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First EAA Setup

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#1 magnetar68

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 09:51 AM

Hi All,

 

Despite having been an avid reader of Astronomy magazine since 1980 and owning a C8 for visual astronomy, I have never taken the plunge into astrophotography.  

 

I am thinking about starting with an EAA setup.

 

My ideal would be a scope that is very easy to level, polar align, and setup. And then run the cables into the house from the backyard (or better yet use WiFi) so I can sit at my cozy table in the dining room and get great images of Nebula and Galaxies. 

 

I am not too budget conscious, but I do not plan on being an expert. End of the day, this is a distraction/hobby to produce some images of the universe and see if the kids will want to help out once in a while.

 

I have noticed in the galleries here that a wide range of equipment seems to produce decent results.

 

I was thinking about the Meade LX85 70mm Quadruplet APO Astrograph (F/5) at about $1700 with a ZWO ASI183MC Pro Cooled Color Astronomy Camera ($800).

 

https://www.highpoin...elescope-217010

https://www.highpoin...mera-asi183mc-p

 

Is this a reasonable setup for $2500? I know there will be other expenses, so I don't see that as the full price, but maybe I could do much better for a little more money, etc. For example, the iOptron Versa 30 looks interesting for $2400.

 

https://www.ioptron....uct-p/14030.htm

 



#2 descott12

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 10:34 AM

If you are really thinking more EAA rather than true AP, then your C8 on an alt-az mount is perfect.

I would add a focal reducer to get a little more speed, get SharpCap and there a bunch of ZWO cameras to choose from. You could get started for very little cash.

Many people run all the software on a small scope-side PC and then remote into it (Teamviewer, Remote desktop, etc) from inside the house either by a cabled LAN or wifi connection.

 

Realize that the short-exposures (i.e < 20 seconds or so) utilized in EAA make using an alt-az mount perfectly acceptable.



#3 magnetar68

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 10:57 AM

If you are really thinking more EAA rather than true AP, then your C8 on an alt-az mount is perfect.

I would add a focal reducer to get a little more speed, get SharpCap and there a bunch of ZWO cameras to choose from. You could get started for very little cash.

Many people run all the software on a small scope-side PC and then remote into it (Teamviewer, Remote desktop, etc) from inside the house either by a cabled LAN or wifi connection.

 

Realize that the short-exposures (i.e < 20 seconds or so) utilized in EAA make using an alt-az mount perfectly acceptable.

Understood, but forget about the C8, I gave it to the kid down the street. I need a new scope and mount and I am looking for guidance.  


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#4 descott12

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:08 AM

Ah well still  C8 is a great choice and many of us exactly that. The Evolution 8 is a good one to look at. It is still pretty portable. It has a built-in wifi although many (including myself) have found it so problematic that it isn't reliable enough to use). Built in battery, good tracking performance. Just an all-around good scope. Plus you can use it with Hyperstar down the road should you choose to do so later.  And I think they are running a sale right now??



#5 MrRoberts

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:24 AM

Although a good ota is important, of more concern will always be your mount for ap. I have recently been buying Sky Watcher Esprit scopes, an 80mm about 2 months ago and a 120mm 2 days ago (yet to arrive). Outstanding scopes. My 80mm sits next to my C-8/E  on an Ioptrom AZM Pro that I keep in AZ (parents house). But any 80mm would probably work well with an Ioptron IEQ30P. But don't get that mount without the 2" tripod ($1,300), ($1,400 with case). My 120mm will join me in my home area of Chicago area and be mounted on a yet to be ordered CEM40 or 60.

With the help of CN members here I cut my teeth in ap on an ES 102/FCD100 (very good optics) using an Ioptron CEM25P really needed more mount, but that what I had at the time.

Regardless of what you choose I hope you and the kids have many a wonder filled night.

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#6 magnetar68

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:26 AM

Ah well still  C8 is a great choice and many of us exactly that. The Evolution 8 is a good one to look at. It is still pretty portable. It has a built-in wifi although many (including myself) have found it so problematic that it isn't reliable enough to use). Built in battery, good tracking performance. Just an all-around good scope. Plus you can use it with Hyperstar down the road should you choose to do so later.  And I think they are running a sale right now??

So it looks like this meets my desire for very easy alignment and setup. Am I correct that you use a reducer for EAA? Is the regular Celestron F/6.3 focal reducer the equipment of choice for that?



#7 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:47 AM

Hi All,

 

Despite having been an avid reader of Astronomy magazine since 1980 and owning a C8 for visual astronomy, I have never taken the plunge into astrophotography.  

 

I am thinking about starting with an EAA setup.

 

My ideal would be a scope that is very easy to level, polar align, and setup. And then run the cables into the house from the backyard (or better yet use WiFi) so I can sit at my cozy table in the dining room and get great images of Nebula and Galaxies. 

 

I am not too budget conscious, but I do not plan on being an expert. End of the day, this is a distraction/hobby to produce some images of the universe and see if the kids will want to help out once in a while.

 

I have noticed in the galleries here that a wide range of equipment seems to produce decent results.

 

I was thinking about the Meade LX85 70mm Quadruplet APO Astrograph (F/5) at about $1700 with a ZWO ASI183MC Pro Cooled Color Astronomy Camera ($800).

 

https://www.highpoin...elescope-217010

https://www.highpoin...mera-asi183mc-p

 

Is this a reasonable setup for $2500? I know there will be other expenses, so I don't see that as the full price, but maybe I could do much better for a little more money, etc. For example, the iOptron Versa 30 looks interesting for $2400.

 

https://www.ioptron....uct-p/14030.htm

I think this is an excellent EAA setup that is also quite capable for AP in the future if that is what you decide.

 

Steve



#8 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:54 AM

So it looks like this meets my desire for very easy alignment and setup. Am I correct that you use a reducer for EAA? Is the regular Celestron F/6.3 focal reducer the equipment of choice for that?

The Celestron F/6.3 focal reducer makes for a very versatile reducer that will work great even with doublet or triplet refractors.

 

Steve 



#9 descott12

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 12:09 PM

There is also the Night Owl from Starizona that gets you to f4. People really seem to like it.Personally, I love my Hyperstar as nothing beats f2 for EAA.  Plus traditional focal reducers are on the back end and there isn't much room between the scope and fork mount. Of course, if you are using an EQ mount then that doesn't matter.

 

Alot of this really depends if you want a rig for both EAA and AP or a setup to focus on just one or the other.


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#10 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 12:36 PM

There is also the Night Owl from Starizona that gets you to f4. People really seem to like it.Personally, I love my Hyperstar as nothing beats f2 for EAA.  Plus traditional focal reducers are on the back end and there isn't much room between the scope and fork mount. Of course, if you are using an EQ mount then that doesn't matter.

 

Alot of this really depends if you want a rig for both EAA and AP or a setup to focus on just one or the other.

Nothing wrong with Hyperstar but I think it has it's limitations unless you always want to shoot wide-field. There will be times like the spring galaxy season when you want that extra reach that Hyperstar cannot provide you.

 

Steve



#11 magnetar68

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 01:31 PM

Here is where I ended up based on some advice from a vendor. This seems like a pretty capable setup for my budget (but with 0 experience, I don't know diddly):

 

Meade LX85 Computerized German Equatorial Telescope Mount × 1 .                $699.00

William Optics ZenithStar 73 - f/5.9 Doublet Apo Refractor × 1 Blue                    $618.00

William Optics 50mm Guide Scope - with 1.25-Inch Rotolock × 1 White/Blue .   $128.00

ZWO ASI120MM Mini Monochrome CMOS Telescope Camera × 1 .                    $149.00

ZWO ASI 183 Pro Cooled Color CMOS Telescope Camera × 1 .                          $799.00

ZWO ASIair Wi-Fi Camera Controller × 1 .                                                             $179.00

ZWO 12V 5A AC to DC Adapter for Cooled Cameras × 1 .                                    $29.00

 

Total .                                                                                                                      $2,601.00 USD



#12 descott12

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 01:40 PM

That looks great for AP (of which I know nothing about...) but I would like a bit more aperture for EAA. Just be personal opinion of course.

 

I would recommend getting some sort of motorized focuser, especially if you are doing long exposure work.



#13 GaryShaw

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 03:30 PM

Here is where I ended up based on some advice from a vendor. This seems like a pretty capable setup for my budget (but with 0 experience, I don't know diddly):

 

Meade LX85 Computerized German Equatorial Telescope Mount × 1 .                $699.00

William Optics ZenithStar 73 - f/5.9 Doublet Apo Refractor × 1 Blue                    $618.00

William Optics 50mm Guide Scope - with 1.25-Inch Rotolock × 1 White/Blue .   $128.00

ZWO ASI120MM Mini Monochrome CMOS Telescope Camera × 1 .                    $149.00

ZWO ASI 183 Pro Cooled Color CMOS Telescope Camera × 1 .                          $799.00

ZWO ASIair Wi-Fi Camera Controller × 1 .                                                             $179.00

ZWO 12V 5A AC to DC Adapter for Cooled Cameras × 1 .                                    $29.00

 

Total .                                                                                                                      $2,601.00 USD

Hi 

As others have mentioned, unless you’re headed for full AP, go with a good AZ mount ( iOptron’s AZ Mount Pro is great and can handle 2 Scopes simultaneously per earlier photo) forget the guidescope. Sharpcap 3.2 Pro is what most folks use. Not sure about ASIAir and if it’s worth it. Most EAA observing doesn’t need a cooled camera with its extra weight, dimension, cost and added power requirements. Again though, if you’re really thinking of AP, which seems the case, you’d want the cooled camera and the GEM mount. Enjoy. 



#14 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:38 PM

Here is where I ended up based on some advice from a vendor. This seems like a pretty capable setup for my budget (but with 0 experience, I don't know diddly):

 

Meade LX85 Computerized German Equatorial Telescope Mount × 1 .                $699.00

William Optics ZenithStar 73 - f/5.9 Doublet Apo Refractor × 1 Blue                    $618.00

William Optics 50mm Guide Scope - with 1.25-Inch Rotolock × 1 White/Blue .   $128.00

ZWO ASI120MM Mini Monochrome CMOS Telescope Camera × 1 .                    $149.00

ZWO ASI 183 Pro Cooled Color CMOS Telescope Camera × 1 .                          $799.00

ZWO ASIair Wi-Fi Camera Controller × 1 .                                                             $179.00

ZWO 12V 5A AC to DC Adapter for Cooled Cameras × 1 .                                    $29.00

 

Total .                                                                                                                      $2,601.00 USD

That looks like a great EAA or AP setup no matter how you slice it. I think you would be very happy with this.

 

Steve



#15 Rickster

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Posted 06 November 2019 - 11:43 PM

I agree with those that say that what you have selected would great for AP, but not so great for EAA. The difference is that EAA is about getting a good enough image in a short period of time, as opposed to an APO quality image after many hours of exposure. There can be many reasons for this.  Maybe you want to entertain kids.  Maybe you are the impatient type, or simply don't have much extra time.  Maybe your weather is only good for short periods of time.  If you happen to fit in that bucket somewhere, then I think you are better off with a larger scope than a 73mm.  The simple reason is that a bigger scope allows you to collect more photons (data) in a given amount of time.  I have used scopes from 50mm up to 16inches.   My current setup includes a 16in Newt, a 6in Newt, a 70mm refractor and a 50mm refractor, all on the same mount.  I use each of these scopes, depending on what I am interested in at the time.  If I had to settle for one scope, it would be an 8in f5 Newt with a 183MC camera on quality equatorial mount. Others prefer an 8in SCT, and for good reason.  I used an 8in SCT for a while.  If it was Hyperstar compatible, I would still be using it (it would be on my rig instead of the 6" Newt.)   And many prefer Alt/Az instead of Eq, again for good reason.  To each their own. 

 

Having said all that, if I correctly understand what you want to do, I suggest taking a look at Noah4x4s posts about his rig that uses a 8" SCT Hyperstar feeding an indoor 4K monitor.  If I were trying to engage kids, that is what I would use.


Edited by Rickster, 07 November 2019 - 10:07 AM.

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#16 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 07 November 2019 - 12:28 PM

I agree with those that say that what you have selected would great for AP, but not so great for EAA. The difference is that EAA is about getting a good enough image in a short period of time, as opposed to an APO quality image after many hours of exposure. There can be many reasons for this.  Maybe you want to entertain kids.  Maybe you are the impatient type, or simply don't have much extra time.  Maybe your weather is only good for short periods of time.  If you happen to fit in that bucket somewhere, then I think you are better off with a larger scope than a 73mm.  The simple reason is that a bigger scope allows you to collect more photons (data) in a given amount of time.  I have used scopes from 50mm up to 16inches.   My current setup includes a 16in Newt, a 6in Newt, a 70mm refractor and a 50mm refractor, all on the same mount.  I use each of these scopes, depending on what I am interested in at the time.  If I had to settle for one scope, it would be an 8in f5 Newt with a 183MC camera on quality equatorial mount. Others prefer an 8in SCT, and for good reason.  I used an 8in SCT for a while.  If it was Hyperstar compatible, I would still be using it (it would be on my rig instead of the 6" Newt.)   And many prefer Alt/Az instead of Eq, again for good reason.  To each their own. 

 

Having said all that, if I correctly understand what you want to do, I suggest taking a look at Noah4x4s posts about his rig that uses a 8" SCT Hyperstar feeding an indoor 4K monitor.  If I were trying to engage kids, that is what I would use.

Yes the larger scope would allow for more image scale as apposed to light gathering (using a camera not an eyepiece) and that would benefit for many of the smaller objects such as galaxies and planetary nebulas. I think though that starting with a widefield apo scope is fantastic for widefield of the med to large size objects and also making it a lot easier to learn with less frustration.

 

Edit part - I have only been into this hobby of EAA for 3 years now and started out with my C11 on a GEM using my .63 focal reducer. I was really happy to start out with a  great GEM but the scope was too large of a focal length yes even when reduced to learn on. I wish I started out with a 70 to 80 mm apo refractor and then bought the C11 since I needed a widefield scope anyways and it would have been much easier with less frustration at the start.

 

Steve


Edited by DSO_Viewer, 07 November 2019 - 12:34 PM.


#17 magnetar68

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Posted 07 November 2019 - 12:31 PM

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

 

All of this helped me better understand EAA and AP. I realize it is somewhat of a spectrum, but after a bunch of additional reading, I decided on getting a setup that leans more towards AP than EAA. I spent more than I wanted, but I ended up getting the larger ZenithStar 81mm scope and I went with a Celestron GEM II mount and a QHY Polemaster for super easy one star polar alignment.  I think this should give me a good base for getting a bigger scope down the road. While the Meade LX85 seems like a decent mount for the money, I think spending the extra $1000 on a heavier duty mount is a better decision for the long run. I know there better mounts than the CGEM II, and the SkyWatcher EQ6-R PRO is a solid competitor, but Celestron has always been a good company for me, so I went with the Celestron.  


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#18 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 07 November 2019 - 12:39 PM

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

 

All of this helped me better understand EAA and AP. I realize it is somewhat of a spectrum, but after a bunch of additional reading, I decided on getting a setup that leans more towards AP than EAA. I spent more than I wanted, but I ended up getting the larger ZenithStar 81mm scope and I went with a Celestron GEM II mount and a QHY Polemaster for super easy one star polar alignment.  I think this should give me a good base for getting a bigger scope down the road. While the Meade LX85 seems like a decent mount for the money, I think spending the extra $1000 on a heavier duty mount is a better decision for the long run. I know there better mounts than the CGEM II, and the SkyWatcher EQ6-R PRO is a solid competitor, but Celestron has always been a good company for me, so I went with the Celestron.  

Fantastic choices and this setup can always be used for EAA also. I agree with putting the money towards a better mount like you did.

 

Steve



#19 Ptarmigan

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Posted 07 November 2019 - 09:06 PM

I agree with those that say that what you have selected would great for AP, but not so great for EAA. The difference is that EAA is about getting a good enough image in a short period of time, as opposed to an APO quality image after many hours of exposure. There can be many reasons for this.  Maybe you want to entertain kids.  Maybe you are the impatient type, or simply don't have much extra time.  Maybe your weather is only good for short periods of time.  If you happen to fit in that bucket somewhere, then I think you are better off with a larger scope than a 73mm.  The simple reason is that a bigger scope allows you to collect more photons (data) in a given amount of time.  I have used scopes from 50mm up to 16inches.   My current setup includes a 16in Newt, a 6in Newt, a 70mm refractor and a 50mm refractor, all on the same mount.  I use each of these scopes, depending on what I am interested in at the time.  If I had to settle for one scope, it would be an 8in f5 Newt with a 183MC camera on quality equatorial mount. Others prefer an 8in SCT, and for good reason.  I used an 8in SCT for a while.  If it was Hyperstar compatible, I would still be using it (it would be on my rig instead of the 6" Newt.)   And many prefer Alt/Az instead of Eq, again for good reason.  To each their own. 

 

Having said all that, if I correctly understand what you want to do, I suggest taking a look at Noah4x4s posts about his rig that uses a 8" SCT Hyperstar feeding an indoor 4K monitor.  If I were trying to engage kids, that is what I would use.

When I started EAA, I knew it was for me. I get many objects in one session. cool.gif


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#20 Noah4x4

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 03:10 AM

Nothing wrong with Hyperstar but I think it has it's limitations unless you always want to shoot wide-field. There will be times like the spring galaxy season when you want that extra reach that Hyperstar cannot provide you.

 

Steve

Hyperstar's wide field is great, but removing the secondary mirror does mean much lower magnification. I get round this by using a 16 megapixel resolution camera and a 4k UHD monitor. Then mere camera Zoom is awesome. Hyperstar eliminates a host of problems because it will reduce a C8 to f/1.9. That permits not requiring a wedge; no polar alignment; no autoguiding = easy! 

 

A requirement nobody has mentioned is the OP's desire to sit indoors and remotely control his scope. This can be a minefield. If the distance is short (under 30'), he might succeed with 'active' USB cables. But if longer much more challenging. The best bet (and can handle 4k data) is to place a mini computer at the scope running the software and control that using a second computer indoors using Windows Remote Desktop with RemoteFX compression disabled. Cat6 cable is best between them, but if wireless suggest one uses plug in (USB) 802.11ac wireless adapters (if the  computers not so equipped) and the 5Ghz channel. The 2.4 Ghz channel is now so cluttered in urban areas it can be problematic. I have posted more detailed guidance in other threads.


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#21 Rickster

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 10:21 AM

Hyperstar's wide field is great, but removing the secondary mirror does mean much lower magnification. I get round this by using a 16 megapixel resolution camera and a 4k UHD monitor. Then mere camera Zoom is awesome. Hyperstar eliminates a host of problems because it will reduce a C8 to f/1.9. That permits not requiring a wedge; no polar alignment; no autoguiding = easy! 

 

A requirement nobody has mentioned is the OP's desire to sit indoors and remotely control his scope. This can be a minefield. If the distance is short (under 30'), he might succeed with 'active' USB cables. But if longer much more challenging. The best bet (and can handle 4k data) is to place a mini computer at the scope running the software and control that using a second computer indoors using Windows Remote Desktop with RemoteFX compression disabled. Cat6 cable is best between them, but if wireless suggest one uses plug in (USB) 802.11ac wireless adapters (if the  computers not so equipped) and the 5Ghz channel. The 2.4 Ghz channel is now so cluttered in urban areas it can be problematic. I have posted more detailed guidance in other threads.

It seems obvious to me that your system is near optimum for EAA.  I fully intend to incorporate a Hyperstar scope into my rig.  The ability to do as you described is special, especially if entertaining kids.  They can go on the internet and look up images much better than we can produce.  But they cant get the feeling of flying around the universe in Starship without a system like yours.

 

Now, I understand that there will be exceptions depending on each individuals situation.  And I understand a person starting with a less than optimum rig and enjoying the process of learning and upgrading as they go.  That is the way that I have done it.  And I don't regret it.  I like the journey of discovery.  I like to tinker and improve things as I go.  It would be boring for me to start with the optimum.  So I hope the OP enjoys his new rig, that it suits his current needs, and that he enjoys the journey.  But there is no doubt in my mind that if I wanted to start with the optimum EAA rig, a Noah4x4 rig would be my first choice.



#22 descott12

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 10:32 AM

 

Now, I understand that there will be exceptions depending on each individuals situation.  And I understand a person starting with a less than optimum rig and enjoying the process of learning and upgrading as they go.  That is the way that I have done it.  And I don't regret it.  I like the journey of discovery.  I like to tinker and improve things as I go.  It would be boring for me to start with the optimum.  So I hope the OP enjoys his new rig, that it suits his current needs, and that he enjoys the journey.  But there is no doubt in my mind that if I wanted to start with the optimum EAA rig, a Noah4x4 rig would be my first choice.

That is a good point. After alot research on CN, I started with pretty optimal setup (Evo 8 + HyperStar + 294 MC PRO). Yet...I still seem to keep spending more money!!!!


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#23 magnetar68

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 11:08 AM

For full transparency, I swapped out the CGEM II for the SkyWatcher EQ6-R PRO. This was based on some additional reading and conversation with someone who has used both. I also upgraded the camera to the ZWO ASIAir294MC. So here is where I ended up. I will need other things, like filters, and if I want to do this eventually from inside, I will need an auto-focuser. This was a lot more money than I had planned on spending, but the kids don't really need straight teeth, right?

 

 

Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro Equatorial Go-To Mount                                       $1,595.00

ZWO ASI294MC Pro Cooled Color CMOS Camera                                          $  999.00

William Optics ZenithStar 81 f/6.9 Doublet Refracting OTA Telescope                $  798.00

QHY PoleMaster EQ Mount Polar Alignment Camera                                     $  269.00

ZWO ASIair Wi-Fi Camera Controller                                                 $  179.00

ZWO ASI120MM Mini Monochrome CMOS Telescope Camera                                 $  149.00

William Optics 50mm Guide Scope - with 1.25-Inch Rotolock                          $  139.00

William Optics Slide-Base 50mm Guiding Rings                                       $   58.00

QHY PoleMaster Celestron CGEM/DX and Atlas-Pro/AZEQ6 Adapter                       $   30.00

ZWO 12V 5A AC to DC Adapter for Cooled Cameras                                     $   29.00

                                                                                   $4,245.00 TOTAL


  • Howie1 and DSO_Viewer like this

#24 Rickster

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 11:16 AM

You are just in time for some pretty and relatively large targets that will work well with that rig.  M31, M42, California Nebula ...


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#25 cmooney91

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 05:12 PM

There is no need for the polemaster if you are using sharpcap's built in polar alignment tool.

 

I'd put the money saved into upgrading the ASI120mm into a ASI290mm, It has a much better read noise, So it could also be used for sort exposure live stacking as well. 

 

It has a finer pixle pitch so it could be useful for chasing down small faint galaxies. The finer pixels would also make for better guiding if used for that.

 

Guiding is not really needed with short exposures, so you could honestly cut the guidescope and rings as long as you stick to short exposure live stacking (which is the ASI294's strong suit anyway) . 

 

I use my second  "Guide" camera with a 8mm to 25mm fl C-mount lens  as a wide field finder. This makes remote operation much more enjoyable.

 

 

The money saved on the polestar, and guide scope could be used to upgrade the ASIair to a full blow MiniPC ($300 Beelink J45 Win 10 Pro). This would allow you use any and all full powered PC programs to control and process your set up.




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