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Need advice about a mount for AP under $1k

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#26 orionbay

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 07:17 PM

Just to clarify, tell us a little bit more about your background experience.   Will this be your first mount and telescope, or have you been observing visually for a while.  If you know your way around the sky and a German Equatorial mount, then I agree with the majority opinion, your money would be better spent on a used Sirius or Atlas mount.  For astrophotography/astrovideo those are really just great places to start. Been around for a while and good value for their cost.  I like Losmandy very much(I have several of their mounts) but I started with an Atlas that I used for 7-8 years or more and learned enough to feel that a step up in performance was warranted.   

 

On the other hand, if you are just getting started, an AVX could be a nice introduction to the whole field.  There are a lot of basics to learn with respect to using a mount, that you can learn with the AVX.   You can probably get a number of years of use before you grow out of it and are ready to graduate to a higher grade mount.  No matter WHAT mount you get, I always council PATIENCE.  There are A LOT of steps to getting good pictures(and I am still learning most of them:-), and there is ALWAYS something else you can do to make things better.  Set small goals each time you go out so you can declare victory.  Start imaging with things like the moon and planets, where you are using short exposures so guiding and tracking is not as critical.  Then move to bright Deep Sky Objects like the Pleiades and Orion Nebula.  Add complexity to your set up step by step.  And most of all, remember to have fun!

 

Good luck!

 

JMD

I'm just getting started with astronomy in general, I've got my 8" SCT on Alt-Az on Christmas, but quickly figured it won't be the best place to start with astrophotography. I've never even seen EQ mounts in my life so it's very hard for me to make a decision.


Edited by orionbay, 23 January 2019 - 07:17 PM.


#27 Tom K

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 08:07 PM

I'm just getting started with astronomy in general, I've got my 8" SCT on Alt-Az on Christmas, but quickly figured it won't be the best place to start with astrophotography. I've never even seen EQ mounts in my life so it's very hard for me to make a decision.

In that case, I second (or third) the recommendation to find a local astronomy club and go to a star party so you can see different types of scopes and get a feel for what would work for you.


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#28 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 09:23 PM

I’m curious does anybody take an approach of gradual growth with AP?

I think that most of us do that. Unfortunately, the price of entry can still be a little high.

 

I started AP with a fork-mounted clockdrive SCT on a wedge, but got "serious" when I bought a Celestron ASGT (the predecessor of the AVX). Within about a year, sold it and bought a Takahashi EM-200. I used that mount for about fifteen years but, recently, bought something more modern. I also started with a small 80mm refractor which I had bought the previous year for visual work. I now shoot something slightly bigger. I admit that my first camera (after a brief adventure with film) was pretty pricey but, back then, DSLRs weren't really a thing for astronomy and the budget CMOS cameras weren't even a glimmer in anyone's eye. Nevertheless, I used that first SBIG camera for ten or eleven years.

 

You can always try something like a used DSLR on a camera tracking platform. That would let you take some beautiful wide-field images with pretty simple gear. You'd learn the basics. You'd also learn processing. Unfortunately, most beginners turn up their noses at that idea once they've seen the hulking gear depicted in glossy magazine advertisements and the high resolution images from the Arp catalog.

 

What can be an entry level AP mount that I can sell in a couple of years if I want to upgrade?

 

Yeah. Sorry We're still trying to work on that for you right now....

 

Part of the problem is that a lot of folks don't want to tell you to do what they did because they realized that they made mistakes and want to steer you "right". Regrettably, though, that usually involves spending more money on better equipment. It is meant with the best of intentions, but it can be frustrating to the new imager on a budget.


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#29 orionbay

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 09:56 PM

In that case, I second (or third) the recommendation to find a local astronomy club and go to a star party so you can see different types of scopes and get a feel for what would work for you.

hm, how can I get a feeling of what will work for me in AP at a star party? Only if I join somebody on a multi hour imaging session, which is unlikely smile.gif


Edited by orionbay, 23 January 2019 - 09:56 PM.

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#30 orionbay

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:02 PM

Part of the problem is that a lot of folks don't want to tell you to do what they did because they realized that they made mistakes and want to steer you "right". Regrettably, though, that usually involves spending more money on better equipment. It is meant with the best of intentions, but it can be frustrating to the new imager on a budget.

That really makes sense, thank you for pointing it out!


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#31 Tom K

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:03 PM

hm, how can I get a feeling of what will work for me in AP at a star party? Only if I join somebody on a multi hour imaging session, which is unlikely smile.gif

Hm, you indicated that you had never even seen an equatorial mount in person.  This tells me you have very little experience with telescopes and astronomy in general.    Last time I checked there are lots of them at a star party - hence the recommendation.  

 

If you have never seen an equatorial mount, and want to get started in AP, you are a long way from being at the point where sitting through a multi-hour imaging session will do all that much for you.   There is a deep level of basic knowledge that you need to develop through experience with your mount, your optics, they sky and how to find things, dew, power supplies, and lots of other things before you ever put a camera to the telescope.

 

Just some friendly advice - take it or leave it.


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#32 Erik30

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:21 PM

One thing to consider, as I think someone else posted, would be a good tracking mount.  Something like the iOptron Skytracker, or Sky Guider Pro.  

 

SkyTracker:  https://www.astronom...scope-3322.html

 

Star Adventurer:  https://www.astronom...r-pro-pack.html   

 

I have the SkyTracker and really enjoy using it for really wide Milky Way shots, and for large nebula and galaxies.  I use my Canon M5 with the EF 70-300mm lens for nebula, and the 18-150mm for the Milky way shots.  They are very forgiving and let you learn ISO speeds, image time (How long of a shot) stacking and even post processing.   


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#33 zxx

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:33 PM

hm, how can I get a feeling of what will work for me in AP at a star party? Only if I join somebody on a multi hour imaging session, which is unlikely smile.gif

lol , there are many people that get great results with a low budget mount like the AVX with a small refractor 

What ever mount you buy its going to take several nights to figure it all out , its not that difficult ,it just takes a little time.

 Youtube was a big help for me.


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#34 gotak

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:38 PM

Buy used at that budget.

 

Seems a eq6/Atlas (most mount for the buck) can be had around the 700 mark. CEM25s are also around there but less payload (but a lot lighter). Or ieq30 or 45s (just make sure it's the newer pro versions).

 

That way you have $ left for an auto guiding setup which you'll pretty soon find you need.


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#35 orionbay

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 11:36 PM

Hm, you indicated that you had never even seen an equatorial mount in person.  This tells me you have very little experience with telescopes and astronomy in general.    Last time I checked there are lots of them at a star party - hence the recommendation.  

 

If you have never seen an equatorial mount, and want to get started in AP, you are a long way from being at the point where sitting through a multi-hour imaging session will do all that much for you.   There is a deep level of basic knowledge that you need to develop through experience with your mount, your optics, they sky and how to find things, dew, power supplies, and lots of other things before you ever put a camera to the telescope.

 

Just some friendly advice - take it or leave it.

Thanks! It's a good advice to start it out! I'm learning so much after every post I read on CN!



#36 orionbay

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 11:37 PM

One thing to consider, as I think someone else posted, would be a good tracking mount.  Something like the iOptron Skytracker, or Sky Guider Pro.  

 

SkyTracker:  https://www.astronom...scope-3322.html

 

Star Adventurer:  https://www.astronom...r-pro-pack.html   

 

I have the SkyTracker and really enjoy using it for really wide Milky Way shots, and for large nebula and galaxies.  I use my Canon M5 with the EF 70-300mm lens for nebula, and the 18-150mm for the Milky way shots.  They are very forgiving and let you learn ISO speeds, image time (How long of a shot) stacking and even post processing.   

That's a good alternative way, I will think about it!



#37 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 12:20 AM

The other thing that I meant to say above is that, since you're new to astronomy PERIOD, it would probably be smart to hang out for a while and learn the sky with what you've got. You could read up here in the Beginning & Intermediate Imaging Forum and keep your eye on the classifieds. You would also do well to buy an actual book that costs actual money (Bracken is often recommended) because it would lay everything out for you in a proof-read and logical manner. You would learn the how & why for each step in the process rather than having to learn it piecemeal on the internet.

 

Sure, we all love to spend other people's money but sometimes it's best to go slow.

 

It has often been said that astrophotography is a different pursuit than visual astronomy, but visual astronomy builds some of the knowledge needed to be a proficient imager, so your time behind an eyepiece would be valuable for a myriad of reasons.


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#38 Wildetelescope

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 12:31 AM

I'm just getting started with astronomy in general, I've got my 8" SCT on Alt-Az on Christmas, but quickly figured it won't be the best place to start with astrophotography. I've never even seen EQ mounts in my life so it's very hard for me to make a decision.

You would be surprised.  You can do nice planet imaging with that setup.  A 99 dollar Orion planet camera and your laptop and you are off to the races.  First step is learning to use your goto with the c8 and successfully find some stuff.  Once you have command of that, then start thinking about imaging.  You can learn about image processing, etc imaging the moon and planets.  Then step up to dso imaging.  

 

That at would be my suggestion, since you have a nice rig already. 

 

Jmd



#39 Ed Wiley

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 12:49 AM

Losmandy GM-8 Has only 30lb capacity, how is it better than the mounts I found?

I like quality American-made mounts. That is why I have only bought Losmandy or Astrophysics mounts over the past twenty years. I can only recommend what I have used and leave it to others to make comparisons.

Ed


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#40 Wildetelescope

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 12:53 AM

 

You would be surprised.  You can do nice planet imaging with that setup.  A 99 dollar Orion planet camera and your laptop and you are off to the races.  First step is learning to use your goto with the c8 and successfully find some stuff.  Once you have command of that, then start thinking about imaging.  You can learn about image processing, etc imaging the moon and planets.  Then step up to dso imaging.  

 

That at would be my suggestion, since you have a nice rig already. 

 

Jmd

 

Dumbelldev125STweb
 
as an example, the dumbbell nebula, captured with a c8 on an atlas mount, unguided.  Stack of 20 0r so short exposures.  I used a dedicated ccd, but you can probably do the same with your DLSR.  Perhaps if you stick with your scope, you can afford to spend more on your mount.  Lots of options, but your best bet is to start learning with what you have.  Then you will be better able to choose your next step.   Check out the EAA group to see what they are doing with video and rigs like yours.   Lots of ways to get your feet wet, without buying a whole new rig.  But as others have said, spending time learning the basics will serve you well, no matter what you choose to do.
 
Jmd 

 

 


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#41 Ballyhoo

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 01:26 AM

Generally build quality as it is CNC machined and not cast and machined like all (that I know of) of the sub premium mounts. If you saw one in the flesh and compared it to an AVX, or any other Chinese manufactured mount it would be obvious. While some of the Chinese mounts are pretty good these days many of them simply are not consistent from example to example. Also, if you are in the US, the mounts are made here. This means you can pick up the phone and call and likely be able to speak directly to Scott Losmandy for help if necessary. Yes, even if you bought used.

 

Next they have been made for almost 25 years so parts availability for the foreseeable future is assured. Next, they can be updated to a GM811G (50lb capacity), NO repeat NO other mount can do that!  

 

Finally because they have been around a long time there is a terrific support community available. 

 

 

 

i think you should feel very comfortable with an AVX. For the price it is a terrific mount. there is a very large community to draw support from bu moreover if you got a new one you could expect a very competent machine.   Yes for $900 the Celestron has delivered something good.   If I were you i would not be drawn off course with suggestions of more expensive domestic mounts.  it is a red hearing in your case.


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#42 orionbay

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 04:16 AM

as an example, the dumbbell nebula, captured with a c8 on an atlas mount, unguided. Stack of 20 0r so short exposures. I used a dedicated ccd, but you can probably do the same with your DLSR. Perhaps if you stick with your scope, you can afford to spend more on your mount. Lots of options, but your best bet is to start learning with what you have. Then you will be better able to choose your next step. Check out the EAA group to see what they are doing with video and rigs like yours. Lots of ways to get your feet wet, without buying a whole new rig. But as others have said, spending time learning the basics will serve you well, no matter what you choose to do.


Jmd

I was advised in a different thread, and also read and watched in different places, that starting learning AP with a medium or large SCT is a recipe to frustration. it's much harder to achieve good results with tracking and guiding because mounts with load capacity under 50lb won't hold it well enough, there won't be any acceptable tracking over 40 sec without guiding, and that guiding is recommended with an off-axis guider (OAG), which when paired with a FR brings tons of troubles because of the huge vignetting from a 0.63x reducer. Also large FL is unforgiving to tracking errors, and the books I’m reading don’t recommend to start with FL larger that 1000mm (my SCT is 2030mm). Everybody just advice to start with a small refractor on an inexpensive mount, and move up, it should be much more rewarding. After reading similar advice for the 100th time here (https://astrobackyar...aphy-telescope/), and spending an hour on an OAG forum, reading frustrated people who can't find a guide star in days, I decided to keep my sanity and just buy a small scope.

It's also nice because I will be able to take it with me more often, use it for observing with a camera tripod if I’m traveling light, and also have a second scope to spend time with while taking long exposures. And it will be the good way for me to see and image Andromeda galaxy, Pleiades, large nebulas and large clusters, without upgrading my SCT to 2".

Thanks everybody for interesting advices! From what I read, I'm thinking about either AVX or Atlas. Since there's no sales going on right now, I can wait a bit and see if there will be interesting used one posted in the classifieds (I subscribed to it).

Edited by orionbay, 24 January 2019 - 02:49 PM.


#43 orionbay

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 04:19 AM

The other thing that I meant to say above is that, since you're new to astronomy PERIOD, it would probably be smart to hang out for a while and learn the sky with what you've got. You could read up here in the Beginning & Intermediate Imaging Forum and keep your eye on the classifieds. You would also do well to buy an actual book that costs actual money (Bracken is often recommended) because it would lay everything out for you in a proof-read and logical manner. You would learn the how & why for each step in the process rather than having to learn it piecemeal on the internet.

 

Sure, we all love to spend other people's money but sometimes it's best to go slow.

 

It has often been said that astrophotography is a different pursuit than visual astronomy, but visual astronomy builds some of the knowledge needed to be a proficient imager, so your time behind an eyepiece would be valuable for a myriad of reasons.

I recently bought all AP books recommended on CN: Bracken, Woodhouse, Legault, Hall. Going over them slowly.


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#44 WadeH237

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:43 AM

hm, how can I get a feeling of what will work for me in AP at a star party? Only if I join somebody on a multi hour imaging session, which is unlikely smile.gif

Can you make it to Golden State Star Party this summer?

 

If so, let me know and I can go over this with you.  My imaging stuff is decidedly not entry level, but there will be plenty of imaging setups of every level there, and we can see them and talk to the owners.  And if you want to see an entire imaging run, I am happy to show you.

 

Heck, I could probably piece together a DSLR based setup on an AVX using parts that I have around.  If so, you could play with it for the entire event.

 

-Wade



#45 zxx

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:58 AM

i think you should feel very comfortable with an AVX. For the price it is a terrific mount. there is a very large community to draw support from bu moreover if you got a new one you could expect a very competent machine.   Yes for $900 the Celestron has delivered something good.   If I were you i would not be drawn off course with suggestions of more expensive domestic mounts.  it is a red hearing in your case.

Agreed ,by far there are way more who get awesome results with the AVX then the few here at CN that say they're junk ,I would not hesitate to buy one for $699 

However at $900 I would consider a mount in the 40 to 50 lb weight class for a little more ,a mount the OP could use his 8" SCT with also down the road ...


Edited by zxx, 24 January 2019 - 12:36 PM.


#46 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 03:04 PM

Right. It’s important to remember that mounts (or any gear) aren’t usually good or bad so much arrayed along a performance and price spectrum. Owner expecations are similarly varied. I thought that this was a good recent thread on this topic:

 

https://www.cloudyni...lawless-for-ap/



#47 orionbay

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 10:25 PM

Can you make it to Golden State Star Party this summer?

 

If so, let me know and I can go over this with you.  My imaging stuff is decidedly not entry level, but there will be plenty of imaging setups of every level there, and we can see them and talk to the owners.  And if you want to see an entire imaging run, I am happy to show you.

 

Heck, I could probably piece together a DSLR based setup on an AVX using parts that I have around.  If so, you could play with it for the entire event.

 

-Wade

Thanks for the offer! I don't know yet, will try to make it.



#48 orionbay

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:06 PM

I have a question about portability. Even though I understand that the heavier mount the better, I'm interested in getting a balance between stability and too large size.

I drive a sedan car. When getting a new mount, I want to make sure that the new mount won't occupy the whole trunk when going camping smile.gif I imagine many people here have trucks and size doesn't really matter to them.

It's hard to tell the size from the website description, would really appreciate people sharing how big their mounts are, especially in folded/partially disassembled state.


Edited by orionbay, 25 January 2019 - 03:26 AM.


#49 zxx

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:27 PM

Good point ,My CGEM DX is around 100 lbs ,its big , .All my gear fills up the backseat of my Silverado..

Even with a smaller mount you will probably fill most of your trunk .You will need a power source if there is no 

electric at the camp site ,laptop,power tank etc  a lot of stuff you need for AP.


Edited by zxx, 24 January 2019 - 11:42 PM.

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#50 gotak

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:31 PM

I have a question about portability. Even though I understand that the heavier mount the better, I'm interested in getting a balance between stability and too large size.

I drive a sedan car. When getting a new mount, I want to make sure that the new mount won't occupy the whole trunk when going camping smile.gif I imagine many people here have trucks and size don't really matter to them.

It's hard to tell the size from the website description, would really appreciate people sharing how big their mounts are, especially in folded/partially disassembled state.

There are a lot of stories around the hobby. Some of it are true but sometimes it's just astro-legends. Finding out which is which is hard in the echo chamber that is the internet.

 

Lots of folks are frustrated with OAGs but honestly a lot of folks use OAG devices with inherent limitations, and tries to use small sensor guide cams and wonder why they can't find a star. Some people can't even managed to arrange their guide and main cameras to have same focus distance from the prism. The world's made up of all sort of folks.

 

Now going with a small scope is a good idea but that isn't the entire story. The result of getting or not getting a good image consists of a litany of factors, what you find repeated most often are the simplified (sometimes too much) cookie cutter set of those.

 

Take the mount vs payload. Local wisdom says you have to splash out for a expensive mount to get the payload you need as you need to discount the mass market payload ratings by 50%. Problem is the way payload is defined is useless (And this applies for everyone) because it's just a weight. When what you need is payload based on moment arms in relation to a tracking spec (basically you need a chart instead of a singular figure).

 

A lighter mount doesn't automatically means it's less stable. Again over simplification of considerations can lead you to think that. I think that the best way to find out if a mount can do what you want it to do with a certain scope is to see how many good example images from that combination you can find. If there are none or very few, chances are it is not a combination that works. Doing so will also quickly show which part of the typical astro photography mythology about gear is true and which is hogwash. 

 

Finally for size part you should really god see in person. When I got my IEQ45 Pro after my CEM25 the jump in size was beyond my expectation. Mind you the CEM25 is rather diminutive and light. 


Edited by gotak, 24 January 2019 - 11:32 PM.

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