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Just starting out and overwhelmed.

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#1 Bobtownbuck

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 10:32 PM

Hello, I have recently started, and very limited, observing the skies and astrophotography. I am looking for advice. I have a Nexstar 5se and 8se. And then I just bought and celestron advanced vx mount. Plus a zwo 120 mm, a skyris 132c, an orion 50 mm helical focuser. I also have starsence, skyportal, and a motor focuser.. I got very excited about stargazing and AP. So needless to say, after downloading phd2, sharpcap, cpwi, ascap, registaxx, and now I feel absolutely overwhelmed by all the info that is out there. I start reading post and the acronyms that get used and other technical stuff, goes over my head. Trying to figure out how to get the autoguider to work or the camera is frustrating to me. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.. I understand that this will take time. Thnx for reading..

#2 psandelle

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 10:45 PM

One thing at a time. Can you do a star alignment with your mount and gotos? Start there. You can start visually with those if you haven’t done it before. Then work on focus with your main camera. When you have gotos good, focus manually accurate, try getting your polar alignment more accurate (you can also do this before focus). These three things kinda go together, but I’m trying to break it down a little. Then add your guidescope and guide camera...and get them focused. When all that is working...try guiding.

 

One step at a time. Get it down, then add the next. Others may suggest a better order, but the main thing is one thing at a time. It takes time, but it’s fun.

 

Paul


Edited by psandelle, 17 October 2019 - 10:46 PM.

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#3 dmcnally

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 10:51 PM

  • Don't try to do everything all at once.
  • Take baby steps.
  • Don't get frustrated and give up.
  • Pick the easiest task and work on that until you're comfortable (not the worlds leading expert) doing it. 
  • Then find the next easiet task and work on that.
  • Practice what you can during the day, or in a well lit area at night.
  • Don't be in a hurry and take your time.
  • Set reasonable expectations; you won't be winning Image of The Day any time soon.
  • Remember to  have fun... this is supposed to be hobby. lol.gif lol.gif

Good luck and clear skies,

Dave


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#4 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 10:53 PM

Whoa.  Deep breath.  This is a hobby of a bazillion little details.  None of them, individually, are all that hard to get right, but as you are feeling, the sheer number of them can be overwhelming.  Best advice is to start simple, get that working, then take the next steps.  The first image won't be perfect, if even recognizable.  That's ok.  Mount, telescope, camera.  Don't try to guide yet.  Pick a bright target, work on focusing the camera and getting an image.  Experiment with exposures, and such, see what you get, and evaluate what's wrong with them.  Work on getting the mount set up and aligned.  The AVX will be the better one for imaging, because it's a GEM design, but it will take some practice to get it right.

 

Second best advice is to know what sorts of targets you are going after.  Planets use one method, deep sky objects another.  Which are you trying for?  That will determine the advice on which telescope to use, and how to acquire and process the images.

 

Either way, grab a snap of the Moon while it's full and bright.  Easy first target to get your feet wet.

 

Greg

 

p.s.  Pre-posting Edit...  What they said!


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#5 Hubbletrouble

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 10:53 PM

I completely understand how you are feeling. I once felt the same way. It can be overwhelming!

The best thing I did when starting was to learn one thing at a time really well and then progress to learning another skill....and so on.

I started by just assembling the scope and camera and getting it balanced on the mount.

Then learned how to get the computer to connect to the camera.

I then spent a week just on learning to focus the scope with the camera attached.

I later dedicated several weeks on just learning to polar align.....

try and break it down into pieces, learning one thing at a time.....before you know it you will getting great images....and most importantly;

enjoy the process!


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#6 PirateMike

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 11:29 PM

I can only say what everyone has said, take it one step at a time... you will get there quicker than if trying to do everything all at once.

 

I was lucky, I never did get all that frustrated... I had to purchase my equipment one piece at a time. The most frustration thing I encountered was having to wait for my saving to build up for the next equipment order. frown.gif

 

Don't worry about getting things wrong, you will get them right. waytogo.gif

 

Here is my first image taken while guiding... it took a few tries to get it right. wink.gif

 

 

Guiding Fail.jpg

 

 

Miguel   8-)

 

.


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#7 TOMDEY

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 11:39 PM

Good advice above... I can't add much, other to encourage slowing down to smell the roses. There is so much fancy gizmo stuff out there just waiting for ready and willing newbies... the enticement is to buy the whole ~kit~ and then ... wind up frustrated.

 

The stars are patient. It might make sense to start out with constellation pictures ... even "star trails" and gradually work up from there. Not all that long ago (few decades)... we amateurs pretty much had to do it that way... because about the only affordable option was to mostly make our own equipment. That provided ample time to gradually work up the learning curves, enjoying every step of the way!    Tom


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#8 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 11:40 PM

As you spend many hours reading stuff on Cloudy Nights you will find many abbreviations. I made a list to help. Here it is:

 

Attached File  cn.txt   11.79KB   44 downloads


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#9 jerahian

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 11:53 PM

As you spend many hours reading stuff on Cloudy Nights you will find many abbreviations. I made a list to help. Here it is:

 

attachicon.gif cn.txt

Wow Steve, that list is fantastic for beginners and quite exhaustive!  You should post a new thread for it on the Beginners AP forum and have the moderators pin it.

 

-Ara


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#10 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 12:07 AM

I am adding to the list all the time. Apparently many people keep such a list. A while ago someone posted this.

 

New Abbreviations and Acronym List


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#11 FlankerOneTwo

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 12:27 AM

I would suggest getting a good book (or books), particularly if you are serious about astrophotography. There are a lot of technical details, and some stuff that is downright counterintuitive. I found it invaluable to have a fixed reference to go back to.

 

For AP, I like:

  The Deep Sky Imaging Primer (Bracken)

  The Astrophotography Manual (Woodhouse)

  Getting Started: Long Exposure Astrophotgraphy (Hall)

 

If you are new to astronomy as well, consider more general introductory books such as:

  Turn Left at Orion

  The Backyard Astronomer's Guide

 

If you intend to use PixInsight for image processing, would highly recommend Warren Keller's Inside PixInsight. Strongly consider Astro Pixel Processor, it is relatively inexpensive and does an excellent job on the majority of targets.

 

Agree with posts above that suggest a stepwise approach with reasonably sized steps. Start by learning to operate the mount, polar alignment, using the scope visually. Then unguided imaging on easy targets such as the moon to get familiar with your imaging software and camera. Then unguided imaging of  brighter deep sky objects such as Orion Nebula (M42) for longer exposures and calibration frames. Then add guiding, etc.

 

Enjoy!


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#12 44maurer

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 01:07 AM

Wow, so much good advise. Hats off to the contributors here on CN!


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#13 Bobtownbuck

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 02:51 AM

Thank you everyone. I am humbled that you took your time to respond. Paul, I am working on the alignment process with the Starsence and Skyportal. Had a difficulty when I tried it with the avx mount. So went back to the alt-AZ for now. As far as what I want to take, I want to learn both planetary and deep object. Again, thank you everyone for your words. My wife and I were able to semi see Andromeda a few weeks ago and was absolutely giddy about seeing it. Clear skies to all..
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#14 Startex

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 07:41 AM

Learn the AVX controller. Bahtinov mask for focusing.

 

I'd start by putting the 5SE on the AVX and learn to align, polar align and do precise GOTO's.

 

Remember you need to find your balance point on the 5SE OTA and make sure it's balanced right on both axis on the AVX.

 

Meatball targets for me were M57 M31 and M42. Remember precise GOTO, it works.

 

I found a DSLR easier to start with. I got a Nikon D5300. DigiCamControl (free and easy) Set to bulb, set ISO to 200 or 400 and expose till the histogram is at about 20-25%. Easy Peasy.

 

Practice by getting 20s-30s shots, with a good polar alignment 20-30s- shouldn't be a problem.

 

Pixinsight 45 day free trial and go to Astro Dude's Youtube channel and follow the 12 part tutorial.


Edited by Startex, 18 October 2019 - 07:51 AM.

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#15 Bobtownbuck

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 08:43 AM

Thank you for your suggestions..

#16 psandelle

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 09:09 AM

My wife and I were able to semi see Andromeda a few weeks ago and was absolutely giddy about seeing it.

As you move along you'll have lots of these wonderful moments. Some are spectacular (first time you stack some images and get your first "good" picture), some smaller and quieter (first time you guide right after messin' about with it for too long). It's a hobby of steps and victories and at each point there are great moments to enjoy. As long as you enjoy the moments (which you already have in your finding of Andromeda), then you'll take to this. Try to swallow the whole thing in one gulp and you might not have any fun...or success.

 

Oh, and if there are any astronomy clubs that you can go out with, you'll learn much faster with someone to show you hands-on with your equipment.

 

Paul


Edited by psandelle, 18 October 2019 - 09:10 AM.

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#17 sheepofblue

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 09:19 AM

I agree with everyone as someone only a bit less green than you.

 

1) I would recommend you start with your 5se on the VX mount (reason wider FOV and more forgiving on guiding, this will help give you some cool wins)

2) M42 is coming soon to a sky near you.  Bright and cool, great first target.

3) If you have a laptop use CPWI for control.  Works with other stuff and Star Sense.

4) Setup connect via hand controller.  Do auto align on 4 targets.  Then calibrate Star Sense (this does the offset and only needed once until you change tube).  Realign then do ASPA for polar alignment here you might have to do a few iterations as the first time you will be off enough that I don't find the target.  Try to get the error number below 30' but for sure under 1 degree.  If the error is 3 degrees east turn the knob on the west side of the mount in more.  On mine it is about 1/2 degree per 1/3 turn so I grab and rotate 6 times and it gets close.  Put the vertical at you latitude to start then dial it in second.  Once set it will stay close.

5) Now connect PHD2 with mine I aim for 2 seconds exposure but YMMV. (if PHD2 is giving you trouble set it aside and do 30 second exposures while you get other stuff dialed in)

6) Now you can use the camera and get back focus dialed in.  (not sure what capture s/w you are using)

7) Do this until you can get an hour or so of data for post process playing.

 

For me you can then expand from this baseline with stuff like auto focuser and more than one optical tube.


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#18 Peregrinatum

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 09:23 AM

One thing I have found is that all the answers are here on CN!  Time after time I have problems that I have no idea how I will be able to resolve and always the search function on here turns up the answer.


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#19 Bobtownbuck

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 12:33 PM

Thank you everyone for your wisdom and time reaching out to me.. it is truly appreciated.. Clear Skies for all
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