I am getting back into astronomy and AP is sucking me in. I have done tons of research and understand the challenges. I currently have NO equipment, but want to create a plan to progress without duplicating my equipment as much as possible for budgetary reasons. I have posted in a couple of other places here for equipment considerations (not related to AP per se) and already received some great advice (like joining a club - which I am in the process of doing).
Here are my requirements:
- Need a good visual scope
- Need it to be reasonably portable and easy to set up (no observatory)
- Good Planetary views suitable for Planetary AP
- Be suitable for future DSO AP ***** I realize that this adds a lot of wrinkles
I don't want to have to buy another scope or mount later until I decide to make a major upgrade in all of my equipment - $$$
So Initially I was all into a C8 - but as I have read SCTs are not easy to do long exposures with (DSO) due to:
- Weight of C8 would require a 40 LB mount (like a CGEM II) even though it can be purchased with an AVX
- Auto Guiding
- Mirror Flop
- Focal Length/F ratio
..... so my thinking moved to a C6 on an AVX Goto EQ mount
- Lighter should be suitable for that mount (much less than 50% of capacity)
- Still gives good planetary views
- Assume less mirror flop due to smaller mirror?
- Collimation still an issue
- Still need auto-guiding
- When I am ready to start with the DSO imaging (won't be for awhile until I get used to my equipment, some visual and some planetary imaging) I can use a Night Owl FR to get to ~600m Focal Length at ~F4 - which seems doable for DSOs and comparable to some of the refractor configurations that I have seen
- First Camera I buy can be one for planetary and eventually use it for autoguiding (I think this is possible, again to save $)
- I have seen some good DSO images on Astrobin with the C6 and 6.3 and/or Night Owl FR - even some with Hyperstar (but $$)
I have even started practicing image processing by downloading some raw images and using all free software - Registax/Gimp and DSS/Gimp for Planetary and DSO. I highly recommend this - it's actually kind of fun.
I really need to think this through and prevent me saying " Darn, why did I buy this?" down the road. My thinking is that this is as close to a one scope solution as I can get that meets my requirements for a reasonable budget, realizing that there are some trade-offs that are unavoidable - I dunno - so much to think about, but the good news is I haven't spent anything yet. Looking forward to feedback.