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Looking to get my first astro setup. Hope someone could look this over.

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#1 DrGomer

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Posted 27 August 2019 - 01:09 PM

Hello.  I don't really post here but I read a lot. 

Been wanting to get a backyard DSO AP setup since I have pretty dark skies (Bortle 4 without needing to drive anywhere!). 

I don't have a huge budget so this is what I was able to put together. 

Is there anything I'm missing, or see a fatal flaw with the gear selection?  

 

 

William Optics package: WO-EQ35 mount + Z73 APO + Field flattener for Z73 50mm uniguide guide scope $1600

https://williamoptic...-scope-included

 

Guiding: ZWO ASIAIR + ASI120MM Mini camera $328

https://astronomy-im...duct/zwo-asiair

 

Camera: ASI183MC Pro $800

https://astronomy-im...183mc-pro-color

 

(I have an android tablet, phone and indoor PC I could all connect with)

$2725 seems like a bargain for a pretty good setup...i think.   I could probably kick it up to about $3k if it really mattered. I know a lot more $ can get bigger and better mounts and better scopes, but for a smaller setup, does this all see reasonable?

I don't think I'm missing anything on stuff to buy to get started.   (I also have a manual 8" dobs with a bunch of eyepieces for visual)

 

 

I'm pretty handy in the scientific instrument field but astro is new to me.   

Individually, I've seen good reviews on all these things.

I think the FOV and pixels/star density are both fine, but not 100% certain.

I think the larger sensor cameras might have to large of a FOV.

 

Thanks for any feedback!

 

 


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#2 BetaDraconis

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Posted 27 August 2019 - 03:21 PM

That's a good sized scope for any beginner though I'm not familiar with that mount so maybe somebody else can chime in. You may end up undersampling a bit with that camera/scope combo depending on your seeing conditions and, if you can swing it, the ASI290MM-mini is an even better camera for guiding.



#3 mohitk

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 01:13 AM

Is there anything I'm missing, or see a fatal flaw with the gear selection?  

 

I am putting my first astro setup together as well (almost there!), so here are some thoughts (not familiar with your equipment listed):

 

- Info : There are plenty of resources online, but I found these books very helpful:

    - "The Deep Sky Imaging Primer" by Charles Bracken

    - "The Astrophotography Manual" by Chris Woodhouse

 

- Power : do you already have power figured out for your equipment ? Do you need to budget for portable power ?

 

- Software : Depending on what software you want to use for image capture and processing (even polar alignment - like SharpCap Pro), you might want to budget some money for that.

 

- Equipment : 

    - How is the humidity where you image ? Do you need dew control ?

    - A little later consideration : Auto focuser, unless manually doing it is fine.

    - A later consideration : How about a power distribution hub and a powered USB hub at/near the scope ?

 

Just ideas - you may not need all of these right now.


Edited by mohitk, 28 August 2019 - 09:50 AM.

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#4 Startex

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 02:40 AM

I'm just a newbie but that mounts AP capacity is 10-12 lbs? Down the road if you wanna bump up to a 102 etc.. that mount is a bit thin.


Edited by Startex, 28 August 2019 - 02:46 AM.

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#5 the Elf

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 12:14 PM

Within the given budget there is no perfect setup, you will need to compromize somewhere. Don't want to talk it down, just thoughts about what compromizes the setup includes. It is your choice if you can live with it for the time being:

 

- The camera has got a 15mm sensor diagonal which is small compared to APS-C or FF. There are different ways to look at this point:

EITHER the scope might deal with that image size even without the flattener, so if that is your camera for a while you could use the money for the flattener elsewhere.

OR: the field of view is limited by the sensor. The sope could be used for larger objects with a larger sensor that definitly needs the flattener.

 

- The mount looks tiny. With the small pixels the resolution of the camera you have a theoretical resolution that the mount will probably not reach. If that is your mount you might opt for a camera with larger pixels on a larger sensor without loss of detail but larger field of view that works well thanks to the flattener

 

- The scope is a doublet. Be prepared for color finges. If you go the mono camera plus filter wheel way you can focus each color individually, reducing the CA. When shooting L they will still be a bit blurred but mono images yield better results in deconvolution. If you go for an OSC camera one color will be blurred, probably red. This can be partially corrected in the software with some effort.

 

- A color camera cannot be used for narrowband. The closest you can get is a dual band filter which is expensive. A mono plus filters offer far more imaging options but is more complicated to deal with. If you like nebulae Ha is the way to go. If you like globular cluster and galaxies you don't need an Ha filter and an OSC camera is fine.

 

- If you think about planets: the setup is not suitable for planets at all, you probably know that.

 

Being future save is often discussed here. This setup won't serve you for years, you will sooner or later start replacing things. You could start with a more future save mount (e.g. SW EQ6-R). To stay within the budget you could get a not too old used DSLR. Canon T3i is not too bad and cheap, most people here recommend Nikons, please ask them for details. You could ge exactly the opposite route and start with a future save camera which is a cooled mono with a filter wheel, e.g. the ZWO 1600 starter kit with mini wheel and L-R-G-B-Ha. I'm really on the fence with doublets. After long research my first refractor was quadruplet (a triplet with the flattener included, TS offers some and WO has got one at least afaik). The scope choise depends on if you want to do visual as well. As you probably know there is no scope that is optimal for both. A scope with the flattener included has got less back focus so that you cannot add a diagonal at all or need a special short one. Looking straight always works. A triplet plus a flattener offers the same quality as the quad but here you have an option for visual plus diagonal as you have with the doublet. CN is full of correct spacing of flattener and sensor, you have to be aware of this. With a quad you don't have to care about this.

Re missing bits: I recommend a decent flat field like Gerd Neumann's Aurora. It is not expensive for small scopes. I know others will now tell you the T-shirt is fine or use your tablet computer, copy pad, etc. I keep on watching the "help processing" threads with vignetting issues. With 3 different scopes and 3 different lenses I don't even know how the v-word is spelled thanks to the flat panel.

 

The pros of "your" setup is the high qe of the camera, the short focal length that is ideal for a beginner, the low weight of the scope and the correct decsion not to go unguided. I think the ASIAIR is a good choice compared to a computer that consumes lot of power, is sensitive to dew and in case of a certain operating systems that keeps on updating all the time, relatively trouble free. All in all the setup won't cause much trouble compared to popular combinations like SCTs on an AVX or long and heavy newts with coma or focus problems and high sensitivty to wind. I'm really concerned about the color finges of the doublet. Thoughts, anyone?


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#6 DrGomer

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 12:34 PM

Thanks for the replies all.

BetaDraconis: I did some math on the under/oversampling and this is what I got (see image). I think I'm ok with sampling. I'll have to check into the guide camera you mentioned and do similar math. I recall that you need to be within a factor of 3-5 of the main imagine sampling. It's a $150 price difference which I could make happen assuming everything else stay  the same.

 4Igq5Yb.png

mohitk, for now, I'll have wall power but do have a 12v battery I could transport. Would just need a DC-DC converter for the USB powered sources...I probably have something like that around here in the workspace. The ASIAIR handles capture, and I have opensource stacking software and Adobe for processing already (also GIMP).  Those should be good enough for now and can see about better things in the future.  Dew is almost no problem hear. Benefit 7000ft elevation desert!  As for focusing, it'll be manual. the WO telescopes come with a Bahtinov Mask which should make focusing simple enough.

Startex, I also was thinking about that.  The mount lists a payload capacity of 23lbs which should be fine for refractors I can afford lol.  if I ever go with a RC, I know I'd need a different mount with a much larger capacity, but shopping around, mounts like that start at about $1500, which is what the telescope/guidescope/mount cost together.  



#7 bobzeq25

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 01:35 PM

It's decent.  The weakest link is the mount, which happens to be the most important part of the setup for AP of DSOs.

 

It's just not intuitive how good a mount is required, nor what it costs to make such a mount.  The single biggest beginner mistake is skimping on the mount, for those reasons.

 

The price you pay for skimping on the mount is wasted time, and frustration.

 

My minimum recommendation is a Sirius/HEQ5, or an iOptron 30PRO.  All $1200.

 

You can pay the price in dollars now, or the price in time and wasted effort later.

 

More minor point.  I have a 183C, and I would not recommend it as a first camera.  The tiny pixels are signal to noise ratio challenged.  They require longer total imaging time for a good signal to noise ratio (just as important for a good image as resolution), and beginners also typically skimp on that.  I suggest the larger pixeled 294 instead.

 

I bought my 183C for a C8 RASA, which is an F2 scope.  The speed of the optics can feed the tiny pixels.

 

Your description on the graph of under/oversampled is backwards, smaller pixels tend to oversample.  In any event, a beginner is better with some undersampling, it's more forgiving of typical beginner problems. There's a reason 2-4 is shown as green.  The image below is 2.7.  it used advanced techniques, the point is there is considerable detail, and tight stars.  Some of that is processing, of course.

 

The required (on Cloudy Nights) small jpg is a little soft.  A better version, with acquisition details, is here.

 

http://www.astrobin....page=2&nc=&nce=

 

ca neb v2a_small.jpg


Edited by bobzeq25, 28 August 2019 - 01:59 PM.

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#8 StarmanDan

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 01:52 PM

mounts like that start at about $1500, which is what the telescope/guidescope/mount cost together.  

Welcome to the world of AP!  It is not uncommon for people's mounts to cost orders of magnitude more than the equipment that is on them.  It's the nature of the beast.  The mount is the most important piece of AP equipment you will own and has a significant impact on the ease of use and quality of your images.  


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#9 bobzeq25

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 02:05 PM

 I'm really concerned about the color fringes of the doublet. Thoughts, anyone?

I started with a similar FPL-53 doublet.  Color fringing was minor, not a significant issue.

 

Here's a WO73 image.  I see no sign of fringing, and that's a 2X crop.

 

http://www.astrobin.com/full/403545/0/

 

Note to the OP.  That's with a 294.  3-1/2 hours total imaging time, you'd need close to twice that to get a similar signal to noise ratio with a 183.

 

In any event, the doublet does not interfere with learning, which is always my main consideration when advising a beginner.


Edited by bobzeq25, 28 August 2019 - 02:19 PM.

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#10 DrGomer

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 02:32 PM

Appreciate the continued feedback.  

I'm going to offer an alternative pathway for me based on the above feedback.  My overview feeling so far is that while what I selected would work from a beginner standpoint, it might not be the best for long term growth and has multiple equipment deadends.

I do happen to have a DSLR right now (full frame cannon 6D). I can't modify it for IR...but...it does free up a chunk of $.

Math backwards:
$3000 budget

-$1500 mount (something like the eq6-r-pro which I've read many good things about)
-$420 for complete ASIAIR guiding package (could be done cheaper if I decide to do my own via stellarmate and a raspberry Pi that I own, or for a bit more with a better camera or guide scope)

-$200 for clip in H-alpha filter to help compensate via software for reduced IR..maybe optional at first. 
_____
$880 for telescope+flatterer

Conceptually, would this be the better path?  I just say conceptually because there is flexibility in specific items in that itemization.  Basically shifting the cooled camera for a better mount for the time being and later see about better imaging options.  Mount would be more stable and could accomidate more in the future.   I think I might have just reasoned my way through this, but I've been known to do dumb things in the past lol.
 



#11 bobzeq25

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 02:55 PM

Appreciate the continued feedback.  

I'm going to offer an alternative pathway for me based on the above feedback.  My overview feeling so far is that while what I selected would work from a beginner standpoint, it might not be the best for long term growth and has multiple equipment deadends.

I do happen to have a DSLR right now (full frame cannon 6D). I can't modify it for IR...but...it does free up a chunk of $.

Math backwards:
$3000 budget

-$1500 mount (something like the eq6-r-pro which I've read many good things about)
-$420 for complete ASIAIR guiding package (could be done cheaper if I decide to do my own via stellarmate and a raspberry Pi that I own, or for a bit more with a better camera or guide scope)

-$200 for clip in H-alpha filter to help compensate via software for reduced IR..maybe optional at first. 
_____
$880 for telescope+flatterer

Conceptually, would this be the better path?  I just say conceptually because there is flexibility in specific items in that itemization.  Basically shifting the cooled camera for a better mount for the time being and later see about better imaging options.  Mount would be more stable and could accomidate more in the future.   I think I might have just reasoned my way through this, but I've been known to do dumb things in the past lol.
 

By George, he's got it.  <smile>  Far better.

 

Note that people do Ha with a DSLR (even though it's not as good as a mono camera), but only if it's modded for enhanced deep red response.   For starters you're only using one pixel in four, if you add on a Bayer filter that takes out 80-90% of the signal, you've got real problems.

 

More beginner advice.  Just forget about any filters at first, with an unmodded DSLR.  They add complexity with small, if any, benefits.

 

Worry about processing software more, it's more than half the game.  My recommendation is Astro Pixel Processor, both stacks and processes, good quality and fairly easy to use.  Has a fine gradient reduction tool, useful for reducing the effects of light pollution.

 

This book will be a big help, on everything.  The processing section is particularly good.  While it uses (options) PixInsight and Photoshop, the real value is in the general theory discussion.

 

https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/0999470906


Edited by bobzeq25, 28 August 2019 - 03:08 PM.

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#12 the Elf

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:15 PM

Agree to Bob, that is the better math. I'd skip the Ha filter for the DSLR for the beginning. You can get a mono camera later and start with the Ha filter only. The data can be mixed with the regular color images from the DSLR, this is my standard procedure, see examples on my website. Without the Ha filter you have $1080 for the telescope. What about this one, FPL53 triplet with corrector

https://www.teleskop...Feldebnung.html

of for a lower price a petzval:

https://www.teleskop...r-Teleskop.html

When saving money on the scope you can afford PixInsight.


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#13 DrGomer

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:20 PM

thanks again. I think I'm on firm enough grounds now to move forward with refinement.  I'll also check out Astro Pixel Processor.  I might even, because I'm sometimes a masochist, play with writing my own processing software to help learn the process.  I do like playing in Igor and Labview :-D
I might just pick up that book before any hardware shopping. More information beforehand is always good, imo. Gives me time to investigate sale frequency/options!
 



#14 the Elf

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:26 PM

You need quite some programming to get the task done. I'm writing processing software for industrial inspection of car parts since 12 years now. I can tell a piece of software that does what I'm using most of the time would take me years to write not to talk about the research you need to do when you don't know how things work, e.g. deconvolution or wavelets. I'm currently programming wavelets. Matlab comes with quite some good stuff, but whatever you use, Matlab or Labview, there is no preprocessing in it.


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#15 bobzeq25

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 06:46 PM

thanks again. I think I'm on firm enough grounds now to move forward with refinement.  I'll also check out Astro Pixel Processor.  I might even, because I'm sometimes a masochist, play with writing my own processing software to help learn the process.  I do like playing in Igor and Labview :-D
I might just pick up that book before any hardware shopping. More information beforehand is always good, imo. Gives me time to investigate sale frequency/options!
 

I love your ambition. 

 

Here's a taste of what the top imaging processing program, PixInsight, is like. 

 

The material below covers one small area, noise reduction. 

 

It's a good read for you, no matter what.  The first part has some very useful information on data acquisition, well synthesized.

 

https://jonrista.com...duction-part-1/

 

The book will cover processing more comprehensively.

 

AP of DSOs is endlessly complicated.  Part of the charm for many of us.  You will never, ever, run out of new things to learn.


Edited by bobzeq25, 28 August 2019 - 07:05 PM.

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#16 Seaquel47

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 06:49 PM

bobzeq25, you recommended the imaging primer book to me a little while ago and it has been the best single resource for me to begin to understand how to get started with EAA/astrophotography.

 

I just wanted to say thanks,

 

Don


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#17 DrGomer

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 03:02 PM

Rather than start a new thread, I'm going to continue this one since there is lots of good info already by others. 

I've been thinking about AP endlessly (I know I'm not alone :p) and dwelling on the comments about forward thinking purchases.  I'm a value shopper. I don't buy cheap but I also don't spend tons on achieving the last % ..because I don't have those resources :p

I also gotta recognize that while I absolutely love all things space and have for decades, I may not have the AstroPhoto bug to the same capacity...but I might. I just won't know for sure till I get into it.  

This brings about 2 ideas: 1) Purchase in steps so that if I lose interest along the way, I'm not in a complete economic hole and 2) Don't make temporary/placeholder purchases.

 

This got me thinking about purchasing phases, starting with wide angle and over time, build the equipment basis to do more narrow field targets.  The following is the phases I have in mind. How long I stay at each phase before advancing will depend on available budget and continued interest in the hobby. NOTE: I do have a laptop and stellarmate, and this will be backyard photography in a bortle 4 zone with very low humidity, so power and dew shield accessories are not a concern)

 

Phase 1 ($0): Super wide- Use my unmodified 6D + camera mount + 100 macro (flat field as far as I know) to do only short exposures. using the "500" rule, it means 5 sec max exposures.  Use free stacking software and Photoshop (I own an old version) or GIMP. Get good with learning the processing fundamentals. I can probably start having fun with this this weekend if my schedule allows.
Phase 2 ($1500): Mount time!  Skywatcher EQ6 seems to be the go-to affordable AP mount as long as the load doesn't get too heavy nor too long a focal length.  Continue the Phase I things but now add unguided tracking. Learn to get good at polar alignments and can probably do sub 2 minute exposures
Phase 3 ($1200 or less):  Add in a telescope (+ flattener) + guide scope + guide camera.  This telescope will still be wide field but can also serve as a guide scope for a longer focal length scope. That's something like $3-350 on guide scope and guide camera and the rest on a telescope (ZS 61, or redcat, or similar small APO).
Phase 4 ($1-1.5k):  Cooled camera. Tech depending at the time and budget at the time will dictate which camera and if I go OSC or mono with filter wheel. I know that part can get expensive and filters would build up over time.
Phase 5:($?) Another telescope.  The wide field scope from Phase 3 can become the guide scope. The new telescope will be something on the order or a 102 mm apo (gets really expensive beyond that) or go the reflector route for galaxies with a longer focal length RC.  Something like a 8" is probably the max I'd want to use anyways on the EQ6. This lets me now change to smaller targets which were not ideal with the wide field imaging.

 

Does this sound like a very solid plan or am I still missing out on something?   I'm going to do Phase I regardless cause I have it all, and no reason not to have fun right now doing it. But as a long range planner who likes to ponder the details to death, I gotta keep future phases in mind along with specific items. I think the EQ6 is probably the most sound mount choice for me. The telescope is still something I am researching. Things like PixInsight and other accessories, I'm sure will just happen along the way.


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#18 kevindt

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:18 PM

DrG, your last post is very reminiscent of my start-out efforts.  i've been a non-astro photographer for years, most all of my sky photography involved fast glass aimed at fast-moving objects - birds or planes - so I already had a decent DSLR and lenses (though many were a little too long).

 

I too wanted to get my feet wet gently without too much initial expense, and without a lot of equipment swapping

 

Phase 1: My Pentax cameras have built in astrotracking (sensor moves based on calculation from GPS + multi-axis sensors), and I started with a 105 mm/2.5 Vivitar Series 1 (Kiron) macro and a Pentax M-200 F4 ( and tried some very good longer Pentax glass)   Had to move the camera between frames, but it worked OK for brighter objects.  Used (and still using) DSS and GIMP.  Tried a simple barn-door to do the between-frames moving.  Helped a lot.  None of my best terrestrial glass is really flat-field to the sensor edges with point sources at infinity.

 

Phase 2: Although many here will tell me it wasn't adequate, I bought a manual Bressler EXOS-2 mount (solidly built, good ball-bearings both axes, around $350 including a very solid 2" tripod) and motorized it with steppers and belt drives ($70) and OnStep go-to electronics (software open-source, board and components: added well under $60).  For a low focal-length refractor or the DSLR and 100-200 mm glass, and with good polar alignment, it gives me good exposures out to 2 minutes and guided exposures of 10 minutes plus.  I know it's not the conventional wisdom, but having proved that the mount was adequate for now, phase 3 meant buying a decent set of front-end glass that would last, not a better mount.  I also got into the fun of auto-guiding with a cheap 60 mm guide-scope ($75) and a ASI 120MM mini along with a Raspberry Pi and Astroberry.

 

Phase 3: I bought a secondhand Astro-Tech AT65-Q quadruplet refractor (a little over $400) which I still love every minute of using.  No need for flatteners, even on the APS-C DSLR.  Solidly built and not a trace of color or blurring peripherally.  That one isn't going anywhere soon.

 

Phase 4: Now the bug has bitten, and I'm willing to commit to the second piece of equipment that is planned to be a long-term purchase...  Although the DSLR takes good images, my location is awful and the answer for nebula imaging is monochrome and filtering.  Now I bought a good camera and filters (ASI1600MM Pro and LRGB/Ha), and moved over from AstroBerry to an ASIAIR.  The whole setup is also portable enough to pack it up and run up to higher (and cleaner) ground occasionally.

 

Phase 5: As long as I stay on low focal-length refractors and medium DSOs, I'm pretty happy with where I am for now. 

 

Unfortunately, as everyone here knows, "as long as I stay" is not going to be the case for long.  I got offered a deal on a C8 and found an Atlas Pro that was hard to resist ...


Edited by kevindt, 19 September 2019 - 12:13 AM.

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#19 the Elf

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:32 PM

Phase 1: most objects require an over all integration time of at least one often several hours. Camera lenses are faster than telescopes, so you will need only a few hours. With 100mm and the 500 rule you take 5s shots, 720 of them for 1 hour. As there is a small break between them you will actuall capture almost two hours long for 1h worth of exposure time. My laptop has got 8GB and can handle stacking of up to 180 frames until it starts swapping (using PI). So you have to expect a computing battle that takes hours. The short exposures add a lot of read noise. Read noise comes with every single sub, no matter how long. So, yes this will work but you are limited to very bright and reasonable large objects and you will spend a lot of time processing. Take this as a preview what to expect, I'm not saying it makes no sense. It will work for the large bright objects.

 

If you start with phase 2 you can go for longer exposures and a longer focal lenght. That saves processing time, you can capture slightly dimmer objects as well and you could use a slightly longer focal lenght, like a 200 or 400 mm prime lens. Make sure you use prime lenses only! I can recommend the SW EQ6-R (the R version comes with belt drives). I guess your phase 1 will last for 2 or 3 images only and then you want a mount. 2 min exposures is a good estimation if you go on using the 100mm.

 

Good luck! Looking forward to your first images.


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#20 geneva_min

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 11:24 PM

While it’s not a major expense comparatively, I second the comment regarding dew control.  I was slow to adopt a proper dew solution and standing guard with my wife’s hair dryer got old fast.  Especially after she caught on.  smile.gif



#21 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 09:39 AM

Rather than start a new thread, I'm going to continue this one since there is lots of good info already by others. 

I've been thinking about AP endlessly (I know I'm not alone tongue2.gif) and dwelling on the comments about forward thinking purchases.  I'm a value shopper. I don't buy cheap but I also don't spend tons on achieving the last % ..because I don't have those resources tongue2.gif

I also gotta recognize that while I absolutely love all things space and have for decades, I may not have the AstroPhoto bug to the same capacity...but I might. I just won't know for sure till I get into it.  

This brings about 2 ideas: 1) Purchase in steps so that if I lose interest along the way, I'm not in a complete economic hole and 2) Don't make temporary/placeholder purchases.

 

This got me thinking about purchasing phases, starting with wide angle and over time, build the equipment basis to do more narrow field targets.  The following is the phases I have in mind. How long I stay at each phase before advancing will depend on available budget and continued interest in the hobby. NOTE: I do have a laptop and stellarmate, and this will be backyard photography in a bortle 4 zone with very low humidity, so power and dew shield accessories are not a concern)

 

Phase 1 ($0): Super wide- Use my unmodified 6D + camera mount + 100 macro (flat field as far as I know) to do only short exposures. using the "500" rule, it means 5 sec max exposures.  Use free stacking software and Photoshop (I own an old version) or GIMP. Get good with learning the processing fundamentals. I can probably start having fun with this this weekend if my schedule allows.
Phase 2 ($1500): Mount time!  Skywatcher EQ6 seems to be the go-to affordable AP mount as long as the load doesn't get too heavy nor too long a focal length.  Continue the Phase I things but now add unguided tracking. Learn to get good at polar alignments and can probably do sub 2 minute exposures
Phase 3 ($1200 or less):  Add in a telescope (+ flattener) + guide scope + guide camera.  This telescope will still be wide field but can also serve as a guide scope for a longer focal length scope. That's something like $3-350 on guide scope and guide camera and the rest on a telescope (ZS 61, or redcat, or similar small APO).
Phase 4 ($1-1.5k):  Cooled camera. Tech depending at the time and budget at the time will dictate which camera and if I go OSC or mono with filter wheel. I know that part can get expensive and filters would build up over time.
Phase 5:($?) Another telescope.  The wide field scope from Phase 3 can become the guide scope. The new telescope will be something on the order or a 102 mm apo (gets really expensive beyond that) or go the reflector route for galaxies with a longer focal length RC.  Something like a 8" is probably the max I'd want to use anyways on the EQ6. This lets me now change to smaller targets which were not ideal with the wide field imaging.

 

Does this sound like a very solid plan or am I still missing out on something?   I'm going to do Phase I regardless cause I have it all, and no reason not to have fun right now doing it. But as a long range planner who likes to ponder the details to death, I gotta keep future phases in mind along with specific items. I think the EQ6 is probably the most sound mount choice for me. The telescope is still something I am researching. Things like PixInsight and other accessories, I'm sure will just happen along the way.

Here's the thing _not_ to miss.  Start taking the camera calibration frames from the start.  Bias, flats, darks.  If you don't, you'll almost certainly learn some bad habits in processing.  Processing is hard enough without having to unlearn bad habits.  <smile>

 

Still recommending Astro Pixel Processor.  The cost in the scheme of things, is small.  It will let you do fine work, and serve as a far better base than something like Gimp, if you choose to move on to something like PixInsight later.

 

Very minor point.  When you get to step 5, be sure to do some research on the RC.  On paper they look good, in practice there are issues.

 

Important point.  Nothing will help like some experience.  Do get out with the camera/lens, as soon as feasible.



#22 bmhjr

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 10:08 AM

 

Phase 1 ($0): Super wide- Use my unmodified 6D + camera mount + 100 macro (flat field as far as I know) to do only short exposures. using the "500" rule, it means 5 sec max exposures.  Use free stacking software and Photoshop (I own an old version) or GIMP. Get good with learning the processing fundamentals. I can probably start having fun with this this weekend if my schedule allows.
Phase 2 ($1500): Mount time!  Skywatcher EQ6 seems to be the go-to affordable AP mount as long as the load doesn't get too heavy nor too long a focal length.  Continue the Phase I things but now add unguided tracking. Learn to get good at polar alignments and can probably do sub 2 minute exposures
Phase 3 ($1200 or less):  Add in a telescope (+ flattener) + guide scope + guide camera.  This telescope will still be wide field but can also serve as a guide scope for a longer focal length scope. That's something like $3-350 on guide scope and guide camera and the rest on a telescope (ZS 61, or redcat, or similar small APO).
Phase 4 ($1-1.5k):  Cooled camera. Tech depending at the time and budget at the time will dictate which camera and if I go OSC or mono with filter wheel. I know that part can get expensive and filters would build up over time.
Phase 5:($?) Another telescope.  The wide field scope from Phase 3 can become the guide scope. The new telescope will be something on the order or a 102 mm apo (gets really expensive beyond that) or go the reflector route for galaxies with a longer focal length RC.  Something like a 8" is probably the max I'd want to use anyways on the EQ6. This lets me now change to smaller targets which were not ideal with the wide field imaging.

 

I like this plan - maybe because it is how I am doing it.  Only difference is in your Phase 1 I purchased a camera tracker so I could do longer exposures (but it is not required).  I moved to Pixinsight after a few months.  Now, I am still in your Phase 3 after 4 years total, for various reasons.

 

I think this is a nice approach you have laid out and parts of it may change as you move one.  But, Phase 0, getting started and having fun will benefit the most.  Good luck.


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#23 droe

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:21 AM

oops, just saw your post above bmhjr.

 

Great plan. Like me as you move forward your next purchases become somewhat easier because you have learned more.

 

One possible suggestion is

phase 1a - Get a iOptron SkyGuide pro if you can swing the cost.

  • You will be able to take longer exposers
  • Help you learn about polar alignment
  • Learn about balancing your system
  • You can even start learning how to guide with it
  • Can be used with a camera/lens or small telescope
  • Makes for a great portable system when you travel.

I have not seen a lot of people suggesting starting with something like this but as I said, experience breeds better decisions. 

I have a lot of great equipment but find I grab my SkyGuide more and more.

 

Good luck and share your first imagewaytogo.gif


Edited by droe, 19 September 2019 - 11:24 AM.

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#24 the Elf

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:40 AM

Hmmmm, don't want to contradict, but a tracker tracks just one axis and does not come with goto. The path seems a bit more straight forward if spending money for a cheap tracking solution, to consider the iOptron Smart EQ pro 3200. It is a traveling mount, sold for $500 now or 350 right now in the CN classifieds:

https://www.cloudyni...n-smart-eq-pro/

It looks and feels like a real mount. Performance is probably really poor compared to the EQ6-R but I guess on the same level as the tracker. Unlike the tracker guiding both axes is possible and goto is available. For learning it might be the better choice. Here is a video I like very much that shows the full procedure of an astro photo using a DSLR, the little mount and shows the post processing. On the same channel processing options with different software are presented as well.

https://www.youtube....h?v=Qb1ceFM-DkQ

Thanks to Nico for making these videos!


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#25 droe

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 12:14 PM

Elf, you are spot on with what you are saying. The iOptron Smart EQ pro 3200 would be better to learn on but I assumed phase 2 could handle that. I guess it comes down to the re-usability of the equipment after phase 2. Does the Smart EQ mount now just set around not being used or is it used as a travel mount.

 

I have 3 levels of portability.

1) If I am going to a site for the purpose of AP I take the CGX. 

2) If I am going someplace for a different purpose but may do some AP I take the AVX (smaller and easier to carry around - similar to the Smart EQ)

3) If I am travelling on a plane or have no extra room I take the SkyGuider - It fits in a suitcase with a tripod and all my clothes - no extra bags

 

Which ever way you start, it is all fun.


Edited by droe, 19 September 2019 - 12:22 PM.

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