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Buying New Stuff (Beginner)

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#1 RobawGT

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 04:23 PM

Hi there,

 

I am finally getting close to pulling the trigger on some new gear.  Just want to make sure I'm on the right track here regarding my upgrade plan.  

 

I currently have a 6in Cave Reflector (750mm FL) on an Orion Astroview Mount w/ the Motor Drive Kit.  However, the the mirror needs to be refinished and the focuser is crap.  I have an ASI120mc-s for planetary imaging and that has been fun, but the end goal (for me) is narrow band imaging.   

 

I live in Bortle 8 /9  light pollution with a heavy gradient due to a nearby grocery store (<.1 miles away).  Travelling to a dark site right now is near impossible with a toddler and baby at home.  So being able to do this from my backyard is important.  

 

My plan is to buy an Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G (mount and refractor) to start with.  Long term, I want to pair it with an ASI183mm-pro, Astronomik Ha and OIII filters, and a respective autoguiding setup.    

 

I also have an older DSLR Canon Digital Rebel, but it has its challenges with no live view and no Backyard EOS.  Its also too heavy for the for the focuser on the 6" reflector.  

 

The idea is to start with the mount (mostly for the GOTO capability) and learn as I go as I purchase new items.  I'd like to be able to mix and match gear as I go as well as leave room to upgrade.  

 

 

My questions are:

 

1)  Is the ED80 good enough or should I get the mount without the ED80 and go for a WO Z61 and Flat 61 Corrector (or something similar).  My main concerns are with the ability to focus adequately.  I could upgrade the ED80 focuser to a 10:1 dual speed for not too much more if I feel I need it.  

 

2) How accurate is the GOTO on the Sirius?  I can't find anything via star hopping currently in the light pollution.  Would the small FOV with the ED80 / ASI120mc-s be too small of a FOV to locate planetary nebula?  

 

3) Is the ASI183mm a good match for short FL scope?  The image scale with the ED80 is about .83"/pixel (stock) and 1"/pixel with the .85 Focal Reducer / Coma Corrector.  Would the ASI1600mm-pro be a better fit?  I've looked at both and think the 183 is a better match.

 

4) Which narrowband filter would you get first, considering that I would likely be going after planetary nebula to start?    

 

5) Am I going to be kicking myself in 5 years wishing I had got an Atlas instead of a Sirius?

 

So ... thoughts on this plan?  Want to make sure I'm not leaving out any important bits or making a mistake in my thought process.  

 

Thanks,

Robert     

 

 



#2 fewayne

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 04:42 PM

1)  Is the ED80 good enough or should I get the mount without the ED80 and go for a WO Z61 and Flat 61 Corrector (or something similar).  My main concerns are with the ability to focus adequately.  I could upgrade the ED80 focuser to a 10:1 dual speed for not too much more if I feel I need it.  

 

2) How accurate is the GOTO on the Sirius?  I can't find anything via star hopping currently in the light pollution.  Would the small FOV with the ED80 / ASI120mc-s be too small of a FOV to locate planetary nebula?  

 

3) Is the ASI183mm a good match for short FL scope?  The image scale with the ED80 is about .83"/pixel (stock) and 1"/pixel with the .85 Focal Reducer / Coma Corrector.  Would the ASI1600mm-pro be a better fit?  I've looked at both and think the 183 is a better match.

 

4) Which narrowband filter would you get first, considering that I would likely be going after planetary nebula to start?    

 

5) Am I going to be kicking myself in 5 years wishing I had got an Atlas instead of a Sirius?

 

1) Well, you certainly won't regret money spent on a good focuser. One reason I went with Stellarvue.

2) You will want to implement plate solving sooner rather than later if you can't star-hop, unless you can pier-mount your scope permanently. Makes the FOV pretty much a non-issue. That said, if you're considering a 183, note that its pixels are smaller than a 120's, so that you're better off (resolution-wise) just cropping to 1280x960 from the 183 image!

3) The 183 is a little tetchier to process, from what I've read, than a 1600. I do love mine.

4) Sure you don't want to start with larger, brighter targets? DSO imaging is a tough game, there's a lot to learn even if you set all the sliders to "easy". Ha would be my first choice for someone starting out in light pollution.

5) If you can afford it, the Wisdom of The Fora is to always, always buy the better mount. Another of those "won't-regret-it" things. A beefier, better mount will do everything a smaller, cheaper one will, plus more. Except, of course, when it comes to portability. For quite a few folks, the extra weight is a deal-breaker.



#3 Gipht

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 04:51 PM

A mount with a 30# capacity can be limiting.   I see the Atlas  being recommended a lot here, but remember the Atlas weighs over 50#'s without the counterweights.  The new iOptron CEM-40 is currently on back order, but it weighs much, much less and has a  40# capacity like the Atlas.  It currently cost $500 more.  There is not a lot of experience yet with the CEM-40 but recent products from iOptron have been excellent.

 

The 183 camera does fit well with the shorter focal length telescopes.  Getting started in AP with a mono camera and filter wheel may be more complicated then some people want to take on.  Buying a used DSLR would make the learning process much easier.  With light pollution a factor, its understandable why you would want to go narrowband, though.

 

I have a couple of inexpensive refractors with marginal focusers.  They are useable, but a nice focuser to start out with is a better choice.  I also have the STV 70mm APO telescope and am very happy with it.

 

One of the difficulties  in starting AP is the big expense to get decent equipment.  If the hobby takes, it is well worth the extra money.



#4 RobawGT

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 05:16 PM

1) Well, you certainly won't regret money spent on a good focuser. One reason I went with Stellarvue.

2) You will want to implement plate solving sooner rather than later if you can't star-hop, unless you can pier-mount your scope permanently. Makes the FOV pretty much a non-issue. That said, if you're considering a 183, note that its pixels are smaller than a 120's, so that you're better off (resolution-wise) just cropping to 1280x960 from the 183 image!

3) The 183 is a little tetchier to process, from what I've read, than a 1600. I do love mine.

4) Sure you don't want to start with larger, brighter targets? DSO imaging is a tough game, there's a lot to learn even if you set all the sliders to "easy". Ha would be my first choice for someone starting out in light pollution.

5) If you can afford it, the Wisdom of The Fora is to always, always buy the better mount. Another of those "won't-regret-it" things. A beefier, better mount will do everything a smaller, cheaper one will, plus more. Except, of course, when it comes to portability. For quite a few folks, the extra weight is a deal-breaker.

 

Thank you for the quick response!  For number 4, I meant that I might not be getting the ASI183 right away and be limited in FOV with the ASI120MC for a little bit.  That FOV lends itself to smaller targets, hence the planetary nebula suggestion.  Galaxies and Nebula are also interests.  

 

 

A mount with a 30# capacity can be limiting.   I see the Atlas  being recommended a lot here, but remember the Atlas weighs over 50#'s without the counterweights.  The new iOptron CEM-40 is currently on back order, but it weighs much, much less and has a  40# capacity like the Atlas.  It currently cost $500 more.  There is not a lot of experience yet with the CEM-40 but recent products from iOptron have been excellent.

 

The 183 camera does fit well with the shorter focal length telescopes.  Getting started in AP with a mono camera and filter wheel may be more complicated then some people want to take on.  Buying a used DSLR would make the learning process much easier.  With light pollution a factor, its understandable why you would want to go narrowband, though.

 

I have a couple of inexpensive refractors with marginal focusers.  They are useable, but a nice focuser to start out with is a better choice.  I also have the STV 70mm APO telescope and am very happy with it.

 

One of the difficulties  in starting AP is the big expense to get decent equipment.  If the hobby takes, it is well worth the extra money.

 

Thanks for the response, looks like that's two votes for a STV OTA, going to look into it.  I do have a DSLR (see original post) and a remote shutter and will get the adapter to try my luck with the wider FOV with the steadier platform.  I have just struggled with LP in the past with it. Thanks again for the ideas.

Robert     



#5 bobzeq25

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 05:50 PM

That's a decent plan.  So much depends on your budget.

 

1) The ED80 could work.  A Stellarvue would be great (I own two) , but $$$.  In between I'd look at Astronomics or Teleskop-Services (I own one) scopes.

 

2) Most of us have replaced (or augmented) GOTO with platesolving.  One result is that makes GOTO accuracy far less important.  You can GOTO the general vicinity, shoot a test image to see exactly (understatement) where you're pointed, and then correct.  There are software options that automate the process.

 

3) The 183 (I have a color version) is a touchy camera, with the tiny pixels, which are signal to noise ratio challenged, requiring longer total imaging times.  The 1600 is perhaps a safer choice.  People will disagree, and get into details about image scale.  But, this is a matter of opinion, not truth and beauty.  <smile>  Either could work.

 

4)  The Ha filter is always the first filter to get.  It's by far the strongest signal on most targets.  You can make fine black and white Ha images, my astrobin has some.  Once you've got that down, you add an O(III).

 

5) The drawback of the Atlas (the latest version is the EQ6-R) is weight.  If that doesn't bother you, it's an obvious improvement.  If it does, there's also the slightly more expensive iOptron CEM40, similar performance. _much_ lighter.

 

All depends on your budget.  If getting a less expensive scope means you can spend more on the mount, that's a good trade, especially for narrowband.

 

Not so minor point.  The first line of defense against light pollution is gradient reduction.  My skies are not as bad as yours (Bortle 7), but it's true regardless of site, target, or narrowband filters.  Simply essential.  Look at my astrobin.  There's a variety of setups used, DSLR, one shot color CMOS, mono CCDs with filters, sometimes narrowband, sometimes a combination.  Everything used gradient reduction after very early days.

 

People often underestimate what it can do, example below.  That's a stack, no processing other than one step of gradient reduction, and a simple stretch on each so your eyes can see what's up.

 

ABE exampl before.jpg

 

ABE example after.jpg


Edited by bobzeq25, 18 June 2019 - 06:04 PM.

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#6 the Elf

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 10:30 AM

Narrowband needs long subs, of course depending on how fast your scope is and how low your noise level is. So good tracking is important. I can recommend the Skywatcher EQ6-R. From what I read here it is on sale right now in the US. The belt drive makes it react smooth to guiding and reduces backlash. As far as I read here the Atlas is similar but I don't know about the belt drive.

If you focus on narrowband you do not need an apochromat and can save a few $$$ on the scope and use them for a better mount. I agree to Bob, start with Ha, monochrome can be nice. Here is my humble attempt on a vintage style heart and soul: http://www.elf-of-lo...rtSoul2019.html (click for full screen)

The question is what bandwith. The smaller the better as long as your scope is slow (f/6 or slower). For very fast systems (e.g. hyperstar) you need special filters. On the other hand, if you want to see stars in life view or focus manually using a Bahtinov mask I recommend 7nm, this passes just enough light to see the brighter stars in life view even on my DSLR.

Here is an unprocessed example of my current project, this is the first 2 night = 6h of Ha through the Baader 7nm:

 

Preview_24x15min_low.jpg

 

The signal of the emission nebula is always the same, no matter what filter you use. The light of the stars is dimmed more with a smaller and less with a wider. So basically you can dim the star with more money. The tulip is not the brightes object in the sky but far from faint. So for beginner targets I'd say 7nm is a nice compromise.

A bad focusser sucks, but this is a component that can be replaced one fine day if you can't invest as much right now. Just make sure that there is a replacement available (Baader, Moonlight, etc.)



#7 Sven_Bortle5

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 12:00 PM

I agree with the Elf - I bought the EQ6-R Pro last year and have not had any issue since then. Polar alignment, tracking and now auto-guiding worked perfect - just out of the box. The mount can carry a lot… appears to stay my best friend for a very long time. So this would also be my prio 1 advice for spending the money.

 

And, what gave me another boost in precision was the Polemaster for the EQ6-R Pro. Can run exposures up to 10 mins. without techn. problems… though this doesn't make sense with my setup.

 

In regrad to the scope I'd also look for something with a smaller f-ratio than the Orion. A WO Z61 with a reducer might be cool. I have the WO GT81 (and no direct comparison) but the R+P focuser is working fine.  Though WO is kind of expensive counting all the required equipment in (reducer, T-mount), it seems to have a reasonable cost of ownership.

 

The built-in Bathinov Mask of the WO gives me precise pictures in focusing. I take 30s test-exposures with the Astronomic Ha 12 nm on my DSLR. 


Edited by Sven_Bortle5, 19 June 2019 - 12:04 PM.


#8 Stelios

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:45 PM

Hi there,

 

I am finally getting close to pulling the trigger on some new gear.  Just want to make sure I'm on the right track here regarding my upgrade plan.  

 

I currently have a 6in Cave Reflector (750mm FL) on an Orion Astroview Mount w/ the Motor Drive Kit.  However, the the mirror needs to be refinished and the focuser is crap.  I have an ASI120mc-s for planetary imaging and that has been fun, but the end goal (for me) is narrow band imaging.   

 

I live in Bortle 8 /9  light pollution with a heavy gradient due to a nearby grocery store (<.1 miles away).  Travelling to a dark site right now is near impossible with a toddler and baby at home.  So being able to do this from my backyard is important.  

 

My plan is to buy an Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G (mount and refractor) to start with.  Long term, I want to pair it with an ASI183mm-pro, Astronomik Ha and OIII filters, and a respective autoguiding setup.    

 

I also have an older DSLR Canon Digital Rebel, but it has its challenges with no live view and no Backyard EOS.  Its also too heavy for the for the focuser on the 6" reflector.  

 

The idea is to start with the mount (mostly for the GOTO capability) and learn as I go as I purchase new items.  I'd like to be able to mix and match gear as I go as well as leave room to upgrade.  

 

 

My questions are:

 

1)  Is the ED80 good enough or should I get the mount without the ED80 and go for a WO Z61 and Flat 61 Corrector (or something similar).  My main concerns are with the ability to focus adequately.  I could upgrade the ED80 focuser to a 10:1 dual speed for not too much more if I feel I need it.  

 

2) How accurate is the GOTO on the Sirius?  I can't find anything via star hopping currently in the light pollution.  Would the small FOV with the ED80 / ASI120mc-s be too small of a FOV to locate planetary nebula?  

 

3) Is the ASI183mm a good match for short FL scope?  The image scale with the ED80 is about .83"/pixel (stock) and 1"/pixel with the .85 Focal Reducer / Coma Corrector.  Would the ASI1600mm-pro be a better fit?  I've looked at both and think the 183 is a better match.

 

4) Which narrowband filter would you get first, considering that I would likely be going after planetary nebula to start?    

 

5) Am I going to be kicking myself in 5 years wishing I had got an Atlas instead of a Sirius?

 

So ... thoughts on this plan?  Want to make sure I'm not leaving out any important bits or making a mistake in my thought process.  

 

Thanks,

Robert     

If I may caution: Do not make decisions in a hurry. Sometimes every reply seems wise and has a tendency to sway (*everyone* goes through such a stage). You need to research a bit more before reaching firm conclusions. 

 

Your specific questions:

 

1) The ED80 is 600mm F/L. The WO 61 is 360mm. They are *completely* different scopes. Go to Astronomy.Tools (field of view calculators, select imaging) and input the scope data to get some idea of the field of view difference. I would find the WO 61 extremely limiting, although it's a fantastic scope for widefield objects. The ED80 is a good compromise scope, can be paired with a reducer, *will* require a flattener or a reducer/flattener. You can replace the focuser with a Moonlite for $275 if the focuser is problematic (don't rush to solve problems you don't yet have). 

 

2) You will never really enjoy astronomy from bortle 8/9 skies. The Sirius GoTo's are decent but not perfect. However, sooner or later (preferably sooner) every astrophotographer plate-solves for precise centering and positioning of your object. Plate-solving will work even in lousy skies by increasing exposure. With plate-solving, exact GoTo's are unimportant--the software finds out how much off it is and compensates. 

 

3) The ASI183 and ASI1600 differ significantly in FOV (the 1600 is much larger). The 183 gives .82"/px with the ED80 and the 1600 gives 1.3"/px. Both are quite acceptable. If a longer F/L scope is in your future, the 1600 will be a better fit unless your seeing is fantastic (doesn't sound like it). Of course you should ONLY consider the Pro versions.

 

4) You would need to go after only the largest planetary nebulae with scopes of the F/L you've selected. Most PN's are very small, and require longer F/L. You should be getting all three NB filters (Ha, Oiii, Sii) and in that order if you need to get one by one. The ZWO filters are $129 each or $369 for the 1.25" set (which is all you need). A great starting set. You can pay much more for Astronomik and (especially) Astrodon, but it will be years before *that* is the item that limits you.

 

5) No, you will be kicking yourself in five years for not buying a CEM60 or a G11 assuming the universe stays the same. The only reason to "kick yourself" for not buying the Atlas is if your next OTA is in the sweet spot (25-30lbs, a bit more for shorter F/L's) that is a bit heavy for the Sirius and within the capacity of the Atlas. But actually my answer is that you won't be kicking yourself at all--you'll sell the Sirius then at 30-40% off, and you will have a BETTER CHOICE OF MOUNTS because mount technology keeps changing. Also in 5 years you'll know exactly what scope you want to mount, and what type of mount that future scope will require.

 

You keep mentioning your 120MC. I would sell that camera as quickly as I can (I did sell mine). It's obsolete, and it won't even make a good guide camera. Use your DSLR as the imager for now. For a guide camera get an ASI120MM-mini. For planetary imaging get a fast frame rate USB3 camera like the ASI224MC or ASI290MC. 


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#9 the Elf

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 05:24 AM

A wise man has spoken. You should follow his advice if you want to avoid frustration.


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#10 fewayne

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 06:34 PM

You keep mentioning your 120MC. I would sell that camera as quickly as I can (I did sell mine). It's obsolete, and it won't even make a good guide camera. Use your DSLR as the imager for now. For a guide camera get an ASI120MM-mini. For planetary imaging get a fast frame rate USB3 camera like the ASI224MC or ASI290MC. 

Huh. If it were a 120MC I would heartily agree because of all the USB problems, but an -S? I know the mini is newer but are the guts significantly better? Asking for a friend (see my signature >;-} ).



#11 RobawGT

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 02:40 PM

Sorry everyone for the delay in responding.  Thank you all for your detailed responses.  I am a huge lurker around the forums, even if my post count doesn't show it :)

 

I'll have to give platesolving a try, it sounds like its the better method for getting the target in the frame.  The ASI120MC is the newer -s version, without the USB problems that I've been hearing about.  Its worked great for me on the planets so far.  Money was also a deciding factor in the purchase of that piece of gear.  :)

 

Thank you Bobzeq25, you answers highlight the dilemma I am facing.  Money is a concern, but not because I don't have any, but because the wife isn't sold on it...  I think the Sirius for both weight and money is where I am thinking.  It is lighter and cheaper and comes with the ED80.  I just need to wait for it to go back on sale.  If I were to get something heavier, the EQ6-R is now my favorite over the Orion Atlas, makes complete sense to me. 

 

 

Thanks,

Robert Allen


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#12 terry59

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 04:04 PM

I started with the Sirius/ED80 package and it carried me a long way. The glass is quite good (blue FWHM only slightly higher than red and green), very good in NB. The stock focuser should be sufficient until you add autofocus. Get and use EQMOD...it is a major free upgrade to controlling the mount.

 

Good luck


Edited by terry59, 22 June 2019 - 04:05 PM.

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