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Hoping to get back into the hobby...

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#1 Olhado

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:09 AM

Hi everyone,

Pre-kids I dabbled with stargazing. I had a couple of pairs of binoculars, a dob and at the time my “crown jewel”: a black SV Nighthawk Next Generation. My participation was always limited by the fact that I lived in an apartment, and that I am in a high light pollution area (limited to lunar and planetary observation).

My kids are older now, but the other restrictions remain. I am now down to my NHNG (I have both the rings and clamshell mounting pieces) with 15mm EP (pretty see a standard Plossl), Celesteon ultima 2X Barlow, and an SV M1 Deluxe mount, 2” diagonal and red dot finder. I am looking for a simple setup for essential alt-az G&G: light tripod compatible/strong enough with the mount and scope on it, maybe another eyepiece that would complement what i have for lunar/planet observing, or maybe the occasional wide-view target if I travelled somewhere darker. Also, willing to hear if I should upgrade any of the items (except scope), or if I am missing something.

No purchases is imminent, but my knowledge of the market is out of date, so price isn’t a hard constraint given I can try and save up.

Thanks in advance!

#2 Couder

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:23 AM

I know the upgrade bug hits all of us, but if you have a setup, why not just start using it? I have several scopes, but when I am up to it and the weather permits I grab a small scope and take a quick look around. If conditions warrant, then maybe I'll get out a bigger scope, but usually after a while with the small refractor I go back in.


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#3 Olhado

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:49 AM

Well, the issue is the tripod really. I don't have one currently (one got sold, and the one remaining (some lower end 10+ year old Bogen) is really my wife's for her photography, and it's also heavier than I'd like. I also don't know if the tripod is compatible with my mount (I know, easily remedied by trying, but I have a habit of breaking stuff via experimentation smile.gif )...



#4 bridgman

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:59 AM

Ahh, OK. Other than the tripod, though, it seems that you have a pretty much perfect grab & go rig. 

 

My first thought was "wider angle eyepieces" although even there I think it would be more to make finding easier rather than for viewing. 


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#5 Olhado

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 10:33 AM

Ahh, OK. Other than the tripod, though, it seems that you have a pretty much perfect grab & go rig. 

 

My first thought was "wider angle eyepieces" although even there I think it would be more to make finding easier rather than for viewing. 

 

Is there a good G&G tripod for the mount scope setup? I'd ideally like to not get the extension tube if possible. Also, does this mount have a standard threading for photo tripods?

 

(Also, if this is not the right forum for these questions, I'll move them elsewhere) 


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#6 cst4

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 10:40 AM

I use an M1 mount on a Bogen tripod.  Unless you're Bogen has an odd screw size other than the typical 3/8" screw, then the M1 should screw right on.   The M1 on a good photo tripod is hard to beat... super portable, easy to set up, and very smooth.  Plus the extension column on photo tripods is a huge plus to adjust eyepiece height while in use and ensure the scope doesn't hit the tripod legs.

 

If you are looking to get some new eyepieces, the AT Paradigms are hard to beat for the money.


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#7 Migwan

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:09 AM

Obviously tripod/mount first.  You might then want a lower power eye piece, whether you go with 2" for a wider field or 1.25" to save some dough.    If money is an issue (as it is with me), you might want to look to the classifieds here for a tripod/mount or eyepiece.  One last recommendation is a 8-24 zoom eyepiece, if the budget permits.  So versatile.

 

Whatever, enjoy your return to stargazing.

 

jd


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#8 terraclarke

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:14 AM

a Vixen Porta mount would be very handy. It’s light weight and has slow motions.


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#9 Gostock

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:16 AM

You have a very good start with scope and eyepiece.  I have also recently returned to the hobby.  Here are several things I see as essential to my own grab and go experience: 

  1. A dedicated AZ mount/tripod.  I use the Astro-Tech Voyager 2 Alt Az mount with my AT72ED refractor.  The mount/tripod weight 16 lbs and holds max payload 18 lbs.  A bit beefy but still grab and go for me.
  2. Eyepieces.  A wider eyepiece will make it much earlier to find and appreciate DSO's, especially open clusters.  My favorite eyepiece is the Nagler T4 22mm, but there are cheaper wide FOV options out there.  Another purchase could be an eyepiece in the 8mm-10mm range (Radian or Nagler) for lunar/planetary/double/globular viewing.
  3. Adjustable seating. I use the inexpensive Harbor Freight Rolling Stool.  Your back will appreciate it.
  4. Tablet-driven observation.  I use an iPad Mini with the SkySafari app.  SkySafari has a configurable scope display to see the sizes of your scope/eyepiece combo shown on the star field.  This makes star hopping so much easier.  You can also take notes on each found object.
  5. Practice.  When you have any spare time at all, haul the scope out and look around.  Learn to appreciate quick glimpses of the sky.  As you practice the setup, viewing, and tear-down, you will become more efficient with your time.

For example: On a recent early Saturday morning here in West Michigan, I brought my scope out and just lingered for 30 minutes over Orion, M45, the Pleiades and the third quarter moon.  It was energizing doing that brief amount of viewing prior to the family waking up for the day.  Good luck on your return to the hobby.


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#10 KerryR

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:29 PM

When I use small refractors for grab and go (50-100mm), one of the things I look for is the ability to observe standing up, with my legs and back straight- no crouching or slouching- even with the scope pointed at the zenith. I have several tripods and alt-az heads, but none of the light tripods will extend tall enough to put the ep at standing eye height, and, at 5'8", I'm not tall. It was actually pretty tough to find a tall and light (and affordable, I'll add) tripod.

I recently discovered that Oberwerk Binoculars has their own line of tripods, custom designed to allow for standing-high-altitude-observing (albeit with binoculars). The Oberwerk 3000 is quite inexpensive (~$150), and goes taller than anything else I could find for the weight and height (or price!). It's turned out to be an excellent tripod for my small refractors, even the heavy ones, like my Pronto, even at reasonably high magnifications for doubles. While I use a Dwarfstar head with the new tripod, which I already had, the included pan head is very smooth. If I didn't already have the Dwarfstar, I'd have no qualms using the pan head with a "side-saddle" mod. That'd save some additional money because you wouldn't need a new alt-az head. I've been extremely pleased with the performance (read: stability and dampening times) of the 3000.

For ep's, you might consider a zoom, even a cheapy like the run of the mill Celestron or Meade ilk. That makes for a one-hand-out-the-door-with-nothing-else setup that can help you take advantage of even the tiniest observing windows.


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#11 Olhado

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 03:27 PM

So to be clear, i don't need a mount (I don't think?), but are there any other lightweight tripods that could andle the M1 Deluxe mount, NHNG, diagonal, and eyepiece(s)?



#12 cst4

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 04:21 PM

If you have an M1 then no you don't need a new mount.  The M1 is great.  And coupled with a good photo tripod, I would take it over a Porta mount any day if the scope is under 10 lbs.  I assume your scope and accessories is under 10 lbs, right?

 

I have a Bogen 3011 which weighs about 5 lbs and is rated for 13 lbs.  This is what I have my M1 on but it would likely be too light duty for your set up... I use it for scopes under 5 lbs and would think 7 lbs would probably be pushing it.  I also have a Bogen 475 which weighs about 10 lbs and is rated for 26 lbs.  This would definitely get the job done very well, but it might be overkill for the M1.  I use it with the larger M2 mount for scopes up to about 18 lbs.  I got both of those tripods for under $100 each used.

 

Somewhere right in between those two in terms of weight and rating would be ideal, but don't think Bogen makes anything like that.  Maybe look at Induro or Benro?  They get good reviews from what I've seen, I just don't know what all they offer.  Just make sure you get an extendable column... you'll be glad you did.  What I would like most for my M1 is a Berlebach Report 823 tripod but I personally just can't afford one.  If you can though, that is what I suggest.


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#13 Olhado

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 04:53 PM

Well the NHNG is just under 6 pounds by itself. With the clamshell + adapter plate, it is probably just over 6 pounds? The diagonal is the 2” one, I believe, so it is hefty. The eyepieces and Barlow are standard weights (definitely not TeleVue level of beefiness).

So it’s maybe in the 8-10 pound range?

EDIT: oh, and I am not sure how much the M1 weighs, but it is a fair bit itself.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro


Edited by Olhado, 24 September 2019 - 03:45 PM.


#14 Olhado

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 04:57 PM

(Sorry for the back-to-back replies)

So I have the M1 deluxe, which is the predecessor to the M2, I believe. They look very similar.

#15 bridgman

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 05:44 PM

I believe the M1 mount is just a hair over 3 pounds. 

 

Most reviews suggest somewhere around Bogen 3021 as the lightest recommended, and the 475 as "just about right" although with a 475 you could probably handle a slightly larger scope than the Nighthawk. Something like a used 475 sounds promising.


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#16 Olhado

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 07:55 PM

I believe the M1 mount is just a hair over 3 pounds.

Most reviews suggest somewhere around Bogen 3021 as the lightest recommended, and the 475 as "just about right" although with a 475 you could probably handle a slightly larger scope than the Nighthawk. Something like a used 475 sounds promising.


So my wife’s tripod is a bogen 3011BN (just went to the basement to check ). so that sounds a touch too light.

There are some cheapo $100-ish carbon fiber tripods on amazon that supposedly support 24-26 pounds. In theory that would be enough, right?

#17 bridgman

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 08:21 PM

The 3011 is probably enough to start with - don't think it's much differerent from a 3021... I would try it anyways.

 

If nothing else it will give you a bit of time to figure out what is important to you in terms of tripod features, eg height, height adjustability via center post or legs etc...

 

I don't have enough (ok, any) experience with CF tripods to know what to say... but yeah you're looking for something with roughly the same strength/stability as a Bogen rated for 20+ pounds. I don't know if you would be better off with a used Bogen or a cheap CF but my money would be on the used Bogen (or similar).

 

The problem with ratings is that 24-26 could mean "it won't actually collapse until 27 pounds" or "it looks like a <famous model> and that's rated for 24-26 so guess that's what we'll rate this one for as well" smile.gif


Edited by bridgman, 23 September 2019 - 08:59 PM.

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#18 cst4

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 11:09 PM

Perfect. The M1 mount should screw right onto the column of the Bogen 3011 and then you’re looking at the same set up I’m working with. I said it was too light duty but I wouldn’t hesitate tossing your Nighthawk on it to sweep the milky way or bird watch with a 15mm EP.  It may be a bit precarious and shaky but actually not a bad set up to start having fun with since it’s available. You will probably just want to upgrade tripods once you get that high powered EP to look at Saturn jump.gif


Edited by cst4, 23 September 2019 - 11:11 PM.

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#19 Olhado

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 07:33 AM

Thanks everyone for the thoughts and recommendations!

One last query: how short should I go, eyepiece-wise? I know that my OTA focal length won’t be pushing absurd magnifications anyway, but I have a feeling there are eyepieces that are truly overkill for my OTA and an alt-as manual mount.

#20 Gostock

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 08:37 AM

I regularly push the magnifications on my 72mm refractor (AT72ED 72mm F/6) starting with a 9mm EP and then further with 3-6mm zoom EP. 

You might consider getting one eyepiece at 8mm/9mm and then use your 2x barlow to push the magnification.

Alternately - as KerryR mentioned above - you could get a zoom eyepiece 8-24mm that would let you try a range of magnifications.

Any of these solutions will work fine with your scope/mount combination.


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#21 cst4

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 09:38 AM

The typical suggestion for a theoretical max magnification is 50x per inch of aperture.  That is about 160x for an 80mm APO.  About 140x is probably more realistic and what I would aim for.  The focal length of that Nighthawk is about 550mm, right?  So a 4mm EP would get close to 140x.  Any eyepiece or eyepiece/barlow combo with a focal length longer than that should be fine.

 

But on that 3011 tripod, your 15mm at 37x is probably about as high of a magnification as you will want to go because it would likely get too shaky at higher powers.  If you got something rock solid like the Bogen 475 tripod then you could really do your scope justice and take it to its max power without frustration.


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#22 bridgman

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:24 PM

In addition to discussing eyepiece focal length, it's probably worth mentioning viewing comfort which in turn includes eye relief (distance between eyepiece and eye). As a general rule shorter focal length (higher magnification) eyepieces have less eye relief than the longer ones. Your 15mm Plossl will be somewhere in the middle. 

 

Some people are fine with or even prefer eyepieces with less eye relief, while others (like me) find them extremely uncomfortable. I had a tough time staying interested in observing while having to set up a heavy mount and view through short eye relief eyepieces, but I thought that was the only thing on offer. Moving to a lighter alt-az mount and a few eyepieces with >17mm eye relief has totally changed things for me. The only thing holding me back now is clouds and wasps. 

 

You already have an ideal mount, but try to get a chance to look through eyepieces with longer & shorter eye relief before making any decisions there.  


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#23 Olhado

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 02:40 PM

I'll try and get time to look at eyepieces. I'd be looking at some solid, but not spectacular, ones to start; likely one in the 4-7 range (or a used zoom in that range if it is priced right) and one in the upper 20s/low 30s.

 

It sounds like my first objective is to get a sturdier tripod for my equipment. Which of course is the most expensive objective lol.gif



#24 Olhado

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 07:56 AM

So just to follow up, I went with the Berlebach Report 823. It is only 6 pounds, about the same as my scope, so scope, mount, tripod will be ~15 pounds, minus accessories.

Probably a little “over”-tripodded, but give me some capacity to add things, and based on what I can tell from researching here, the 22lb capacity is a legitimate rating.. Plus I get superior dampening compared to a similarly priced CF.

#25 cst4

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:12 AM

Awesome!  I don't think you will regret that choice.  I'm actually a bit jealous... I've been wanting that tripod for quite a while now for my M1 (and maybe my AZ-GTI).  It should be very solid with your scope yet still light enough to carry everything around together in one piece and dodge trees and whatnot (basically a requirement in my yard).  And yes, you should have a little room to grow!  Enjoy.

 

Unfortunately the purchases never stop in this hobby... you'll be wanting a few good eyepieces next  smile.gif 


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