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Finally ready to begin astrophotography

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#1 Johnny592


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Posted 08 December 2019 - 11:29 PM

I'm ready to dip my toes in astrophotography, so I was hoping to get some suggestions and advice on how to begin and where to go with consideration to my gear.
I have a stock Canon EOS Rebel t7i, a Celestron C6 SCT on an AVX mount and a polar scope for it, a F/6.3 reducer, and the T ring and adapter for prime focus. I also have a piggyback mount for the OTA that Im going to use for my camera to take photos that way as well. As for software, I plan to use Astro Pixel Proccessor,Canon's EOS utilitys to set my exposures, and I already have Lightroom and Photoshop.
The only thing I don't have but will have by the end of the month is an auto-guider.
I know SCT's aren't the greatest for AP, but it's what I have and I have to start somewhere. What would be a good auto guiding option for my setup? What kind of filters should I check into? What DSO's would be possible to capture and what is pretty much strictly impossible? Any advice is welcome as im pretty much self teaching myself all of this and I'm eager to earn, but please try and avoid the obvious " get a new telescope" as if I could afford another one right now I'd be asking that question.... I'm looking for information I can use for the equipment I have, thank you so much in advance
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#2 Michael Harris

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 12:10 AM

As a place to start, check out the website www.astronomytools.net (and bookmark it). You can enter your telescope and camera variables and see how the field of view covers messier, ngc, and solar system objects. This will give you an idea of the objects and how they will cover your field of view. Th piggyback mount is also a good place to start for wide field images like the Andromeda galaxy. Practice good polar alignment and do a two star alignment with two more additional stars to improve your pointing accuracy. Eventually add software like Sequence Generator Pro or the ASIair control box to add plate solving which greatly simplifies locating DSOs. It is do-able with that equipment, I started with much the same except a refractor in place of the C6 but the AVX and camera were very similar. Keep us posted!

#3 bobzeq25



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Posted 09 December 2019 - 12:22 AM

It's not that SCTs aren't great for AP.  It's that they're difficult to learn on.  Among other things, they make it hard to diagnose issues.  There will be issues.


Suggestion.  _Start_ with the piggybacked camera and a lens.  Learn the basics with that (which include precise polar alignment, target selection, acquisition and framing, precise focus, running the autoguiding system, figuring out exposure (subexposure, number of subs), taking lights, bias, flats, darks, stacking, postprocessing).  It will be much easier with the camera and a lens.  When you're doing decent images that way (ie ones you like), then try the SCT.  Knowing the basic procedures, and having seen what it takes to make images, you can see what the SCT issues are, and hopefully fix them.


It's simply a much easier path to walk.  Much.  If your goal is to image small targets with the SCT, you'll reach it faster, and better by starting with the camera and a lens, and big targets.

Edited by bobzeq25, 09 December 2019 - 12:33 AM.

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#4 caseyfinn


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Posted 09 December 2019 - 01:02 AM

Congratulations on taking the plunge. Cool stuff and definitely the right place to get started. Some advice in no particular order: read a lot. Charles Brackens deep sky imager is a great book that goes into details on both sides of the astrophotographers equation, acquisition and processing. 

A couple things that really frustrated me originally were polar alignmen and focusing. I lost a lot of time taking bad pictures because of one or the other. Also, I’d spend so much time just getting setup that I was to tired to enjoy imagining once ready. So a polemaster is very helpful in getting you polar aligned. Loading your mount down with weight will make it stable enough to last a for the weekend. Like a photographer loads his bag under his tripod. Mounts are tough, you can leave them outside. Just make sure to cover the electronics. Tele gizmos are very nice in lieu of an observatory. I finally installed a pier in my backyard that i leave setup and covered. Focus will change over the course of the night. The more the temp drops the more focus will change. A good idea is to leave your scope outside so it becomes the same temperature as the environment then focus. Astrospheric is a great app to check weather. SkySafari is another one for finding your way around the night sky. Have fun

#5 PABresler


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Posted 09 December 2019 - 03:13 AM

I started with an 8 inch SCT and they work fine, especially with a focal reducer. It takes great pictures, actually some of my best. You probably need an astromodified DSLR; you will not get good colors without one. I use the Orion Magnificent autoguider with the Starshoot camera. very popular, although not high end, with PHD2. A laser pointer on the OTA makes alignment a cinch; do a four start alignment and to goto's should be right on; polar alignment should be accurate. Sharpcap has an excellent utility to use with the autoguider. If you want to get more sophisticated you can use Sequence generator Pro to do plate solves instead of the four star alignment. It does the same thing as Starsense.


I took this shot with my 8SE and Advanced GT mount, the predecessor to the AVX. It is 10 stacked 90 second shots from a dark sky location.



Attached Thumbnails

  • Andromeda 8SE DSS.jpg

Edited by PABresler, 09 December 2019 - 03:19 AM.

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