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Equip RoadMap Start Visual + AP (EAA Astrotoaster or equ) Canon DSLR with some portability

accessories astrophotography beginner dslr EAA equipment imaging eyepieces reflector tripod
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#1 mink


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  • Posts: 17
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2018
  • Loc: Bay Area, CA, USA

Posted 22 February 2018 - 08:34 PM

Hi, so long post to help focus answers and save you kind responders time.
So after 6 weeks or so of reading, looking through 8" Dob and old C8 SCT at a star party half mile from home, speaking with Astronomy professor st College of San Mateo, at this moment, perhaps am circling an equipment plan.


- Have never had good telescope, but have done naked eye events - meteor showers (great Leonide Storm, wow), satellite watching while camping in youth, tried for comets. Now have time, resources and interest. Best now is image stabilized Canon binocs (nice in Madras for eclipse)
- Just retired, age 61 1/2 from clinical medicine with IT experience, and a detour, long ago into automated, digital control system design for Hughes Aircraft (pre PC).
- Eyes have some contrast loss from Lasik, vitreous detachments, floaters and small bleeds. I note need for brightness in optics as I've worked, but suspect I won't tell diff between TeleVue and ExpSci EPs - wife and wallet likes that. I have large pupils for my age 7-7.5+ mm (was hit on head a few times, no really)
- After 5 years of illness am now, reasonably physically fit (but have to pace slowly and carefully) with weight lifting part of weekly workout, including 10x4 sets of squats at 145lbs (relevant to equipment weights). Assembling squat bar involves loading/replacing 45# plates and putting the 45# bar back on its rack unaided.
- facing possibility of needing an artificial heart valve redone in 5-15 years (so need to get a move on this enjoy life now thing) - but shouldn't we all? Other potential time bombs ticking too, but .... it.
- Used to camping in austere environments from being field medic for Burning Man x 10 years, SS Jeremiah O'Brien (well, not that austere), etc, but used to involved camp setup/tear downs.


Observing Environment:
- Mid SF Peninsula - Bortle 5. House in steep canyon, hill and trees block most but overhead except view to South SF Bay, LED street lamp across street. Can do star collimation testing, align sighting scope, limited Moon sometimes not much more. Thus, nomadic astronomy.
- Park half mile away is local Astronomy club star party site. Sheltered usually from wind. Most of my viewing from there likely. Crystal Springs not far.
- Less than two hours away Pinnacles (Bortle 3), Henry Coe (Bortle 4), Pacheco Pass (Bortle 3/4). Also friends in Marin, Sacramento area, so trips to Marin/Lassen/Gold country too. Pacheco is a winter site, windy April to Sept.
- Have RV setup for extended dry (no services) camping, small solar panel and gas genset.
- Other vehicle is Toy 4Runner, so lots of room.
- Thus Rig has to break down to movable units <= 45 lbs each mounting weight. Have folding 4 wheel dolly/hand truck. Heavier once in case is ok as can be slid up.
- I'm told dew isn't a big problem around here, dry Mediterranean climate, but I've located plans for DIY dew heaters and have a prelim design of a modular power take, dew heater/controller based around a Dewalt tool box using SLA 9V alarm/UPS batteries that will recharge off solar.

- Actually, will like hiking some of these places in the daytime!


Targets (evolving):

- Currently believe visual clusters, DSO, but its been a while. Used to like Moon, planets.
- Learning about near live viewing. Want to EAA (AstroToaster?) for DSO like nebula, galaxies for color and doing out reach. Zbook has beautiful screen. Enjoyed teaching throughout career.

On hand equipment from current hobbies/work:
- Canon DSLRs - XSi, 60d, 70d; non modded yet for infrared (night photo hobby). Lenses with barlow to 300+ but would need to fix barrel/pin cushion distortion in software and have it.
- HP Zbook laptop/Xeon workstation 15" 2k hi quality color screen with 12-14hr battery life running window 10pro. Has USB3 that can drive and power USB devices. Has a TB SSD NVMe, 16GB Error correcting ram. Misc USB cables, switches, fans from decades of building computers up.


Equipment Roadmap: I thinking I'm leaning to
Mount: Orion Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G, 44# with improved tripod per here and here

or this TPIastro spreader

- 10" f/3.9 Newt Astrograph 1000mm 31#(Orion vs Skywatcher 10" Quattro) with Baader MPCC III for the AP - visual if needed too. THOUGHTS?
- APO triplet (ES 127 FCD100 glass, metal tube) 952mm f/7.5 33.25/41.75" 2.5"fcr 18# w/3" Field Flattener .7x Focal Reducer = 666mm f/5.25


using combo of
Astro Photography Tool for Camera Control Review - [DSLR and CCD]
Deep Sky Stacker for Astrophotography - Stacking Your DSLR images | AstroBackyard | Astrophotography Blog
Astronomical Observing From the Red Zone Astrotoaster


Comments, no particular order:
- No single item needing lift is over 45#, moset eaily below. Heaviest OTAs for setup lift <35.
- the 127 APO is the give a brighter image for visual but not punishing the wallet too much. The FCE100 glass get excellent reviews, and the focuser is mid grade hex that most people seem satisfied with.
- IF needed would get a small guide scope system for the 10" since like want to use APO visually at same time. Silly idea?
- Baader clicklocks might end up on the terminal 2" receivers.
- If the 10" newt astrograph works out, it gets a Destiny 3 vane spider to improve contrast and remove diffraction spikes, (yeah, don't like those, espec in bright open clusters). Cheaper alternative is the Protostar Spider Although for more serious AP, the APO would be used, in EQ tracking once I've gotten experience in everything else. May have to drop to an 8", but the San Mateo Astronomy prof thought I'd like the 10" in the dark sky better.
- Dobsonian cheapness was tempting but lack of versatility and awkwardness of pieces given my two vehicles and where I need to store things in between made it just not fit in well.
- EPs wise, liked the Explore Scientific 82s quite a bit in the 8" newt. As above, eyes likely won't justify expense of Televues and I think I need the larger apertures to see visually. I'll think to try the ES 2x focal extender instead of a Televue Powermate, cheaper and ES seems to be doing good glass. 2" BTW for most of optical train. THOUGHTS?
I'd be interested in was EP focal lengths people are using. I've built a spread sheet to compare EPs for several scopes with various focal reducers, extenders to minimize overlap. It seems to not get to far into the EP until I've fully settled on the scopes. The spreadsheet compares exit pupil, FOV, mag for three scopes with 2 FR/F ext.
- Thinking of an ES 5.5mm 100degree for ultrawide high mag when seeing permits for kicks and giggles.
- Emotionally was drawn to the Celestron 1100 EdgeHD OTA at first (darn thing looks so sexy), but the 10" Newt likely draws as much light, don't wish to get into hyper/fastar and the numbers just did not make sense re focal length. It would be less of a sail area and puts one in a more comfortable viewing location. But, long cool down, needing to add internal fans, focal reducer is cost of the newt astrograph! There are/where two avail used so an option I'm thinking of but again, right now seems a bit much to bite off. THOUGHTS?
- For a while interested in 190mm Mak-Newt but lack of wide field ability pushed me to the APO. Still seems like a sweet OTA, but slower cool down, collimation challenge and no focal reducer (no wide field). Also more awkward observing position.
- Picked APO over Achro since I can't stand purple fringing in my photos, sorry, personal thing.
- The Atlas Pro Alt/AZ breaks down quickly and I've handled all the pieces easily at the Orion store.


Concerns with this:
- The 10" newt is a bit overwt for the 44# rating of the mount for traditional long duration AP but I found several tips that the issue is the tripod and stiffening it with a low tray improves things much and if not enough, inserting rebar into hollow lower leg with padding to avoid shifting once off warranty if need be. If it is too much of a wind sail then an 8 or maybe a C 1100 edge after all;
- Initially hope to use these in dual Alt/Az mode for appropriate targets visually and EAA with captures < 30 seconds (the F3.9 for that). Be cool during outreach of just being able to view two powers or compare optical to EAA
- The mount manual states there is no way to align two scopes in Azimuth but has any one use a thin brass shim plate in the saddle specific for each scope pair? This could also be part of correcting some cone error in the mount? Kind of how one tunes a precision table saw for cabinetry. Just keep a set for each scope pair. Jigs hang all over my woodshop.
- Many might say use a smaller APO for better wide view in AP, can't argue, it's a trade off for brighter view for visual. If there is really something I want to shoot long exposure too wide for the APO, I can push by DSLR to over 300mm with on hand lenses with in piggybacked and take out the barrel or pincushion with software on hand.
- Alot of the budget is going to the 127 APO to get AP wide angle ability, sure hope its worth it<G>. I was captivated by clusters looking ike multicolored specs on black velvet - shiny! Been watching for used but wanted at least the FCD100 glass which might silly. Also I can buy the Orion stuff and the Expl Sci Apo less half hour from my house in case of any warranty issues.
- Thing I don't like about the 127 APO is not sure if a flattener without reducer is available this one seems to be, but email out the ES asking about it.
- I'm planning to use 2" filters to avoid vignetting. (something like Orion UltraBlock & Lumicon Deep Sky, or preferably a Baader equivalent). I've been researching the Baader UFC system; nice but not cheap! (AP reminds me of what is said of owning sailboat -- a hole in the water you pour money into -- so here I guess a hole in the sky you throw . . .)


Well thank you for getting this far and hopefully, the detail saved some back and forth clarification.


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