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astrophotography Celestron equipment mount SCT beginner cassegrain
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#1 BeltofOrion

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 09:49 PM

Recently, while perusing the Mallincam web site, I happened on a video presentation given by Rod Mollise at the 2013 Almost Heaven Star Party.  In that presentation, he made a passing reference to the CloudyNights forum,  so, after watching the video, I did a Google search, ended up here, and decided to become a member.

 

I do not presently own, nor have I ever owned, a telescope. But, I have desired one for years. Actually, years and years would probably be more accurate. But, work, a plethora of other hobbies  ... eg. fly fishing, golf, writing, photography, with a few other odds and ends thrown in ... not to mention the time and financial constraints of doing justice to  this whole astronomy thing the way I wanted to do it, meant it just wasn't in the stars for me. Excuse the pun, please. So, you might ask, what the heck was I  doing on the Mallincam web site?

 

Well, the financial constraints were finally out of the picture ... in a limited sort of way ... so, I had decided it was time and had finally made the choice of scope, mount and accessories I was going to purchase. But, I hadn't completely decided on the camera I was going to purchase to use with the hyperstar system. Then, the whole video thing caught my attention.

 

Anyway, to make a long story short, the first post I happened unto here at CloudyNights was one by JJMack entitled "Why isn't the Edge HD 1100 the best thing for me?" Heck, I could have written that post! Right down to the budget, astrophotography, and accessories he wanted... except for one tiny detail: I wasn't looking for anyone to dissuade me from what I had chosen! I knew what I wanted. No question about it. Or, thought I did. But, of course, after reading the comments on his post I am now lost! Back at square one again!

 

I had almost made the order. Indeed, if the whole camera thing hadn't been still up in the air, I most likely would have. The Celestron 1100 EdgeHD with the CGEM DX mount seemed perfect. I was even more convinced after listening to the video by Eric, the product development manager for Celestron, filmed at the 2011 CES! After seeing that video, I can't believe that mount would be as totally unacceptable for astrophotography as most of the posters seem to suggest!

 

If you haven't already figured it out, I guess  I should tell you that as far as this hobby is concerned, I am totally 'out in the sticks' or maybe boondocks would be a better word. Lots of dark skies ... no problem there ... but, no access to astronomy clubs, star parties, etc. All my info has to come from magazines, books, and the Internet. So, now I'm learning about mounts. And, boy, is it ever a learning experience! There definitely seems to be a pathetic lack of industry standards. The CGEM DX I intended to purchase is rated for 50 pounds ... and doing a rough calculation for what I would have on it ... minus the counterweights which I guess have to be added in ... puts it over 50 pounds ... not by much, but definitely over. So, how can a Celestron product development manager give the impression it would be a great system for astrophotography? Who in their right mind would overload it? Or, are those counterweights not taken into consideration?

 

Now, I have noticed that some posters on here seem to think an AP mount ... the gold standard of mounts? ... rated for 45 pounds could definitely be loaded beyond that amount. Other posters seem to agree with me that it would be folly to disregard any payload limit recommendations by manufacturers. But,  then others seem to think that for the AP's they are only guidelines! What?! Heck, it seems a couple of posters would have resorted to fisticuffs on the matter if they had been within arms length of one another ... especially since one of the posters is a Meade owner and Meade seems to be held in low regard by some on here.

 

So, since I am definitely interested in astrophotography, I guess I have to keep saving until I can afford a mount with at least a 90+ pound rating. And, even then hope it actually means 90 pounds and not closer to 1/3 or 2/3 of that amount. But, looking at some of the prices (old prices... new ones don't seem to be available yet) of the AP mounts, maybe I should take up golf again ... or check around and see if there are any synchronized swimming teams for old men. A few nose pieces, bathing caps, and swim trunks wouldn't cost much.

 

Seriously, though, this is tough slogging. I definitely want to photograph as well as view the celestial objects. I think I read a comment on here where someone said "why would I want to take an astrophoto of something that someone has already photographed before, anyway?" Wow! Amazing! If everyone thought that way about photography, there would be very few cameras. Who would go to the Grand Canyon or view the New York skyline for the first time and not want to take a photo? When I first took up photography, I had a darkroom and developed my own negatives ... both B&W and color ... and made my own prints. So, I'm old ... but, I have entered the digital age. I own a full frame Nikon D810 and a ASP-C (crop sensor) Nikon D300. And, I'm pretty good at Photoshop ... if I do say so myself. So, anything astrophotography might throw at me doesn't phase me in the slightest. The tougher the challenge, the better. But, I don't want to do it if, right up front, the equipment puts me at a disadvantage. So, I guess my quest begins for the very best ... yet cheapest ... GoTo mount to allow me to achieve my dream with that Celestron 1100 Edge HD.  Any suggestions? By the way, I'd like to use both the D810 and the D300 to make some of those images, but also purchase a CCD camera for the Hyperstar as well.

 

I apologize for the length of this post. Next one will be shorter ... I hope.

 

I decided to post this here. But, perhaps it should be in the equipment forum. Under Mounts. What do you think?

 

Anyway, hello ... and thanks in advance for any help you might be able to provide.


Edited by BeltofOrion, 11 January 2016 - 09:56 PM.


#2 rcooley

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 09:57 PM

take it slow grasshopper



#3 BeltofOrion

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 10:00 PM

Haven't got the time to take it slow, rcooley. That's what I've been doing all these years ... taking it slow. Now, I want to move!


Edited by BeltofOrion, 11 January 2016 - 11:26 PM.


#4 ChristianG

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 10:33 PM

Hi. Welcome to this forum. 

 

What kind of astrophotography do you want to do? Do you want to make one of those nice M31 shots, the Andromeda galaxy? With my APS-C DSLR, I can barely fit it in the frame with a 102 mm f/7 with 714 mm of focal length. Let's say that with a full frame DSLR, one could go up to perhaps 1000 mm in focal length. A stock C11 has about 2800 mm of focal length, so all you would see is the galactic core. And forget about the Pleiades!

 

A C11 is a nice instrument, but ideally it should be paired with a smaller, shorter focal length telescope like an 80 mm f/6, say. Which folks are suggesting would be a good first purchase, before 'graduating' to a C11, just to learn how to properly focus to begin with, for instance... Good luck!

 

--Christian



#5 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 10:37 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights.

 

Is there a near-by club or dark sky event where you could actually get your hands on something?

 

Buying astronomy gear is kind of like buying anything else, you don't really know what you want until you've used something.

 

While some threads get heated, most people on CN are fairly moderate. Some people get very excited about the equipment they own because most astronomers are pretty analytical and really spend a lot of time thinking through things. Also, once an expensive piece of equipment is bought, there's usually some level of pride involved. Sometimes the logic goes something like this:

 

1.) I went through an elaborate decision process to choose a piece of equipment.

2.) You prefer something different.

3.) Therefore, you must disagree with my decision process.

4.) So, you must be an idiot...

5.) ...or are purposely choosing to disagree with the obvious truth, which makes you a liar.

 

Moreover, there are always statistical outliers as far as equipment and experiences go. There will always be people out on the margins that have a great experience with equipment that is typically condemned as well as people who have bad luck with equipment that is universally praised. We all also have different expectations, work flows and personalities. It's often the case that a particular piece of equipment might be just great, for someone else. As has been said ad nauseum, there are different levels of skill, patience, budget and standards or acceptability out there as well.

 

In the end though, it comes down to individual needs and situations. Who cares? It's about you.

 

Most of us have gone through different pieces of equipment in an effort to figure out what we like. Granted, I know that you're in a hurry but I'd certainly trust the opinions of users here versus the opinions of people who are in the business of selling you a particular piece of equipment. If you see that a CN user has a piece of equipment that you're interested in, by all means - send them a Private Message and ask about it. The claims on the back of a magazine cover sometimes don't hold up in the real world.

 

So, at this point, can you clarify? You've already bought an 11" Edge, or not?

 

The Edge is a great piece of equipment but, if you did buy it already, you're now locked into finding a mount that is suitable.

 

The counterweights are normally not added to the weight of the payload on a mount. In other words, if the mount is rated at 50 pounds, that IMPLIES fifty pounds of payload but, if the mount is a lower-end mount (or subscribes to lower-end sales tactics) then you will have to de-rate the mount, typically by half. Finding a proper mount is doubly important for you because the OTA has such a relatively long focal length which will magnify every error that the mount produces.

 

In addition to new, make sure that you check out the Cloudy Night Classified and Astromart.

 

You have obviously been reading around here, but are you familiar with the Astro Imaging channel? In particular the primer and guide to misconceptions (at least the first half as it is long) episodes are very useful.

 

Go ahead and rant. The astronomy business is just like any other business that advertises. You've earned a rant and we've all been there. Yet, don't waste too much time ranting. At the end of the day, you need to let any naive and righteous indignation fade away and get down to the business of realistic solutions that will work for you. Wants aside, rcooley is right. It may also be useful to spend some time behind an eyepiece for a while before diving into imaging either DSOs or planets.

 

Best of luck. See you over in BII.



#6 Meadeball

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 10:49 PM

+1 to the above.

 

Is your first car ever your last car?

Is your first tool the best one you've ever had?

 

No matter how much research, preparation, reading, etc., you do, you won't really know what you want -- unfortunately -- until you get some experience with something under your belt. So don't go crazy and beat yourself up over making your first purchase perfect. Because no matter what you do, it won't be!

And welcome to the Astronomical Guilt-Sharing Self-Justification Society! :gve:


Edited by Meadeball, 11 January 2016 - 10:52 PM.


#7 BeltofOrion

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 11:01 PM

Well, that's the thing, Ken and ChristianG.  As I said, there are no astronomy clubs or star parties anywhere nearby. I don't even know anyone who has a telescope. So, trying before buying is out of the question. Could take a vacation to somewhere where viewing would be possible, I suppose ... but, of course, that would seriously cut into any budget I have for equipment. I haven't purchased the Celestron yet. And, that in itself is not a good thing. They have now gone up in price since Christmas. By the way, wouldn't the 0.7x reducer increase the field of view of the Celestron?

 

And, starting small, trying something, finding it's not suitable, trying to sell it, moving up, etc., etc ... out of the question. Too old for all that nonsense. If I know what I want, if I can afford it, and if it can do the job I want it to do, it's just as we'll to start there ... and not work up to it over years. And, I think you can appreciate that buying a different scope  ie smaller or different type with a crappy ... but suitable mount for the scope purchased ... would not be money well spent if one always intended to be at the 1100 or larger stage to begin with.


Edited by BeltofOrion, 11 January 2016 - 11:24 PM.


#8 BeltofOrion

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 11:07 PM

Actually, Meadeball, I forgot to mention that woodworking is another one of my hobbies. And, yes, the large tools I have bought for my workshop i.e. table saw, bandsaw, planer, drill press ... have always been the best that money could buy. And, I've never had occasion to wish for anything else or regret the choice I made. Made in the good old USA if possible. Today, one would probably have to put up with Chinese made crap. But, that's another story ...


Edited by BeltofOrion, 11 January 2016 - 11:16 PM.


#9 Meadeball

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 11:24 PM

I'm all for keeping our money here in this country too, but honestly, if you expect that kind of result in this hobby you may be disappointed. There's a lot of decent stuff coming from Asia these days, and unfortunately a lot of what used to be made here is now imported. Try to keep an open mind about it. My first "real" scope was made right here on the East Coast and it was very well-made; so well-made that 50-year-old samples are still highly sought-after. (Criterion RV-6 newtonian) But my current scope, a Chinese-made Celestron Omni 102 XLT from a U.S. company whose scopes used to be built in California, is a fine piece of equipment too ...



#10 Knasal

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 12:16 AM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights and I wish you the best in your decision making! It's important to realize that this is a humbling hobby. Very much so in the area of Astro imaging. The well-intended words of RCooley in his post early on ("take it slow") and the words of Forum Moderator Ken Sturrock and Meadball make some good points in regard to the iterative process of trying things and seeing what works, perhaps with a visual piece of equipment first to help you learn some basics in this hobby. I've been observing since I was in the 5th grade - in my mid forties now. I've gone through 4 iterations of different kinds of scopes to learn and am still learning. I hear you say you haven't got all the time in the world and you feel you're ready to pull the trigger, but if you did spend just a little more time traveling to a star party this summer and looking at scopes and talking to people there, I think that may be some of the better money you'll invest in this hobby. I think some people who have posted see what you're writing and their response, in general, may be you're setting expectations high for your first purchase. The Astro imaging component of this hobby is extremely technical and can be very expensive - trust those here, it takes time to learn and you have to have mentors. I do wish you the best in whatever you choose. 



#11 sg6

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 12:50 AM

I suspect that part of the problem is that astrophotography is a specialist area. The Celestron 1100 EdgeHD is usually not taken as "The scope for AP", at least not in the amateur field.  I know people use similar but those people also tend to be the ones with permanent setups and the ones that come to mind are also those that make their living from astrophotography. So again the criteria alters and the degree of work put into it.

 

At a talk recently by one of the professional imagers using a scope similar the the Celestron 1100 EdgeHD they said they check and set collimation everytime they go out, and on a permanently mounted scope also.

 

If you want a Celestron 1100 EdgeHD then get one, I buy what I want, head off and do the same. It will be great for visual and I would expect not quite as well suited to imaging but that is generally the case, there are no real scopes that do both. The 2 have differing basic requirements, so a compromise has to be accepted.

 

If the Celestron 1100 EdgeHD is not to be permanently set up on a pier in an observatory then it may be more troublesome. If permanently setup and with reducer then you should make progress in to astrophotography. In that respect I suspect that it is not the scope that limits what you achieve but the housing or otherwise of the scope.

 

I know of an ODK 16" that is good for imaging, the scope is on a Paramount Mount, both scope and mount combined cost significantly less then the pier onto which they are attached. But it is stable, it is also housed in an observatory.

 

Concerning load and capacity budget for more capacity then you will initially put on. For good images you will want, immediatly or eventually, some guide system and that is more to bolt on. If you enter into LRGB imaging then again more to add to the overall weight Those filters weight very little, but you have several of them, then you have a filter wheel and the motor for the filter wheel to move on to the next, so that no-weight filter suddenly adds a kilo or more to the load. Everything you add on weighs something, might be small but it is extra weight, bit by bit it adds up.

 

Concerning:

I was even more convinced after listening to the video by Eric, the product development manager for Celestron, filmed at the 2011 CES!

Do you really expect him to say don't go near this scope. :question:



#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 12:57 AM

"I definitely want to photograph as well as view the celestial objects. I think I read a comment on here where someone said "why would I want to take an astrophoto of something that someone has already photographed before, anyway?" Wow! Amazing! If everyone thought that way about photography, there would be very few cameras. Who would go to the Grand Canyon or view the New York skyline for the first time and not want to take a photo? When I first took up photography, I had a darkroom and developed my own negatives ... both B&W and color ... and made my own prints. So, I'm old ... but, I have entered the digital age. I own a full frame Nikon D810 and a ASP-C (crop sensor) Nikon D300. And, I'm pretty good at Photoshop ... if I do say so myself. So, anything astrophotography might throw at me doesn't phase me in the slightest. The tougher the challenge, the better. But, I don't want to do it if, right up front, the equipment puts me at a disadvantage. So, I guess my quest begins for the very best ... yet cheapest ... GoTo mount to allow me to achieve my dream with that Celestron 1100 Edge HD.  Any suggestions? By the way, I'd like to use both the D810 and the D300 to make some of those images, but also purchase a CCD camera for the Hyperstar as well."

 

Here's the problem.  You want to use a C11 for astrophotography, presumably including deep space objects.  Some analogies.  Starting out in car racing in Formula One.  After all, it's the best.  Climbing the North Face of the Eiger as your first mountain climb.

 

Or perhaps this works.  I too am a woodworker.   Making a Maloof rocker as your first ever woodworking project.  First ever, you haven't even built a birdhouse.  How good do you think it would look?

 

The point is, the C11 would do exactly what you don't want.  It's equipment that would put you at a gigantic disadvantage.  For a few reasons, the biggest being it would be extremely difficult to track precisely.  Regardless of what the capacity of the mount is.  You're trying to hold a (more or less) 2000mm telephoto on a moving target.  An error of far less than 1/1000 of an inch will give you nothing but a blur.

 

Here's a cautionary tale.  It's not strange or unusual.  Any experienced imager could have predicted it.  Here's a talented man, who started out in astrophotography with a C8.  His images were quite mediocre.  What changed that was when he swapped out the C8 for a 2.9 inch (count 'em, two point nine) refractor.  And started cranking out wonderful images.  The story, with images.

 

http://imgur.com/a/E6sy3

 

Note that he refers to the 2.9 as an upgrade.  Which it was.  Look at his later images.

 

The usual, and well advised rule for a beginner is a small refractor.  Nothing with a focal length over 600mm.  On the best mount you can afford and carry.  If you spend less on the mount than you do on the scope, it's a red flag.  Many experienced imagers have $1-2K scopes sitting on $5K+ mounts.  It's not a mistake.

 

Whatever you do, reading or at least skimming this superb book before spending thousands of dollars would be an excellent idea.  And, it will serve you as a great reference when you start imaging.

 

http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/148180491X

 

Bottom line.  The small refractor doesn't make astrophotography easy.  No equipment can do that.  It will allow you to learn the extremely difficult art better and faster.  And have more fun while you're doing that.  After a year or two with the small refractor, you might step up to a bigger scope.  Or maybe not, some very talented imagers stick with the small refractor.  Here's a sample.

 

http://www.astrobin.com/full/167871/0/

 

One last point.  The setups for visual and astrophotography are completely different.  Your short exposure eyes need a big scope to gather enough light fast enough.  In astrophotography of deep space objects, you use long exposures, extremely precisely tracked, instead.  If you want to do both you need two setups, or at least two scopes.  Compromise doesn't work.  It would be like a pro photographer with two assignments, a pro soccer game and an indoor wedding in a small house.  For the game, he needs a long telephoto, for the wedding a wide angle.  Compromising on a short telephoto would mean doing a lousy job on both.


Edited by bobzeq25, 12 January 2016 - 01:13 AM.


#13 BeltofOrion

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 01:03 AM

I just found some amazing astrophotos on Flickr from two separate users of the Celestron 1100 Edge HD ... and, on the CGEM DX mount! That's just two ... without hardly trying. The photos are kind of hard to jibe with the comments I read on JJMack's post. They say a photo is worth a thousand words. But, in my opinion, each of those photos are worth considerably more than a thousand.  I have contacted them for their opinion of the scope/mount combo. It will be interesting to see what they have to say.



#14 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 01:14 AM

I just found some amazing astrophotos on Flickr from two separate users of the Celestron 1100 Edge HD ... and, on the CGEM DX mount!

 

Yup. The combination can certainly work. It may not be the easiest, but there's not doubt that it can work.

 

Also - good move about the focal reducer, that'll help you out.

 

At this point, I'm going to flick this thread over to BII since, although the OP is a beginner, the topic is pretty sophisticated.



#15 KenS

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 02:56 AM

All I can add is that everything is a compromise, especially when you are on a tight budget. So you want to get your priorities straight so you compromise in the right places.

Also, you can make just about any combination of gear work if you really know what you are doing. Heck, as a fly fisherman you could cast with a broomstick and catch fish but do you really want to start out that way?

With visual astronomy you want to capture as much light as possible, hence "aperture is king"

With astrophotography pointing accuracy is what you want and that is down to the mount.



#16 MikeBOKC

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 08:37 AM

Seems to me that whenever this issue comes up -- which it does a lot -- that there is a lot of over-analyzing. No the 11 inch SCT on an EQ mount  is not the best and most ideal instrument for astrophotography, but it will do ok. It is also a superb visual instrument, and as the OP reports his living location, the dark skies there will make it shine even more. Kind of like deciding on a car: yes the sports car is sleek and sexy, but the SUV has the cargo capacity I need etc. As noted above no one scope/mount combination does it all, but an 11 inch edge SCT on a decent EQ mount is right up there in capability and versatility. The best thing is this does not have to be a final purchase. If in a year you decide it's not right for you there will be people standing in line to buy that setup for 75 percent of the original cost at least.



#17 tchandler

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 09:13 AM

I am not an imager, but applaud and take great pleasure the efforts of those who are. I have little doubt that I sat up and took note of this hobby because of the work of astrophotographers. So, even if only for selfish reasons, I would very much like to see you (and others) succeed!

 

The education process has always been of interest to me - and you, BeltofOrion, sound like you're certainly getting one! 

 

FWIW - I will venture this: beware of over-motivation, which will most certainly lead to errors that might result in an under-estimation of your abilities. So, if you cannot slow down as was suggested above, then at least try to be patient. Impatience is close to boredom and it always results from just one thing: an underestimation of the amount of time that the job will take. And you do not need to apologize for your posts or for the length of them. Getting your thoughts down, whether on this forum, a notebook, or a candy wrapper you put in a bottle and toss in the sea, will work wonders to help you sort things out. This message is not so much for you, as it's clear you get it, but for others out there who are struggling similarly. Astrophotography is hard. Learning it will be painful. There is no other way. At least not if you truly wish to shine, which I sense you do.

 

Kindest regards,


Edited by tchandler, 12 January 2016 - 09:18 AM.


#18 kraegar

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 09:33 AM

Here's the trick - you're familiar with photography... well, astrophotography is no different!  A telescope is just a really big lens.  You're going for really long exposures on a moving target, to boot.

 

So, you have some things to consider:

1 - target size.  You haven't said what you want to image.  That telescope is a Fixed Focal Length camera lens.  So framing a target is important.

2 - Tracking.  Big scopes are tougher to guide.  This isn't a problem if you want to image planets, though, because you don't have to track them precisely.  However, if you want to image small distant galaxies, you need to take very long exposures.  That big scope will make things harder, and your tracking will have to be more accurate.

3 - Learning curve.  Speaking from experience here.  Polar alignment is tricky. Guiding is tricky. Focus is tricky. Collimation (if your scope needs it) is tricky.  All of these can be overcome, but the usual advice is to limit the number of hurdles you stack in front of your first race.

 

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that a BIG scope is "better" than a little one for astrophotography.  That's like saying a big lens is better than a small lens for photography.  Well... if I'm a portrait photographer, I probably shouldn't say "I must have a 1000mm telephoto lens!", right?  Ditto with AP.  Some of this stuff we photograph is BIG.  Really really big!  Bigger than the full moon by far... it's just dim.  It will fill the field of view of a 350mm scope... in fact, you might need a mosaic to capture the entire target, even in a widefield setup like that.  And some of this stuff is small... very, very very small.

 

If you want to image the Orion Nebula, Andromeda, the Rosette, Veil, California Nebula, Pleiades, and the list goes on, you want a widefield setup.  And that's where it's usually suggested new imagers start.  It's a "happy coincidence" that widefield setups are easy to guide, because rotation disappears in the image scale.  So it's more forgiving.  They're also light weight, so the mount doesn't need to be as beefy.  But they'll work just fine on a bigger mount!  If things were different, and it were "easier" to image with a big scope, that's where we'd recommend you start...



#19 Alex McConahay

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 09:53 AM

Belt of Orion,

 

You have come asking for advice. But you seem to be resisting that advice very strongly.

 

Most of the people here will advise you to get the best mount you can afford and a good shorter focal length scope, like an APO refractor. 

 

Eventually you may want that Celestron tube. Yes, many people have taken very good pictures with it. But not many beginners. And the really advanced people are probably not going for the 11 inch Celestron because there are even better scopes than that. 

 

The best piece of advice you have gotten so far was the "slow down grasshopper." There was no disrespect meant in that. You really should slow down, even if you are not a grasshopper. If you have come asking for advice, and almost all the advice says the same thing, you should pay it some heed.

 

Alex



#20 bobzeq25

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 10:07 AM

Seems to me that whenever this issue comes up -- which it does a lot -- that there is a lot of over-analyzing. No the 11 inch SCT on an EQ mount  is not the best and most ideal instrument for astrophotography, but it will do ok. It is also a superb visual instrument, and as the OP reports his living location, the dark skies there will make it shine even more. Kind of like deciding on a car: yes the sports car is sleek and sexy, but the SUV has the cargo capacity I need etc. As noted above no one scope/mount combination does it all, but an 11 inch edge SCT on a decent EQ mount is right up there in capability and versatility.

Disagree.  AP of DSOs is very hard.  The learning curve is steep.  A big scope makes it much harder.  The difficulty does not go up linearly with focal length, the slope is steeper.  I started with an 80/600mm refractor, had some success, bought a 150mm/1370mm Ritchey Chretien, much too soon.  It was like stepping off a cliff.  Brought my progress to a halt for months.

 

Visual setups are _much_ different, and visual instincts will fool you.  This is not "overanalyzing", this story has been played out, over and over. 

 

This example just got posted here.  The man started out with a 10 inch SCT, the usual lure for a beginner.  Tried to do AP.  Got so frustrated he shoved the whole thing into a closet for ten years.  Ten years.  Figured out the problem (this has been discussed here many times), sold the ten inch, got a 2.6 inch refractor, and is now happily imaging.  His story with pictures.

 

http://www.cloudynig...5/#entry6993902

 

This quote is not from me.  "I was in a club, saw a number of people start imaging DSOs.  Of those who started with an 8 inch or larger scope, not one was still imaging a year later.  Those who started small generally succeeded."

 

Please know this isn't about me trying to be "right".  I hardly invented the small refractor on a good mount setup.  I want people to succeed, to learn faster (struggling with a big scope really gets in the way of that, BTDTGTTS) and, above all, to have fun with the hobby.

 

There will be enough challenge, no matter what.  Good AP of DSOs is mind bogglingly complex.


Edited by bobzeq25, 12 January 2016 - 10:22 AM.


#21 Goofi

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 10:13 AM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights  :)

 

First off - if you really want the Edge11, get it. Can you do astrophotography with it? Of course! It may not be the easiest scope to learn on, but it's possible.  I'd strongly recommend a short focal length APO refractor, but let's back up a step or two.

 

What do you want to image? Will you have a permanent setup or will you haul your gear out each night? Does your weather support lots of imaging or once or twice a month? What else will you need besides a scope, camera and mount?

 

I'll come back to targets in a moment, but first - if you have to haul your gear out each night, an Edge11 with heavy mount will get old very quickly. A smaller refractor, with a good mount, will be at least 1/2 the weight. Something to think about. 

 

Targets ... everything up there is fair game, but just like you tie different flies for different situations, you use different scopes (and cameras) for  different targets. If galaxies are your thing, then the Edge11 is a great choice.  But, if you like nebulas it's not as good a scope. 

 

Try to think of it as a scope-camera system. The scope and camera work together so you can image a chunk of the sky - we call the area it sees "Field of View."  You want your field of view larger than your target, or else you're going to have to make a mosaic. The scope-camera system also produces a 'resolution' - we call this image scale: How many arc-seconds of sky is covered by each pixel on the camera. For galaxies you want a low number on your image scale but for nebulas you can have a higher image scale.

 

I love to image nebulas; my setup (an NP-101 w/ Atik One CCD) is designed for a larger field of view (>1.5 degrees) with an image scale of 1.73"/pixel.  Great for nebulas, but not so good at imaging small galaxies (or large open clusters).

 

A great web site to explore this is here. It allows you to pick a scope and camera and see how the target you are interested in looks. 

 

Finally, as I've written somewhere else - get the scope you want, that you will use and enjoy.



#22 AstroGabe

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 10:14 AM

If you're set on the 11" Edge, then planetary imaging is another alternative and great way to get into imaging for relatively little $.  You'd need a decent mount (not necessarily top of the line like AP or equivalent) that can carry it of course, and a planetary camera, which isn't too much cost.  Later on down the road, you can add a small apo, upgrade the mount, and use your Nikons for DSOs.

 

Otherwise, I'd recommend getting a small apo now and dive headfirst into DSO imaging.  It'll be more rewarding getting nice wide field shots than struggling with tracking errors that are hugely magnified in a 2800mm focal length scope.



#23 BeltofOrion

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 10:36 AM

KenS, I'm sure that broomstick image will flash across my mind like a shooting star more than once when the fly fishing season opens later this year. It is an excellent analogy that I think is going to stay with me for a long while. A very long while. It made me laugh.  Ninety eight percent of my fly fishing is done for Atlantic salmon, the king of fish. Done on some very wide and in some cases, very wild, rivers. I'm familiar enough with some of those rivers that yes I can find a place where maybe, once in a blue moon, a fish might lie in close enough to shore to cast to it with a broomstick ... and hook it. Landing it now ... that would be another story. But, if you want to consistently get over the fish, hook them, land them, and release them to fight another day, your equipment has to be up to the task. My weapon of choice is a 10 foot, 8 weight Hardy Zenith Simplex fitted with a Hardy Marquis Salmon No. 2 Reel ... expensive, yes ... but, there is definitely more expensive gear. Still, if Andy Mill (remember him) can land sharks on that rod down in Florida, I think it can handle the Atlantics I fish for. And, to tie it in with this new hobby I'm about to commit to, it lets me cast a full fly line and get out to where I want to go. Ah, some of you might say, your casting skill didn't happen overnight, though. No, you're right. But, it didn't take long and I've taught that skill to three sons and a few years ago to my wife, too. But, would I be satisfied now to sit on the shore, catching a few minnows (maybe) when I know what's out there?  Definitely not! Start small ... with a broomstick scope and pinhole camera when the universe awaits? No thank you. 

 

I enjoy joy photography and manipulating images. I spend hours at it. I am familiar with Starstax and PIPP. Nothing in that area is going to intimidate me, I can assure you.  Meticulously setting everything up and making sure the equipment is ready to do what it is intended to do ... where's the problem there? If fly fishing ... and woodworking ... has taught me anything it's patience. Even if I have to collimating the scope every time I go out as sg6 mentioned above,  collimating an SCT is no big deal. You don't need any specialized equipment. A screwdriver ... and a little patience. It's not rocket science. None of it is, actually. Except maybe choosing the right mount to get the job done ... so, you're right on there, too, Ken.

 

Now let me leave you with an analogy of my own. I don't cook. I don't bake. That's my wife's forte. She's good at it. But, every once in awhile, (I was going to say blue moon again)  I take a difficult dish, follow the recipe to the letter, and, ... you know what? It always turns out great. Plenty has been written on astrophotography. I'm looking forward to jumping in with both feet. But, in this case, I can't 'cook '... not because the recipe isn't there ... or because I'm too lazy to follow it ... or decided to cut corners on the steps. No, it isn't any of that. I don't have the durn pot ... or, perhaps, better still ... the cover that fits on that pot. That's where I'd like some help, please.


Edited by BeltofOrion, 12 January 2016 - 11:34 AM.


#24 bmhjr

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 10:37 AM

My experience at my club's dark site shows that the members that are imaging with large SCT or RC scopes spend most of the night fiddling with their equipment and end the night frustrated.  Just my observation.



#25 baron555

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 10:40 AM

 

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that a BIG scope is "better" than a little one for astrophotography.  That's like saying a big lens is better than a small lens for photography.  Well... if I'm a portrait photographer, I probably shouldn't say "I must have a 1000mm telephoto lens!", right?  Ditto with AP.  Some of this stuff we photograph is BIG.  Really really big!  Bigger than the full moon by far... it's just dim.  It will fill the field of view of a 350mm scope... in fact, you might need a mosaic to capture the entire target, even in a widefield setup like that.  And some of this stuff is small... very, very very small.

 

If you want to image the Orion Nebula, Andromeda, the Rosette, Veil, California Nebula, Pleiades, and the list goes on, you want a widefield setup.  And that's where it's usually suggested new imagers start.  It's a "happy coincidence" that widefield setups are easy to guide, because rotation disappears in the image scale.  So it's more forgiving.  They're also light weight, so the mount doesn't need to be as beefy.  But they'll work just fine on a bigger mount!  If things were different, and it were "easier" to image with a big scope, that's where we'd recommend you start...

 

I"m a newbie here also on CN but not to AP (but still learning).  The above advice is spot-on.

I started back in the day using my C8.  Did I produce images?  Yes  Are they great?  Nada.

 

I just ordered a SV80ST.  I got the hint.


Edited by baron555, 12 January 2016 - 10:40 AM.



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