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Starting Out in EAA - Reflector or SCT?

EAA equipment
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#1 OhioKraken

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 01:41 PM

Some background first:

I currently own a 10" Orion Intelliscope.  This works great for visual observation and I've seen a lot from my background.  I typically use a 13 mm eyepiece; given the scope's focal length of 1200mm, this gives a typical magnification of about 92X.  Since I typically looks at clusters, nebula, and galaxies (and will continue to target these types of objects with my EAA), this magnification seems to be right in the sweet spot.  The Intelliscope tracking also tends to put most objects in the FOV at this mag as well.

 

I want to take a jump into EAA after seeing it first hand at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.  My first thought was to use the same 10" reflector OTA from the Intelliscope and put it on an alt-az GOTO mount.  Quickly found out that the OTA is far too long and heavy for most mounts and it would be at least $1500 for this mount.  On top of that, the focal length of 1200mm is quite long for the entry-level EAA sensors.  The ASI224 and ASI385 are like 6mm and 8.4mm eyepieces respectively, giving mags of 200x and 142x.  I would prefer to stay around 100x for this EAA setup.

 

After much reading and thinking, my ideal starter EAA setup would consist of a scope with a focal length between 650mm and 950mm.  The ASI385 camera ($330) or the ASI2224 camera ($224) would offer mags between 90x and 110x (the purchase scope would determine the final camera choice).  Another important spec would be the f ratio with f/5 or less being the goal.  An alt-az GOTO mount is also required (equatorial can also work).  Finally, aperature is nice with bigger aperature's collecting more light and showing more detail - but aperature, focal length, and f ratio are linked - it seems 5-6" (130-150 mm) will be the aperature best matched with the focal lengths and ratios listed above.

 

It seems I have choice between reflectors and SCTs.

On the reflector front:

1. Orion Starblast IV 150 mm - FL=750mm - f/5 - I've heard this OTA is on the cheap side with plastic mirror components - comes with GOTO alt-az mount

2. Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT - FL=650mm - f/5 - Smaller aperature than the starblast but better made I believe - comes with GOTO alt-az mount

3. Celestron Omni XLT 150 - FL=750mm - f/5 - OTA only - seems like a great choice but what mount would be best?

 

On the SCT front, the choice is a Celestron Nexstar:

1. The 6SE has a FL=1500mm.  I'd need to buy a f/6.3 focal reducer giving a FL=960mm.

2. The 5SE has a FL=1250mm.  Still need to buy a f/6.3 focal reducer giving a FL=800mm.

 

The reflectors will have smaller secondaries which seems good for light gathering.  The SCT's will be more compact and balance better on the mount, but will be more expensive due to the need for a focal reducer ($100).

 

What have I missed?  I'd love to hear advice or recommendations from anyone.  Why should I choose a reflector?  OR, why should I choose a SCT?  Are there other alt-az mounts out there that would be good for these types of scopes (especially the Omni XLT 150)?

 

Thanks all!

 



#2 Stargazer3236

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 09:38 PM

I have used the Nexstar 6SE a lot. I owned it back in 2013-2015 and I had a blast with ity and started my first imaging of the planets with that scope. Fast forward to last week, when I re-bought a new Nexstar 6SE to use for imaging the planets AND deepsky imaging as well. I also own the Nexstar 8SE and use the OTA on my iOptron ZEQ25 mount and it has been a blast so far imaging through that scope. But I missed having the Nexstar 6SE, so I bought one brand new from a woman posting on Craigslist that was a Christmas gift to her from her boss where she works. They normally retail for $799, but I was able to get hers for $400.

 

I like imaging through that scope. I often use a reducer/corrector to get down to F/6.3 and when using a 385 or a 224, you actually can see more and it takes shorter time for imaging as opposed to F/10. There is a forum on CN that is for astro images in less than a 6" for Jupiter and Saturn and I like to see what I can get in my 6" SCT. I know what I can get in my C8, but the 6" is a bit lighter and more compact to carry. It's like having a 6" refractor the size of a laptop.

 

I find SCT's to be more compact, easier to travel with, easier to set up and does very well on deepsky objects and the planets. My next one is probably going to be a C11.

 

Your choice in cameras is spot on. I would go with the ASI385MC. It is a 16x9 camera format and has the same sensor sensitivity as the 224MC. You will see a bit more in terms of field of view and matched with an F/6.3 reducer/corrector, you will find it to be a great asset for imaging deepsky objects.

 

To get an idea of what your camera can do with a Nexstar 6SE, try this website and play around with the imaging controls. http://astronomy.too.../field_of_view/ Go to the FOV calculator and play around with the different scopes and different cameras. ZWO cameras are at the bottom of the list.

 

Good luck in your pursuits!

 

By the way, check out my webpage at the bottom of my signature. You will see a lot of the images I took with the Nexstar 6SE and 8SE.


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#3 Don Rudny

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 09:57 PM

Thumbs up on David’s suggestion.  A couple of additional suggestions would be, 1)  If you can go with a few more dollars, get the Evoution 6.  Tracking is better and it has WiFi control and internal batteries.  Still very portable.  And 2)  Try to get a Meade f/3.3 focal reducer.  They show up used on CN and AM, and will run about $100.  It will give you a nice FOV at 500mm focal length.  Together with the f/6.3 and f/10 you have great range of FOV.

 

Another benefit of either the SE or Evo is that the C6 is Hyperstar compatible, so you can go to f/1.9 in the future.  This system is an EAA low cost dream.

 

I have the Evo 6 and enjoy it very much.  Very portable and easy to set up.

 

Don



#4 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 10:25 PM

I have a 10" Orion XTG dob and an Evolution 8".

 

The first one is a great scope and it could work well for EAA with one exception (that can be addressed): wind-induced vibrations. Because of the length of the tube beyond the place it's supported on the mount and because the tube is end-heavy (esp. with more equipment), the slightest breeze will induce minute vibrations which will turn stars into tiny blobs and the frames are useless for stacking. If your scope is shielded from the wind in an observatory, it's fine. 

 

The Evo is more convenient because I've also equipped it with StarSense for auto-alignment and a motor focuser (released this year by Celestron). Thus, the setup is a candidate for remote operations, particularly during the Canadian winters (but why do I say winter? It's mid April now and we had freezing rain earlier today). I now use my Evo exclusively for EAA (with a 0.63 focal reducer). There's so much more that can be seen with EAA than the eye. And SharpCap is amazing.

 

In terms of what scope to use, I'd suggest to start with what you have right now and learn the practice of EAA, how to get the most from a scope. SharpCap's manual is excellent. In fact, I'd suggest to start reading it ahead. This will take a while. Leave buying another scope only for when you've mastered SharpCap. 

 

Enjoy!


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#5 Noah4x4

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 10:57 PM

The problem with EAA is it isn't ever cheap. You will find yourself constantly upgrading with ever more expensive kit if your entry point is too low.

 

My recommendation is forget everything else and start by considering what tripod and mount you need. Buy a low budget telescope  and wind shake, poor tracking and general challenges of that nature will soon frustrate you. The slightest weakness in tripod/Mount becomes magnified when you switch from visual to camera. 

 

I recall trying to keep Saturn in my FOV of an SE4 when using a fast frame web-cam in a mild breeze. It was jumping all over my computer screen to the point whereby it was unwatchable. Unless in absolutely still wind conditions, EAA or AP is difficult with a cheap tripod/mount. Even on a still day, tripod shake from manual focussing can be perilous.

 

That us why the Evolution 6 is probably the best entry level option for an SCT as its robust tripod and accurate mount offers what you need if combined with a focal reducer. I would not consider anything less for EAA as even the SE range is, by comparison, unstable and also offers too few AUX ports for the accessories you will inevitably buy later. The Evolution 6 Tripod and mount will also permit later mounting a larger aperture OTA. But at best, you are only going to be able to use 20 second stacked exposures without wedge or GEM mount and polar alignment. 

 

If the Evolution 6 isn't affordable today, frankly I would continue to dabble with your existing scope and use that for short stacked exposures with a cheap camera whilst you save up for a superior tripod and mount. It's not worth (IMHO) wasting your money exchanging one entry level scope for another. Enjoy today with what you have and save up longer to get what you really need.

 

EDIT

I drafted this before I read the previous post. That's two votes for stick with what you have for now, both mentioning vibration  it's not worth buying a cheap tripod/Mount to replace another. 


Edited by Noah4x4, 14 April 2019 - 11:00 PM.


#6 OhioKraken

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 06:25 AM

Thanks for the feedback!  I'd love to keep working with my current setup but the intelliscope is a push-to dobsonian.  Could you do EAA with that setup?  The magnification using the ASI385 would be 140X.  This seems like it would be tough to both locate and track objects by hand.

 

Thanks for the tip regarding the Meade f/3.3 focal reducer...are there any drawbacks to using this reducer?



#7 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 06:37 AM

I'd love to keep working with my current setup but the intelliscope is a push-to dobsonian.  Could you do EAA with that setup?  

 

There have been a few threads about this question, search the forum. I personally don't think it's sustainable - constantly having to move the scope means there's no room left for operating the software nor enjoying the view. My suggestion, without knowing your circumstances, is to use the current scope for visual and one day, if you find that the desire to do EAA doesn't let you sleep, buy a motorized scope (or just a motorized mount, in case the optical tube you have works with the base of an XT-10g).



#8 bobhen

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 06:51 AM

Get an SCT:

 

1. With the moving primary mirror, you should have no in-focus issues

2. You can use an SCT at F2 by removing the secondary, or F3.3 - F6.3 with reducers or at native F10 or F20 with a Barlow.

3. They are compact and easily mounted on either an alt/az on GE mount

4. Don’t worry about the secondary size for imaging it’s a non-issue

5. They are reasonably priced and plentiful on the used market as well.

 

Bob


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#9 OhioKraken

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:23 AM

I'm seeing the benefits of a SCT for EAA...For the Nexstars, is the extra two inches of aperature worth it for the 8" for EAA?

 

8" Nexstar with f/3.3 has a FL=670mm - 111x with ASI224

6"  Nexstar with f/6.3 has a FL=960mm - 114x with ASI385

 

6" setup would be lighter and cheaper even with the slightly more expense ASI385.  But, the lower f ratio of the 8" setup should allow for shorter exposures, correct?

 

Thanks for any advice.



#10 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:56 AM

Thanks for the feedback!  I'd love to keep working with my current setup but the intelliscope is a push-to dobsonian.  Could you do EAA with that setup?  The magnification using the ASI385 would be 140X.  This seems like it would be tough to both locate and track objects by hand.

 

Thanks for the tip regarding the Meade f/3.3 focal reducer...are there any drawbacks to using this reducer?

Yes the Meade f/3.3 focal reducer are restricted to use on only the smaller 1/3 senors or there will be a lot of vignetting and coma. If you can find one made in Japan then you will be good to go but the ones made in China vary some what in image quality.

 

Steve



#11 geminijk

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:04 PM

6SE. Great thing about that is the flexibility you have for EAA. f10 planetary/lunar, f6.3 galaxies/planetary, f3.8 ish for anything ya want (I get f3.8-9 with 2 f6.3 stacked reducers). I have however moved to a 8" f3.9 newt because I wanted the 8" to be for planetary or lunar and a portable setup if needed. 

 

Bonus......the 6SE can be a Hyperstar without any additional adapters, so you can get to f1.9 ! 

 

 

Regards, 

 

John



#12 OhioKraken

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:54 PM

More great advice...I'm sold on the Nexstar 6.  Seems like there is a fair number of used SEs out there...not so many evolutions.

 

I know of Cloudynights classifieds and ebay.  Any other used equipment web sites out there?

 

Thanks again!



#13 mikenoname

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 03:45 PM

I'd love to keep working with my current setup but the intelliscope is a push-to dobsonian.  Could you do EAA with that setup?

 

Absolutely:

 

https://www.cloudyni...n-it´s-working/



#14 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 07:23 PM

I'm seeing the benefits of a SCT for EAA...For the Nexstars, is the extra two inches of aperature worth it for the 8" for EAA?

I would say yes, for three reasons:

  • the amount of collected light depends on the surface area of the mirror which, as a circle, is proportional with the squared diameter. The ratio of an 8" vs 6" scope is 64/36 = 1.77. That's how much more light you could get, which translates into brighter images or shorter exposures. That's a significant increase for only 2 inches extra.
  • the larger scope has a better resolution as well. In practice the resolution of the image depends on many things, primarily the atmosphere, so you may not notice this.
  • you cannot "upgrade" aperture. If 6 months - a year from now you realize you want more, the only thing you can do is sell the 6" and buy an 8".  I had an 6SE bought for travel but was never quite happy with the darker images (especially after using an 10" Dob) and the mount which eventually dies. I can say I'm much happier with the 8" Evo, including the convenience (built-in battery so one less wire and the Wi-Fi control from a tablet). That said, an Evo is more expensive. 

 

TL;DR: an 6SE is a budget option. If there's a budget constraint, sure, go for it. If you have some wiggle room, buy for long term, i.e. a bigger scope.



#15 Stargazer3236

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:06 PM

The problem with EAA is it isn't ever cheap. You will find yourself constantly upgrading with ever more expensive kit if your entry point is too low.

 

My recommendation is forget everything else and start by considering what tripod and mount you need. Buy a low budget telescope  and wind shake, poor tracking and general challenges of that nature will soon frustrate you. The slightest weakness in tripod/Mount becomes magnified when you switch from visual to camera. 

 

I recall trying to keep Saturn in my FOV of an SE4 when using a fast frame web-cam in a mild breeze. It was jumping all over my computer screen to the point whereby it was unwatchable. Unless in absolutely still wind conditions, EAA or AP is difficult with a cheap tripod/mount. Even on a still day, tripod shake from manual focussing can be perilous.

 

That us why the Evolution 6 is probably the best entry level option for an SCT as its robust tripod and accurate mount offers what you need if combined with a focal reducer. I would not consider anything less for EAA as even the SE range is, by comparison, unstable and also offers too few AUX ports for the accessories you will inevitably buy later. The Evolution 6 Tripod and mount will also permit later mounting a larger aperture OTA. But at best, you are only going to be able to use 20 second stacked exposures without wedge or GEM mount and polar alignment. 

 

If the Evolution 6 isn't affordable today, frankly I would continue to dabble with your existing scope and use that for short stacked exposures with a cheap camera whilst you save up for a superior tripod and mount. It's not worth (IMHO) wasting your money exchanging one entry level scope for another. Enjoy today with what you have and save up longer to get what you really need.

 

EDIT

I drafted this before I read the previous post. That's two votes for stick with what you have for now, both mentioning vibration  it's not worth buying a cheap tripod/Mount to replace another. 

You should not worry about AUX ports at any stage of owning a Nexstar. I only ever used an AUX port on my Nexstar 8SE only for attaching a GPS module. I power my scope with both the 8 AA batteries for back up power and a TalentCell 8.3 amp hour portable battery the size of a small paperback book, attached by Velcro to the back of the mount arm. Should the battery connection ever disconnect, I still have the internal battery to carry on throughout the night. You can also buy two GPS modules, either one will work with the Nexstar telescope. One is the Celestron GPS module, about $130 and just plug it into the AUX port, your hand controller will give you a prompt to use the GPS info. Another GPS module is from StarGPS at StarGPS.ca. The StarGPS module is $129. They both will remove the need to input time and date and location, connecting with the GPS satellites in orbit.

 

You can use two F/6.3 reducer correctors stacked on each other. They will produce that same effect as one F/3.3 corrector/reducer (about F/3.7-3.9), especially if you cannot find one for sale on the used market You can also use one F/6.3 reducer and an F/5 reducer and achieve the same affect. It will also produce the same amount of vignetting, so using a smaller sensor like the 224MC or 385MC camera would be a better solution for imaging as well. I got my feet wet by starting off imaging the planets, especially Jupiter, using my Nexstar 6SE. I tried it both Alt-Az and with an EQ wedge. Both sets of results came out the same, however, I could not align on Polaris in EQ mode until I could see it in the sky. I COULD start imaging right away, because I could align on Jupiter in Alt-Az mode as soon as Jupiter appeared in the twilight sky, about a good 30-45 minutes before Polaris appeared after twilight.

 

Also, if you ever get involved in doing star parties for schools and outreach, you can always set up your telescope right away in Alt-Az mode and be looking at Jupiter or Venus or the Moon straight away and just align on the moon and/or planets. In EQ mode, you need to first align on Polaris and a star before you can start looking/imaging.

 

If you ever get the urge to look at the SUN, ALWAYS use a solar filter. But if you want to find Venus or Mercury in daylight hours, you can align the Sun in Alt-Az mode and it makes it easier to find Venus or Mercury during the day. You can also find Jupiter and sometimes Mars and Saturn during the day by aligning on the Sun first. You can also make it easier to find the planets using a #29 Red filter in your eyepiece to help darken the sky and bring out the planets. After and only After you align on the Sun and not pointing at it anymore, only then can you remove the Solar Filter, put the Red filter in your eyepiece and then search for the planet you want to see and hit goto.

 

When you are imaging, it will help if you don't extend the tripod legs too far. That way, you maintain rigidness in your tripod legs and induce less vibration for the wind. You can also buy vibration suppression pads to further reduce vibrations in your tripod/mount. I hardly ever extend my tripod legs more than 6" high and further reduce that when leveling the mount. I personally like to level the mount using a bubble level to help with alignment. I was told repeatedly that you don't have to level the mount, however, it does make alignment easier if you are level.

 

I used to own a couple of electronic focusers from JMI at one point or another. I sold them after awhile. I found that they were actually a pain to use, especially when you wanted to focus from one extreme to another. When I changed from eyepiece to camera, I had to adjust focus and it would be a time consuming wait to go from one focus to another. When you have par-focal eyepieces, the focusing time is not so severe, but going from eyepiece to camera was a pain. Also, I would wear out the batteries almost every other night. It became a chore to replace the batteries so often. So I stopped using electronic focusers. I find manual focus so much easier to do and it is faster than what a motor focus can do.

 

Discard the red point finder/red dot finder that comes with the telescope and buy yourself either a Telrad or Rigel Quik Finder. I am partial to the Rigel Quik finder because it is much more compact when storing it after use in my accessory case. Also, remove the red dot finder base, you can always use the screws for mounting a star sense or another visual finder there.

 

When imaging, it is best to not use a diagonal, it just adds more glass to the light path of the object you want to image and further reduces contrast. I can image with my Nexstar 6/8SE on the mount, with a reducer and visual back with my ZWO camera and have about an inch of space left over between the camera and the base. Buy a 2" visual back and 1.25" adapter. It makes it easier to image sometimes because you don't have to use the 1.25" camera mount adapter and just insert the camera into the visual back instead, saving more back space at the end of your telescope tube. All ZWO camera's have a 2" lip on the front of the camera to insert into a 2" visual back.

 

The Nexstar 6SE comes with Fastar. It incorporates a removable secondary on the front of the telescope, so you can remove the secondary assembly to use the telescope at F/2 (or 1.9) using a Hyperstar add-on from Starizona. It is mega expensive though, costing about $699 for the Hyperstar, but in the end a very worthwhile accessory to have.

 

Collimating an SCT is not as hard as it might seem. You only have one mirror to collimate and that is the secondary. But, it doesn't have to be a chore. After a little practice it will become second nature (pun intended). I can usually collimate in about 3 minutes or less. Just find a bright star, make sure you are already aligned so that tracking is on and just center the star and turn the screws on one side or the other until your secondary is aligned very near the center.

 

Get a heated dew shield from Astro Zap. It is a dew shield with the heater already attached. If you buy the heated dew strap separately the plain old dew shield will not fit, as I found out. You might not need the heated dew shield as often as you might think, but when it does dew up, having the heater will be very beneficial. You will also need to buy a dew heater controller and they are about $110 each. I bought this one and it is a dream to use: https://www.highpoin...SYaAiGfEALw_wcB Just attach it with Velcro onto your telescope tube.

 

If I think of anything else, I will post it on here. You should be good to go!


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#16 Don Rudny

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:47 PM

I'm seeing the benefits of a SCT for EAA...For the Nexstars, is the extra two inches of aperature worth it for the 8" for EAA?

 

8" Nexstar with f/3.3 has a FL=670mm - 111x with ASI224

6"  Nexstar with f/6.3 has a FL=960mm - 114x with ASI385

 

6" setup would be lighter and cheaper even with the slightly more expense ASI385.  But, the lower f ratio of the 8" setup should allow for shorter exposures, correct?

 

Thanks for any advice.

I think for EAA, the 6” will give you most of what you’re looking for.  The lighter weight and smaller size will be easier to handle and give more stable tracking with the AZ mount.  I have attached a comparison of M27 taken with a 6” Evo and an M8 on an Evo mount.  Both are taken with an Ultrastar C with the same exposure subs.  One is stacked x6 and one x12, but that will only reduce the random noise some.

 

Evo 6 at f/5

 

F04F1441-B4E8-4FD8-85B3-8CB92B34392C.jpeg



#17 Don Rudny

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:49 PM

M8 on Evo mount at f/5.7

 

57A4F240-8D25-43DD-B0FD-CBD3DC7E6302.jpeg



#18 Stargazer3236

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:50 PM

OK, I thought of a few more.

 

When you image the planets and the seeing is not so great, try an IR pass filter, around 642nm to 742nm.  IR light seems to be able to come into the atmosphere in such a way that it is not affected by the turbulence of our atmosphere. I will give you grayish images and the Red Spot will appear a light gray, but it also shows more banding that visual light can with a OSC camera without an IR filter. With the major planets in a low position, especially for us New Englanders, you need all the help you can get when imaging the planets.

 

Get Firecapture 2.6 for image capture of the planets. You just record an AVI movie of the planet in question and convert it by a stacking process in Autostakkert!3 afterwards. Registax 6 does the same thing, but seems to have a problem stacking more than 5000 frames at one time. Autostakkert!3 can stack over 20,000 frames in one shot. You can later use registax 6 to do wavelets, minor tweaks to the final image, after you stack in Autostakkert!3. Firecapture 2.6 is a free app.

 

When you think you are ready to image deepsky objects, get a copy of SharpCap 3.2 (download for free). It has some good things to use when stacking images, however, if you buy the Pro version, about $15 USD a year, you get to use the whole system and it is a powerful app to have. Initially, SharpCap is free to use, but to get the best features, buying the Pro version is well worth it. You can buy a life long subscription for $85 USD and never have to pay again.

 

Make sure you have a laptop (or desktop) for doing your imaging. If you are out in the field, having a laptop and a way to recharge it in the field is a great thing. My Toshiba Satellite is about 5 years old, but I upgraded from 4Gb RAM to 8Gb RAM and removed the 500Gb HDD for a 500Gb SSD and moved the 500Gb HDD to secondary storage. Make sure you have at least one USB 3.0 port too. The only major files I save are those from planetary imaging, sometimes over 5Gb of AVI files for each image of Jupiter. But I discard the majority of the frames taken once I get my final image of Jupiter or other planet after processing. When I am imaging the deepsky objects, I do a screen capture of the object I am imaging and process that image with various free apps to get a final image. That image is always less than 500kb of data. I do a combination of EAA(Electronic Assisted Astronomy) and AP (Astrophotography). I like processing the images, but I cannot sit at my telescope and laptop for more than 15 minutes on one object before I go nuts and want to look at something else. Doing that, I can image between 25 and 50 images a night.

 

Always remember to charge your batteries. I carry three TalentCell 8.3 amp hour batteries with me and between imaging sessions, I re-charge them. They are good for about three session each before needing re-charge. Make sure you carry a spare USB 3.0 imaging cable with you. Sometimes these cables are wonky and won't work when you need them too. You need a spare, so you don't have to go home to get another one.

 

My bag of tricks (laptop carrying case) holds my batteries, spare cables, a spare mouse for my laptop, space for my laptop and a 10" tablet with Sky Safari 6 Plus loaded on it, Velcro straps for tying up loose cables, extra thumb drives for holding various catalogs of many of the objects I want to look at (also loaded on my laptop), paper copies of catalogs in thin, light binders in another pocket along with my various bahtinov masks for focusing and a hexagonal mask for double star viewing and imaging,  extra long USB 3.0 cables (25 feet) with built in repeater circuit, 25 feet of CAT 5 cable, various baggies filled with notes on objects I want to observe/image, spare AA and AAA and CR2032 batteries for my accessories, a 4 port USB 3.0 Hub and other sundries.

 

I bought from Harbor Freight Tools these Pelican like cases, called Apache 1800, 2800, 3800 and 4800 that are built like tanks and are waterproof and nearly indestructible, for carrying my many accessories. They cost significantly less than Pelican or Docsil. I usually get them on sale when they are typically $10 off or when I get a catalog in the mail, you might get a 20% off coupon to use. My 3800 case holds all my cameras (3), spacers, extenders, adapters, filters, barlows, reducers, lens cloth's, etc. Another 3800 case hold my AT60ED APO refractor, 2" 2X barlow and solar filter. My 4800 case holds all my telescopes accessories including my few eyepieces, Rigel Quik Finder, dew straps and dew heater controller, reducers, illuminated reticle eyepiece, color filters and a few more things. I also bought some cases from MyCaseBuilder.com in which you can design a case for various objects if you can't find a pick and pluck case online. I have one such case that holds a 12" extension pier for my iOptron ZEQ25 mount. I have another one that holds even more spare cables. And one final case that holds my counterweights and counterweight shaft for the iOptron ZEQ25 mount.

 

I also bought a pneumatic chair from Harbor Freight Tools that I use in the field for sitting at my table for my laptop and other equipment. I actually have two, a spare for someone that wants to sit down next to me. Everything fits into my Kia Soul with some room to spare.

 

Astronomy is a money pit that provides many hours of fun on clear nights that will last for years if cared for. I am constantly buying new items, cameras, filters and looking for one more scope and mount to complete my stable.

 

Good luck trying to resist the urge to buy something new!!!!


Edited by Stargazer3236, 15 April 2019 - 08:51 PM.

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#19 Todd1561

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 09:03 PM

I image with a 6se, ASI224, and a Japanese Meade 3.3. You can see some example images on my site https://toddnelson.net. I’m definitely no EAA pro, but this should give you an idea of what a novice can achieve. I observe from my suburban backyard, about Bortle 5.

However, if I was buying again I would probably swing for the 8” for the extra aperture. I’d also feel more comfortable investing in HyperStar on an 8 vs 6. Having said that I have no first hand knowledge with an 8, just going off what I’ve read.
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#20 Stargazer3236

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 09:09 PM

I image with a 6se, ASI224, and a Japanese Meade 3.3. You can see some example images on my site https://toddnelson.net. I’m definitely no EAA pro, but this should give you an idea of what a novice can achieve. I observe from my suburban backyard, about Bortle 5.

However, if I was buying again I would probably swing for the 8” for the extra aperture. I’d also feel more comfortable investing in HyperStar on an 8 vs 6. Having said that I have no first hand knowledge with an 8, just going off what I’ve read.

Nice pics, way to go!



#21 alphatripleplus

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 09:13 PM

I have both a C6 and C8, and although the C6 wins on being easier to handle, I prefer the C8 - goes deeper and the larger baffle results in less vignetting than the C6 if you are not bothering with flats. Just my 2 cents - both scopes are flexible EAA instruments with focal reducers, as others have noted.



#22 Rickster

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:02 AM

First off, I would like to say that your analysis is clear and accurate.  And you have gotten some good advice.

 

Second, I notice that you started with a 10" Intellicast (as I did).  This tells me that you appreciate aperture and you like to get as much as you can for your money.  Also, you are seeing things in your scope that indicate that you might have relatively dark skies.  So, to be clear, I have some questions.

 

Do you enjoy making and adapting things to save  money, or do you prefer to buy new, ready to go equipment?

 

How dark are your skies in your backyard?  Will you need to use light pollution filters?  Is transporting your rig to darker sites a serious consideration?

 

How important is it to you to get the most bang for your buck?  How do you feel about used?  Would you prefer to have the latest and greatest?  Or would you prefer something that is out of fashion, but still provides great value?

 

Is this for your own enjoyment, or is the ability to keep others entertained an important consideration?



#23 OhioKraken

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:10 PM

Rick,

Right now I'm looking at buying a used Nexstar 6 Evolution.  Evolution mounts offer the built-in battery as well as all metal gearing.  I figure I can keep the mount and upgrade the OTA to an 8" in the future.  I like building the system i.e. buying the various components and making them work together.

 

I live outside of Cleveland, Ohio so light pollution is present (bortle 4 or 5).  I like portability but will primarily use it my backyard.  I do not want to have to lug a heavy setup in and out of the house so a 6 or 8 Nexstar seems like a great fit.

 

I'm trying to balance purchasing cheap, unreliable equipment against spending thousands of dollars on a premium setup.  The Nexstar (SE or evolution) seems like a proven system that works for EAA and is producing some great images as seen on this thread. 

 

I am planning on buying a Nexstar system, a ZWO ASI385MC camera, and a f/6.3 focal reducer to start.  Probably hook up my laptop to the system and control and view from it.  Could also remote control (teamviewer) the scope and camera from inside the house.  At some point, I could then invest in a Stellarmate to have wifi remote control.

 

At this point, I've seen a lot visually with the 10" Intelliscope over the years.  Seems like the right time to take the next step into EAA.



#24 Rickster

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 02:36 AM

Although my own (admittedly not mainstream) point of view is that a 8" Newt/ DSLR/ GEM gives the most bang for the buck in the starter category, I have to agree that the option you chose is just as good in its own way.  In particular you have been careful to balance the components to give a workable field of view.  And you recognize that this setup is the beginning of your journey and not the end.  This seems like a very sensible start to me, especially since you are buying used.  It will give you the ability to explore what you can and can not do from your location.  And this will give you the experience you will need to decide if/how you want to upgrade later.  And lots of fun too! 


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#25 Stargazer3236

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 02:45 PM

The good thing about a Nexstar 6/8SE is you can reduce the F ratio down to F/3.3 or increase it up to F30. You have a lot of choices when it comes to what you want to observe or image. Get in close or take in the whole view. That is what so valuable about an SCT, because on all SCT's you can increase or decrease the F ratio to suit your needs. You really can't go much lower with a Newt, unless it is an F/6 or F/8. Refractors take precise reducers to get anywhere close to F/4., however, all telescopes can take a barlow and magnify to some degree 2X or 3X times.

 

SCT's are the jack of all trades telescope. You get the benefit of a lens and mirrors, in a very compact form. Refractors are too long and get heavy over 4" and Newts are both long and heavy and you have two mirrors to collimate. An SCT has just one mirror to collimate. It can be carried in a small camera bag, depending on which size you choose. a 6" ota can be carried on as carry on luggage on a plane and the 4SE is even smaller.

 

However, anything over 8" in an SCT starts to get heavy. The C9.25 is 20lbs, C11 is 27lbs, the C14 is 45lbs, the Meade 10" is 26lbs and the Meade 12" is 35lbs. and that is just the weight of the OTA. Add in some forks and the weight balloons, 65lbs for the CPC11, 70lbs for the Meade LX200 12". Unless you are young and muscular, you don't have a prayer in lifting it constantly over several imaging settings, unless you can mount it permanently.

 

Start with the 6 and then maybe trade up to the 8. The 8 is an all around good choice for imaging with the ASI385MC camera.




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