon glass has been put up against astro APOs before and fared well. Samir Kharusi put the Canon 600 up against a Televue APO years ago. Link is still here.

No one in their right mind buys a Canon super for astro primarily but, seeing as how you already have the 600, your course is clear. I used the 600/4 and the 300/2.8 for my first foray into serious AP and got thrilling results. My problems were all about flex and tracking, not about Canon optics not being up to the job.

My two "errors," as I see it all in retrospect:

1/ Not going with a premium mount in the first place.
2/ Trying a DSLR before a mono CCD.

It's hard to know just how far one is going to want to go when starting out though.

If you feel sure you want to get into AP in a big way . . . the mount should be your first priority.
You should start thinking about how you are going to mount that 600mm and how you are going to guide it.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: gary-sue69]
      #6330786 - 01/23/14 02:05 PM

Quote:

if I recall correctly, you said you do not have a lot of time to do AP processing. Mallincam has 2 cameras you might be interested in. Mallincam extreme ex which takes live color video images that you can share online or at star parties. you can 'stack' those to create a photo. or Mallincam universe which is made for AP work but can be used for video as well.




Hmm, good point. I am honestly not sure whether to call the time I have a little, normal, or a lot. I figure I can spend a few hours a night once or twice a week on average doing astroimaging. Relative to the kind of time I used to have, that's a lot! However, relative to some of the astrophotographers I follow, who often seem to spend multiple nights imaging the same objects for grand total exposure times in the realm of 8, 12, 15 hours...on top of the travel time to get to and from their dark sky site, etc. It seems like I don't really have all that much time for astrophotography.

I suspect there will be a few times a year where I could spend several nights in a row imaging some selected DSO. I certainly hope so, at least, but in a weekly basis, maybe a few hours a night two nights a week.

Anyway, I'll check out Mallincam! Sounds a bit like planetary imaging with a webcam sensor? Does that work well for DSO imaging?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Dwight J]
      #6330790 - 01/23/14 02:06 PM

Two best known places are cloudynights classifieds and astromart. Both sites provide a rating system for sellers and that will give you the chance to learn from other peoples interactions with the seller.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Chuckwagon
member


Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Orem, Utah, USA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330796 - 01/23/14 02:10 PM

Jon,

Glad to see you got plenty of responses to your questions. Now I'm going to suggest a course that diverges from much of what has been offered so far. I think, since you are leaning toward using your 600mm lens for the time being, that you should consider getting a ZEQ25GT mount for a starter. You can easily mount your camera and lens on one, and you can add a side-by-side mount to carry a guider setup, and still be under the weight limit for the mount. I'm using one with a 400mm 2.8 lens (12 lbs) and a side-by-side guider setup, and my total payload is 21 lbs.

The reason I make this suggestion is that it will work with your gear, is a much less expensive starting point, and is easily transported. And, most importantly, you can begin the learning curve of image acquisition and processing now, while continuing to save for your dream setup. The mount is inexpensive enough that when you are ready for your next step, you can either sell it or keep and not have too much loss, while gaining all the experience needed to better decide what you want most.

You may end up deciding you really want the ability to go deep, and will need a big scope and mount to do it, regardless of transportability. Or you may find you love staying on the lighter wider field end of things, and won't need to spend so much. Getting what is a comparatively modest mount now is sort of the baby steps approach. But I suspect you're gonna catch the bug even worse as you go, and you'll find yourself the owner of several mounts and OTA setups covering many possible scenarios.

Also, for you image acquisition, look at APT - Astro Photography Tool. It's excellent, and Ivo, the developer, is constantly working on adding features.

Have fun with your decision making, I'm sure you're getting plenty to consider.

Charles


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6330799 - 01/23/14 02:12 PM

Quote:


No one in their right mind buys a Canon super for astro primarily




Hey, are you saying I'm a bit kuckoo? That's exactly what I did when I got the brand new 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM II.

I also did another review Dr. Samir comparing the TV60is with a Canon lens. The lens performed very well.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330853 - 01/23/14 02:39 PM

Quote:

What you have learned in daylight will not help you. At all.




+1 This is an important hard truth about photography vs. astrophotography


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330855 - 01/23/14 02:41 PM

Quote:

Quote:


No one in their right mind buys a Canon super for astro primarily








Oh, oh.

Sorry, Hilmi, but this is gonn'a hurt.

In Canon language, "The Super Telephotos" are:

1/ 300/f.8
2/ 400/4 DO
3/ 400/2.8
4/ 500/4
5/ 600/4
6/ 800/5.6

Let's not even "go there" with the legendary, oft talked about but very seldom seen, and long discontinued, 1200/5.6.

Zooms are not admitted to the "Canon Super" roster. The 300/2.8 is sometimes admitted to the Super Club as the baby. Sometimes it is slighted.

Source? EF Lenswork III "The Eyes of EOS," Canon Inc. Lens Product Group, 2003, pp. 68ff

The word "super" appears in the description of all the above lenses, except, the 300/2.8. These are the only lenses Canon themselves describe as "super."

Lenswork III is now available online although the page numbers do not agree with my print version.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gary-sue69
sage
*****

Reged: 07/19/07

Loc: Maybee MI.
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6330873 - 01/23/14 02:51 PM

I have been using a mallincam for 10 yrs. I started out with a mallincam hyper plus which could not be controlled by computer it had to be manually adjusted. the integration on all the new ones can be adjusted by computer. the mallincam works great for dso. It works well with planets and the sun. and it comes with free software to operate it. to see what it can do, go to night skies network online. most of the people on there use mallincams, but some use different kinds. it is free and you can see what they are viewing, plus if you login (free), you can ask questions about their equipment and experiences. it is a great place for information. you can shop for used astronomy equipment at cloudy nights (free) and astromart (small fee).

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6330884 - 01/23/14 02:58 PM

Cropping in Astrophotogaphy is from your system not being able to get more of the field. Typically, the problem is insufficient field and you are really trying to use the corners. Look at the sky. Look how big the moon looks. Imagine something 6 moon across as your subject (3°), and you'll see what I am getting at. This is why Astro Physics, TEC, and Tak astrographs are made to support detectors in the 90mm diagonal class- people are trying to get big, bright, fields of view.

Keep an open mind, and realize you will never, ever, feel like you have mastered astrophotography. Your only hope is to have photos you look at and realize what you should have done to get a better result, but other people will think look pretty nice.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6331235 - 01/23/14 06:50 PM

1) you can find a Mach1 or AP900 by putting a "want" ad in Astromart. You'll probably get a few responses within a week. Buy used, and you'll have no value loss if you have to sell out (there is a bit of value loss if you buy new and resell).

2) I know someone who owns a Mach1 and a ZEQ25. And the ZEQ25 gets far more sky time. This is because the Mach1, even though it's lighter than the CGEM or EQ6 class, is still quite large and bulky (30lb for the head, another 20lb for counterweights, plus a tripod...) compared to under 15lb for a ZEQ25 and tripod.

The CEM60 is.. interesting. The encoder version is $4000, IMHO not worth the savings over the tried-and-true Mach1. The non-encoder version is around $2500 and boasts CGE Pro-class performance. But it's too new and there are none floating about. It is also Chinese. That means depreciation will be huge if you resell. And, nothing against the Chinese, but the best astro gear doesn't come from China, whether telescopes or mounts.

I'm actually looking at the ZEQ25 myself.. because the Mach1 (for all it being the smallest AP mount) is still a handful - meaning setting it up is still a deliberate process that takes 30 minutes to an hour (not including the transport or driving time!)

Trouble is the Mach1's mechanical perfection has got me spoiled that I'm not sure I want another China mount. Something like the Takahashi P2Z would be perfect as a portable mount, except they are long discontinued.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6331286 - 01/23/14 07:10 PM

You can also buy a Takahashi NJP for $4500 used. Don't bother buying new, they are discontinued and the replacement (Takahashi EM400) costs more than an AP1100.

There is one on astromart right now. But they are rarer than Mach1's. They carry 70lb so a good deal more than the Mach1. But - they don't have an alphanumeric handpad, so to command GoTo's you need a computer (or tablet). Still, a small price to pay considering they go for less money than the Mach1 and carry a good deal more.

The NJP is quite heavy though, and unlike the 900 and 1100 does not split into two pieces for easier transport.

Overall - since the OP can afford a $12K lens, I'm in the camp that he should buy the best thing and avoid headaches and money loss down the road. And for me that's Astro-Physics or Takahashi (or even perhaps 10Micron). The Software Bisque mounts require a PC all the time. Not conducive to "casual" imaging sessions with just the DSLR and no computer.

EDIT: I thought of a funny analogy that encapsulates my experience with premium/non-premium mounts..

Mach1/Tak/SB/10Micron - Canon L glass
Losmandy - Tamron SP
iOptron CEM60 - Sigma
CGEM - no-name mirror lens

All of them will get that bird-in-flight shot. But you can figure out how many will be sharp (and how sharp)..

but even the CGEM will produce amazing images. You just don't see all the effort that happened before that image was captured.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6331533 - 01/23/14 09:45 PM Attachment (15 downloads)

Quote:

Quote:

if I recall correctly, you said you do not have a lot of time to do AP processing. Mallincam has 2 cameras you might be interested in. Mallincam extreme ex which takes live color video images that you can share online or at star parties. you can 'stack' those to create a photo. or Mallincam universe which is made for AP work but can be used for video as well.




Hmm, good point. I am honestly not sure whether to call the time I have a little, normal, or a lot. I figure I can spend a few hours a night once or twice a week on average doing astroimaging. Relative to the kind of time I used to have, that's a lot! However, relative to some of the astrophotographers I follow, who often seem to spend multiple nights imaging the same objects for grand total exposure times in the realm of 8, 12, 15 hours...on top of the travel time to get to and from their dark sky site, etc. It seems like I don't really have all that much time for astrophotography.

I suspect there will be a few times a year where I could spend several nights in a row imaging some selected DSO. I certainly hope so, at least, but in a weekly basis, maybe a few hours a night two nights a week.

Anyway, I'll check out Mallincam! Sounds a bit like planetary imaging with a webcam sensor? Does that work well for DSO imaging?





After a long day of work, I finally get a chance to respond! I have the Mallincam X2 and love it! It is the perfect complement to my Canon 60Da and future SBIG camera. It has NUMEROUS uses for me. One thing that is for certain - you can get by with a much cheaper mount if you go purely MallinCam Extreme or X2, lol.

Here are my key uses:

* When aligning my mount, I don't peak through a reticle - I just put the Mallicam where the eyepiece would be and I use the crosshairs on my MallinCam display on my laptop. Very easy to center things on a big, 17" laptop screen and my very light weight MacBook Air!
* When running dual OTAs (80mm and 14" ACF) the MallinCam is on one OTA and the Canon is on the other (depending on what I am taking a picture of). Between the live view on the Canon and the MallinCam view, it allows me to frame my pictures.
* The MallinCam is best for DSOs. I don't bother with it for planets or Solar views - I use the Canon for that. Does the MallinCam provide the ultimate in DSO images? Nope. Do you see a DSO in color in as little as 3 seconds? Yep! No faint fuzzes, averting vision or all that. I even had a nice view of the Horsehead Nebula in 60 secs! The Ring Nebula - 3 seconds! For most of the faint fuzzies I go purely Mallicam.
* BTW the live view on my Canon on the laptop shows excellent views of the planets, live, in a much higher resolution.
* NOTE - with the Mallincam, if things are aligned well you really will not need to guide. Just get the mount aligned very well. Hence I have seen some cool stuff even using my little ol' LXD75.
* The MallinCam also allows me to gauge how long my exposures will approximately be on my Canon, depending on the ISO. For example, I found if I was going 60 sec on the Horsehead with the MallinCam, my exposures were at least 10 min with the Canon 60Da at ISO800.
* For outreach the MallinCam is the only way to go. Looking through an eyepiece at the planets and M13 are really cool. Everything else - you will bore your audience, especially when asking them to advert their vision and to look real closely to get a hint of something. A cool, nearly live view of a DSO in color - you will always win your audience, and teach them something too.
* Bonus points - my video feed from the MallinCam is shared by single click to all the Macintoshes in my home and my AppleTV (heck across the internet even). No fuss, no muss.

Video astronomy is NOT to be confused with the spectacular detailed images you see astrophotographers can do and some of us aspire to do some day. BUT, cameras like the MallinCam will take you out of the faint fuzzy mode very quickly, and it is just cool to just kick back and scan the heavens and look at things.

Attached is a sample screen shot to give you an idea on video astronomy using M42. Here you will see the MallinCam Control view (f/4 on the 14" ACF), the Canon live view, and the prior image taken of M42 ( at f/6 on the 80mm APO) from the Canon. In the background is SkySafari from which I control the LX850 wirelessly. Yes, I am in the home, nice and warm remotely viewing the information from the LX850 which is outdoors (I believe the temps were in the low 20s outside). Oh, this image was taken in a suburban neighborhood of about 85,000 folks next to Albuquerque (big city). Yes, you can see cool DSOs IN THE CITY! Of course it helps being at over 5,000' and a dry climate. Needless to say, you won't always need to go up an 11,000' mountain with your mount.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6331544 - 01/23/14 09:56 PM

Quote:

Cropping in Astrophotogaphy is from your system not being able to get more of the field. Typically, the problem is insufficient field and you are really trying to use the corners. Look at the sky. Look how big the moon looks. Imagine something 6 moon across as your subject (3°), and you'll see what I am getting at. This is why Astro Physics, TEC, and Tak astrographs are made to support detectors in the 90mm diagonal class- people are trying to get big, bright, fields of view.

Keep an open mind, and realize you will never, ever, feel like you have mastered astrophotography. Your only hope is to have photos you look at and realize what you should have done to get a better result, but other people will think look pretty nice.

-Rich





I 100% second Rich's comments.

Let me add - I am always experimenting and trying to learn taking the best photo. Mount, optics, weather conditions, how much sleep I got, hunger level and ALL the nuances of imaging software (an art form in it of itself) play a roll. I am improving, feeling good about my progress but there is the drive for doing better. I feel I have a looooong ways to go. On the other hand, all my friends, family, co-workers and even strangers totally love my pictures. When I put a picture onto instagram with its predefined filters? Everyone loves it even more, even though it looks a funky to me.

Moral of the story? The simple things can please people.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
guyroch
Vendor (BackyardEOS)
*****

Reged: 01/22/08

Loc: Under the clouds!
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6331709 - 01/24/14 12:02 AM

Quote:

Overall - since the OP can afford a $12K lens, I'm in the camp that he should buy the best thing and avoid headaches and money loss down the road.




And that tells me the OP already knows how the mount is important

Guylain


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6331780 - 01/24/14 01:08 AM

Thanks, everyone, for all your responses! This has been extremely helpful. I still look forward to more responses and discussion, but I do think I have a much more refined opinion of what kind of mount I NEED, WANT, and what will BEST SERVE ME for the PRICE.

Here is my short list:

1. AP Mach1GTO
2. iOptron CEM60 (w/ encoder?)
3. Paramount MX
4. iOptron ZEQ25GT w/ Case & Tripod

I'll have to check out the cost of the Mach1. I suspect that I'll buy one at some point regardless, there has been too many good things said about it on these forums by everyone.

I would like to know a bit more about the iOptron CEM60. They call it a center-balanced equatorial mount...I'm curious how that is different from a standard equatorial mount. I am also interested in understanding more about what the encoder version of the CEM60 offers. From what I read about the AP1100GTO-AE, it has "absolute encoders", and these allow at least 10 minutes of unguided tracking. The encoders theoretically could allow longer unguided tracking, however it seems they cannot compensate for flexure and mirror movements. Does the CEM60 with encoders offer something similar? Does the Mach1 have some kind of encoding...I couldn't tell based on AP's description page. If the CEM60 offers encoding which allows unguided tracking whereas the Mach1 does not, that still seems quite intriguing to me. Especially if the CEM60 is only $4000.

Regarding the ZQE25. The price of that is pretty sweet. I suspect it would need guiding for ideal performance? What autoguider and guide scope would on recommend? One thing about iOptron...their site is terrible. They don't tell you jack about their equipment...the specifications tabs are all empty, so I don't really know how to get accurate information about either the CEM60 or the ZEQ25. Anyway, it would kind of be nice to start much cheaper, with say a ZEQ25 with my 600mm f/4 and 5D III, and spend my time learning the nuances of astrophotography and astrophotography processing itself, before I really dumped a lot of money into the mount. At $900, the ZEQ25 allows me to save a LOT of money for later on, at which point I may well just get the AP1100GTO-AE, rather than taking a much more costly "baby step" with the Mach1.

Well, anyway...thanks for all the help, guys!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6331783 - 01/24/14 01:12 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

if I recall correctly, you said you do not have a lot of time to do AP processing. Mallincam has 2 cameras you might be interested in. Mallincam extreme ex which takes live color video images that you can share online or at star parties. you can 'stack' those to create a photo. or Mallincam universe which is made for AP work but can be used for video as well.




Hmm, good point. I am honestly not sure whether to call the time I have a little, normal, or a lot. I figure I can spend a few hours a night once or twice a week on average doing astroimaging. Relative to the kind of time I used to have, that's a lot! However, relative to some of the astrophotographers I follow, who often seem to spend multiple nights imaging the same objects for grand total exposure times in the realm of 8, 12, 15 hours...on top of the travel time to get to and from their dark sky site, etc. It seems like I don't really have all that much time for astrophotography.

I suspect there will be a few times a year where I could spend several nights in a row imaging some selected DSO. I certainly hope so, at least, but in a weekly basis, maybe a few hours a night two nights a week.

Anyway, I'll check out Mallincam! Sounds a bit like planetary imaging with a webcam sensor? Does that work well for DSO imaging?





After a long day of work, I finally get a chance to respond! I have the Mallincam X2 and love it! It is the perfect complement to my Canon 60Da and future SBIG camera. It has NUMEROUS uses for me. One thing that is for certain - you can get by with a much cheaper mount if you go purely MallinCam Extreme or X2, lol.

Here are my key uses:

* When aligning my mount, I don't peak through a reticle - I just put the Mallicam where the eyepiece would be and I use the crosshairs on my MallinCam display on my laptop. Very easy to center things on a big, 17" laptop screen and my very light weight MacBook Air!
* When running dual OTAs (80mm and 14" ACF) the MallinCam is on one OTA and the Canon is on the other (depending on what I am taking a picture of). Between the live view on the Canon and the MallinCam view, it allows me to frame my pictures.
* The MallinCam is best for DSOs. I don't bother with it for planets or Solar views - I use the Canon for that. Does the MallinCam provide the ultimate in DSO images? Nope. Do you see a DSO in color in as little as 3 seconds? Yep! No faint fuzzes, averting vision or all that. I even had a nice view of the Horsehead Nebula in 60 secs! The Ring Nebula - 3 seconds! For most of the faint fuzzies I go purely Mallicam.
* BTW the live view on my Canon on the laptop shows excellent views of the planets, live, in a much higher resolution.
* NOTE - with the Mallincam, if things are aligned well you really will not need to guide. Just get the mount aligned very well. Hence I have seen some cool stuff even using my little ol' LXD75.
* The MallinCam also allows me to gauge how long my exposures will approximately be on my Canon, depending on the ISO. For example, I found if I was going 60 sec on the Horsehead with the MallinCam, my exposures were at least 10 min with the Canon 60Da at ISO800.
* For outreach the MallinCam is the only way to go. Looking through an eyepiece at the planets and M13 are really cool. Everything else - you will bore your audience, especially when asking them to advert their vision and to look real closely to get a hint of something. A cool, nearly live view of a DSO in color - you will always win your audience, and teach them something too.
* Bonus points - my video feed from the MallinCam is shared by single click to all the Macintoshes in my home and my AppleTV (heck across the internet even). No fuss, no muss.

Video astronomy is NOT to be confused with the spectacular detailed images you see astrophotographers can do and some of us aspire to do some day. BUT, cameras like the MallinCam will take you out of the faint fuzzy mode very quickly, and it is just cool to just kick back and scan the heavens and look at things.

Attached is a sample screen shot to give you an idea on video astronomy using M42. Here you will see the MallinCam Control view (f/4 on the 14" ACF), the Canon live view, and the prior image taken of M42 ( at f/6 on the 80mm APO) from the Canon. In the background is SkySafari from which I control the LX850 wirelessly. Yes, I am in the home, nice and warm remotely viewing the information from the LX850 which is outdoors (I believe the temps were in the low 20s outside). Oh, this image was taken in a suburban neighborhood of about 85,000 folks next to Albuquerque (big city). Yes, you can see cool DSOs IN THE CITY! Of course it helps being at over 5,000' and a dry climate. Needless to say, you won't always need to go up an 11,000' mountain with your mount.




So, from what I gather this is basically the pinnacle of visual observing? Sounds pretty sweet. Especially if I could wirelessly (or even wired) connect to a MallinCam from indoors or from within my vehicle if I'm out in the mountains. I already know that visual observing with smaller apertures doesn't really show you much, and that the majority of dimmer objects aren't even naked-eye visible with something even as large as a 150mm aperture. That was why I was thinking about an EdgeHD 14" before...to assist the naked-eye viewing. Even M42 looks like a big gray blob with 150mm's of aperture. MallinCam sounds like the solution, so it's definitely on my list!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: guyroch]
      #6331788 - 01/24/14 01:15 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Overall - since the OP can afford a $12K lens, I'm in the camp that he should buy the best thing and avoid headaches and money loss down the road.




And that tells me the OP already knows how the mount is important

Guylain




I knew a mount was important, just wasn't quite sure exactly how important. Affording a $12,000 lens wasn't easy, either. It took saving for a number of years. ;P I couldn't afford a $12,000 mount right now either...I would say about $7000 is my realistic limit if I buy something by summer (assuming everything else in my life goes well up through that time.) It also seems that I could easily spend more than $15,000 on a good mount, such as the AP1100GTO-AE...mount sounds amazing, I still need to determine if I should be spending that kind of money before I have solid skill as an astrophotographer. (I suspect I'm actually going to be saving money in the short term by going with either a ZEQ25GT or a CEM60-EC, so I can bank more money towards a better mount down the road.)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6331798 - 01/24/14 01:29 AM

Quote:

Thanks, everyone, for all your responses! This has been extremely helpful. I still look forward to more responses and discussion, but I do think I have a much more refined opinion of what kind of mount I NEED, WANT, and what will BEST SERVE ME for the PRICE.

Here is my short list:

1. AP Mach1GTO
2. iOptron CEM60 (w/ encoder?)
3. Paramount MX
4. iOptron ZEQ25GT w/ Case & Tripod

I'll have to check out the cost of the Mach1. I suspect that I'll buy one at some point regardless, there has been too many good things said about it on these forums by everyone.

I would like to know a bit more about the iOptron CEM60. They call it a center-balanced equatorial mount...I'm curious how that is different from a standard equatorial mount. I am also interested in understanding more about what the encoder version of the CEM60 offers. From what I read about the AP1100GTO-AE, it has "absolute encoders", and these allow at least 10 minutes of unguided tracking. The encoders theoretically could allow longer unguided tracking, however it seems they cannot compensate for flexure and mirror movements. Does the CEM60 with encoders offer something similar? Does the Mach1 have some kind of encoding...I couldn't tell based on AP's description page. If the CEM60 offers encoding which allows unguided tracking whereas the Mach1 does not, that still seems quite intriguing to me. Especially if the CEM60 is only $4000.

Regarding the ZQE25. The price of that is pretty sweet. I suspect it would need guiding for ideal performance? What autoguider and guide scope would on recommend? One thing about iOptron...their site is terrible. They don't tell you jack about their equipment...the specifications tabs are all empty, so I don't really know how to get accurate information about either the CEM60 or the ZEQ25. Anyway, it would kind of be nice to start much cheaper, with say a ZEQ25 with my 600mm f/4 and 5D III, and spend my time learning the nuances of astrophotography and astrophotography processing itself, before I really dumped a lot of money into the mount. At $900, the ZEQ25 allows me to save a LOT of money for later on, at which point I may well just get the AP1100GTO-AE, rather than taking a much more costly "baby step" with the Mach1.

Well, anyway...thanks for all the help, guys!




I would easily put the Paramount MX ahead of the CEM60. CEM60 is brand new - so new it is not out there yet, and of course no objective user field reports are out there. It looks promising, but understand it is new - and in a very different league than the Mach1GTO and MX.

I did look at the ZEQ25 for my portable grab and go mount. I went back and forth on it. But since my primary AP mount is the LX850, I just needed a mount for primarily visual, portable, fun and light duty AP. I came across an excellent used LXD75 and I decided to go with that. It has traveled very well for many thousands of miles all over the United States including Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, Michigan and Virginia to name a few spots in addition to New Mexico. In less than a year it has covered over 10,000 miles on the road and does remarkably well supporting my 80mm and 130mm APOs. And with average alignment I have gotten 90 sec unguided subs. It is a fun mount.

I could see going with the Mach1GTO AND maybe the ZEQ25, LXD75 (used only), or the SkyTracker. A good one two punch.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6331804 - 01/24/14 01:35 AM

Hmm, updating my list:

1a. AP Mach1 GTO
1b. 10Micron 1100 HPS
2. iOptron CEM60 w/ encoder
3. Paramount MX
4. iOptron ZEQ25GT w/ 'pod and case

I did not realize it before, that the 10Micron 1100 HPS also has encoders. It seems that it has absolute encoders built in for both RA and DEC, and it is cheaper than the AP1100GTO-AE (by a lot). I really like the idea of these high precision encoders and unguided tracking. Again, not sure that I should *start out* with such a high end mount. I think, as much as just want to buy ONE mount and leave it at that, I would be better served learning the nuances of astrophotography first. That basically makes my "realistic" list the following:

1. iOptron CEM60 w/ encoder
2. iOptron ZEQ25GT w/ 'pod and case

Regarding tripods, is there a recommendation there? It doesn't seem like the iOptron CEM60 comes with the pod, just the mount. It sounds like tripods may be as diverse as the mounts themselves. I understand that you want the pod to be as stable as possible...something like 2" steep tubing. Are there any recommendations as to what tripod one should pair with any of the above mounts?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6331806 - 01/24/14 01:40 AM Attachment (16 downloads)

Quote:

...

So, from what I gather this is basically the pinnacle of visual observing? Sounds pretty sweet. Especially if I could wirelessly (or even wired) connect to a MallinCam from indoors or from within my vehicle if I'm out in the mountains. I already know that visual observing with smaller apertures doesn't really show you much, and that the majority of dimmer objects aren't even naked-eye visible with something even as large as a 150mm aperture. That was why I was thinking about an EdgeHD 14" before...to assist the naked-eye viewing. Even M42 looks like a big gray blob with 150mm's of aperture. MallinCam sounds like the solution, so it's definitely on my list!




To give you another idea on the MallinCam. Here is a picture of M27, the Dumbbell Nebula, raw, no field flattener, taken in an urban, damp location in Michigan via a 130mm APO (think small aperture compared to the 14") on an LXD75 mount. Note, this is a 4 second exposure from a smaller OTA - and you can see detail and color in the object. I could have tweaked the image more, played with the settings more (which is the fun in owning a MallinCam), but at 92% humidity I was hitting my limit. Still, this was the image I saw streaming on my laptop.

No need to worry about guiding here with your mount, let alone PE, lol! ANY basic mount with accurate RA tracking will be sufficient. Yes Mach1GTO (and my LX850) are extreme overkill for the MallinCam, but whatever! The key is you can do observing in the mountains - or a fun night at home, local school, work, etc.

P.S. - I am very sure some folks have amazing MallinCam screen shots. This just gives you a taste what you can see quite quickly on your laptop or TV monitor. You and your guests will love it!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6331816 - 01/24/14 01:47 AM

Quote:

Quote:

...

So, from what I gather this is basically the pinnacle of visual observing? Sounds pretty sweet. Especially if I could wirelessly (or even wired) connect to a MallinCam from indoors or from within my vehicle if I'm out in the mountains. I already know that visual observing with smaller apertures doesn't really show you much, and that the majority of dimmer objects aren't even naked-eye visible with something even as large as a 150mm aperture. That was why I was thinking about an EdgeHD 14" before...to assist the naked-eye viewing. Even M42 looks like a big gray blob with 150mm's of aperture. MallinCam sounds like the solution, so it's definitely on my list!




To give you another idea on the MallinCam. Here is a picture of M27, the Dumbbell Nebula, raw, no field flattener, taken in an urban, damp location in Michigan via a 130mm APO (think small aperture compared to the 14") on an LXD75 mount. Note, this is a 4 second exposure from a smaller OTA - and you can see detail and color in the object. I could have tweaked the image more, played with the settings more (which is the fun in owning a MallinCam), but at 92% humidity I was hitting my limit. Still, this was the image I saw streaming on my laptop.

No need to worry about guiding here with your mount, let alone PE, lol! ANY basic mount with accurate RA tracking will be sufficient. Yes Mach1GTO (and my LX850) are extreme overkill for the MallinCam, but whatever! The key is you can do observing in the mountains - or a fun night at home, local school, work, etc.

P.S. - I am very sure some folks have amazing MallinCam screen shots. This just gives you a taste what you can see quite quickly on your laptop or TV monitor. You and your guests will love it!




Do you use some kind of LPR filter when you image from home? There is no way I'd be able to see Dumbbell Nebula from my home...LP is too high. Or is it that MallinCam's software is eliminating the LP for you?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6331818 - 01/24/14 01:49 AM

Losmandy Folding HD tripod. It was originally designed to mount a jumbo jet on display in a museum but they decided it was overkill for that purpose.

Joking aside, it is as solid as they get and it splits into 4 pieces for transportation. Down side is that it is very very heavy and is bulky to transport even when disassembled.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6331836 - 01/24/14 02:03 AM

Quote:

Losmandy Folding HD tripod. It was originally designed to mount a jumbo jet on display in a museum but they decided it was overkill for that purpose.

Joking aside, it is as solid as they get and it splits into 4 pieces for transportation. Down side is that it is very very heavy and is bulky to transport even when disassembled.




LOL. Yeah, that thing looks like a beast. It's on the list. I think for a starting setup, I'm going to try to find a more portable rig. For the next couple of years at least, my only source for dark skies will be a one to two hour trip away. Big, heavy duty mounts...well, as Starhawk's signature says: "I lost count of my scopes. Now I just want mobility." What's a sturdy but effectively mobile tripod that would handle being hauled out a couple/few times a week for a drive to a distant dark sky site, set up with a similarly mobile mount, without a lot of weight and hassle? It doesn't and really shouldn't be the lightest tripod out there...but also not the heaviest.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6331865 - 01/24/14 02:56 AM

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=DSLR&N...

Here is mobility. Wont handle you 600mm lens but will give amazing result with up to 200mm lens. You will be seriously impressed how much you can achieve with how little effort with this baby

Inthat discuaaion you willfind a sample picture I tookwith this setup at 150 mm

Edited by Hilmi (01/24/14 02:59 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6331907 - 01/24/14 04:14 AM

The CEM60 has a relative encoder on RA only. Gives it allegedly sub 1" periodic error.

The Mach1 can get sub 1" periodic error with a good PEM training. In both cases low periodic error will not let you go unguided for >10 minutes due to flexure. I would say the 10micron 1000 is a good alternative as it has dual absolute encoders.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6331927 - 01/24/14 04:42 AM

Quote:

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=DSLR&N...

Here is mobility. Wont handle you 600mm lens but will give amazing result with up to 200mm lens. You will be seriously impressed how much you can achieve with how little effort with this baby

Inthat discuaaion you willfind a sample picture I tookwith this setup at 150 mm




Oh yeah, I've looked at Polari before. Seems very similar to iOptron SkyTracker as well, which I also considered. Decided against getting one, as I wanted to use a larger scope with a larger aperture.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6331928 - 01/24/14 04:46 AM

Quote:

The CEM60 has a relative encoder on RA only. Gives it allegedly sub 1" periodic error.

The Mach1 can get sub 1" periodic error with a good PEM training. In both cases low periodic error will not let you go unguided for >10 minutes due to flexure. I would say the 10micron 1000 is a good alternative as it has dual absolute encoders.




Yeah, the 10Micron 1000 sounds pretty impressive, especially for the price. Now, quick question regarding tracking times. How often do you actually need to expose for more than 600 seconds? Wouldn't you normally take multiple 600 second (or even shorter) exposures and integrate, rather than trying to take longer exposures? So long as you aren't exposing consistently for more than 600 seconds, unguided performance with absolute encoding should support hours of photography over multiple 600-second frames, right? Or is the error involved in unguided tracking eventually enough to result in problems, even for separate integrated frames?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6331948 - 01/24/14 05:18 AM

Quote:

10Micron 1000 sounds pretty impressive




I have one and yes its very very impressive.

Other things you could put here re its "impressive" list is it does dual axis unguided tracking (I've gone to 10 minutes and haven't dropped frames due to tracking issues in 6 months use) , its doesn't need PEC training (does it for itself - sub 1") and given it uses built in absolute encoders it doesn't loose its sky pointing position even when the mount is turned off and you have undone the clutches and moved the OTA. Oh and its completely standalone - can be run without additional computer/software. Setup only requires an astrometric eyepiece (+ barlow) to centre stars and pointing model and PA alignment is better than 20" with only 30 minutes work iterating the pointing model builder and PA adjustments. And its portable. 25Kg loading for imaging.

Yeah - I'm impressed

For AP reference: "First light" test image - 8 minute unguided subs http://astrob.in/full/67937/0/ of 10th mag comet (detail on Technical Card - link at top right). This unguided sample isn't a test so everything exposure wise was matched up for the specfic target http://astrob.in/full/65740/0/

Quote:

How often do you actually need to expose for more than 600 seconds?




Sometimes when you are doing narrow band imaging with not-so-fast optics - depends on target. Or shooting something that is incredibly dim.

Quote:

So long as you aren't exposing consistently for more than 600 seconds, unguided performance with absolute encoding should support hours of photography over multiple 600-second frames, right?




Right - I've not lost a frame to unguided tracking issues in 6 months use. That is up to 600s frames (my skies are too bright for longer so I've not tried, but I've heard that others are having success to 20 minutes). Also depends on OTA focal length of course. This is with dual axis tracking on.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
GIR
super member


Reged: 01/02/10

Loc: Finland
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6331997 - 01/24/14 06:25 AM

Quote:



Quote:

How often do you actually need to expose for more than 600 seconds?




Sometimes when you are doing narrow band imaging with not-so-fast optics - depends on target. Or shooting something that is incredibly dim.

Quote:

So long as you aren't exposing consistently for more than 600 seconds, unguided performance with absolute encoding should support hours of photography over multiple 600-second frames, right?




Right - I've not lost a frame to unguided tracking issues in 6 months use. That is up to 600s frames (my skies are too bright for longer so I've not tried, but I've heard that others are having success to 20 minutes). Also depends on OTA focal length of course. This is with dual axis tracking on.




Most of my photos are narrow band and all exposures for them are 20 min unguided.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: GIR]
      #6332008 - 01/24/14 06:46 AM

Ah, yeah, for narrow band exposures it makes sense they would be longer. I assume it is still possible to plug an autoguider into the 10Micron 1000 if you needed it?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
guyroch
Vendor (BackyardEOS)
*****

Reged: 01/22/08

Loc: Under the clouds!
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6332086 - 01/24/14 08:23 AM

Quote:

Ah, yeah, for narrow band exposures it makes sense they would be longer. I assume it is still possible to plug an autoguider into the 10Micron 1000 if you needed it?




Yes, the 10Micron line up all have a ST4 port.

I just placed an order for the 10Micron GM2000HPS after 3 months of research and deliberations. It was a tough decision. However, very few people regret the move to a premium mount and I sure hope I'll be one of those that don't regret the move. Like you saving for the $20k was not easy.

Good luck.

Guylain

Edited by guyroch (01/24/14 11:31 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gary-sue69
sage
*****

Reged: 07/19/07

Loc: Maybee MI.
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6332110 - 01/24/14 08:39 AM

One more thing. I don't use a DSLR. I am a mallincam user. BUT a fork mount like the Meade LX 600 with wedge don't have to do a meridian flip. That is why. I am going with Meade LX 600 instead of the LX 850 this time. but I am sure that some one here that doe's AP with DSLR can have more info on how thy differ doing AP. I forgot an if you want to do visual. It's a lot easier with an fork mount.

Edited by gary-sue69 (01/24/14 08:53 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gary-sue69
sage
*****

Reged: 07/19/07

Loc: Maybee MI.
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: gary-sue69]
      #6332135 - 01/24/14 09:01 AM

Just a Little more info on the Meade LX 850. http://lx850.tumblr.com/

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Per Frejvall
sage


Reged: 09/28/12

Loc: Saltsjöbaden, Sweden
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: gary-sue69]
      #6332359 - 01/24/14 11:15 AM

Quote:

don't have to do a meridian flip




I have never understood the constant fear of meridian flips that loom around the astro community Never had a problem with it myself, NEQ6 or 10Micron.

I can subscribe to the fact that GEM is not the best there is for visual, but I never do visual myself so I am not the right man to ask.

/per


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Per Frejvall]
      #6332387 - 01/24/14 11:32 AM

Quote:

Quote:

don't have to do a meridian flip




I have never understood the constant fear of meridian flips that loom around the astro community Never had a problem with it myself, NEQ6 or 10Micron.

I can subscribe to the fact that GEM is not the best there is for visual, but I never do visual myself so I am not the right man to ask.

/per





I will say I was on the fence between LX600 vs. LX850 because of the Meridian flip and visual use issue. I would go back and forth on these models. I settled on the LX850 because:

* only 10%, if that, much of my time is spent on visual. More than 70% on video and the rest on video.
* Very straight forward and easy to swap out OTAs and hang the 14" AND the 80mm AND StarLock AND all the camera equipment on one mount.
* The LX850, like all GEMS break into smaller chunks. However, lets not kid ourselves - 14" is big to haul around. I will be taking the LX850 and 14" to a Star Party in Utah for the Small Satellite Conference, however I will have paid staff helping me with the complete setup (plus two 60" displays, computers, audio, other telescopes, etc). Most people don't have staff to help with this sort of thing.

Now, I do have some Meridian flip issues on another project, so we will likely be purchasing several LX600s. But again this is for a completely different application than astrophotography.

GEM and Fork do have there place.

Back to the OPs main need - hauling up to 11k most of the time. Go with the Mach1GTO and an excellent APO, with a smaller light weight mount for simpler moments. Maybe the 10Micron GM2000HPS as backup.

Oh, for my uber-light weight mount (meaning camera and holding maybe a SkyTracker) I have a Manfrotto tripod with Manfrotto 460MG Magnesium Camera Head. Excellent combo to take up a mountain.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: guyroch]
      #6332395 - 01/24/14 11:38 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Ah, yeah, for narrow band exposures it makes sense they would be longer. I assume it is still possible to plug an autoguider into the 10Micron 1000 if you needed it?




Yes, the 10Micron line up all have a ST4 port.

I just placed an order for the 10Micron GM2000HPS after 3 months of research and deliberations. It was a tough decision. However, very few people regret the move to a premium mount and I sure hope I'll be one of those that don't regret the move. Like you saving for the $20k was not easy.

Good luck.

Guylain




Thanks, good to know the 10Micron mounts are guidable. Narrow band imaging is something I intend to get into eventually.

Yeah, I originally thought that $7000-8000 was "a lot" for a mount. That is, until this thread. I like to get good equipment, but fifteen to twenty grand is a lot of money. Even for a guy who spent twelve grand on a photography lens. It isn't easy to pull the trigger on something like that, and I waited a good while until that one phenomenal sale came along to buy the 600mm f/4 lens (It listed for $12,999 at the time, I picked it up for $10,800).

I think the 10Micron 1100 HPS has floated to the top of my list...but that won't be happening this year. I've looked at prices for it on a few sites, and it seems like after you select all the feature options, add all the various modules you want, and include a tripod...it tops $15,000. I am going to have to save a lot more money for that, almost double...so that will have to happen a couple years down the road. I think it will be either the ZEQ25GT or CEM60 this year, just so I can get the ball rolling and start DOING. Kind of tired of waiting all the time...been waiting for years to do this. No more waiting!

BTW, I've had your BackyardEOS software on my software list for a while. Looks like an amazing piece of code you've got there. I like what I've read about it. Good to know your on these forums, in case it ends up being something I use in the future. I'll know who to call!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6332430 - 01/24/14 11:52 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

don't have to do a meridian flip




I have never understood the constant fear of meridian flips that loom around the astro community Never had a problem with it myself, NEQ6 or 10Micron.

I can subscribe to the fact that GEM is not the best there is for visual, but I never do visual myself so I am not the right man to ask.

/per





I will say I was on the fence between LX600 vs. LX850 because of the Meridian flip and visual use issue. I would go back and forth on these models. I settled on the LX850 because:

* only 10%, if that, much of my time is spent on visual. More than 70% on video and the rest on video.
* Very straight forward and easy to swap out OTAs and hang the 14" AND the 80mm AND StarLock AND all the camera equipment on one mount.
* The LX850, like all GEMS break into smaller chunks. However, lets not kid ourselves - 14" is big to haul around. I will be taking the LX850 and 14" to a Star Party in Utah for the Small Satellite Conference, however I will have paid staff helping me with the complete setup (plus two 60" displays, computers, audio, other telescopes, etc). Most people don't have staff to help with this sort of thing.

Now, I do have some Meridian flip issues on another project, so we will likely be purchasing several LX600s. But again this is for a completely different application than astrophotography.

GEM and Fork do have there place.





Are fork mounts on wedges good for long exposures? I thought they were largely limited to short exposure work. Also, I'm not afraid of the meridian flip. These days, it seems like most computerized EQ mounts support tracking past meridian for a good while anyways, and the only real concern with the flip is that your exposure times might run up against it. If you usually take 10 minute exposures, and your equatorial can track past meridian for up to an hour, you really have nothing to worry about, right?

Quote:


Back to the OPs main need - hauling up to 11k most of the time. Go with the Mach1GTO and an excellent APO, with a smaller light weight mount for simpler moments. Maybe the 10Micron GM2000HPS as backup.

Oh, for my uber-light weight mount (meaning camera and holding maybe a SkyTracker) I have a Manfrotto tripod with Manfrotto 460MG Magnesium Camera Head. Excellent combo to take up a mountain.




The 10Micron GM2000HPS is like twenty grand, no? At least, on Deep Space Products I configured a GM2000HPS setup, and the total price came out to over 24 grand. My jaw just about dropped onto the floor. Since I've now had a chance to research all the items recommended to me on this thread, I understand that when I said I had money to spend on a mount, I did not quite realize how expensive mounts could get. I have maybe $7000-8000 to spend this year, at most. I want to get a nice high end mount. I like the fact that the 10Micron GM1000HPS has absolute encoding for both RA and Dec, but even that on Deep Space Products came out to almost $13,000 once I configured it with the features I wanted. I will have to save for longer to afford that.

In the interim, I need something that will work with guiding...I figure the Orion SSAG with 80mm scope. I still like the idea of the CEM60. I know it hasn't hit the streets yet, doesn't sound like it will until March this year. Since I don't plan to buy until summer, thats plenty of time for someone to buy one and offer their opinion on it. If all else fails, I'll just fall back on my final interim option...the ZEQ25GT, and use that until I can afford a mount that costs more than ten grand. I think the ZEQ25 would be a good mount, especially as an option for doing additional wide field and milky way tracking with my DSLR alongside a nice 10Micron setup and a proper scope for deep sky imaging.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6332438 - 01/24/14 11:54 AM

Quote:

Go with the Mach1GTO and an excellent APO, with a smaller light weight mount for simpler moments. Maybe the 10Micron GM2000HPS as backup.




The 10Micron GM1000HPS is the closest match to a Mach1GTO - capacity and cost. The GM2000HPS is double the capacity and double the cost!

Quote:

I like the fact that the 10Micron GM1000HPS has absolute encoding for both RA and Dec, but even that on Deep Space Products came out to almost $13,000 once I configured it with the features I wanted. I will have to save for longer to afford that.




And thats the problem for USA based folk looking at European gear. Just doing the conversion for todays £/$ - I paid $11K for my 1000HPS (plus accessories) - so you are looking at ~$2K excess (the converse is true - AstroPhysics /Software Bisque mounts here (UK) are very expensive compared to US prices)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6332454 - 01/24/14 12:00 PM

Quote:

Quote:

10Micron 1000 sounds pretty impressive




I have one and yes its very very impressive.

Other things you could put here re its "impressive" list is it does dual axis unguided tracking (I've gone to 10 minutes and haven't dropped frames due to tracking issues in 6 months use) , its doesn't need PEC training (does it for itself - sub 1") and given it uses built in absolute encoders it doesn't loose its sky pointing position even when the mount is turned off and you have undone the clutches and moved the OTA. Oh and its completely standalone - can be run without additional computer/software. Setup only requires an astrometric eyepiece (+ barlow) to centre stars and pointing model and PA alignment is better than 20" with only 30 minutes work iterating the pointing model builder and PA adjustments. And its portable. 25Kg loading for imaging.

Yeah - I'm impressed

For AP reference: "First light" test image - 8 minute unguided subs http://astrob.in/full/67937/0/ of 10th mag comet (detail on Technical Card - link at top right). This unguided sample isn't a test so everything exposure wise was matched up for the specfic target http://astrob.in/full/65740/0/





Thanks for the insight! I know everyone raves about the AP Mach1GTO, but from a specs standpoint, the 10Micron GM1000HPS seems just as good, if not a little better (thanks to the dual axis absolute encoding). I don't know how much declination tracking you need in a night, I suspect you might need a little. Anyway, I'm pretty impressed with what I've read about the 10Micron mount so far.

Great image of Lovejoy. That was a great backup comet to ISON (which...wow, what an epic FLOP from a naked-eye object standpoint! That puppy was way overhyped by the media.) I was able to observe Lovejoy until only a couple weeks ago...tail and all. It seems it's finally faded beyond even the reach of my DSLR now.

Quote:


Quote:

How often do you actually need to expose for more than 600 seconds?




Sometimes when you are doing narrow band imaging with not-so-fast optics - depends on target. Or shooting something that is incredibly dim.

Quote:

So long as you aren't exposing consistently for more than 600 seconds, unguided performance with absolute encoding should support hours of photography over multiple 600-second frames, right?




Right - I've not lost a frame to unguided tracking issues in 6 months use. That is up to 600s frames (my skies are too bright for longer so I've not tried, but I've heard that others are having success to 20 minutes). Also depends on OTA focal length of course. This is with dual axis tracking on.




Out of curiosity, how bright are your skies? Are we talking rural dark, or brighter than that?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6332473 - 01/24/14 12:09 PM

Quote:

Out of curiosity, how bright are your skies? Are we talking rural dark, or brighter than that?




UK Rural dark - you can't get far enough away from any town or city. Overhead my SQM measures between 20.80 to 21.00 depending on humidity. I have moderate poor east and very poor southern skies due to a town (Ripon - 5 miles away - east) and a cluster of 3 cities (Harrogate, Leeds, Bradford 20 - 30 miles away - south). West is very dark but has hills - with clouds most times.

Quote:

I don't know how much declination tracking you need in a night, I suspect you might need a little.




Actually field rotation eventually gets you - thats mainly a function of your PA error and where in the sky you are shooting (worse overhead). This is regardless of accurate RA/DEC tracking. Anyway I haven't tried pushing the gear that far so have no experience of when it starts to bite (I shoot at ~600mm and a pixel resolution of ~2 arc secs - not too taxing for the mount TBF)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6332502 - 01/24/14 12:23 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Out of curiosity, how bright are your skies? Are we talking rural dark, or brighter than that?




UK Rural dark - you can't get far enough away from any town or city. Overhead my SQM measures between 20.80 to 21.00 depending on humidity. I have moderate poor east and very poor southern skies due to a town (Ripon - 5 miles away - east) and a cluster of 3 cities (Harrogate, Leeds, Bradford 20 - 30 miles away - south). West is very dark but has hills - with clouds most times.




Gocha. Thats similar to what I have if I drive about 50-60 miles out. If I am willing to drive two hours or so, I can find exceptionally dark skies where even airglow is visible at times, but I figure most of the time I'll be under rural dark. Good to know that I could still get 10 minute exposures under rural dark skies.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6332937 - 01/24/14 03:11 PM

Ok, so now the sleeping dragon on this pile of gold- if you're in Colorado, the transparency is likely beautiful. The darkness can be found. But the jet stream dead overhead is going to limit your resolution.

So, going with something like an APO or staying at short focal lengths is a likely path to success. Long focal lengths are likely a path to frustration.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6333577 - 01/24/14 08:19 PM

Quote:

Ok, so now the sleeping dragon on this pile of gold- if you're in Colorado, the transparency is likely beautiful. The darkness can be found. But the jet stream dead overhead is going to limit your resolution.

So, going with something like an APO or staying at short focal lengths is a likely path to success. Long focal lengths are likely a path to frustration.

-Rich




Hmm, interesting point about the jet stream. Seeing here is usually not the greatest. It clears up periodically, but when its bad, it's REALLY bad. It can be so bad the moon and planets look like they are under water. I always wondered why...jet stream, bah.

I do try to keep an eye out for the clear nights where seeing is good. It is usually rated between "poor" and "average" according to cleardarksky.com. It is sometimes excellent...I managed to capture the moon on a recent excellent night in December. Sharpest moon I've ever shot...probably will remain the sharpest moon I've ever shot for a while.

So yeah...I might sit on my pile of gold for a while. :P Just get something to get me going (CEM60?), let 600mm be my longest focal length and settle for wider field work.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6333730 - 01/24/14 10:03 PM

@Starhawk: WOW. This post from you a few months ago, has completely sold me on the 10Micron GM1000HPS over the AP Mach1GTO:

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Number/6139215

EXCELLENT observations! Really glad you posted that.

I got some info in private messages from someone as well. Seems I still have some evaluating to do. Not real sure about the iOptron mounts now...they use a different kind of dovetail? Anyway, CGEM DX is back in the mix for a midrange interim mount until I an afford the 10Micron. Everything I read just has me leaning towards the GM1000HPS for "THE" mount in the long run...it just sounds like a beautiful feat of engineering.

Does anyone have any insight into what I would need to mount my 600mm lens on any mount? And, for that matter, once I get the lens mounted as a telescope, how do I attach a guide scope and autoguider to it? I figure I'll start with an Orion SSAG and an 80mm scope for autoguiding, using PHD as the guiding software. Are there any pre-made things that will allow me to mount the Orion scope + SSAG (and, for that matter, what about a finder scope or red dot? Do I need that, or once I polar align, is having planetarium software enough?)

Edited by Jon Rista (01/24/14 10:05 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6333807 - 01/24/14 11:02 PM Attachment (5 downloads)

Quote:


Does anyone have any insight into what I would need to mount my 600mm lens on any mount? And, for that matter, once I get the lens mounted as a telescope, how do I attach a guide scope and autoguider to it?




I fatutsed about a long while mounting the 600/4. Rigid, non-adjustable Parallax Rings were the final solution. Not cheap. Mount a mini guider on the bridge between the rings. Don't even think about just using the mounting foot alone! The heavy front element will wobble about as the mount tracks and cause problems. The front MUST be supported. You can guess how I discovered this.
Expect about $400 for the custom rings and at least that much more for a mini guide 'scope and guide camera. Probably more like $800 for a mini guide kit like this one from SBIG. The price in the link does not include a guide camera. You will probably try to do this cheaper. I know I did. Wasted a lot of time and $$$ before "doing it right." Save yourself the aggravation. It's a hugely expensive lens and can do a great job for you but the astro community do not offer "off the shelf" mounting solutions for these behemoths. Joe Nastasi at Parallax can do the rings but will need measurements from you to do so. The new 600 you have is different from my older EF600 f/4.0L IS. You will need different size rings.

I tried a tandem plate with a larger guide 'scope. Had flex though and was a nightmare to balance unless you have a premium mount that is not especially sensitive to balance. It was about as elegant as a bag full of hammers.

It should not be necessary but bear in mind that you can not OAG Canon lenses. There just is not enough back focus to do it. I had a flex problem and wanted to try OAG. It just can't be done apparently.

Edited by dawziecat (01/24/14 11:20 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6333867 - 01/24/14 11:25 PM

Quote:

Quote:


Does anyone have any insight into what I would need to mount my 600mm lens on any mount? And, for that matter, once I get the lens mounted as a telescope, how do I attach a guide scope and autoguider to it?




I fatutsed about a long while mounting the 600/4. Rigid, non-adjustable Parallax Rings were the final solution. Not cheap. Mount a mini guider on the bridge between the rings. Don't even think about just using the mounting foot alone! The heavy front element will wobble about as the mount tracks and cause problems. The front MUST be supported. You can guess how I discovered this.
Expect about $400 for the custom rings and at least that much more for a mini guide 'scope and guide camera. Probably more like $800 for a mini guide kit like this one from SBIG. The price in the link does not include a guide camera. You will probably try to do this cheaper. I know I did. Wasted a lot of time and $$$ before "doing it right." Save yourself the aggravation. It's a hugely expensive lens and can do a great job for you but the astro community do not offer "off the shelf" mounting solutions for these behemoths. Joe Nastasi at Parallax can do the rings but will need measurements from you to do so. The new 600 you have is different from my older EF600 f/4.0L IS. You will need different size rings.

I tried a tandem plate with a larger guide 'scope. Had flex though and was a nightmare to balance unless you have a premium mount that is not especially sensitive to balance. It was about as elegant as a bag full of hammers.

It should not be necessary but bear in mind that you can not OAG Canon lenses. There just is not enough back focus to do it. I had a flex problem and wanted to try OAG. It just can't be done apparently.




Hmm, interesting. So I gather than the Orion SSAG and lens kit is too big to use with the 600mm lens? I like SBIG products, but they are indeed on the pricier side of things. So you actually had to have some custom built rings made to exactly fit the lens? And, if I understand correctly, these rings also attach to the dovetail plate for locking into the mount? You don't use the 600mm lens tripod foot at all?

Between the $400 for the rings and the $800 for the mini guider, that seems pretty expensive. What about just using one of the SBIG CCD cameras that have a built in off-axis guider? Would that work with the 600mm lens?

UPDATE: AH! Thanks for the photo! I see what your talking about how. So, the OAG is an addon to add guiding to the STF-8300. Aren't there SBIG cameras that have an extra guide CCD built right into the light path? Or do those also not work?

Edited by Jon Rista (01/24/14 11:28 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6333906 - 01/24/14 11:58 PM Attachment (11 downloads)

Quote:

...

Hmm, interesting. So I gather than the Orion SSAG and lens kit is too big to use with the 600mm lens? I like SBIG products, but they are indeed on the pricier side of things. So you actually had to have some custom built rings made to exactly fit the lens? And, if I understand correctly, these rings also attach to the dovetail plate for locking into the mount? You don't use the 600mm lens tripod foot at all?

Between the $400 for the rings and the $800 for the mini guider, that seems pretty expensive. What about just using one of the SBIG CCD cameras that have a built in off-axis guider? Would that work with the 600mm lens?

UPDATE: AH! Thanks for the photo! I see what your talking about how. So, the OAG is an addon to add guiding to the STF-8300. Aren't there SBIG cameras that have an extra guide CCD built right into the light path? Or do those also not work?





Ok, time for me to rock the boat.

So you are looking at an "interim" solution?

First off - I think you should go with the APO, especially if going all over creation.

Secondly, why cobble everything together for an interim solution? My take - just get an LX850 as your "interim" mount, especially if spending well over $10k in the final round? Key advantages:

* It really works out of the box
* You have a dual guider out of the box
* No need to purchase PHD or added mount control software. You have automatic drift alignment, high precision pointing, auto alignment, auto calibration, etc all built into the system
* Dual OTA mounting plate out of the box
* Excellent, very well built GEM mount out of the box.
* It can handle 90lbs no problem.
* You can run the cables through the mount.
* I have easily hit 15 min guided images - and it can certainly go higher, I just am hitting sky glow big time (hence why I purchased the Lumicon Deep Sky filter and will go longer on the exposure front when I get home).

You will only need an external laptop to run your camera(s).

Over time you add your AP goodies from SBIG and once you get your 10Micron GM2000 mount you can just migrate the add ons to it. You can keep the LX850 or sell it.

This approach is the no fuss/no muss method. It will literally work out of the box - no need to cobble together anything. It just works. You can get started immediately.

Here is a picture of my APO combo: 130mm APO, LX850 with StarLock side mounted, and SkyFi box (tough to see here). All the cables? Those are for three sets of camera cables and power cords where I have added some nice wire hangers on the mount to stow them when not in use (I have to clean this up a bit more). BTW, I also post this picture because I am really longing to leave Michigan and get back home to take more pictures and enjoy the sky (I am missing that freakin' supernova, grrrrrrrrrrr). I am trapped in constant cloud cover, deep cold and endless winter storms.

BTW - I am now drooling over the 10Micron GM2000 HPS too. This might be summer purchase. Interesting application on Satellite Tracking, but I am still not keen on satellite tracking with a GEM.

Edited by Spacetravelerx (01/24/14 11:59 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6333911 - 01/25/14 12:01 AM Attachment (10 downloads)

Here is the setup ready to go with the Canon 60Da. I post this because of one notable feature: CLEAR SKIES AND SUNLIGHT!!!!!!!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Skunky
sage


Reged: 09/16/13

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6333916 - 01/25/14 12:04 AM

no no no.. you don't go to a big box store to buy the best of the best of the best sir! everything is pieced together with the best of the best of the best. No one big box item has the best of the best of the best sir!



Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Skunky]
      #6333932 - 01/25/14 12:17 AM

Quote:

no no no.. you don't go to a big box store to buy the best of the best of the best sir! everything is pieced together with the best of the best of the best. No one big box item has the best of the best of the best sir!







Yes, danger does lurk when seeing the big box store. One must follow the right path to seek the best of the best even with big box or little box stores. Though when seeking the best of the best of the best of the best, something may mess up the chain yielding…*BLEEP*!

But if we follow the correct path and feel the force and let it flow through us we can obtain someday the best of the best of the best…and still to have the weather mess with and take luke warm pictures.

The quest is thus long and treacherous and brings much peril…beginning with obtaining the gold pieces to purchase the best of the best of the best…


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6333936 - 01/25/14 12:20 AM

@Spacetravelerx: I think you might be missing the point. The point with the interim solution is to spend as little as possible and still get something that will serve well enough for astrophotography that I'm not just twiddling my thumbs for another two years. The LX850 mount costs $6000 in and of itself, and some $10,000 for the whole package deal. That is still out of my budget for this year...and if I buy the $6000 mount, I still have to cobble together some way of attaching my 600mm lens to it.

Ironically, I feel I could just get the Celestron EdgeHD DX 1100 on one of those sales for $3800 bucks and be done with it for the next couple years, spending half what I had originally allocated for this year, saving the rest and banking it towards the 10Micron mount down the road. If I pick up a CGEM DX for the interim mount, spend around a grand or so on building some holding rings for my 600mm lens, spend more money cobbling together an effective guiding setup for this evolving frankenstein, and probably throw in a few other necessities here and there for good measure, I'm back up to over $3200 anyway. I think the EdgeHD 11" rig is a much better option for a few hundred bucks more, even if it is a heavier setup. Or maybe I start with an EdgeHD 9.25" instead, for even further cost savings and weight savings, and upgrade to a larger tube in the future.

It would certainly be cheaper if I went with an iOptron mount, but it seems fairly unanimous on opinion that Chinese gear doesn't really have any resell value. I did not realize iOptron was Chinese at first, but I try to spend as little money as I can on china goods in general (whole trade deficit thing, you know)...so as much as I was intrigued by the CEM60, I think that and the ZEQ25 are both out of the running. :\

In talks with a couple people in private messages, it sounds like out of the CGEM, Atlas, an iEQ45 mounts, CGEM is the better option overall as far as midrange mounts go.

Well, anyway. I have a ton of options, just gotta figure out the right one for the cheapest price point I can get away with, and still be able to do astrophotography. The point, at this point, isn't to build the best possible interim solution at any cost...it's to reduce cost as much as possible and still be able to do astrophotography, so I can save the considerable funds to buy a 10Micron mount in the future.

I've sat on my hands about astrophotography for years...it was a passion long before nature photography, and I ended up putting a lot of money into nature photography over the last several years. I really gotta get the ball moving on AP, and I honestly don't think I need to start with the best option the world has to offer for a budding amateur...I think I can get good enough results with something else for the mean time. I still have a LOT to learn about astrophotography, and I honestly don't get the feeling that using a CGEM DX will really be all that difficult. Sounds like polar aligning is relatively simple, and I have strong grasp of declination drift refinement if it needs to be done. For the GM2000HPS Ultra Portable, it's over $24,000...that is more than twice what I spent on my beautiful 600mm lens...I really can't take that lightly, and I have to carefully save for it, which could really take a few years at this point. Even the GM1000HPS is over $13,000, and that is without any nice little features like WiFi or GPS.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6333956 - 01/25/14 12:36 AM

Quote:

Aren't there SBIG cameras that have an extra guide CCD built right into the light path? Or do those also not work?




In a word, "no," they don't work with the EOS lens adapter. That adapter works only with the OSC ST/STF cameras or with the mono ST/STF with the FW5 and FW8, not the self guiding filter wheels. The self guiding ones are thicker and exceed the back focus restriction of the EOS lens mounting system. I make a bold statement . . . there is no hardware that can off axis guide a Canon EOS lens . . . period!

If anyone can inform me otherwise, I would love to hear from them.

You certainly could use an SSAG. How much money you would save over an integrated mini guider kit by going another route is doubtful in my mind though.

I tried it cheap. Had troubles and, as ever is the case, the money I tried to save evaporated when I did what had to be done to mount that heavy lens properly for astro use.
Good luck with whatever you try.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
*****

Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6333965 - 01/25/14 12:46 AM

Quote:

Aren't there SBIG cameras that have an extra guide CCD built right into the light path? Or do those also not work?




There were until recently, and they did work. Newer models use OAG to avoid issues with narrowband filters in the dual chip configuration. Look for the old ST series cameras with the round CCD housings (ST-8, ST-10, ST2000) or the STL series (STL-11000, STL-6303).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6333972 - 01/25/14 12:50 AM

Quote:

@Spacetravelerx: I think you might be missing the point. The point with the interim solution is to spend as little as possible and still get something that will serve well enough for astrophotography that I'm not just twiddling my thumbs for another two years. The LX850 mount costs $6000 in and of itself, and some $10,000 for the whole package deal. That is still out of my budget for this year...and if I buy the $6000 mount, I still have to cobble together some way of attaching my 600mm lens to it.

Ironically, I feel I could just get the Celestron EdgeHD DX 1100 on one of those sales for $3800 bucks and be done with it for the next couple years, spending half what I had originally allocated for this year, saving the rest and banking it towards the 10Micron mount down the road. If I pick up a CGEM DX for the interim mount, spend around a grand or so on building some holding rings for my 600mm lens, spend more money cobbling together an effective guiding setup for this evolving frankenstein, and probably throw in a few other necessities here and there for good measure, I'm back up to over $3200 anyway. I think the EdgeHD 11" rig is a much better option for a few hundred bucks more, even if it is a heavier setup. Or maybe I start with an EdgeHD 9.25" instead, for even further cost savings and weight savings, and upgrade to a larger tube in the future.

It would certainly be cheaper if I went with an iOptron mount, but it seems fairly unanimous on opinion that Chinese gear doesn't really have any resell value. I did not realize iOptron was Chinese at first, but I try to spend as little money as I can on china goods in general (whole trade deficit thing, you know)...so as much as I was intrigued by the CEM60, I think that and the ZEQ25 are both out of the running. :\

In talks with a couple people in private messages, it sounds like out of the CGEM, Atlas, an iEQ45 mounts, CGEM is the better option overall as far as midrange mounts go.

Well, anyway. I have a ton of options, just gotta figure out the right one for the cheapest price point I can get away with, and still be able to do astrophotography. The point, at this point, isn't to build the best possible interim solution at any cost...it's to reduce cost as much as possible and still be able to do astrophotography, so I can save the considerable funds to buy a 10Micron mount in the future.

I've sat on my hands about astrophotography for years...it was a passion long before nature photography, and I ended up putting a lot of money into nature photography over the last several years. I really gotta get the ball moving on AP, and I honestly don't think I need to start with the best option the world has to offer for a budding amateur...I think I can get good enough results with something else for the mean time. I still have a LOT to learn about astrophotography, and I honestly don't get the feeling that using a CGEM DX will really be all that difficult. Sounds like polar aligning is relatively simple, and I have strong grasp of declination drift refinement if it needs to be done. For the GM2000HPS Ultra Portable, it's over $24,000...that is more than twice what I spent on my beautiful 600mm lens...I really can't take that lightly, and I have to carefully save for it, which could really take a few years at this point. Even the GM1000HPS is over $13,000, and that is without any nice little features like WiFi or GPS.





You might get frustrated early and often if you go with the longer focal length SCTs - heed the advice on refractors. You do have a good start with the 600mm lens you have. You will certainly spend a chunk more for the software and guiding equipment beyond the baseline $3800 bucks with the C1100.

Question - you have a concern with Chinese mounts. Are not the Celestron mounts made in China? Where are the Atlas, iEQ45 mounts made?

LX850 is a little pricier however I think your frustration level will be substantially reduced for just a bit more money (and you just missed the big Meade sale on the LX850 mount). And yes, I also image with a 14" SCT, but the LX850 makes it really easy. Still, I find there are many fun things to image with the wider field APOs - and an APO is simply easier to cart around than a bigger SCT.

And yes Astrophotography is addictive, easy to take the basic images, but a long learning curve for the amazing shots. Not just the mount itself, but waiting for that good weather window, learning the software tools - oh, and plan on purchasing a few terabytes of disk storage.

Basic AP is easy and cheap to start with (the Moon, sky vistas, etc), then cool images of the planets, but the costs will be substantial depending on what you want to image. Someone here on CN did a nice table regarding cost of entry for each level of AP. I can't find it just yet, but it is not cheap. For my current setup including cameras and computers - about $20k. It can easily creep up to over $50k very quickly. Does that mean you need to spend that much for AP? It all depends as they say…


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6334000 - 01/25/14 01:10 AM

My humble opinion and I'll bow out:

You already have an excellent short focus 6 inch APO in that big Canon! Don't let anyone tell you differently! It will be touchy to focus though. You'll need a Bahtinov to do it.

Get a good mount and use it now! There was a used Mach 1 for sale on Astromart for $5,500. Hard to go wrong with that. If you decided to go further upscale in a year or three, you will not lose much money reselling it.

And consider an EF200 f/2.8L. Between those two absolutely wonderful lenses, you can image a lot of stuff.

After you've exhausted what those two lenses can do with a mono CCD, you'll be ready for a $20,000 mount and a Planewave!

But, at the moment, you don't need either . . . just a reasonably good mount.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6334023 - 01/25/14 01:32 AM

Quote:

Quote:

@Spacetravelerx: I think you might be missing the point. The point with the interim solution is to spend as little as possible and still get something that will serve well enough for astrophotography that I'm not just twiddling my thumbs for another two years. The LX850 mount costs $6000 in and of itself, and some $10,000 for the whole package deal. That is still out of my budget for this year...and if I buy the $6000 mount, I still have to cobble together some way of attaching my 600mm lens to it.

Ironically, I feel I could just get the Celestron EdgeHD DX 1100 on one of those sales for $3800 bucks and be done with it for the next couple years, spending half what I had originally allocated for this year, saving the rest and banking it towards the 10Micron mount down the road. If I pick up a CGEM DX for the interim mount, spend around a grand or so on building some holding rings for my 600mm lens, spend more money cobbling together an effective guiding setup for this evolving frankenstein, and probably throw in a few other necessities here and there for good measure, I'm back up to over $3200 anyway. I think the EdgeHD 11" rig is a much better option for a few hundred bucks more, even if it is a heavier setup. Or maybe I start with an EdgeHD 9.25" instead, for even further cost savings and weight savings, and upgrade to a larger tube in the future.

It would certainly be cheaper if I went with an iOptron mount, but it seems fairly unanimous on opinion that Chinese gear doesn't really have any resell value. I did not realize iOptron was Chinese at first, but I try to spend as little money as I can on china goods in general (whole trade deficit thing, you know)...so as much as I was intrigued by the CEM60, I think that and the ZEQ25 are both out of the running. :\

In talks with a couple people in private messages, it sounds like out of the CGEM, Atlas, an iEQ45 mounts, CGEM is the better option overall as far as midrange mounts go.

Well, anyway. I have a ton of options, just gotta figure out the right one for the cheapest price point I can get away with, and still be able to do astrophotography. The point, at this point, isn't to build the best possible interim solution at any cost...it's to reduce cost as much as possible and still be able to do astrophotography, so I can save the considerable funds to buy a 10Micron mount in the future.

I've sat on my hands about astrophotography for years...it was a passion long before nature photography, and I ended up putting a lot of money into nature photography over the last several years. I really gotta get the ball moving on AP, and I honestly don't think I need to start with the best option the world has to offer for a budding amateur...I think I can get good enough results with something else for the mean time. I still have a LOT to learn about astrophotography, and I honestly don't get the feeling that using a CGEM DX will really be all that difficult. Sounds like polar aligning is relatively simple, and I have strong grasp of declination drift refinement if it needs to be done. For the GM2000HPS Ultra Portable, it's over $24,000...that is more than twice what I spent on my beautiful 600mm lens...I really can't take that lightly, and I have to carefully save for it, which could really take a few years at this point. Even the GM1000HPS is over $13,000, and that is without any nice little features like WiFi or GPS.





You might get frustrated early and often if you go with the longer focal length SCTs - heed the advice on refractors. You do have a good start with the 600mm lens you have. You will certainly spend a chunk more for the software and guiding equipment beyond the baseline $3800 bucks with the C1100.





Well, I will be using either focal reducers hyperstar pretty exclusively if I go with the EdgeHD 1100. I don't plan on doing AP at full focal length, so I don't think that will be a huge problem. I would love to use the 600mm, but my lens is a lot more...curvy, than Terry's. I've been looking at my lens, and I suspect there would be extra cost in making some holding rings for it. The software would need to be purchased for the 600mm setup as well as the C11 setup, so I am not counting that against the EdgeHD. I found an Orion SSAG + 50mm package for around $300 online, so that isn't a big deal. I'll just shift funds from something else for that.

Quote:


Question - you have a concern with Chinese mounts. Are not the Celestron mounts made in China? Where are the Atlas, iEQ45 mounts made?





Celestron stuff is all Made in USA. That's one of the reasons I like them. Home grown. For what it's worth, Meade is also made here in the USA. I honestly don't know about Atlas or iEQ...I couldn't readily find any information about where their stuff is manufactured. As I mentioned before, though, I have a bit of an affinity for Celestron these days. If I was going to buy anything like the LX850, I would go for the Celestron CGE Pro and EdgeHD 1400 instead. Specs wise, they are pretty much identical to the LX850, and the same exact price. I also have no questions that the CGE Pro could handle the 90lb weight rating with ease.

Quote:


LX850 is a little pricier however I think your frustration level will be substantially reduced for just a bit more money (and you just missed the big Meade sale on the LX850 mount). And yes, I also image with a 14" SCT, but the LX850 makes it really easy. Still, I find there are many fun things to image with the wider field APOs - and an APO is simply easier to cart around than a bigger SCT.





Well, $10000 vs. lets say $4000 (assuming I find the C1100 and guiding stuff on good sales)...that is twice as expensive, so more than "a little pricier". ;P If I opt to go with the EdgeHD 9.25", then the price difference is even larger. Besides, at most I might be able to scrounge up $8000 for astro stuff this year...that puts me a good two grand short on the LS850 regardless, and I'm just not willing to wait any longer (nor go into debt). I'm GOING to do something for astro this year, and by the time summer starts at the latest. I've set my mind to it, it's going to happen...can't put it off any longer.

Quote:


And yes Astrophotography is addictive, easy to take the basic images, but a long learning curve for the amazing shots. Not just the mount itself, but waiting for that good weather window, learning the software tools - oh, and plan on purchasing a few terabytes of disk storage.





As a nature photographer, I understand the patience necessary. Bird and wildlife photography is all about patience as well. There are days and weeks that go by and I don't find any interesting subjects or action sequences. When there are birds and animals about, it is easy to spend a solid eight hour day waiting for the very few good moments to occur, where you finally get a handeful of good shots. In that respect, photography, day or night, is much the same. It requires a lot of patience. I'm down with patience. It's one of the good virtues.

As for computing hardware, I'm set. I have an 8Tb NetGear ReadyNAS NVX X-RAID storage device with parity. I already have about 2Tb of RAW images from my daytime photography. I have Lightroom and Photoshop already, as well as DeepSkyStacker (although probably won't keep using that), PHD, and I'll probably be adding Nebulosity 3 (or one of the other recommended software packages from this thread) along with PixInsight to the mix as well. I have a monster of a computer I built...overclocked i7 920 @ 4.35Ghz, 16Gb ram, 2x SLI 770 4Gb, uses SSD drives for boot and page, and another 7Tb of space there as well. This puppy is water cooled with a custom watercooling rig I built from high end Koolance parts (this cost $680 in and of itself). It flies like a bat out of hell when I want it to. (Like I said, I'm not afraid to spend the dough when the time comes! )

I've already done some non-tracked astrophotography. I've actually spent months last year poking around with it, and only managed to create a couple good images. I understand the nuances of fine tuning your exposures in post, extracting detail from the deepest, darkest shadows, carefully preserving the highlights, eliminating noise, all that. I've become an adjustment layer fiend just by fiddling with the rather pitiful excuses for AP imaging I've done so far. :P It's refining those skills that I'm interested in, along with learning how to do autoguiding, and learning how to use a monochrome CCD with color or narrow band filters, etc. I can learn all those little things without needing the best mount in the world, or even the best telescope and mount in the world.

I'm also not afraid of balancing the scope on the mount, or polar aligning, or refining polar alignment. Sure, that will take more time than with something like a 10Micron...but if I wait for the 10Micron...well, I'm WAITING another two to three years. Can't do that. Can't wait any more. Gotta DO SOMETHING, waiting isn't going to teach me anything, and it isn't going to help me improve and refine my skill. It may be easier with a 10Micron, but at least I'll be skill honing for the next three years, hassles and all, with something like the EdgeHD 11". (Or maybe an AT10RC or AT6RC even, doesn't necessarily have to be a Celestron OTA, I actually like the Astro-Tech offerings a lot, and would be plenty happy with one of their tubes on a CGEM DX.)

Quote:


Basic AP is easy and cheap to start with (the Moon, sky vistas, etc), then cool images of the planets, but the costs will be substantial depending on what you want to image. Someone here on CN did a nice table regarding cost of entry for each level of AP. I can't find it just yet, but it is not cheap. For my current setup including cameras and computers - about $20k. It can easily creep up to over $50k very quickly. Does that mean you need to spend that much for AP? It all depends as they say…




I'm not afraid to spend the money in the long run. I pretty much have my heart DEAD SET on a 10Micron GM1000HPS or GM 2000HPS Ultra Portable. I'm pretty enamored with those mounts...beauties if you ask me!

It's just that I am not going to wait longer in order to get the ball rolling, to do something. I'm also extremely averse to huge sums of debt. Debt is killing the world, and it will ultimately be the thing that breaks the world economies back (and God only knows what will happen after that...) I can't just dump THIRTY GRAND on a credit card and be done with it. I just can't operate that way...I gotta save for these kinds of things first, or at least save a majority of what I need, so I can pay off the bulk of that debt once I actually make the purchase. That's what I did with the 600mm...I had more than enough saved by the time I bought it, and paid the credit card off within a week of receiving the lens. I rarely have more than $2000 on credit, and four to six months of the year each year, I usually have zero debt period. I've paid off my cars, paid off all my photography gear, paid off pretty much everything but my house. It's just how I operate.

I'll buy the good stuff, eventually. I just don't have the means to buy it all right now, this year. So I gotta jump into the shallow end of the pool if I want to get started now.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Raginar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334031 - 01/25/14 01:46 AM

Pretty much nothing that Celestron or Meade makes anymore is made in the United States.

If you're trying to save up for a dream setup, I would recommend getting the following: a used CG-5, a used ED80, a mini-guider setup, and a DSLR of the Canon variety. You will spend about 1500 bucks on it, and it will teach you everything that you need to know about AP. As you're learning, you can continue to save for the 'big guns' such as an SBIG CCD, a long focal length SCT, and a 10Micron mount.

Instead of getting 'mo betta' cheap stuff, I'd go super cheap to start, and when you've saved up for the real deal in a year or two, you will have the knowledge, ability, and funds to do it right. If I could do it all over again, this is exactly what I would do.

And realize that the reason Space TravelerX is getting a little frustrated is because the vast majority of us have all gone through this and we answer these threads quite a bit. If you look through the past 3 months alone, you'll find we answer this same question over and over again . I think you'll find that the advice is fairly even.

Clear skies,


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6334036 - 01/25/14 01:50 AM

Quote:

My humble opinion and I'll bow out:

You already have an excellent short focus 6 inch APO in that big Canon! Don't let anyone tell you differently! It will be touchy to focus though. You'll need a Bahtinov to do it.

Get a good mount and use it now! There was a used Mach 1 for sale on Astromart for $5,500. Hard to go wrong with that. If you decided to go further upscale in a year or three, you will not lose much money reselling it.

And consider an EF200 f/2.8L. Between those two absolutely wonderful lenses, you can image a lot of stuff.

After you've exhausted what those two lenses can do with a mono CCD, you'll be ready for a $20,000 mount and a Planewave!

But, at the moment, you don't need either . . . just a reasonably good mount.




I plan to add the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L II to my nature photography kit at some point. I've heard that is a wonderful wide field astro scope as well. I'd looked at the EF 200mm f/2 L IS as well, but that lens is a bit short for wildlife, where as the 300/2.8 and 300/2.8 + 1.4x TC hits the wildlife sweet spot dead on.

---

I think I'm pretty dead set on getting a 10Micron GM1000HPS or maybe GM2000HPS Ultra Portable. I don't think I would be happy with anything else, after all that I've read and watch about those mounts now. Starhawk wrote an interesting bit comparing the GM1000HPS to the Mach1 here: http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Board=lxd55&...

I found a couple other things on the net that seemed to mirror his opinion of the Mach1. I even watched a few videos, and he isn't kidding about the noise level with the Astro-Physics stuff...their drives are pretty loud. I am not sure I'm in the market for a Mach1...if I buy a good mount, it'll be a 10Micron, and it'll be the one I buy to serve me for the next couple decades.

I clearly wasn't clear about this before, but while I am not afraid to spend good money on a good setup, I don't like to go into debt to do it. I have to save the money beforehand, so I can buy and pay off the bill quickly, and not keep large sums of long-term debt for years. Hence my dilemma. I really, really want a 10Micron mount. But I plain and simply cannot afford one this year. Probably won't be able to afford it for a few years.

So, I'm pretty much ready to scale back as much as I have to in order to get something this year, within the next five months, and start DOING, and stop procrastinating, on the astrophotography front. My goal is to spend as little as I can this year, and bank any extra above and beyond what I had originally planned to spend (lets say $8000 total this year) towards that 10Micron mount. I know I can do better than a CGEM DX, but overall, as far as midrange mounts go...it seems pretty darn good! I'm a meticulous guy...and I'm pretty sure I can get it working very well in the interim.

I would indeed like to use my 600mm lens for the scope. I need to find out what the options are for getting some holding rings for it. The lens barrel is very curvy...and it tapers smoothly from the objective down to the mount. The long-term value of this lens is also somewhat dependent upon how many nicks and scratches there are in the paint job...and I'm a little worried about mounting it with a pair of parallax rings like that, especially if there are no flat areas on the barrel where a ring could snugly fit. It would still probably be the cheapest option, though...I figure once I get a 12" dovetail plate and a mini guidescope package, it will probably clock in at $3300.

I haven't made any decisions yet...still plenty of time to do that. That said, I want to spend as little as possible for the biggest bang possible.

---

Regarding PlaneWave...DROOL! Those CDK truss scopes look pretty amazing. I'd love to get my hands on one of those...but they are pretty darn pricey! As I understand it, PlaneWave was founded by the prior owner and one of the engineers from Celestron, right? Amazing guys...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Raginar]
      #6334049 - 01/25/14 01:57 AM

Quote:

Pretty much nothing that Celestron or Meade makes anymore is made in the United States.




Hmm...I just read something not long ago on Celestron's site that said they make their stuff here in the US...

Quote:


If you're trying to save up for a dream setup, I would recommend getting the following: a used CG-5, a used ED80, a mini-guider setup, and a DSLR of the Canon variety. You will spend about 1500 bucks on it, and it will teach you everything that you need to know about AP. As you're learning, you can continue to save for the 'big guns' such as an SBIG CCD, a long focal length SCT, and a 10Micron mount.

Instead of getting 'mo betta' cheap stuff, I'd go super cheap to start, and when you've saved up for the real deal in a year or two, you will have the knowledge, ability, and funds to do it right. If I could do it all over again, this is exactly what I would do.

And realize that the reason Space TravelerX is getting a little frustrated is because the vast majority of us have all gone through this and we answer these threads quite a bit. If you look through the past 3 months alone, you'll find we answer this same question over and over again . I think you'll find that the advice is fairly even.

Clear skies,




NOW YOUR TALKING! This is pretty much exactly what I'm after, saving money now so I can bank it towards the good stuff, which will take longer to save for. SpaceTraveler may be getting frustrated, but I just can't drop thirty grand on a credit card and call it a day...I can't even drop ten grand on a credit card. I need time to save. That either means I put off astrophotography for several more years, or buy something cheap to tide me over. I understand there is a difference in ease of use...but that isn't the most important thing to me right now.

$1500 for all that used, you say? I will seriously have to look into that. I already have the Canon DSLR stuff, so I don't need to spend any money on that. I'm curious, is the ED80 to be used as "the" scope, or a guide scope? You mention a mini guider setup...not sure if that is an additional scope on top of the ED80 or not. The ED80 seems pretty small... I do have the 600mm lens, maybe I can just drop that on a used CG-5 instead of a CGEM DX, and get the mini guider Terry mentioned.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Raginar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334056 - 01/25/14 02:07 AM

Jon,

I'd use the ED80 as the scope. You've mentioned that you already have a 600mm lens and I just remembered that, so you actually could skip this portion and just get a bhatinov mask for it to allow you to focus. Focusing that lens will be a challenge as others have mentioned but it is doable.

CG5 (used or new really): < $500
SSAG magnificent mini-guider package: < $400
Some minor odds and ends to get your camera mounted on a dovetail so you can balance it: < $150

The mini-guider comes with a 50mm guide scope. You will need to figure out a way to mount that with your camera since you're not getting a telescope. Otherwise, if you went the ED80 route, you could just get stick it where the finder goes and have fun.

And, try not to be so argumentative . We're really trying to help and you have to tone down your enthusiasm as a beginner for the fact that a great deal many of the people who answered this question have 'been there, and done that'. There really is only a few ways to skin the cat so to speak. My favorite method of figuring out what works and what doesn't is to head over to astrobin and do equipment searches. You can find people who have done what you're trying to do, send them PMs and ask what they do to overcome various limitations. If you don't see images from something you're trying to do, it's probably a good idea to steer clear .

Oh, and I can assure you Celestron hasn't made equipment in the United States in years. They do do final assembly of, I believe, the C14 here. There was an article in one of the last few month's S&T if you're interested in tracking it down.

Clear skies,
Chris


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Raginar]
      #6334064 - 01/25/14 02:18 AM

Quote:


I'd use the ED80 as the scope. You've mentioned that you already have a 600mm lens and I just remembered that, so you actually could skip this portion and just get a bhatinov mask for it to allow you to focus. Focusing that lens will be a challenge as others have mentioned but it is doable.

CG5 (used or new really): < $500
SSAG magnificent mini-guider package: < $400
Some minor odds and ends to get your camera mounted on a dovetail so you can balance it: < $150

The mini-guider comes with a 50mm guide scope. You will need to figure out a way to mount that with your camera since you're not getting a telescope. Otherwise, if you went the ED80 route, you could just get stick it where the finder goes and have fun.





I get the feeling that it takes a bit more to mount the 600...it's pretty huge, and I would have to attach the lens itself, not the camera, to the mount. If I can figure out how to mount a SSAG guider to it, and use the CG5, that would definitely be the cheapest option, though...

Quote:


And, try not to be so argumentative .





Sorry, not trying to be. I do need everyone to understand that I simply don't have the ability to spend thirty grand (or maybe even more?) right off the bat, and I have to tone down my own expectations for what I can do this year.

Quote:


We're really trying to help and you have to tone down your enthusiasm as a beginner for the fact that a great deal many of the people who answered this question have 'been there, and done that'. There really is only a few ways to skin the cat so to speak. My favorite method of figuring out what works and what doesn't is to head over to astrobin and do equipment searches. You can find people who have done what you're trying to do, send them PMs and ask what they do to overcome various limitations. If you don't see images from something you're trying to do, it's probably a good idea to steer clear .





I appreciate all the help. Please don't think I don't appreciate all of it. I just have come to the realization of how incredibly expensive it is going to be to do what I want to do. Picking up a nine or ten thousand dollar LS850 as an interim solution...well, that doesn't help me much. Just wanted to clear up why it doesn't help me much.

Good advice about checking out astrobin...I'll spend some time doing that tonight.

Quote:


Oh, and I can assure you Celestron hasn't made equipment in the United States in years. They do do final assembly of, I believe, the C14 here. There was an article in one of the last few month's S&T if you're interested in tracking it down.





Ah, well, so much for Made in the USA then. :P


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #6334066 - 01/25/14 02:23 AM

Quote:

My humble opinion and I'll bow out:

You already have an excellent short focus 6 inch APO in that big Canon! Don't let anyone tell you differently! It will be touchy to focus though. You'll need a Bahtinov to do it.

Get a good mount and use it now! There was a used Mach 1 for sale on Astromart for $5,500. Hard to go wrong with that. If you decided to go further upscale in a year or three, you will not lose much money reselling it.

And consider an EF200 f/2.8L. Between those two absolutely wonderful lenses, you can image a lot of stuff.

After you've exhausted what those two lenses can do with a mono CCD, you'll be ready for a $20,000 mount and a Planewave!

But, at the moment, you don't need either . . . just a reasonably good mount.






Excellent advice also...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
*****

Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334069 - 01/25/14 02:24 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Oh, and I can assure you Celestron hasn't made equipment in the United States in years. They do do final assembly of, I believe, the C14 here. There was an article in one of the last few month's S&T if you're interested in tracking it down.





Ah, well, so much for Made in the USA then. :P




Even when Celestron manufactured mounts here, the CG-5 was purchased from a Chinese supplier. Only two Celestron mounts (CI-700, CGE) were ever made in house.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Raginar]
      #6334070 - 01/25/14 02:26 AM

Quote:

Pretty much nothing that Celestron or Meade makes anymore is made in the United States.

If you're trying to save up for a dream setup, I would recommend getting the following: a used CG-5, a used ED80, a mini-guider setup, and a DSLR of the Canon variety. You will spend about 1500 bucks on it, and it will teach you everything that you need to know about AP. As you're learning, you can continue to save for the 'big guns' such as an SBIG CCD, a long focal length SCT, and a 10Micron mount.

Instead of getting 'mo betta' cheap stuff, I'd go super cheap to start, and when you've saved up for the real deal in a year or two, you will have the knowledge, ability, and funds to do it right. If I could do it all over again, this is exactly what I would do.

And realize that the reason Space TravelerX is getting a little frustrated is because the vast majority of us have all gone through this and we answer these threads quite a bit. If you look through the past 3 months alone, you'll find we answer this same question over and over again . I think you'll find that the advice is fairly even.

Clear skies,





Very well said - LOTS of circle talk, over and over. Lots of Analysis paralysis.

Good advice too.

You know, you can take some nice moderately wide field stuff and learn all the nuances of AP. You might be surprised at some of the amazing shots you will get!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334082 - 01/25/14 02:42 AM

Jon,

Just like everyone has said, not much is built here in the United States. There was even a long forum debate on where the C14 was built recently, lol. Celestron - made in China. Meade's Made in China and Mexico. iOptron - China. You get the drift. So if you cancelled out iOptron because it was made in China, then cancel most other goodies off the list.

You want USA? Astro-Physics and Software Bisque is a good start. But oh the cost…

You mention the Celestron Edge1100 and Hyperstar - now you just added back up to $900 (it really piles up quickly. You just want to buy one more thing…). It is a neat add on, but to be honest I would put that money on a nice 80mm APO. Now you have a dual purpose OTA - visual and imaging. A neat little grab and go, and wonderful imager. But you do have a great lens right now too, so no need for the Hyperstar.

Word of advice - DO NOT USE A CREDIT CARD TO BUY THIS STUFF. You are very right to save up!

I would let the dust settle and stew on all this info. LOTS OF GOOD ADVICE from everyone. Also, if you have the time, I am sure a fair number of us would let you visit and get an idea about this whole world of astrophotography. From digital newbs like me to some of the experts out there (I have suffered through film - "suffered" is the operative word). You are certainly welcome to visit in New Mexico.

AP is so much better than the olden days - so many options and paths.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dawziecat
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: Rural Nova Scotia
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334085 - 01/25/14 02:45 AM

Quote:


I plan to add the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L II to my nature photography kit at some point. I've heard that is a wonderful wide field astro scope as well.




It most certainly is! The 300/2.8 is far easier to mount than the 600 too but you still should support the front element. Just softly wedging a piece of wood under the front between the dovetail and just rear of the hood mount ring worked for me.

Quote:


I'd looked at the EF 200mm f/2 L IS as well, but that lens is a bit short for wildlife




True. I don't have the 200/2.8 but I have the EF180 f/3.5L macro. It is a superb lens for AP as well, not that I ever bought it for that purpose. If you're into macro at all, butterflies and the like, the 180/3.5 can do double-duty for you as well as the 600 and the 300.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334092 - 01/25/14 02:55 AM

You know with this theme repeated over and over ("I want to get into astrophotography…"), there should be a quarterly workshop/round table for different regions of the country covering this topic. Heck, even record it on Youtube and update accordingly.

But if you look early on I think Rich has summarized everything very well.

Astronomy - a fun field of study with all its nuances (FYI, I refuse to call this a hobby. But that is a whole different discussion).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6334098 - 01/25/14 03:06 AM

If you want to buy Made in the USA for the deficit thing... Astro Physics, Software Bisque, and Planewave are your only bets.

Between the made in China CGEM and the made in China by the same company Atlas/EQ6 I'd go for the latter due to 8/3 gearbox errors in the CGEM and DX. Buy used so that the first owner has already eaten the 30% plus depreciation.

Or buy a used Mach1 now for $5500 and sell it a few years down the road for exactly the same money. Try that with an LX850... one of the members here sold an almost new 850 for almost $2000 off retail.

But I bet you won't. The 10Microns are conceptually great but AP is for all practical purposes as good as a mount can get without encoders.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6334099 - 01/25/14 03:07 AM

Quote:

Jon,

Just like everyone has said, not much is built here in the United States. There was even a long forum debate on where the C14 was built recently, lol. Celestron - made in China. Meade's Made in China and Mexico. iOptron - China. You get the drift. So if you cancelled out iOptron because it was made in China, then cancel most other goodies off the list.





Well, bummer that it's all made in China. I really try to avoid shipping my money over there...its pretty much unavoidable these days, I guess.

Quote:


You want USA? Astro-Physics and Software Bisque is a good start. But oh the cost…





Yeah, oh, the cost. Someday, though.

Quote:


You mention the Celestron Edge1100 and Hyperstar - now you just added back up to $900 (it really piles up quickly. You just want to buy one more thing…). It is a neat add on, but to be honest I would put that money on a nice 80mm APO. Now you have a dual purpose OTA - visual and imaging. A neat little grab and go, and wonderful imager. But you do have a great lens right now too, so no need for the Hyperstar.





I am pretty much going to do what Raginar and dawziecat have offered. Commission a custom mounting ring from Parralax Instruments for the 600mm so I am properly supporting the front element (I already sent off an email to Joe Nastasi), and buy a CG-5, Orion SSAG 50mm mini autoguider, and go with that.

If I started with a Celestron Edge1100, I would also start with just a reducer. HyperStar would be something I add on later. But I like Raginar's idea, just go ultra cheap right now, save as much money as possible, so I can "do it right" when I finally get enough money to do it right. He basically gave me the answer I was looking for. And the 300mm f/2.8 II lens will double as an even wider field scope when I pick one of those up for my wildlife photography. (I like the idea of sharing the equipment back and forth...gets me a hell of a lot more mileage out of it all...)

Quote:


Word of advice - DO NOT USE A CREDIT CARD TO BUY THIS STUFF. You are very right to save up!





Good to hear. I really don't care for credit cards...they just suck at you little by little with high interest rates and fees and interest...

Quote:


I would let the dust settle and stew on all this info. LOTS OF GOOD ADVICE from everyone. Also, if you have the time, I am sure a fair number of us would let you visit and get an idea about this whole world of astrophotography. From digital newbs like me to some of the experts out there (I have suffered through film - "suffered" is the operative word). You are certainly welcome to visit in New Mexico.

AP is so much better than the olden days - so many options and paths.




Well, thanks for the kind offer! And you don't sound like a newb to me...

I would love to get plugged into some astrophotography groups. I know there are quite a number of private observatories around here in Colorado, I'm sure there are user groups I could get plugged into and learn from the people who run those observatories. I guess I should look into stargazing meets as well. There used to be a pretty big dark skies meetup in southern central Colorado...RALLY DARK skies out there. Not sure if that still occurs or not...it was usually during summer. It would be interesting to get plugged into national groups as well, too...

I can't imagine doing AP with film...even if you scanned it into digital form, still must have been a whole different ball game than it is today with all this digital technology.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334100 - 01/25/14 03:08 AM

And I disagree about the CG5. I don't think it can competently carry a 600/4. Get an Atlas or Sirius if you must buy cheap.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334110 - 01/25/14 03:17 AM

Quote:

If you want to buy Made in the USA for the deficit thing... Astro Physics, Software Bisque, and Planewave are your only bets.

Between the made in China CGEM and the made in China by the same company Atlas/EQ6 I'd go for the latter due to 8/3 gearbox errors in the CGEM and DX. Buy used so that the first owner has already eaten the 30% plus depreciation.

Or buy a used Mach1 now for $5500 and sell it a few years down the road for exactly the same money. Try that with an LX850... one of the members here sold an almost new 850 for almost $2000 off retail.

But I bet you won't. The 10Microns are conceptually great but AP is for all practical purposes as good as a mount can get without encoders.




Well let me ask...the 10Microns have the absolute encoders, and it seems they can track up to 20 minutes. Is a Mach1GTO able to track unguided for as long? Or would you need an autoguider for 10min exposures on a Mach1GTO?

I am honestly having a little bit of a hard time filtering personal brand affinities from the hard mechanical facts. I have a hard time differentiating at a hardware level the differences between say an AP1100GTO-AE and a 10Micron GM1000HPS. They sound technologically the same to me, except that AP is quite a bit more expensive, and it sounds like their encoders are...at least at the moment...a bit of an addon that hasn't been tested and integrated quite as well as 10Micron's encoders. For the 1000 HPS, the price point to get fully integrated encoders on both axes is relatively quite good, and absent any brand affinity of my own yet...it honestly sounds like the better & more solidly tested piece of equipment. I've also had two people claim they can expose unguided for 10 to 20 minutes on a 10Micron without problems (one whom actually provided some visual examples...)

I'd start with a Mach1 if I thought I could afford it. I think with all the extra things I'd need to get my 600mm working on any mount, along with autoguiders and whatnot, it would blow out my budget for the year...and I suspect that once I actually dive in and buy all the things I need, what I am imagining it costing will probably balloon by an extra 20% (taxes, shipping costs, extra things I didn't know I had to have, etc.)

Edited by Jon Rista (01/25/14 03:20 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334123 - 01/25/14 03:31 AM

Quote:

And I disagree about the CG5. I don't think it can competently carry a 600/4. Get an Atlas or Sirius if you must buy cheap.




Hmm. Just the EQ-G mount without a tripod seems to go for about $700 on astromart. If everything is already made in China, then I see no reason to exclude iOptron anymore. I haven't seen what a ZEQ25GT might go for used yet...any ideas?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334131 - 01/25/14 03:47 AM

I can do 10 minutes unguided at 600mm on both my AP600 and Mach1. It's not magic. 20 minutes.. the 600 can't do it and the 1 can only do it close to the meridian since at low altitudes atmospheric refraction changes the apparent sidereal rate.

In all cases however perfect polar alignment is required. The 10microns can compensate for misalignment using a model.

Is the 1000HPS better? I assume since it has dual encoders. It also costs a good deal more.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334143 - 01/25/14 04:05 AM

Quote:

I can do 10 minutes unguided at 600mm on both my AP600 and Mach1
It's not magic. 20 minutes.. the 600 can't do it and the 1 can only do it close to the meridian since at low altitudes atmospheric refraction changes the apparent sidereal rate.

Is the 1000HPS better? I assume since it has dual encoders. It also costs a good deal more.




Hmm. Ok, well that is definitely a golden tidbit of information there. If the Mach1 can do 10 minutes unguided, that would be good enough for what I intend to start with. Still have the budget problem... But a Mach1 might be a much nearer replacement for whatever I end up starting with in the next few months, given that it only costs $5500-6000 used. I can deal with solving the 20 minute problem once I start delving into narrow band imaging.

Any chance you could address what Starhawk mentions here about the Mach1 and polar alignment? I'd like a second opinion from someone who also has used Mach1. The 10Micron mounts sound pretty ridiculously easy to align...

Edited by Jon Rista (01/25/14 04:08 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334153 - 01/25/14 04:23 AM

Yeah that's the thing. Long exposure unguided requires really good polar alignment. For me that means hours because I can't see Polaris.

But if you get the RAPAS it should be OK.

I'm also writing code to provide similar capability as the 10micron on the Mach 1 but I'm stuck in a coding funk right now. APCC is also supposed to provide this feature but who knows when that will come out. And that's another $500 probably.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334156 - 01/25/14 04:35 AM

Quote:

Yeah that's the thing. Long exposure unguided requires really good polar alignment. For me that means hours because I can't see Polaris.





That's a bummer. Do you align on SCP then? (I guess Singapore is right on the equator...?) How do you align to the SCP without a good starting point? I did a little reading about that...I honestly don't mean to rub anything in your face, but it made me thankful to be a northie (or at least to have polaris visibility).

I have a pretty good line of sight to Polaris. I'm at 39° north. Colorado is a pretty good spot for astronomy and astrophotography for a lot of reasons.

Quote:


I'm also writing code to provide similar capability as the 10micron on the Mach 1 but I'm stuck in a coding funk right now. APCC is also supposed to provide this feature but who knows when that will come out. And that's another $500 probably.




Ah, I know how you feel, RE the coding funk. :P I'd be interested in hearing how that little project progresses, though. Sounds very cool!

Edited by Jon Rista (01/25/14 04:38 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334163 - 01/25/14 04:53 AM

I roughly align north using a digital level and a compass. Then do a couple rounds of drift alignment using PEMPro.

I must add, due to the aggravation of having to do such painstaking polar alignment I can only get those long unguided exposures from my balcony.

In the field I'm forced to guide. That's why I have my little software project. Trying to avoid guiding even when not perfectly polar aligned and even close to the horizon. I posted my first results here (look for ProTrack). Works at 10 minutes even when badly aligned. 20 minutes not so much. My mount model breaks down and I don't have the math or algorithms to understand TPoint. And I can't afford to pay for TPoint source code either...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334166 - 01/25/14 05:02 AM

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/6299149/page...

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334167 - 01/25/14 05:07 AM

Well, sorry to hear you have so much trouble aligning.

Your project looks pretty cool. I am not sure what TPoint is, I gather it is a more advanced means of achieving what your trying to do? I'll check out your other thread in a bit.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334170 - 01/25/14 05:13 AM

Yup. Bisque mounts can do long exposure unguided using ProTrack. So such a feature is not unique to 10micron or encoder mounts. Any premium mount with the right software should be able to do it.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334171 - 01/25/14 05:16 AM

Quote:

The 10Microns are conceptually great




I guess you just mean you have never used one??

Quote:

the 600 can't do it and the 1 can only do it close to the meridian since at low altitudes atmospheric refraction changes the apparent sidereal rate.




Ah! If you hand input in your observing altitude and the current barometric pressure, the 10Micron will use that in the tracking model. It works! So unguided tracking can go to low alt

Quote:

The 10Micron mounts sound pretty ridiculously easy to align




Well they are! That was one of the biggest selling points for me as I shoot mobile. Note the mount does not support a polar scope - it doesn't need it.

As a side note the PA and pointing modeling procedure in the 10Micron controllers are virtually identical in operation to the procedures available for the last 10 years on the Losmandy Gemini controllers. My GM-8 was set good when I was just better than 1-2 arc minutes off pole after 3 PA iterations (as that was the resolution of the model - arc minutes). The 10Micron will tell you the figure in arc seconds - somewhere between 20-15" off pole is repeatable after 3 iterations of model building and PA correction


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6334174 - 01/25/14 05:29 AM

Tonk, what I meant is that the concept of absolute encoders is great, no question, and a mount with properly implemented absolute encoders is conceptually better than one without.

But as I've mentioned is the case with Bisque mounts, unguided long exposures with refraction and flexure correction does not require encoders. Hence lacking the coin for encoders is not necessarily the end of the road.

Of course if money were no object I'd go with encoders all day. I even wrote a thesis on it.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334175 - 01/25/14 05:42 AM

I guess the toss here is between guided and unguided - thats something for the OP to ponder on. I hated messing with the former and all the extra gear and also liked my sleep enough to fork out the extra for abs encoders. I'm very good with alarm clocks and sleeping in cars so unattended operation was the key for me even if I'm only feet away!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6334176 - 01/25/14 05:44 AM

Well being in the UK it's a no brainer as AP is really expensive over there. For US buyers the 1000hps costs more than the Mach1.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334179 - 01/25/14 05:53 AM

Yeah, guided vs. unguided, and who has the best unguided performance, is pretty much what my mind is stuck on right now. But I think I'm going to save that problem for another day, since I won't actually be buying either a Mach1 or a 10Micron (or Bisque, for that matter) any time before Spring 2015 at the earliest.

For the time being, my biggest problem is figuring out what to do in the mean time. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out something for the 600mm lens.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334185 - 01/25/14 05:59 AM

Use the ZEQ25 and guide. Or use many many 2 minute unguided exposures. Or an Atlas or Sirius. Stay away from the CG5 - it has no PEC and has sleeve bearings in declination. Stay away from the CGEM and DX with their problematic cheap Igarashi gearbox.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334192 - 01/25/14 06:17 AM

Ah, found a few threads and a review here on CN about the 8/3 and cogging issues with the CGEM. The review was from a few years ago... I also found this, from a couple years ago: http://www.photodady.com/blog/2012/10/08/cgem-final-thoughts/

Celestron really hasn't fixed this issue yet? Such a bummer...

I wonder if the CEM60 will be released in February...I'd like to hear someone review that soon...

How does an Atlas EQ-G compare to a CGEM/DX?

Edited by Jon Rista (01/25/14 06:37 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6334273 - 01/25/14 07:54 AM

The Atlas and CGEM are comparable. And made by the same Chinese concern. But the Atlas uses stepper motors with a much lower gear reduction than the CGEM. The simpler gearbox means it doesn't have odd gear harmonics like the CGEM 8/3.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
WadeH237
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6334694 - 01/25/14 12:16 PM

Wow. Lot of posts on this thread!

After catching up, here's how I would summarize things:

It seems like you are leaning towards Astro-Physics because it's made in the USA, or the 10Micron because of it's built-in pointing model and encoders. I think that you would be quite happy with either one. There is no wrong answer here.

Regarding guided versus unguided, this is not strictly a hardware problem.

A few years ago, it wasn't even a question; you pretty much *had* to guide for long exposures. In that time, a few features have come out which are making it possible to go unguided.

First, we are seeing mounts with high resolution encoders that can detect and correct mechanical error in the gears. Note that there are add-on encoders that can do this with many of the popular mounts.

Accurate hardware is only a piece of the equation, though. The reality is that objects in the sky don't move at the same rate all the time. Due to atmospheric refraction, they only really move at pure sidereal rate when they are directly over head. Also, gravity has an effect on your equipment. Even microscopic flex in your scope, focuser, etc. is enough to spoil unguided imaging.

The traditional answer was guiding. For a long time, most people were using guide scopes, which deal with the variable rates in the sky, but not the mechanical flexure. Then, in the last few years, off-axis guiding has become popular. Since off-axis guiding puts the guide camera on the same telescope as the main camera, it addresses the vast majority of mechanical flexure.

If you want to get good unguided results, you have to find a way to address both tracking rates and flexure. The solution to this is a pointing model. With a pointing model, you take sample pictures at various points in the sky and some software compares where the optical tube is actually pointing against where the mount thinks it's pointing. It can then use this as a model to do custom tracking rates that account for this - without needing a guide camera.

The cool thing about the 10Micron mounts is that they have this software built in to their controller. This is why it can to effective unguided imaging right out of the box.

This is not to say that other mounts can't also do unguided imaging. Software Bisque may have been the first one to this party with the Paramount ME and a feature called Pro Track that works with TheSkyX (but only on Bisque mounts). Pro Track adds the software component to do the pointing model. The catch is that you need a computer to do it.

Astro-Physics is also working on this and will have a solution that works with the Mach1. This is called Astro-Physics Command Center, or APCC as you'll see in most threads. Again, this works only with Astro-Physics mounts. The big catch here is that Astro-Physics has been talking about APCC for many years, but still has not delivered it. The software exists and it does work, but they keep bumping the delivery date, and there are some people that are pretty upset by this. As an owner of an Astro-Physics mount, I can attest to the fact that it takes them a long time to deliver something - but when they do, it just works. But if you are considering a Mach1 for unguided imaging, you need to know up front that you'll need APCC.

So getting back to hardware, the big question is whether the encoders are necessary for unguided imaging. My thinking on this is that, as long as the mechanical accuracy is sufficient, and there is software to handle pointing model base correction, you'll be good. It should not matter how the mechanical accuracy is achieved, whether it's handled by encoders or through high quality mechanicals.

On a completely different line of thought, you have also said that a cheap, interim solution is desirable.

Someone suggested a CG-5. My thinking here is that you are better off going with something a bit bigger for imaging, especially with the large lens you have. I still say that a CGEM or Atlas would be a nice fit.

Much has been made about the CGEM and the 8/3 issue. I think that this is something that is real (well, it's definitely real). But I still see lots of great images done with CGEMs. I suspect that it doesn't affect all mounts equally, and you could potentially get unlucky. I believe that orlyandico got a particularly bad one in the past.

The best alternative to the CGEM would be the Atlas. The Atlas is the same basic design (they are both copies of the Takahashi EM-200, by the way). But it has different motors and controller software. The stepper motors on the Atlas are much quieter than the servo motors on the CGEM. The Atlas can also be controlled by a piece of software called EQMOD, which offers a nice platform for driving it via a computer.

Neither of these two mounts will come anywhere close to matching a Mach1 or 1000hps. But both will easily carry your current equipment at a fraction of the cost. And with a 600mm lens, you could get great results until you decide to take the plunge on a high end mount.

And who knows, after you get a few years of experience on an entry level imaging mount, you may learn exactly what you like and don't like. That will make your decision much easier when you get around to upgrading.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gary-sue69
sage
*****

Reged: 07/19/07

Loc: Maybee MI.
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #6334715 - 01/25/14 12:25 PM

Quote:

Wow. Lot of posts on this thread!

After catching up, here's how I would summarize things:

It seems like you are leaning towards Astro-Physics because it's made in the USA, or the 10Micron because of it's built-in pointing model and encoders. I think that you would be quite happy with either one. There is no wrong answer here.

Regarding guided versus unguided, this is not strictly a hardware problem.

A few years ago, it wasn't even a question; you pretty much *had* to guide for long exposures. In that time, a few features have come out which are making it possible to go unguided.

First, we are seeing mounts with high resolution encoders that can detect and correct mechanical error in the gears. Note that there are add-on encoders that can do this with many of the popular mounts.

Accurate hardware is only a piece of the equation, though. The reality is that objects in the sky don't move at the same rate all the time. Due to atmospheric refraction, they only really move at pure sidereal rate when they are directly over head. Also, gravity has an effect on your equipment. Even microscopic flex in your scope, focuser, etc. is enough to spoil unguided imaging.

The traditional answer was guiding. For a long time, most people were using guide scopes, which deal with the variable rates in the sky, but not the mechanical flexure. Then, in the last few years, off-axis guiding has become popular. Since off-axis guiding puts the guide camera on the same telescope as the main camera, it addresses the vast majority of mechanical flexure.

If you want to get good unguided results, you have to find a way to address both tracking rates and flexure. The solution to this is a pointing model. With a pointing model, you take sample pictures at various points in the sky and some software compares where the optical tube is actually pointing against where the mount thinks it's pointing. It can then use this as a model to do custom tracking rates that account for this - without needing a guide camera.

The cool thing about the 10Micron mounts is that they have this software built in to their controller. This is why it can to effective unguided imaging right out of the box.

This is not to say that other mounts can't also do unguided imaging. Software Bisque may have been the first one to this party with the Paramount ME and a feature called Pro Track that works with TheSkyX (but only on Bisque mounts). Pro Track adds the software component to do the pointing model. The catch is that you need a computer to do it.

Astro-Physics is also working on this and will have a solution that works with the Mach1. This is called Astro-Physics Command Center, or APCC as you'll see in most threads. Again, this works only with Astro-Physics mounts. The big catch here is that Astro-Physics has been talking about APCC for many years, but still has not delivered it. The software exists and it does work, but they keep bumping the delivery date, and there are some people that are pretty upset by this. As an owner of an Astro-Physics mount, I can attest to the fact that it takes them a long time to deliver something - but when they do, it just works. But if you are considering a Mach1 for unguided imaging, you need to know up front that you'll need APCC.

So getting back to hardware, the big question is whether the encoders are necessary for unguided imaging. My thinking on this is that, as long as the mechanical accuracy is sufficient, and there is software to handle pointing model base correction, you'll be good. It should not matter how the mechanical accuracy is achieved, whether it's handled by encoders or through high quality mechanicals.

On a completely different line of thought, you have also said that a cheap, interim solution is desirable.

Someone suggested a CG-5. My thinking here is that you are better off going with something a bit bigger for imaging, especially with the large lens you have. I still say that a CGEM or Atlas would be a nice fit.

Much has been made about the CGEM and the 8/3 issue. I think that this is something that is real (well, it's definitely real). But I still see lots of great images done with CGEMs. I suspect that it doesn't affect all mounts equally, and you could potentially get unlucky. I believe that orlyandico got a particularly bad one in the past.

The best alternative to the CGEM would be the Atlas. The Atlas is the same basic design (they are both copies of the Takahashi EM-200, by the way). But it has different motors and controller software. The stepper motors on the Atlas are much quieter than the servo motors on the CGEM. The Atlas can also be controlled by a piece of software called EQMOD, which offers a nice platform for driving it via a computer.

Neither of these two mounts will come anywhere close to matching a Mach1 or 1000hps. But both will easily carry your current equipment at a fraction of the cost. And with a 600mm lens, you could get great results until you decide to take the plunge on a high end mount.

And who knows, after you get a few years of experience on an entry level imaging mount, you may learn exactly what you like and don't like. That will make your decision much easier when you get around to upgrading.




And who knows, after you get a few years of experience on an entry level imaging mount, you may learn exactly what you like and don't like.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #6334725 - 01/25/14 12:33 PM

Could anyone say why a Losmandy G11 / Gemini couldn't be an interim mount?

I just noticed no-one is suggesting it. Too costly to qualify perhaps?? Otherwise Losmandy mounts are excellent in my experience and its also USA stuff (as the OP is rating that)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
davebuechler
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 08/21/11

Loc: Red River Gorge Kentucky
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6334902 - 01/25/14 01:37 PM

Quote:

Get a good mount and use it now! There was a used Mach 1 for sale on Astromart for $5,500. Hard to go wrong with that. If you decided to go further upscale in a year or three, you will not lose much money reselling it.




IMO this is the best advise

Quote:

Could anyone say why a Losmandy G11 / Gemini couldn't be an interim mount?

]I just noticed no-one is suggesting it. Too costly to qualify perhaps?? Otherwise Losmandy mounts are excellent in my experience and its also USA stuff (as the OP is rating that)




Oh no….here we go again. But true this is an excellent suggestion and possible alternative


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
WadeH237
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6334908 - 01/25/14 01:39 PM

I haven't mentioned the G11 (or a used CGE) partly because of price, and partly because they are both a bit bigger and heavier than what's needed for the payload here.

They are certainly better mounts than an Atlas or CGEM, but the point of an interim mount is to be a low cost entry.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
davebuechler
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 08/21/11

Loc: Red River Gorge Kentucky
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #6334918 - 01/25/14 01:43 PM

Not picking on you Wade for sure.

Cost is relative and your suggestions are right on the mark too!

IMO, the OP should be aware of this option though.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: davebuechler]
      #6334979 - 01/25/14 02:13 PM

You could get a bad G11. Several have. But if you can get a used Gemini 1 model at around $2000, it is a viable alternative to the Atlas.

What prevents me from recommending it is that a new Gemini 2 model is $3295. That's a lot of money for a mount that may or may not require futzing around.

With a $900 used Atlas, you don't get upset if it needs tuning. That is pretty much required with the China mounts. But tuning and worm lash adjustment on a $3295 mount? that would really *BLEEP* me off.

Now as to the CGEM 8/3.. I got a really bad one, with over 25" of 8/3 (compared to 16" fundamental). But most CGEM's have 8/3 in the 5" range. But then unless you're getting a packaged CGEM and EDGE scope (so basically the mount is "free"), why bother when the Atlas doesn't have 8/3.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
davebuechler
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 08/21/11

Loc: Red River Gorge Kentucky
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6335021 - 01/25/14 02:40 PM

Quote:

You could get a bad G11. Several have. But if you can get a used Gemini 1 model at around $2000, it is a viable alternative to the Atlas.

What prevents me from recommending it is that a new Gemini 2 model is $3295. That's a lot of money for a mount that may or may not require futzing around.




The "could get a bad one…several have"" statement in my opinion has been overdone, overcooked and overplayed. I won't even go there except to say that one could also get a bad ….just about anything.

I will say this though. IF ,(and that is really a big IF), IF there is a problem with a G11 or other Losmandy mounts or with the Gemini system the company stands behind their products 110% to "make it right" and I doubt you will find better customer service or support anywhere. Plus they are here in the good ol USA and the mounts are USA made and it is within the OP's budget.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Raginar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6335402 - 01/25/14 06:09 PM

Quote:

Could anyone say why a Losmandy G11 / Gemini couldn't be an interim mount?

I just noticed no-one is suggesting it. Too costly to qualify perhaps?? Otherwise Losmandy mounts are excellent in my experience and its also USA stuff (as the OP is rating that)




Because he said he wanted to save for a 10Micron. There is no reason to get an interim 'medium' grade mount.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tonk
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/19/04

Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Raginar]
      #6335446 - 01/25/14 06:37 PM

.. other than a second hand one holds value when sold on and the Gemini controller is excellent practice for the 10Micron one re model building and polar alignment (PAC) procedures (virtually the same)

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #6335481 - 01/25/14 07:06 PM

Quote:

Wow. Lot of posts on this thread!

After catching up, here's how I would summarize things:

It seems like you are leaning towards Astro-Physics because it's made in the USA, or the 10Micron because of it's built-in pointing model and encoders. I think that you would be quite happy with either one. There is no wrong answer here.

Regarding guided versus unguided, this is not strictly a hardware problem.

A few years ago, it wasn't even a question; you pretty much *had* to guide for long exposures. In that time, a few features have come out which are making it possible to go unguided.

First, we are seeing mounts with high resolution encoders that can detect and correct mechanical error in the gears. Note that there are add-on encoders that can do this with many of the popular mounts.

Accurate hardware is only a piece of the equation, though. The reality is that objects in the sky don't move at the same rate all the time. Due to atmospheric refraction, they only really move at pure sidereal rate when they are directly over head. Also, gravity has an effect on your equipment. Even microscopic flex in your scope, focuser, etc. is enough to spoil unguided imaging.

The traditional answer was guiding. For a long time, most people were using guide scopes, which deal with the variable rates in the sky, but not the mechanical flexure. Then, in the last few years, off-axis guiding has become popular. Since off-axis guiding puts the guide camera on the same telescope as the main camera, it addresses the vast majority of mechanical flexure.

If you want to get good unguided results, you have to find a way to address both tracking rates and flexure. The solution to this is a pointing model. With a pointing model, you take sample pictures at various points in the sky and some software compares where the optical tube is actually pointing against where the mount thinks it's pointing. It can then use this as a model to do custom tracking rates that account for this - without needing a guide camera.

The cool thing about the 10Micron mounts is that they have this software built in to their controller. This is why it can to effective unguided imaging right out of the box.

This is not to say that other mounts can't also do unguided imaging. Software Bisque may have been the first one to this party with the Paramount ME and a feature called Pro Track that works with TheSkyX (but only on Bisque mounts). Pro Track adds the software component to do the pointing model. The catch is that you need a computer to do it.

Astro-Physics is also working on this and will have a solution that works with the Mach1. This is called Astro-Physics Command Center, or APCC as you'll see in most threads. Again, this works only with Astro-Physics mounts. The big catch here is that Astro-Physics has been talking about APCC for many years, but still has not delivered it. The software exists and it does work, but they keep bumping the delivery date, and there are some people that are pretty upset by this. As an owner of an Astro-Physics mount, I can attest to the fact that it takes them a long time to deliver something - but when they do, it just works. But if you are considering a Mach1 for unguided imaging, you need to know up front that you'll need APCC.

So getting back to hardware, the big question is whether the encoders are necessary for unguided imaging. My thinking on this is that, as long as the mechanical accuracy is sufficient, and there is software to handle pointing model base correction, you'll be good. It should not matter how the mechanical accuracy is achieved, whether it's handled by encoders or through high quality mechanicals.

On a completely different line of thought, you have also said that a cheap, interim solution is desirable.

Someone suggested a CG-5. My thinking here is that you are better off going with something a bit bigger for imaging, especially with the large lens you have. I still say that a CGEM or Atlas would be a nice fit.

Much has been made about the CGEM and the 8/3 issue. I think that this is something that is real (well, it's definitely real). But I still see lots of great images done with CGEMs. I suspect that it doesn't affect all mounts equally, and you could potentially get unlucky. I believe that orlyandico got a particularly bad one in the past.

The best alternative to the CGEM would be the Atlas. The Atlas is the same basic design (they are both copies of the Takahashi EM-200, by the way). But it has different motors and controller software. The stepper motors on the Atlas are much quieter than the servo motors on the CGEM. The Atlas can also be controlled by a piece of software called EQMOD, which offers a nice platform for driving it via a computer.

Neither of these two mounts will come anywhere close to matching a Mach1 or 1000hps. But both will easily carry your current equipment at a fraction of the cost. And with a 600mm lens, you could get great results until you decide to take the plunge on a high end mount.

And who knows, after you get a few years of experience on an entry level imaging mount, you may learn exactly what you like and don't like. That will make your decision much easier when you get around to upgrading.




Well, I can't thank you enough for your thorough answer. It's very helpful. I do understand that a cheaper interim mount won't get me the kind of accuracy or precision of a Mach1 or 1000hps. I guess my concern right now, now that I understand the price ranges involved with this kind of equipment, is to get something to start with, even though I'll have to guide. I am actually looking forward to learning all the different aspects of astrophotography, including guiding.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6335492 - 01/25/14 07:15 PM

Thanks for all the continued thoughts and ideas. I had actually wondered why no one had mentioned Losmandy mounts before. Is their design a little older?

From some PMs, it seems as though it is possible to upgrade CGEM mounts with third party parts to correct for some of it's inherent weaknesses. It also seems possible that they can be hypertuned to get the most out of them? If I could find a used CGEM that has already been optimized like this, could one not serve as a quality mount (assuming that the upgrades take care of the 8/3 problem)?

Anyway...let me throw out another idea I have. Getting an interim mount does not necessarily mean it will be a throw-away mount. I actually have considered keeping whatever I get in the interim. I figure once I get my astrograph setup aligned and running on a sequence, I could use a second mount with my DSLR to do some wide field and full milky way photography. Say maybe point the astrograph setup at the Horse Head and use my DSLR with a 100mm lens to image the entire axis of nebula from Orion to M78 in a wider field.

Given this case, I am less concerned about resale value, and more concerned about durability and capability. Portability is important too. I would also be less concerned about getting "the most rock-bottom cheap" option available. I'd be willing to say put up to $2000 into a mount, however $700-$1000 would be more ideal. It obviously doesn't need to be as high precision and as super accurate as a high end mount. But, it would be nice to be able to use my 600mm lens, or my DSLR with wider field lenses from 300mm down, with this mount over the long term. For such a purpose...which would be best?

a. Used CGEM with upgrades (hopefully fixing the 8/3 error)?
b. Atlas EQ-G?
c. ZEQ25GT?
d. CGE60?
e. Are there other options?

Well, greatly appreciate everyone's continued input!

---

For those who are interested, I've sent an email off to Joe Nastasi of Parallax Instruments asking about getting a custom holding ring setup for my 600mm lens. I also think I'm going to settle on the Orion SSAG + mini 50mm guidescope as an autoguider package...looks like that can be as little as $300 used, and only about $375 new. Better deal than the SBIG, even though the SBIG is probably much better. If the telescope holding rings for the 600mm come in at around $400, that is a total of around $700-800 for the additional accessories needed to get guided astrophotography working. If the mount comes in at $2000, total price is still less than $3000. I would be quite happy with that price point. If I can find a decent used mount for $700-1000, all the better. Would basically be the cherry on top!

Edited by Jon Rista (01/25/14 07:20 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
davebuechler
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 08/21/11

Loc: Red River Gorge Kentucky
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6335600 - 01/25/14 08:25 PM

Jon,

Remember that the shorter the F/L the less perfect the tracking/guiding needs to be. At 50mm one can get a 20 or 30 second shot showing no rotation using a fixed photo tripod. The longer the exposure and the longer the F/L the better more accurate mount one will require.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: davebuechler]
      #6335608 - 01/25/14 08:32 PM Attachment (8 downloads)

Quote:

Jon,

Remember that the shorter the F/L the less perfect the tracking/guiding needs to be. At 50mm one can get a 20 or 30 second shot showing no rotation using a fixed photo tripod. The longer the exposure and the longer the F/L the better more accurate mount one will require.




Very true, however I kind of like the 100mm focal length, and I've done enough shooting at that focal length to know I'd need some tracking. I recently stacked a whole load of frames to get this shot...best wide field untracked I've been able to do, and it took a LOT of work in post (the horse head I had to manually brush in to get it to show up):

[image]http://jonrista.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/orion-belt-and-axis-of-nebula.jpg?w=800[/image]

It would be nice to get something similar with tracking. I know I probably wouldn't need guided tracking, but tracking of some kind would help. Hence the desire to keep the mount for secondary wide field tracking.

(NOTE: For some reason, I cannot seem to get the UBB codes for image and url working...is there some post count limit or something like that that prevents new users from using UBB code?)

Edited by Jon Rista (01/25/14 08:52 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Chuckwagon
member


Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Orem, Utah, USA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6335616 - 01/25/14 08:48 PM

I wasn't sure how to get the UBB code working, so instead, when I previewed my post, I added the image then with the browse button. It worked, so I left it alone.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Chuckwagon]
      #6335754 - 01/25/14 10:54 PM

Hypertuning a CGEM won't fix the 8/3, as it is inherent to the motor gearbox. You'd need to replace the RA motor and hope/gamble that the new gearbox has lower 8/3.

Trust me, I've gone down this route with my CGEM. Hypertuned it (myself), replaced the saddle with an ADM, replaced the worm bearings with SKF bearings, replaced the RA worm with an Aeroquest.

The hypertune did fix the sticky RA, making balancing easier, and the Aeroquest worm reduced the fundamental periodic error from 30" to 16" - but the 8/3 remained the same at 25" - even after I swapped the RA and DEC motors (hoping the DEC gearbox had lower PE).

Granted my CGEM was probably the worst ever (aside from stew57's). But why gamble.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: davebuechler]
      #6335783 - 01/25/14 11:15 PM

Quote:

Jon,

Remember that the shorter the F/L the less perfect the tracking/guiding needs to be. At 50mm one can get a 20 or 30 second shot showing no rotation using a fixed photo tripod. The longer the exposure and the longer the F/L the better more accurate mount one will require.




Hmm, I think you are limited to a much shorter exposure than that. I've done wider field night sky stuff before. It used to be that you follow the 600 rule, but with pixel sizes as they are these days, the 500 rule is a little better. At 50mm, your maximum exposure time without oblong stars would be 10 seconds on a fixed tripod (and, in the case of my 7D, I am actually limited to about 8 seconds). At 24mm I can go for about 20 seconds without tracking, and at 16mm you get about 30 seconds. Stars at these durations aren't pinpoints, either, unless you downsample a lot for web viewing. At full size, pretty much all of those times result in oblong stars, and I have to pull back a bit to get pinpoints.

At 100mm, which I like for medium wide field stuff (100mm covers the entire central area of Orion, from Orion Nebula to M78, with a good buffer around it all...you could probably even get some of Barnard's Loop), you don't even get 5 seconds before oblong stars. I also have some aspirations to capture the entirety of Orion in extensive detail, including Halpha, using very wide field...probably 24mm, on a tracking mount so I can pick up all of that beautiful nebulosity in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex...including all the key nebulas, Barnard's Loop, maybe even Witchhead.

Orion is my favorite constellation, but I'm sure there are other similarly intriguing wide field regions of the sky that I could do similar things with. So, whatever interim mount I get, I think I'm going to keep it for those purposes.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6335797 - 01/25/14 11:28 PM

Quote:

Hypertuning a CGEM won't fix the 8/3, as it is inherent to the motor gearbox. You'd need to replace the RA motor and hope/gamble that the new gearbox has lower 8/3.

Trust me, I've gone down this route with my CGEM. Hypertuned it (myself), replaced the saddle with an ADM, replaced the worm bearings with SKF bearings, replaced the RA worm with an Aeroquest.

The hypertune did fix the sticky RA, making balancing easier, and the Aeroquest worm reduced the fundamental periodic error from 30" to 16" - but the 8/3 remained the same at 25" - even after I swapped the RA and DEC motors (hoping the DEC gearbox had lower PE).

Granted my CGEM was probably the worst ever (aside from stew57's). But why gamble.




So, I've read some articles on this now, and I've seen the tracking error in graphs. I guess the thing that still confuses me is...I still find a lot of astro photos online that were made with the CGEM and CGEM DX mounts...and they look really good to me. So, I don't fully understand the exact mechanics of periodic error, or what it means for your 8/3 error to be 25", or how that relates to a 30" to 16" intrinsic PE (actually, are there any articles that explain the theory behind PE and it's correction?)...but it would be very useful to me to see how this error affects the IQ of the images your exposing for. I mean, is it blatantly obvious? Or is it a subtle impact that might slightly soften the results a little? Or is it simply that it forces you to use slightly shorter exposures...480 seconds rather than 600 seconds on the outside?

Remember, I do plan to invest some real money in a good high end mount at some point. I don't think it matters what in the end, AP, 10Micron, or Software Bisque...it sounds like all of them are absolutely stellar in performance (sorry for the pun.) In the mean time, however, is the periodic error in the CGEM really so bad that it would prevent me from doing any imaging? It certainly doesn't seem to have stopped a whole lot of other people from getting great results...hence my confusion about the whole issue.

The CEM60 is quite intriguing to me...but it hasn't even hit the streets yet. At the very least, the CGEM mount's issues are well known....if I bought a CEM60, it's issues are unknown as of yet. And, a CGEM DX with its 50lb capacity would be the next best thing from a capacity standpoint, and capable of holding a future Cassegrain (which, given Astr-Tech's excellent prices, is probably going to come along before the high end mount).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6335882 - 01/26/14 01:08 AM

The large and fast 8/3 shows up as a jagged guiding graph. Can you image? Yes you can, stellar fwhm will be worse than say an Atlas. And you can't use longer guide exposures, anything more than 5 seconds or so can't chase the 8/3 gear noise anymore.

This is more of an issue at longer FL. At 600mm it will work. But again an Atlas would do better. Also beware if you buy a used CGEM there is a likelihood the previous owner found it had horrible 8/3 hence the sale.

Also don't expect trouble free 600 seconds with a CGEM. The inevitable declination backlash makes long exposures iffy. If the declination moves to the opposite side, it can take a very long time to reverse which ruins the sub. The longer the sub, the greater the chance a wind gust or cable drag will move the declination to the opposite side of the Dec gear tooth.

And trust me, the declination backlash can be large - arc minutes level. At guiding rates it takes 20-30 seconds to take up that much backlash. More than enough time to ruin the sub even at 600mm.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6335946 - 01/26/14 02:04 AM

I understand. Thanks. As I understand declination backlash, that could technically affect any mount, right? That isn't something relegated to CGEM mounts. I also found a few things online that indicate minimizing declination backlash isn't too terribly difficult (and there are a couple ways of doing it, such as ever so slightly imbalancing). I've also read a number of things that seem to indicate a 30 second backlash in a long exposure isn't as serious as your making it sound.

So, with Atlas...they use stepper motors. Are there any drawbacks to steppers over servo/encoder? I suspect they won't GOTO as fast...but what about precision, since a stepper just moves a consistent amount each period? I guess if your guiding, any error due to the use of a stepper might end up corrected anyway...

Edited by Jon Rista (01/26/14 02:22 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gdd
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/05

Loc: N Seattle suburb, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6335957 - 01/26/14 02:17 AM

Quote:

So, I've read some articles on this now, and I've seen the tracking error in graphs. I guess the thing that still confuses me is...I still find a lot of astro photos online that were made with the CGEM and CGEM DX mounts...and they look really good to me. So, I don't fully understand the exact mechanics of periodic error, or what it means for your 8/3 error to be 25", or how that relates to a 30" to 16" intrinsic PE (actually, are there any articles that explain the theory behind PE and it's correction?)...but it would be very useful to me to see how this error affects the IQ of the images your exposing for. I mean, is it blatantly obvious? Or is it a subtle impact that might slightly soften the results a little? Or is it simply that it forces you to use slightly shorter exposures...480 seconds rather than 600 seconds on the outside?





The main PE and the gear box PE are added together. So if the gearbox contributes a 8/3 error of 25" and the intrinsic error is 30" the total error would be 55". Furthermore this larger PE would change more frequently than the intrinsic PE. If the two errors are smooth enough, the autoguider can still keep up for low to moderate focal lengths and light OTA's. When you get to the high focal lengths and heavy/long OTA's both the autoguider and the motors will have trouble making the corrections in time.

If you are doing unguided AP, then in the example above the 8/3 error means you could only do about half the focal length for long exposures (5-10 minutes). For short exposures (30-60 seconds) you can probably still do fairly well with long FL.

There are some calculators that show the results of adding two sine waves representing ideal intrinsic and gearbox errors so you can visualize the effect. If I find one I will post a link.

Gale


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: gdd]
      #6335971 - 01/26/14 02:43 AM

With regards to declination guiding and backlash you are correct this afflicts all mounts to some extent except the high dollar ones.

I disagree that a 30 second reversal is trivial. You will definitely get trailed stars if it takes that long.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6335975 - 01/26/14 02:46 AM

Quote:

With regards to declination guiding and backlash you are correct this afflicts all mounts to some extent except the high dollar ones.

I disagree that a 30 second reversal is trivial. You will definitely get trailed stars if it takes that long.




What about doing declination drift alignment? If I align precisely enough in declination, would it even be necessary to track in dec (and, if not, wouldn't that avoid backlash entirely?)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6335987 - 01/26/14 03:28 AM

It becomes worse because any drift due to wind or imbalance will cause over corrections resulting in oscillating guiding. The traditional solution is to intentionally misalign the mount so that declination guiding happens in one direction only thus avoiding the backlash issue.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6336009 - 01/26/14 04:01 AM

Ah, I see. Let it drift say slightly north, and then guiding will only correct south?

Sorry for all the comparison questions. I like Celestron's controller better than Orion's, and I like the 5°/sec slew for GOTO. If dec. backlash can be delt with, that really only leaves the 8/3 issue...and I still don't quite fully understand the actual impact to actual image quality and accuracy. I've read a good number of forum posts and other things, and a lot of people say the impact isn't huge, and I've only really heard orlyandico indicate the issue is severe...however it sounds like he got a particularly bad CGEM (with 25" gearbox error on top of 30" intrinsic error) that might not be indicative of the average case.

I might have to take a trip to a local astronomy store here and see if they have a variety of these mounts in stock so I can actually play with them a bit in real life. Nothing really tells you what's what like first-hand experience.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Hilmi
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6336011 - 01/26/14 04:04 AM

I don't own any Celestron products, but I have heard that there has been a minor design update that fixes this issue. Somebody in the know will be able to confirm this

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6336087 - 01/26/14 05:56 AM

Quote:

I don't own any Celestron products, but I have heard that there has been a minor design update that fixes this issue. Somebody in the know will be able to confirm this




That jives with some of the PMs I've received, and it also jives with all the searching I've done over the last couple of hours. Lot of people complaining about CGEM issues in 2010 and 2011, more in 2012 but not as many, lot fewer in 2013. Seems there have been issues on quite a few fronts with CGEM...not only the 8/3 issue or a relatively significant dec. backlash issue, but also electronics issues, motors burning out after only a couple years, as well as bad hand controllers. That is a lot of issues to occur with a single mount, over a period of years...

That said, there are practically zero complaints about the Orion Atlas mount. Just a small few over the years, but it really seems the QA on that mount is far better than on the CGEM mount. It also seems like the motors are much quieter on Atlas (guess because they are steppers rather than sevos?) I don't care much for that high pitched servo whine. I like NexStar, but the QA on Atlas, combined with it's quieter drive, definitely kicks it up a notch.

Does anyone have experience polar aligning both CGEM and Atlas mounts? It always sounded like polar aligning with NexStar was super easy and very accurate. I couldn't quite figure out how easy it was with Atlas mounts. I read about a few peoples alignment procedures...they didn't sound quite as easy as NexStar, and I couldn't tell how accurate they were.

Anyway....Atlas' QA certainly seems to be quite a bit better than Celestron's, on all fronts, and I like that.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6336107 - 01/26/14 06:51 AM

Nexstar has had all star polar align but the latest Synta firmware for the Atlas also has it.

The recent firmware fix on the CGEM is to address the declination cogging issue. Which is yet another issue that I didn't bring up because it's supposedly been solved already.

One of the members here had a pretty good CGEM (with 5" of 8/3) but traded it in for an az-eq6.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
WadeH237
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6336212 - 01/26/14 09:02 AM

Regarding declination backlash, this is just one of those things that you deal with on a lower end mount.

There are a couple of mitigations for it in the way that you set up your system. For example, you can intentionally set up with a small polar misalignment. This will cause a slow but steady declination drift in one direction and make it less likely that you'll ever see a declination error in the other direction. The drive never needs to reverse then.

Also, you can set up your guiding software to only issue declination corrections in one direction. Once you establish the direction of declination drift. That way if something like variable seeing results in a guide sample that would reverse the declination motor, the software will ignore it.

Some software can more sophisticated strategies. MaximDL, for example has a feature that will keep track of the direction of declination drift. If something happens (like seeing again) where a guide sample would indicate a direction reversal, Maxim will ignore it until it gets 3 such samples in a row.

While it's not the "don't worry about it" that you get with a premium mount, these techniques work well. One downside is that it makes you less resistant to wind gusts. But this applies to any excessive backlash on either axis.

One other thing that you may be wondering is why we're talking only about declination backlash here. If a particular mount has declination backlash, it probably has RA backlash as well.

The reason for this is that the RA axis is continuously tracking at 1x sidereal rate. Even when you are autoguiding, you will probably set up your system so that guide corrections apply at .5x sidereal. What this means is that a guide correction in the same direction your are tracking, temporarily increases the tracking speed to 1.5x sidereal. A correction opposite the tracking direction temporarily slows the mount to 0.5x sidereal. The drive never reverses or stops. This is also a reason that you never set the correction speed to 1.0x sidereal or higher.

Another technique for the RA axis is to intentionally set the mount off balance just a little so that it is heavy on the east side. This causes gravity to keep the gears meshed so that the RA drive is "pushing" the spur gear "up hill" all the time. This can help avoid backlash issues even with mild wind gusts. You would generally not intentionally offset the declination axis in the same direction because it causes balance issues in RA (ie. the RA balance would be east heavy at some declinations, neutral at some declinations and west heavy at others).

Again, these are all tricks that you learn with a lower end mount that are not necessary on a premium mount.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #6336520 - 01/26/14 12:07 PM

Even when only guiding in one direction if wind pushes the scope in the opposite direction, reversal will be necessary. If you don't reverse that sub is ruined. Even if you do reverse, if it takes too long to wind up the backlash, the sub is still ruined.

MaximDL can apply an extra long guide pulse on every declination reversal, but since the reversal happens at the guiding rate, it will still take some time to unwind the backlash.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gdd
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/05

Loc: N Seattle suburb, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6336780 - 01/26/14 02:14 PM

Quote:

With regards to declination guiding and backlash you are correct this afflicts all mounts to some extent except the high dollar ones.

I disagree that a 30 second reversal is trivial. You will definitely get trailed stars if it takes that long.





I agree, a 30 second reversal will make for long star trails. I simply meant if you take action to control the backlash you should be able to do 30 second unguided images without trailing even with a CGEM with the 8/3 problem. That is assuming it is otherwise tracking smoothly.

Gale


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gdd
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/05

Loc: N Seattle suburb, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6336803 - 01/26/14 02:25 PM

Quote:

Even when only guiding in one direction if wind pushes the scope in the opposite direction, reversal will be necessary. If you don't reverse that sub is ruined. Even if you do reverse, if it takes too long to wind up the backlash, the sub is still ruined.

MaximDL can apply an extra long guide pulse on every declination reversal, but since the reversal happens at the guiding rate, it will still take some time to unwind the backlash.





The G11/Gemini has a feature it calls TVC for DEC backlash, it quickly reverses the DEC direction for a user specified amount of time to take up the slack. Can this be done with the CGEM, maybe not with its own software but perhaps with signals sent by other software?

Gale


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: gdd]
      #6337267 - 01/26/14 06:07 PM

Thanks again guys, for the info.

I'll have to check out MaximDL. I had planned to use PHD, which still seems quite capable, but I'll have to see what Maxim can do.

Regarding backlash, in general. Could that not be tuned to minimize backlash by bringing gear teeth closer to the worm axis? I don't know what kind of tolerances there are in these lower end mounts...but if you could get the teeth in closer, without causing any kind of seizing, wouldn't that reduce the amount of time is involved in recovering from backlash on either axis, regardless of cause? I don't even know if it is possible to control this on lower end mounts...in one of the things I read about CGEM, it did sound like there might be some kind of adjustable spring (although it wasn't entirely clear what that referred to in that particular thread). I didn't read anything about this for Atlas mounts.

The general idea would be to keep the gear and the worm tight, without keeping it too tight that they can't operate properly. I don't quite know exactly how fast these gears move at 1x slew, though, perhaps the gear and the worm are already pretty tight according to manufacturing tolerances, and the slew rate is just so slow that even a tiny amount of backlash results in long recovery times?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6337452 - 01/26/14 07:39 PM

With the CGEM you can't make it that tight, the motor would stall. Some degree of backlash is inevitable on all the lower end mounts. I don't think the Atlas would be any different.

My point is, due to these issues, I'm not sure a CGEM or Atlas can consistently do long exposures, even guided.but I've seen 10 minute guided with the Atlas. I do know that I could never achieve 10 minute guided, consistently, with my CGEM.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6337495 - 01/26/14 08:06 PM

I've read a number of things now that indicate the Atlas can do longer than 10 minutes when properly guided. I read one forum thread where someone was able to achieve close to 20 minutes guided, but he said that seeing became the limiting factor, and he was unable to try for longer. (I got the feeling that he carefully balanced and aligned to achieve that, though.) I've never read anything about CGEM being used guided for any longer than 10 minutes, but it does seem to be able to do 10 minutes (hypertuned and maybe with PEMPro or some other PEC alternative.)

I am thinking Atlas is the way to go. Just too much evidence speaking to its better QA than CGEM, and there do seem to be people who are doing narrow band imaging with it at exposures longer than 10 minutes. I would like to get an idea of how its polar alignment works. That's probably the thing I like most about CGEM, its all star polar alignment seems fast and easy...I don't know what Orion's polar alignment for Atlas is like.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6337706 - 01/26/14 10:04 PM

The atlas polar alignment procedure in the newest version of the firmware is pretty much identical to Celestron version.

Pempro won't work too well on a CGEM if it's 8/3 is high. Because the 8/3 is a non integer term it cannot be corrected by PEC. Even on a good CGEM the 8/3 will not be below 5" - hence even with the best PEC training your residual PE will never go below 5".

Not sure why a long exposure would be seeing limited. Seeing affects the centroiding of the guide star. And that's at very short time scales.

Thing is more can go wrong at longer exposures, like declination reversal, cable drag, wind.....


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6338298 - 01/27/14 08:52 AM

Everything goes wrong at long exposure times. I'm not sure if this thread is serving much purpose. The understanding gap is just too big.

We're now on two mounts no one recommends for astrophotography. At best, they will be an education on why the higher end mounts exist without being such a crushing letdown the OP abandons the hobby altogether. Maybe everyone has to do this to appreciate the not so subtle nature of the difficulties in astrophotography, which, for some reason, always sound subtle and obscure when described to someone who hasn't tried it.

To the OP- go and play with something. You're now on a tier where the choice isn't terribly important as the options you have narrowed down to literally come from the same factory in China. This is now Chevy-vs.-GMC. Of course, if we include the optic you're planning to start with, maybe the metaphor is more like putting a Lamborghini body on a Dodge Neon chassis.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6339411 - 01/27/14 06:47 PM

@Starhawk: I understand why higher end mounts exist. Simple fact of the matter is I can't drop $15,000 to $25,000 on one without saving a lot more money, however I'm not going to sit on my hands and not build up any experience with astrophotography whatsoever in the mean time.

There is also plenty of good astrophotography on the net, on flickr and astrobin and elewhere, made with Atlas and CGEM mounts. I think some people are blowing things a little out of proportion about "how difficult a low end mount is to use" or how much of a "crushing letdown" they are such that I'll "abandon the hobby altogether".

It's a stopgap measure. This isn't my ultimate plan, to buy an Atlas or CGEM and use that forever. You are right, though, the choice between the options at this level simply doesn't matter (which is why I stopped bothering to ask questions about a day ago...). I'll pick up whatever ends up being most cost effective soon here, and start doing stuff. Trust me, I won't be so let down by how "bad" one of these mounts is that I abandon the hobby forever. I'm not afraid of a little work to get the gear set up and operating. I'm also not completely without experience...I have put time into trying astrophotography, so I do have an understanding of the subtle nuances of performing exposures and processing the results.

If I didn't, I wouldn't have bothered to save as much money as I could now, in order to put as much money as possible towards buying one of those high end mounts. I simply had assumed wrong about cost up front...to buy a whole package, all the various mount, tripod, OTA, guiding, and imaging accessories I need, the total cost is well over $30,000 (at least), when I expected I would be able to start with a decent piece of equipment for around $7000-8000. I am not the kind of person who puts that kind of money on credit, nor do I feel comfortable taking out a loan for thirty grand (especially at my skill level). I just have to readjust my plans. At least I will be learning things over the next couple of years, though, rather than buying nothing and learning nothing. I really don't understand why no one can understand that...that I just want to get started, not buy the world's best telescope ever made right out the gate. Given the sentiments I've found in this forum, I kind of expect that if I asked anyone about what OTA to get for astrophotography, I'd ultimately be told that I couldn't do AP with anything other than an $85,000 24" PlaneWave CDK...

I won't be giving up, either, just because there is more work involved, nor will I be giving up because I won't be making world-class images with my puny little mount and the Lamborghini I place on it. I'll just be happy to be working on my skills until such time as I can afford the right kind of gear to make world-class images (and, by that time, I have confidence I'll be much closer to that goal buying a *BLEEP* mount now and mounting my Lamborghini on it than if I simply don't buy anything this year and do nothing involving astrophotography at all.)

Anyway...you guys have been extremely helpful. You certainly cleared up a hell of a lot of questions, especially on the true cost of buying quality equipment (it's a vastly more expensive hobby than even bird and wildlife photography is, even with high end gear.) You have made it abundantly clear that I am not able to get high quality equipment at this point. You have made it abundantly clear that there WILL be problems with whatever low end mount I do get. You also made it clear that I could re-purpose my very expensive 600mm lens as a high quality refracting telescope, and save even more money in the short term, and I am immensely grateful for that! You have all given me enough information to get started with astrophotography this year, and start learning, which is exactly what I wanted to do...and again, I'm immensely grateful for that as well.

I'll be fine, despite the inevitable issues the mount might have...I'm a trooper. Once I decide to do something, I don't stop. I invest the time, the effort, and ultimately the money. I started photography with a Canon 450D and a 100mm macro lens, which cost a grand total of maybe $1000. I now use about $19,000 worth of photographic equipment on a regular basis, and the difference is night and day. It just takes time to accumulate that kind of cash when you aren't independently wealthy, and by the time I had nearly twenty grand of equipment in my hands, I knew EXACTLY how to use it. That made the original $1000 expenditure worth while. Thanks for all the help!

Edited by Jon Rista (01/27/14 06:49 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6339668 - 01/27/14 09:15 PM

Get the EQ6. :-D

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6340502 - 01/28/14 09:38 AM

Part of this is the discussion has had a lot of creep. An AP Mach 1 GTO is a superb mount, and with all the bells and whistles, it's under $10k. It's a portable mount- I'm able to pick up mine with the eagle 1 pier attached and carry the whole thing outside in one lift. And, there would be something to be said for getting started on its control system so a lot of the errors caused by transitioning from something else don't happen.

In e meantime, getting started on a cheaper mount makes sense if it serves a role, later. For example, the much cheaper CG-5 based AVX comes with a huge amount of portability and can make a great visual observing and wide field astrophotography platform. It will get you outside more often than the heavier CGEM, which comes with a daunting lug factor since it's just heavy. There's an approximate inverse cube relationship to mount mass to how often it gets used. If you did visual observing for a while, there is a lot to learn about the sky which isn't in the books.

The expense of astrophotography is a bit of a red herring. No one likes to talk about it, but there are quite a few examples of people who throw some large bills at this activity and don't make decent astrophotos. There is a massive learning curve, but even more so, there is a huge need for experience and talent, and these don't come from a store.

What's more, every object has its own quirks and features to deal with. M42, the Orion Nebula, has an amazingly large dynamic range. The Horsehead comes with a bright star nearby which interferes with imaging the nebula. The moon is an adventure all its own. So, it isn't really like one learns astrophotography and then just does it. You'll visit an object over and over through years as you learn from each attempt and want to try out new things to break out from your past limitations. You'll likely want to try new equipment as you discover using the optic and camera someone else has nice looking results with tends to top out at replicating their result instead of being able to produce something new and original.

The rule of numb for processing is plan to spend 10% of the time getting the image! and the rest processing it. I can't stress enough how critical attention to every detail is compared to normal photography. Astrophotography is all about capturing the most subtle contrast differences, finest details, and smallest objects the equipment is capable of, so every flaw shows through. The entire thing about round stars is an evaluation of whether an astrophotographer has guiding perfection, image stacking perfection, optical field flatness, collimation, and vibration under control- any of those effects blows that quality check. You're suggesting going from being an RC airplane pilot to a commercial airline pilot- things are different, and that constraining.

If I were to just give advice, it would be to defer astrophotography entirely until you have some serious experience as an observer. It would give you a feel for what's in the sky, how big various objects are, and a chance to do astronomy where the setup is quick and easy. And if you haven't had that experience, it will be easy to be frustrated and give up on astronomy due to frustration in astrophotography. Even if you get a monster dream rig, the smaller grab n go will let you step back and decompress when you just spent two nights getting what looked like perfect data in your quick look, but then turns out on careful examination to have a flaw which will make getting the result you wanted impossible.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6340606 - 01/28/14 10:35 AM

Rich, spending 10% of the time capturing only works if the capturing is perfect.

If it's not... you'll easily spend far more time wrestling with your gear than actually capturing anything. I know that very well, having spent the good part of 2 years just fighting my various mounts.

I still don't have fantastic photos, sadly - balcony AP does that - but I do revisit the same objects year after year as they are nicely-placed in the sky just clear of the balcony roof. And thankfully I get incrementally better at it with each passing year.

Not having to deal with mount quirks sure accelerated that learning curve, though.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6340758 - 01/28/14 11:30 AM

Orly,

Yes- that is definitely the blue-sky case. And it doesn't assure happy results. There are many, many, nights spent fighting with the gear before it is dialed in and giving good results. One reason there is such a thing as an observatory on the small scale is once a telescope and mount are dialed in after many hours of effort, one wants to LEAVE IT THAT WAY.

As for balcony AP, someone has to keep an eye on the moon!

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6340841 - 01/28/14 12:15 PM

I will closely second Rich's comment on AP.

- Fresh setup of the LX850 for AP runs about 45 min; already setup and just turning on and calibrating for the night 15 min.
- AP session. It all depends. Bright target DSO night, maybe 30min. Dimmer stuff, 2-3 hours for me so far with dark frames and such, but I can easily see it going HOURS as I progress.
- Playing with Nebulosity and Photoshop after I have the images? HOURS. And I am still learning all the nuances. I have a long ways to go.

Now, it is VERY exciting see the raw images come in on the computer display indoors. I have my Macintosh remotely hooked up to the MacBook Pro outdoors - seeing the image feed of each capture becomes an OMG moment. Still, playing with the software to develop the image is an art form. Are my images way better than when I started? You bet! BUT…I have a loooong ways to go. Still, it is cool seeing the evolution and seeing picts. After almost 40 years I finally got a half way decent view of the Horse Head nebula.

Also, Rich is correct. Many targets have different approaches to get that perfect image. Be it equipment, imaging time, filter, and software tools used. Getting basic pictures is easy. Getting works of art - that is a whole different thing.

However, and like I said in the past, I sometimes process raw images via Instagram and post them, and friends, family and strangers totally love them even though they look very crude. Oh well, so much for hours of processing them!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6340861 - 01/28/14 12:25 PM

Here's a neat hint. Most raw subs look terrible until they're processed. But if you stretch them with an asinh function they look remarkably competent even for single subs.

Sadly the only software I know that can scale images with asinh is SAO DS9, which is not exactly user friendly. I wonder in fact why software like DSS doesn't have an option of prescaling each sub by a function ...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6340869 - 01/28/14 12:28 PM

Let me also add the LX850 is as close to "turnkey" as you can get with astrophotography telescope and mount wise. It 100% works as advertised. Excellent mount - precise, excellent quality and StarLock mount integration is the real deal. The optics I am working with are excellent too (80mm APO, 130mm APO and the 14" f/8 ACF). This is an amazing rig!

BUT a few things to be aware of:
* You still have to process the image. The LX850 cannot do that for you.
* You still need good skies, good seeing.
* You will spend $8k to get started with the LX850, an excellent automated/turnkey setup (I think it is an excellent value) - and then you need the computer, cameras, software, cables, hard drives, etc for the imaging side. Actually, you will need this whether you have an LX850 or AVX or CGE or…

And once you take images, your social life could disappear due to all the time you will spend on this form of art (and it is!).


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6340872 - 01/28/14 12:29 PM

Quote:

Here's a neat hint. Most raw subs look terrible until they're processed. But if you stretch them with an asinh function they look remarkably competent even for single subs.

Sadly the only software I know that can scale images with asinh is SAO DS9, which is not exactly user friendly. I wonder in fact why software like DSS doesn't have an option of prescaling each sub by a function ...




I will have to look into this…

Thank-you for the tip!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6341826 - 01/28/14 08:31 PM

Quote:

Part of this is the discussion has had a lot of creep. An AP Mach 1 GTO is a superb mount, and with all the bells and whistles, it's under $10k. It's a portable mount- I'm able to pick up mine with the eagle 1 pier attached and carry the whole thing outside in one lift. And, there would be something to be said for getting started on its control system so a lot of the errors caused by transitioning from something else don't happen.

In e meantime, getting started on a cheaper mount makes sense if it serves a role, later. For example, the much cheaper CG-5 based AVX comes with a huge amount of portability and can make a great visual observing and wide field astrophotography platform. It will get you outside more often than the heavier CGEM, which comes with a daunting lug factor since it's just heavy. There's an approximate inverse cube relationship to mount mass to how often it gets used. If you did visual observing for a while, there is a lot to learn about the sky which isn't in the books.

The expense of astrophotography is a bit of a red herring. No one likes to talk about it, but there are quite a few examples of people who throw some large bills at this activity and don't make decent astrophotos. There is a massive learning curve, but even more so, there is a huge need for experience and talent, and these don't come from a store.

What's more, every object has its own quirks and features to deal with. M42, the Orion Nebula, has an amazingly large dynamic range. The Horsehead comes with a bright star nearby which interferes with imaging the nebula. The moon is an adventure all its own. So, it isn't really like one learns astrophotography and then just does it. You'll visit an object over and over through years as you learn from each attempt and want to try out new things to break out from your past limitations. You'll likely want to try new equipment as you discover using the optic and camera someone else has nice looking results with tends to top out at replicating their result instead of being able to produce something new and original.

The rule of numb for processing is plan to spend 10% of the time getting the image! and the rest processing it. I can't stress enough how critical attention to every detail is compared to normal photography. Astrophotography is all about capturing the most subtle contrast differences, finest details, and smallest objects the equipment is capable of, so every flaw shows through. The entire thing about round stars is an evaluation of whether an astrophotographer has guiding perfection, image stacking perfection, optical field flatness, collimation, and vibration under control- any of those effects blows that quality check. You're suggesting going from being an RC airplane pilot to a commercial airline pilot- things are different, and that constraining.

If I were to just give advice, it would be to defer astrophotography entirely until you have some serious experience as an observer. It would give you a feel for what's in the sky, how big various objects are, and a chance to do astronomy where the setup is quick and easy. And if you haven't had that experience, it will be easy to be frustrated and give up on astronomy due to frustration in astrophotography. Even if you get a monster dream rig, the smaller grab n go will let you step back and decompress when you just spent two nights getting what looked like perfect data in your quick look, but then turns out on careful examination to have a flaw which will make getting the result you wanted impossible.

-Rich




Before you go off telling me to give up already (I mean, WOW, seriously!?!), why don't you take a look at some of my work. I just posted an example of my EXTREMELY METICULOUS moon shot here:

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/favlinker.php?Cat=0&Entry=189736&a...

I would wager that is better than 90% of any other full-sized moon photos you've seen. You are applying certain traits, such as a lack of understanding and a lack of knowledge about what it takes to do astrophotography, to me...despite the fact that you really don't know me. You are assuming I don't understand the meticulous task that post-processing is, or that I don't know how much each and every detail counts. You have to understand, I am not 100% without experience. I've spent the better part of a year observing through my 600mm lens. I've spent months trying to get enough exposure on some objects, like Orion Nebula, without a tracking mount in order to produce something "halfway decent". Simple fact of the matter is my attempt at halfway decent without tracking was only half successful. I've spent hundreds of hours post-processing moon and nebula shots, with multiple stacking and processing tools. I've MANUALLY ALIGNED DSO frames and MANUALLY applied dark/bias frames, and MANUALLY applied flat frames in Photoshop. I understand how meticulous an endeavor astrophotography is.

I KNOW what the deal is, here. I KNOW what I am doing by getting a cheaper mount. I really wish you would stop assuming I don't. I also wish you would really pick up on the basic FACT that I simply CAN NOT AFFORD anything more expensive. Sure, I could spend $6800 on a Mach1. I'd then have a Mach1. I'd have only a Mach1, and I wouldn't have anything else to actually use it with. To me, personally, that is an unacceptable outcome. To spend a ton of money on something I won't be able to use until I save up more money for something else later on down the road? Especially since I think I'd rather spend more money on an even more expensive mount. And not because I want the portability out of it...but because I fully intend to build myself an observatory (that's been part of the long term goal for a long time). I understand the value of one...the way I can "set it and forget it"...polar align, then precisely drift align, precisely balance, iron out periodic error. The way a domed observatory would block the majority of wind from causing problems, and the way I might even be able to set it up for remote controlled observation most of the time.

I have a plan. My plan is a lot more refined, since the input I was given in the earlier part of this thread. I have a much clearer picture of how much money I'm really going to be spending in the long run. I'll be moving investments around, and taking a little bit more risk this year on bigger growth and larger dividends, in order to maximize the amount of money I can save for the some $30,000 I think it will cost in the long run to get a GM1000HPS or maybe an AP1100GTO-AE and a large aperture telescope, along with all the various accessories and whatnot. I figure several more thousands for the observatory itself.

In the SHORT TERM, in order to save as much money as I can, my plan involves massively scaling back, spending as little as possible now while still getting something good enough to do AP. I KNOW I can do AP with a CGEM or an Atlas. Thousands of people online do. Their results aren't terrible, not even bad, they are usually quite good...even if they are not "world class" or "legendary". I've read enough forum threads spanning 2010 through 2013 to know that MOST people who get a CGEM or an Atlas seem to enjoy them quite a bit! I also know that Atlas mounts aren't problem free. It seems that most people don't bother with much drift alignment, they use their mount's alignment routine, maybe correct a little bit, then let guiding take care of the rest in both RA and Dec. Over the months, most people find ways of refining and tuning their CGEM or Atlas to operate more smoothly, reduce periodic error, and otherwise allow them to balance and align quicker so they can get the exposures rolling sooner.

I have no illusions about what I'm buying. I intend to keep the mount for the long term, even when I add a more expensive mount to the mix, as I have plans to use it for other things. I have no doubts my skill with setting up the mount each time I head out will improve with time, and the initial hassles will fade as my skill with balancing and aligning and guiding improves. It's a process. I wouldn't start out any better if I spent ten grand now on a super expensive high end mount...the learning curve would still exist, you still have to align, and for accurate UNGUIDED performance, very accurate alignment is even more important. From some of the things I've read, the Mach1 can be a pain to align. More of a pain than an Atlas, which itself (absent possible third-party software on a computer...something I'm not sure I'm interested in) is more of a pain to align than a CGEM.

I've made my decision. I simply cannot afford $25,000 or $15,000 or $10,000 or even $7000. Well, I could afford $7000, but then I'd just have a mount...and no scope...collecting dust in a corner. I'm STARTING cheap, so I can START this year. As a matter of fact, my order is already in for a guider. As soon as I hear back from Parallax Instruments and get some rings designed for my lens, the order will be in for that as well. As soon as a good deal comes along for a used CGEM or Atlas that's been HyperTuned, the order will be in for that also. Within the next couple of months, I expect to be DOING. I won't be debating, or waiting...I'll be doing. I really don't give a flyin rat's behind if it's "tough". Tough builds character, and it builds skill.

Clear skies.

Edited by Jon Rista (01/28/14 09:13 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6342053 - 01/28/14 10:50 PM

Then stop yakking and get on with it.

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6342069 - 01/28/14 11:00 PM

It would be great if a mod could close this thread. It really no longer serves a purpose, and I'm tired of being told about what I cannot do.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
james7ca
sage


Reged: 05/21/11

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6342208 - 01/29/14 01:08 AM

Quote:

Here's a neat hint. Most raw subs look terrible until they're processed. But if you stretch them with an asinh function they look remarkably competent even for single subs.

Sadly the only software I know that can scale images with asinh is SAO DS9, which is not exactly user friendly. I wonder in fact why software like DSS doesn't have an option of prescaling each sub by a function ...




PixInsight can do just about any mathematical transform on an image that you like using the PixelMath tool. In fact, here is what they (Pleiades Astrophoto) says about PixInsight's asinh function:

Quote:

The hyperbolic arc sine function is also interesting because it is naturally bounded to the normalized [0,1] range. Lupton et al. (arXiv:astro-ph/0312483v1) propose the following formulation to implement an hyperbolic arc sine stretch:

y = asinh (aQ (x-m)) / Q

where the a parameter applies a linear stretch, Q governs the improvement of bright features, and m is the minimum displayed value (we always have m=0 in PixInsight/PixelMath). This is the PixelMath expression that implements this transform in PixInsight:

a = 0.01;
Q = 5;
asinh( a*Q*$target )/Q

As a general rule of thumb, useful values for a seem to be in the range from 0.1 to 0.001, and for Q between 1 and 20.




From this point all you would have to do is enter the above three lines of code and execute it from within the PixelMath tool.

For more information, here is the link to the PixelMath reference docs: http://pixinsight.com/tutorials/PixelMath/en.html


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: james7ca]
      #6342231 - 01/29/14 01:33 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Here's a neat hint. Most raw subs look terrible until they're processed. But if you stretch them with an asinh function they look remarkably competent even for single subs.

Sadly the only software I know that can scale images with asinh is SAO DS9, which is not exactly user friendly. I wonder in fact why software like DSS doesn't have an option of prescaling each sub by a function ...




PixInsight can do just about any mathematical transform on an image that you like using the PixelMath tool. In fact, here is what they (Pleiades Astrophoto) says about PixInsight's asinh function:

Quote:

The hyperbolic arc sine function is also interesting because it is naturally bounded to the normalized [0,1] range. Lupton et al. (arXiv:astro-ph/0312483v1) propose the following formulation to implement an hyperbolic arc sine stretch:

y = arcsinh (aQ (x-m)) / Q

where the a parameter applies a linear stretch, Q governs the improvement of bright features, and m is the minimum displayed value (we always have m=0 in PixInsight/PixelMath). This is the PixelMath expression that implements this transform in PixInsight:

a = 0.01;
Q = 5;
ArcSinh( a*Q*$target )/Q

As a general rule of thumb, useful values for a seem to be in the range from 0.1 to 0.001, and for Q between 1 and 20.




From this point all you would have to do is perform a cut and paste of the above three lines of code and execute it from within the PixelMath tool.

For more information, here is the link to the PixelMath reference docs: http://pixinsight.com/tutorials/PixelMath/en.html




So, I'm curious. Is this a means of improving the characteristics of each sub before they are stacked? Does that reduce the amount of additional processing required after stacking?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
james7ca
sage


Reged: 05/21/11

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6342261 - 01/29/14 02:05 AM

You don't want to stretch your RAW images before you stack them. Using the asinh function (or some other transform) is just another way to apply a stretch to the image (i.e. converting the linear image to something that looks like a real "picture").

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: james7ca]
      #6342269 - 01/29/14 02:15 AM

Quote:

You don't want to stretch your RAW images before you stack them. Using the asinh function (or some other transform) is just another way to apply a stretch to the image (i.e. converting the linear image to something that looks like a real "picture").




Right, that's what I would expect.

Wasn't sure if that was what @orly was referring to or not...it sounded like he was talking about pre-processing the individual RAWs before stacking. I guess I could have an incorrect understanding of the term "sub" in this context (I always thought it referred to individual light sub-frames that are ultimately calibrated with darks/biases/flats and stacked into a single low-noise final image frame.)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
james7ca
sage


Reged: 05/21/11

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6342287 - 01/29/14 02:43 AM

I don't know what Orlando was referring too, but the discussion in PixInsight's documents uses the asinh function for a stretch. However, there is nothing that says that you couldn't use it for some other purpose.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6342616 - 01/29/14 09:20 AM

No one has told you you can't do anything; just you seem to think it's a lot easier and a lot less work than it actually is. If that's making you upset, then you've got to decide what you're seeing:

(A) The evil astronomy forum is trying to hold you back.

(B) People who have done what you're suggesting are trying to relate how it has gone for them, and what you might expect in turn.

Evidence for A:

Several of the posters on this thread aren't merely unpleasant people, but are, if fact, known to practice the dark arts. If you've heard of "The New Scope Curse," you've now met the people who started it. Now you have announced your intent to get an astrophotography scope, and it smells like toast to me.

Evidence for B:

You started out suggesting getting a 2800mm + focal length telescope expecting to get highly magnified images of what you anticipated to be tiny, dim, and limited angular size objects, and dropping some serious coin on a mount to do it. Now you're talking about much shorter, and more forgiving, focal lengths and maybe stepping down in the mount as well. So, while it doesn't seem evident to you at the moment, you really do seem to have picked something up in this thread.

As for a CGEM, I have one, myself. Like I said, I don't get a cut of anything you do get. But you should know that mount is a bit heavy, and there are limits to its performance, even if the price point is great and a bunch of people have them. A low enough f/# will avoid all of that. Like your 1/30 second moon photo doesn't face tracking issues. Long focal lengths and narrowband requiring very long exposure will put you in position to discover that mount's limitations.

You asked. You got a very complete set of answers in spite of showing quite a bit of attitude. Most people take getting what they wanted better than asking for the thread to be closed.

-Rich

Edited by Starhawk (01/29/14 09:26 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Raginar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6342647 - 01/29/14 09:38 AM

Rich has made some good puts. You've got some great advice on here I think you've decided what you're going to do in the near-term/future. I'd stick to it and see what happens.

You just have buyer's remorse at this point!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Raginar]
      #6342683 - 01/29/14 09:53 AM

I meant use asinh on the RAW subs so you can eyeball what's actually going on.. because most unprocessed subs just look black (at least mine do.. yes even the 20-minute ones).

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
WadeH237
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6342771 - 01/29/14 10:32 AM

If you use PixInsight or CCDStack, either one does a good job of presenting a nonlinear stretched view of your raw subs. With PixInsight, you just use the screen transformation tool and hit the automatic button. With CCDStack, it just does it automatically without you having to do anything. In both cases, the stretch is only applied to the view and does not alter the linear data.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6342802 - 01/29/14 10:46 AM

Quote:

I meant use asinh on the RAW subs so you can eyeball what's actually going on.. because most unprocessed subs just look black (at least mine do.. yes even the 20-minute ones).




Did you forget to remove the lens cap….?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
wargrafix
sage


Reged: 04/10/13

Loc: Trinidad
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6342850 - 01/29/14 11:11 AM

Wow, things got heated here. Honestly, I think you have to give it a whirl fist and get goto and drift down good. Trust me, its alot of frustration and hassle avoided.


Honestly, i would even say go even simpler. Get a camera and tripod with a 300mm lens. Take multiple sots of orion nebula and process in DSS. 2 things accomplished, Guiding by hand and working with a focal length that's barely forgiving. You get that down, you are ready of the big leagues.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: wargrafix]
      #6344007 - 01/29/14 08:12 PM

Quote:

Wow, things got heated here. Honestly, I think you have to give it a whirl fist and get goto and drift down good. Trust me, its alot of frustration and hassle avoided.


Honestly, i would even say go even simpler. Get a camera and tripod with a 300mm lens. Take multiple sots of orion nebula and process in DSS. 2 things accomplished, Guiding by hand and working with a focal length that's barely forgiving. You get that down, you are ready of the big leagues.




Well, thanks for the recommendation. However, I've already done this. I've done it plenty, with a 600mm lens (and even going back farther, I tried plenty with a Canon EF 100-400mm lens for over a year before getting the 600mm...I was never able to produce acceptable results.) It took a while to find dark enough skies and learn how to expose right at the right gain level. I spent many hundreds of hours post-processing many dozens of attempts, and finally achieved SOME half-way decent results, however for the sheer volume of time and effort involved, it is blatantly clear to me that I need tracking to do any better. Here is my latest attempt...at best, you get 1 second of exposure time. This is a stack of the best frames out of 100 at 0.6 seconds (and there was still star trailing):

http://jonrista.com/2014/01/05/orion-nebula-in-dark-skies/

As I said. I am not without experience. Lack of tracking is seriously holding me back. I'm an intelligent guy, I know what you have all said, and I DO understand the difference between mount classes. The thing that irks me is I'm repeatedly being told, particularly by Starhawk, that I don't understand. That I just don't get how difficult it will be without a $10,000 mount. I do, I understand perfectly. I don't really care. I'm happy to give it a try anyway, because as you say, wargrafix, you gotta give it a whirl first, learn the BASICS. Well, I've already done plenty of untracked AP. I've tried doing untracked AP on objects other than Orion nebula...I simply cannot get enough light for any of them, S/N is way too low, and nebulosity is so faint that even after stacking, there isn't enough information to stretch in post. It did not take me long to conclude that I simply need SOME kind of tracking. At this point, I really don't care what kind of tracking, ANY tracking will be superior to no tracking at all.

Maybe the basics would be easier with a super expensive mount (I honestly don't think I necessarily believe that, given many of the things I've read about the most recommended mount, the Mach1 (including things Starhawk himself wrote)...sounds like achieving very precise alignment with these unguided mounts is critical if your doing unguided, but not necessarily the easiest to achieve, so doing accurate drift is key, where as with a guided CGEM or Atlas, you need to get some degree accuracy in your alignment, but if it's off a little bit it just isn't as important because guiding will take care of a small drift in the Dec axis as well.)

---

I did not come here to be told to give up on AP until I'd done normal astronomy because I "simply don't understand the supposed difficulties." I came here for advice, and early on in this thread, the advice was good. It also gave me a clear understanding of the sheer cost of getting the kind of equipment that would get me the best of the best results. Well, in the long term, I certainly want the best of the best to get the best of the best results...but I can't afford it at the current time. <-- Does that just not compute? What about that statement makes anyone here think that continuing to insist the only option for me is to buy a super expensive mount is going to somehow get through to me? I already heard you. I did understand. I cannot afford to heed your advice at this time.

I'm unwilling to wait another year or so to even get started with AP, so I have to get something now...and that means getting something some of you guys consider pointless and worthless. The persistent insistence by individuals such as Starhawk that I MUST get a high end mount because a low end mount will just be too difficult for me to use makes wild assumptions about who I am, what I know, and what I am capable of...and consistently ignores the whole budget factor. I don't appreciate being told to give up on AP and "just do astronomy" because, at least as far as what Starhawk THINKS he knows about me, I'm just too unskilled or undereducated about the subject to understand the differences that he's talking about. I don't need to be told repeatedly that I'm too dumb to understand the supposed seriously grave mistake I'm making...I get it, a CGEM/Atlas isn't as good as a Paramount MX. That doesn't matter to me. Do you just not get that, Starhawk? It does not matter to me. It isn't a super great mount. I GET IT. I don't care. It's better than not having a tracking mount AT ALL for another couple years. That's as simple as the matter is to me. <-- Again, does that not compute? To have no tracking mount at all, or to have some kind of tracking mount that you can afford so you can start building up and honing your skill. Which would you choose, if your budget was constraining you?

BTW, Starhawk, regarding the Celestron EdgeHD 11" I was originally talking about? I also said I was going to be using focal reducers and probably HyperStar, so I wasn't considering using a 2800mm telescope. I was well aware of the angular size of the objects I am interested in shooting, hence the reason for expecting to use focal reducers and hyperstar. I said as much on multiple occasions...did you miss each and every one of them, Starhawk, such that it lead you to believe I still intended to use a 2800mm scope right out the gate on an inferior mount? Once I became aware of the total cost involved in getting the necessary precision for tracking at that focal length, I changed my plans. Yes, I'm going to stick with 600mm for now. Yet you still keep persisting in insisting that I am making a mistake, even though by your own admission, 600mm will be a lot more forgiving with a lower end mount, and AP with such a setup should be eminently possible.

Also, Starhawk...attitude? You bring a whole hell of a lot to the table as well, bud.

This thread is no longer helpful. It actually became somewhat derogatory, especially with the comment about giving up on AP and just doing astronomy. Sorry, but I found that to be a highly arrogant comment. Your ignoring what I've said about my current budget, what my goals are, or the fact that I've done untracked AP of DSOs already. Your ignoring the fact that I already have the kind of basic experience you keep telling me to get before I buy a mount. Your ignoring the fact that I changed my plans from buying a full scope setup like the EdgeHD DX 1100 w/ mount, to simply buying a mount and using a much shorter 600mm lens. I understood what you guys said in the first place, and I scaled back my plans according to the good advice that was originally offered early in this thread. Why am I still being bombarded with posts insisting that I'm making a mistake getting this low end mount for a 600mm scope that should be just fine, according to many your own sentiments, with a lower end less precise tracking mount? (Which is really only so much less precise without guiding or PEC...with guiding, the gap closes considerably with higher end mounts.)

Well, I am truly sorry for starting this thread. I clearly ruffled too many feathers when I decided to scale back my short term goals. If it came off as though I was ignoring advice, that certainly wasn't my intention. I did not ignore advice, I actually took it to heart, which is WHY I scaled back my short term plans. I have a solid understanding of the kind of mounts available, and how important the mount is for AP. For that, I am grateful. It answered the original question I asked. As for the rest...well... Feel free to do what you will with this topic...leave it open, close it...either way, I'm out.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6344346 - 01/29/14 11:49 PM

Jon, try reading what is actually being written to you. You've gone off and put volumes in people's mouths, including mine. I never said you'd have to buy an expensive mount. In fact, I've pointed out at least twice on this thread I'm not getting a cut no matter what mount you decide or don't decide to get. Spend $500 or $25,000 on a mount or a used car if you feel like.

I'm going to be honest- It's a long way from your Orion to the Gendler pix. Can someone say that without it being another fight?

Get a mount and get started. I've said that at least twice, too.

I know you're going to tell me how easy it is to get perfect pictures once you have the CGEM. I've had one 3 years, and it's a decent enough mount.

I'm going to try saying this another way, and hope the spirit of it can get through these blasted markings on a screen: Getting from better than 90% of the photos out there to the best anyone you show them to has seen is everything this thread has been about, even if it wasn't readily apparent. Your initial post gave the impression that was where you wanted to go.

Best wishes,

-Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mmalik
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/13/12

Loc: USA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6344495 - 01/30/14 02:52 AM

I have not read this thread in its entirety so bear with me; I have though read some of the back and forth and mind making of the OP. Here is sum total of my "OWN" analysis thus far from AP perspective and not sure if it helps OP in any regard. Regards




References:
FSQ-106EDXIII F5 Astrograph for Imaging...
Knowing AT65EDQ for AP...
Knowing ZEQ25GT 2" for AP...
AstroPhoto Processing...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
wargrafix
sage


Reged: 04/10/13

Loc: Trinidad
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6344627 - 01/30/14 07:39 AM

Quote:

I have not read this thread in its entirety so bear with me; I have though read some of the back and forth and mind making of the OP. Here is sum total of my "OWN" analysis thus far from AP perspective and not sure if it helps OP in any regard. Regards




References:
FSQ-106EDXIII F5 Astrograph for Imaging...
Knowing AT65EDQ for AP...
Knowing ZEQ25GT 2" for AP...
AstroPhoto Processing...




Excellent post. :-)

I think the confusion happened when the discussion veered into "learn normal astronomy" as the OP put it. I think the intention was to learn telescope quirks before venturing fully. I am learning and hope that the quirks i experienced could be worked on.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6345851 - 01/30/14 07:22 PM

Quote:

I have not read this thread in its entirety so bear with me; I have though read some of the back and forth and mind making of the OP. Here is sum total of my "OWN" analysis thus far from AP perspective and not sure if it helps OP in any regard. Regards




References:
FSQ-106EDXIII F5 Astrograph for Imaging...
Knowing AT65EDQ for AP...
Knowing ZEQ25GT 2" for AP...
AstroPhoto Processing...




Thanks. The table is quite helpful. I am curious though...a number of people have recommended the CEM60...that isn't out yet, is it? I didn't think that was arriving until March. I also haven't found any reviews of it. While I think it is an intriguing mount, it would be nice to see how it actually performs in the real world first.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: wargrafix]
      #6345865 - 01/30/14 07:28 PM

Quote:


Excellent post. :-)

I think the confusion happened when the discussion veered into "learn normal astronomy" as the OP put it. I think the intention was to learn telescope quirks before venturing fully. I am learning and hope that the quirks i experienced could be worked on.




To be precise, my issue was the fact that comments like "just do astronomy and don't bother with AP for now" were based on incorrect assumptions about who I am and what I'd do with a midrange mount if it became "a hassle". Assumptions like "I'd just get so discouraged with a midrange mount I'd just give up." That's a pure assumption, its a pure fabrication. It has absolutely zero relevance to who I actually am and what would or would not discourage me. It's a mistaken assumption, a bad assumption. Offering advice based on what you mistakenly assume a person will do is the best way to give really bad advice.

The kind of advice given based on those assumptions was also actively discouraging itself...to assume someone will be discouraged by using <somemount>, then to actively discourage them from even trying to start astrophotography as a result of your assumption? Which itself was based on an assumption that the person asking for advice had never even tried astronomy before, or had never even tried astrophotography before, and had never tried stacking or processing an astrophoto before? Seriously. It doesn't really get more discouraging than that. I truly didn't come here to be discouraged. I'd have happily offered more information about myself if someone had asked, rather than assuming.

Anyway...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mmalik
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/13/12

Loc: USA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6346429 - 01/31/14 01:11 AM

Quote:

I am curious though...a number of people have recommended the CEM60...that isn't out yet, is it? I didn't think that was arriving until March.




Well, March is not far and we'll find out plenty about it by then.

In the meantime get ZEQ25 and possibly AT65EDQ; supplies of either of these might already be running low, if not sold out alredy, so get 'em while you can. This will give you plenty to do and learn till spring for ~$1600. Regards


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6346475 - 01/31/14 02:27 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I am curious though...a number of people have recommended the CEM60...that isn't out yet, is it? I didn't think that was arriving until March.




Well, March is not far and we'll find out plenty about it by then.

In the meantime get ZEQ25 and possibly AT65EDQ; supplies of either of these might already be running low, if not sold out alredy, so get 'em while you can. This will give you plenty to do and learn till spring for ~$1600. Regards




If you missed it, I am planning on using my Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II lens as an OTA (assuming I can get some parallax rings built for it), so I already have a scope. I just need a mount. I've been warned off the ZEQ25 by a couple people, primarily due to the capacity I think (it only holds 27lb...regardless of what I start out with, I intend to get a larger tube eventually as well (maybe even before I get a better mount), so I want something that can handle more weight than 27lb.)

It's the capacity that primarily has me interested in the CEM60. It'll be interesting to see how that mount turns out in a couple months. If not that mount, then it'll have to be something else capable of handling more than the ZEQ25, though...preferably something that can hold 40lb or more. Hence the CGEM (or even CGEM DX) or Atlas mounts.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Per Frejvall
sage


Reged: 09/28/12

Loc: Saltsjöbaden, Sweden
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6346480 - 01/31/14 02:45 AM

Without venturing too far into this discussion, I can report that I have never actually looked at an object through any of my telescopes. I am strictly into astro photography and technical gadgets, nothing visual.

I like to sleep at night, hence my desire to automate everything to the fullest. This also makes my checklist for what is good with a certain mount somewhat different to other people's, and unfortunately I do not always make that totally obvious and clear in the discussions.

Nonetheless, great discussions!

/per


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Jon Rista]
      #6346822 - 01/31/14 09:54 AM

What, exactly, are you complaining about? You came on saying you wanted to go big in this hobby and were expecting to pay what it cost to get the best results, and dropping $12k on a Canon lens didn't deter you. That's a lot more than most of us have spent on an optic. One isn't ASSUMING after reading that when they infer the author is not afraid to pay what it costs to buy the best.

It seems more like YOU ASSUMED we would somehow realize you were greatly overstating your level of interest, level of ability, and budget. However, as each reply came in reading your initial post precisely the same way, you got angrier. Finally, you started going down paths which don't jibe at all with what you claimed you wanted to do in you initial post, and it has become clear hearing anything other than whatever it is you wanted to hear has you furious.

Frankly, you have have become unacceptably derisive to a community which has done its level best to help.

We aren't being paid to listen to you, here. As has been said before, no one here is getting a check in the mail based on what you decide to do.

Think about that and cut out the hateful PMs you've been sending.

-Rich

Quote:

Quote:


Excellent post. :-)

I think the confusion happened when the discussion veered into "learn normal astronomy" as the OP put it. I think the intention was to learn telescope quirks before venturing fully. I am learning and hope that the quirks i experienced could be worked on.




To be precise, my issue was the fact that comments like "just do astronomy and don't bother with AP for now" were based on incorrect assumptions about who I am and what I'd do with a midrange mount if it became "a hassle". Assumptions like "I'd just get so discouraged with a midrange mount I'd just give up." That's a pure assumption, its a pure fabrication. It has absolutely zero relevance to who I actually am and what would or would not discourage me. It's a mistaken assumption, a bad assumption. Offering advice based on what you mistakenly assume a person will do is the best way to give really bad advice.

The kind of advice given based on those assumptions was also actively discouraging itself...to assume someone will be discouraged by using <somemount>, then to actively discourage them from even trying to start astrophotography as a result of your assumption? Which itself was based on an assumption that the person asking for advice had never even tried astronomy before, or had never even tried astrophotography before, and had never tried stacking or processing an astrophoto before? Seriously. It doesn't really get more discouraging than that. I truly didn't come here to be discouraged. I'd have happily offered more information about myself if someone had asked, rather than assuming.

Anyway...




Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6347837 - 01/31/14 06:42 PM

Quote:

What, exactly, are you complaining about? You came on saying you wanted to go big in this hobby and were expecting to pay what it cost to get the best results, and dropping $12k on a Canon lens didn't deter you. That's a lot more than most of us have spent on an optic. One isn't ASSUMING after reading that when they infer the author is not afraid to pay what it costs to buy the best.

It seems more like YOU ASSUMED we would somehow realize you were greatly overstating your level of interest, level of ability, and budget. However, as each reply came in reading your initial post precisely the same way, you got angrier. Finally, you started going down paths which don't jibe at all with what you claimed you wanted to do in you initial post, and it has become clear hearing anything other than whatever it is you wanted to hear has you furious.

Frankly, you have have become unacceptably derisive to a community which has done its level best to help.

We aren't being paid to listen to you, here. As has been said before, no one here is getting a check in the mail based on what you decide to do.

Think about that and cut out the hateful PMs you've been sending.

-Rich






You know what I'm referring to when I say you assumed, and it isn't what your referring to above. I made that very clear in my PM. Your handily ignoring it, but whatever.

I DO intend to spend the money, you know that as well, and again, that isn't the point. Again, your handily ignoring what I' explained to you in PM (and what I also explained out here). But...whatever.

It also isn't the community, it is primarily you, and maybe a couple others (but apparently they aren't as stubborn as either of us). You know exactly what I'm referring to, but again...were still playing games here. Again, whatever.

There is no longer any point in continuing any debate or conversation with you. I used PMs because it isn't the communities issue, it's between you and me. You either just don't understand the point I've been trying to make, or simply don't care. Either way, it doesn't matter anymore. Thanks for the help, good day, clear skies.

Edited by Jon Rista (01/31/14 06:47 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CHAPSKINS
member


Reged: 11/27/13

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6350603 - 02/02/14 04:55 AM

My thoughts...

I've gone from a Celestron SLT 130 and it's associated mount (wobbly nightmare) to a CG5 GT with the same SLT 130...hmm, to a CGE Pro Edge HD 1100. I took my time weighing up all of the different mounts and scopes and ended up buying the CGE Pro Edge HD 1100 and I'm very happy with the setup.

There's an absolute plethora of mounts out there. The way I see it is this: mounts like the Paramount to me are boutique pieces of equipment which I've come across when running a studio and the rediculous money people spend for what seems like very marginal gains. I'm sure that there are gains in spending huge amounts of cash on a Paramount mount are there to be had, but this puppy would never part with $350 just for a counterweight from Software Bisque, plus you have to buy a mount and counterweight bar...no thanks.

I heard people moaning about the weight of the CGE Pro and that it's impractical; to who, a midget? Seriously. I'm not the biggest built bloke and I don't find it that heavy to lift the entire mount head on my own and place it on top of the tripod. I could understand if people out there are at retirement age and are a tad weak, but for those of us that are not infirm, it's easily movable, same goes for the Edge HD 1100, it's lightweight and a breeze to lift.

At the time of looking for a new mount, I tossed the idea of a CGEM DX around in my mind, but looking into the future and possibly having an assortment of new *things* attached to the scope, I went for something that would be able to accept new additions without going over 50% of the mounts rated load. Things May creep over in time, but I don't want to be at 90% of rated load like I would be if I went for a CGEM DX, so I went for the CGE Pro instead. I could have easily afforded Software Bisque's top of the range mount, but as I've already said - in a round about way - I don't think that what you get for your money merits paying such large amounts of money for.

Something that I've now found with going down the road of astrophotography is that having an increased amount of equipment leads me in the direction of wanting to have a shed at the bottom of the garden and not have to take everything down night after night as it's an absolute pain. There's cameras, an auto focuser, automatic dew controller, dew heaters, autoguider, remote control leads going into the living room, etc, etc. It takes a whole load of time to set everything up and less time observing. So that's something to take into account.

The best advise I can offer is take your time and weigh up all of the options out there and see which one suits you best.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
DocFinance
sage
*****

Reged: 01/14/14

Loc: Clear Lake, Texas
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: CHAPSKINS]
      #6350796 - 02/02/14 09:35 AM

I would argue that the mount is just as important as the optics. I have several good scopes, but finding better ways to mount them is an endless quest.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gdd
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/05

Loc: N Seattle suburb, WA
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #6351116 - 02/02/14 12:27 PM

While Jon did say he wants a mount that will last the years and has purchased top end photo equipment leading us to believe he is seeking to create really excellent images, he also expressed in interest in widefield work based on his interest in hyperstar. A hyperstar setup means more forgiving pixel scales and shorter subexposures, so for this use a midrange mount may produce as excellent of results as the top end equipment.

If later his interests expand to include narrowband high resolution astrophotography taking advantage of the darkest sites and rare opportunities of great seeing, then those high capacity high performance mounts may be the only way to get those truly exceptional results.

Gale


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CHAPSKINS
member


Reged: 11/27/13

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6351145 - 02/02/14 12:44 PM

Quote:

I would argue that the mount is just as important as the optics. I have several good scopes, but finding better ways to mount them is an endless quest.




Definitely


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CHAPSKINS
member


Reged: 11/27/13

Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: gdd]
      #6351176 - 02/02/14 12:58 PM

Quote:

While Jon did say he wants a mount that will last the years and has purchased top end photo equipment leading us to believe he is seeking to create really excellent images, he also expressed in interest in widefield work based on his interest in hyperstar. A hyperstar setup means more forgiving pixel scales and shorter subexposures, so for this use a midrange mount may produce as excellent of results as the top end equipment.

If later his interests expand to include narrowband high resolution astrophotography taking advantage of the darkest sites and rare opportunities of great seeing, then those high capacity high performance mounts may be the only way to get those truly exceptional results.

Gale




This also came into my thinking when buying a mount. I've got Hyperstar, and as I've already mentioned, when you start adding more weight to your scope/mount setup, with something like the CGEM DX you're way above recommended norms for astrophotography if you've something like an Edge HD 1100 or 1140. Obviously it's a different story if you've a lightweight scope.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: CHAPSKINS]
      #6351603 - 02/02/14 04:27 PM

Quote:

My thoughts...

I've gone from a Celestron SLT 130 and it's associated mount (wobbly nightmare) to a CG5 GT with the same SLT 130...hmm, to a CGE Pro Edge HD 1100. I took my time weighing up all of the different mounts and scopes and ended up buying the CGE Pro Edge HD 1100 and I'm very happy with the setup.

There's an absolute plethora of mounts out there. The way I see it is this: mounts like the Paramount to me are boutique pieces of equipment which I've come across when running a studio and the rediculous money people spend for what seems like very marginal gains. I'm sure that there are gains in spending huge amounts of cash on a Paramount mount are there to be had, but this puppy would never part with $350 just for a counterweight from Software Bisque, plus you have to buy a mount and counterweight bar...no thanks.

I heard people moaning about the weight of the CGE Pro and that it's impractical; to who, a midget? Seriously. I'm not the biggest built bloke and I don't find it that heavy to lift the entire mount head on my own and place it on top of the tripod. I could understand if people out there are at retirement age and are a tad weak, but for those of us that are not infirm, it's easily movable, same goes for the Edge HD 1100, it's lightweight and a breeze to lift.

At the time of looking for a new mount, I tossed the idea of a CGEM DX around in my mind, but looking into the future and possibly having an assortment of new *things* attached to the scope, I went for something that would be able to accept new additions without going over 50% of the mounts rated load. Things May creep over in time, but I don't want to be at 90% of rated load like I would be if I went for a CGEM DX, so I went for the CGE Pro instead. I could have easily afforded Software Bisque's top of the range mount, but as I've already said - in a round about way - I don't think that what you get for your money merits paying such large amounts of money for.

Something that I've now found with going down the road of astrophotography is that having an increased amount of equipment leads me in the direction of wanting to have a shed at the bottom of the garden and not have to take everything down night after night as it's an absolute pain. There's cameras, an auto focuser, automatic dew controller, dew heaters, autoguider, remote control leads going into the living room, etc, etc. It takes a whole load of time to set everything up and less time observing. So that's something to take into account.




Thanks for the new perspective, chapskins. Appreciated.

I've looked at (and, honestly, drolled over) the CGE Pro 1100 HD package a few times. The mount definitely looks pretty.

I'm curious...do you use autoguiding with the CGE Pro, or do you just use PEC? Either way, how is your tracking? P2P PE performance (I guess in RA and Dec, if you guide in both)?

Since I first asked this question, I went on a guiding research binge. While it does not sound like you can get down to the very fine sub-arcsecond (P2P PE w/ PEC) precision performance of a $10,000+ mount, it DOES sound as though with good polar alignment and good tracking (which involves using a guiding scope of adequate focal length relative to the main scope), you can get down to around a couple/few arcseconds P2P PE with a lesser mount.

It seems like 7 arcseconds P2P PE without PEC is the target for high end mounts. That would be +/- 3.5 PE. With PEC and/or high precision encoders, Software Bisque, Astro-Physics, and 10Micron mounts all seem to reach the sub-arcsecond range (<+/-0.5 PE). The CGE Pro has +/- 5 PE without PEC. According to a conversation I had with Celestron, their mounts offer PPEC, or programmable PEC. Once programmed, Celestron mounts can offer very good performance, somewhere between +/- 2 to +/- 1 PE (2-4 arcsec P2P PE).

When it comes to using PEC, Celestron recommends you guide while programming to get the best results (their manuals actually state you should use the hand controller to manually guide, however numerous YouTube videos and forum threads show people autoguiding with a SSAG during CGE/CGEM pec programming). If you have less than 4 arcsec P2P (+/- 2) PE with PEC, then guiding with a sufficiently long guidescope (or OAG, I guess) should help reduce that even further.

If I could get that kind of performance out of a guided mount that cost less than $10,000, I would be pretty happy. Even if the unguided performance of the mount is still 4-5arcsec P2P PE or so, so long as I can get round stars with guiding up to 10 minutes, I'll be pretty happy. Once I move into 20minute 3nm-5nm narrow band imaging, that's when I figure a high precision mount with sub-arcsecond P2P PE would really be necessary.

For reference:

CGE Pro PE charts:
http://www.celestron.com/sports_outdoors/celestron-cge-pro-mount.html
(Scroll down to the bottom for charts)
- Normal unguided: +/- 7 (14 arcsec P2P)
- PEC unguided +/- >2.0 (4.5 arcsec P2P)
- Autoduiged: +/- 2.0 (4 arcsec P2P)
- Autoguided w/ PEC: +/- <2.0 (less than 4 arcsec P2P)

Quote:

The best advise I can offer is take your time and weigh up all of the options out there and see which one suits you best.




Aye, indeed. Still looking, still listening.

I may still just pick up an EdgeHD DX 1100 package deal this year (even not on sale, it's $4400, and on sale it's $4000...less than the $7000-8000 I was originally planning to spend, so I'd still be able to save), then sell off the mount at some point in the future when I decide I need a larger scope, and therefor a better mount. Seems like a personal observatory is pretty critical once you get into scopes larger than about 8" and mounts heavier than a CGEM DX. For portability, I've also thought about just getting the EdgeHD 800 package deal, which uses a CGEM rather than a CGEM DX. That would be ok, though...the EdgeHD 800 deal is $2500 (which is only about $500-600 more expensive than buying decent used gear off cloudynights and astromart anyway), and once I upgrade the scope and get a new mount, the I'd just reemploy the CGEM for wide field tracking with my DSLR and shorter lenses.

Edited by Jon Rista (02/02/14 05:16 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Rista
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/10/14

Loc: Colorado
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount? new [Re: gdd]
      #6351613 - 02/02/14 04:32 PM

Quote:

While Jon did say he wants a mount that will last the years and has purchased top end photo equipment leading us to believe he is seeking to create really excellent images, he also expressed in interest in widefield work based on his interest in hyperstar. A hyperstar setup means more forgiving pixel scales and shorter subexposures, so for this use a midrange mount may produce as excellent of results as the top end equipment.





Aye, I figure hyperstar would be pretty forgiving. I don't suspect I'd start with hyperstar though...I'd add that sometime later, next year. If I started with an f/6.3 focal reducer on an EdgeHD, which would reduce the 11" from 2800mm to 1764mm, or the 8" from 2032mm to 1280mm, how would a midrange mount, with good guiding, perform? Acceptably?

Quote:


If later his interests expand to include narrowband high resolution astrophotography taking advantage of the darkest sites and rare opportunities of great seeing, then those high capacity high performance mounts may be the only way to get those truly exceptional results.




That pretty much sums up the long term goals.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Buying a telescope...how important is the mount?