I have read a lot of threads to determine all the different options. I just wondered how others with experience (knowing what you know now) would enter the EAA speciality if all they had was what I had, and perhaps some had started with equipment similar to mine and made mistakes along the way that perhaps I could avoid.
Here is my take as somebody pretty new the EAA. I did alot of homework like you did but I did not have any existing equipment to try to maybe use. So I was starting with a clean slate and I think that made my decision a little easier. So here it goes (in no particular order)
1. EAA is about seeing some cool stuff in as close to real-time as possible. It is about viewing. Not imaging. Although I and many others like to capture screen shots to show friends and family and to post on this forum
2. Since we are NOT trying to create an award-winning image, our setup can be ALOT simpler. While an equatorial mount can certainly be used, an Alt-Az works very well. We are using very short exposures so any field rotation is easily handled by the stacking software. Again, since EAA is about about just viewing, why bother with doing a polar alignment and heavy counter-weights. I know alot of people will take issue with this, but I firmly believe in the KISS principle. And that means no guiding either.
3. A fast scope really helps. Many use an SCT which are natively f10 but we all use either a traditional focal reducer or a HyperStar. Doing EAA at F10 is no fun. With my Hyperstar and f2, things can literally pop right up on the screen. It is amazing.
4. There are dozens of cameras to choose from. The majority of people probably use a ZWO camera and SharpCap. They work together really well but there are other options and other vendors provide their own software (such as Atik).
5. You must match your camera carefully to your optics. Image scale is important but the resulting FOV is also very important. It can be really hard to find objects if your FOV is very small. So that means you need to know about the camera's pixel size, resolution and overall sensor size. It is not too complicated but it is important.
6. You do need a pretty decent PC but the little mini in my signature handles SharpCap and Stellarium with no problem at all. Many of the new cameras use USB3 so make sure the computer has that.
7. You will want a motorized, tracking mount. I believe there is one guy on this forum that does some pretty amazing stuff with a manual mount, but that is the exception to the rule.
8. I am not qualified to comment on the equipment that you have, but there is no reason why you can't start with what you have and see how it works. EAA is not inexpensive. Most will describe it as a money pit. I am the kind of person who likes to jump right in so I didn't spare any expense. I started with an Evo 8 + ASI 294MC + Hyperstar. That was about $4000 to get going but I am really happy I did. The setup works great with no hassles and when you get so few actual clear nights, it is nice to not worry about your equipment.
9. Eventually you may decided to remote control your setup so you can operate it from the comfort of your living room when it is freezing outside. I would suggest that you not worry about that now as it does complicate the setup. It is really great but I would concentrate on just getting a workable system first, and then automate it later.
Just my two cents. I hope it helps. EAA is really great. I wouldn't be able to see anything where I live so it has really opened up this amazing hobby to me and alot of others.
Edited by descott12, 12 May 2019 - 12:25 PM.