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Looking to upgrade from my "beginner" setup.

reflector refractor imaging equipment eq dso Celestron beginner astrophotography mount
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#1 lemonade


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Posted 25 March 2020 - 02:24 AM

So far, I've been imaging with just a canon 600D and a 300mm cheap crap telephoto lens on an iOptron skyguider pro. This setup has served me well, and I have finally produced an image I was really happy with (the horsehead/flame nebulas) after 20 hours of total exposure time from the city. I don't intend to completely replace this setup, but I have money to upgrade now and time to dedicate to learning to use a bigger mount. 

As the winter milky way begins to disappear and we enter galaxy season, I want to really get in on the higher FL action. I'm thinking I will start my shopping cart with the Celestron AVX mount, as it seems a very popular but not too expensive EQ mount for imaging, and appears cheaply on the classifieds here as well. To complient this I would like a scope which is >500mm in focal length to allow me to image things that were out of reach before. There do, however seem to be a lot of options for such a scope in the $2-700 range (which is where I'd like to stay, if possible, with the cheaper being much preferred), so I thought I'd ask this wonderful forum for recommendations on telescopes that I should consider.


What do I want to use this scope to image? Hopefully:
-Globulars and tight open clusters
-Galaxies, such as m81, m101, etc, or at least groups of them like Markarian's chain or the Leo Triplet

-Other targets too small or detailed to shoot at 300mm like M27 and the Helix Nebula.

-Solar system objects/comets are on the wishlist, but very low-priority at the moment.
-I have another similar scope that I use for visual already, so this is 100% a dedicated imaging setup.

Here are some of the scopes I've found in my own research, however anything larger I could find would go over the 50% payload threshold of the AVX:





It seems that, while the newtonians can have a better price/aperture ratio, they tend to be pushing the 50% weight threshold of the 30lb. capacity of the AVX, even at only 6". Maybe refractors are the way to go, although they are more expensive and slower. Do you think I'm better off just saving up and holding off for a bigger mount/bigger refractor? Or are there other mounts in that range with a similar price point, but greater payload to handle a larger newtonian? OK, time for me to stop asking so many questions all in one thread. Thank you all in advance for helping a novice out! :)

#2 oshimitsu


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Posted 25 March 2020 - 04:11 AM

You wont get the images you want from an Achromatic, you're going to need to spend a little extra for a good  APO doublet or even more for a triplet. My first newt I imaged with was a Celestron 150 xlt with a MPCC coma corrector and it produced very good images. I would recommend something like the Orion astrographs as they have flocking, a 2 speed focuser, oversized secondary, reinforced focuser and some other little extras like a cooling fan. The Orion astrographs are affordable and honestly great scopes that hold collimation well. These fast Newts are going to have to be used with a coma corrector or you wont be happy with your images. The MPCC works alright but introduces some spherical aberrations, the end all be all is the Televue but that's pricey. Don't stress too much about the 50% weight, its a good rule of thumb but not completely necessary. You could also opt for something like a William optics 61 for wide angle or the new aperture which is a rebraded AT ( pretty good APO doublet). You'll beed a field flattener for either of those. Hopefully this helps some

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#3 Huangdi


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Posted 25 March 2020 - 09:32 AM

Get an eq6-type mount. If you like galaxies, you will, at some point want to buy an rc/sct/big refractor. You'll be frustrated that you bought the AVX and bang your head on a wall.

The eq6r Pro is 1.5k €, get a used ed80+reducer+spacers for 600€ and there you go!
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#4 Madratter


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Posted 25 March 2020 - 09:39 AM

IMO the AVX is a good visual mount but leaves something to be desired for astrophotography and especially at longer focal lengths.


At a minimum I would get an EQ5. The EQ5 at least has roller bearings in the DEC axis which the AVX does not. The EQ5 will cost slightly more, but is money very well spent.


As mentioned an EQ6 would be even better, again especially with longer focal length scopes.


IMO there are times in astrophotography where it just does not make sense to spend the money for an "upgrade". It is better to just wait until you have the money to get the proper equipment.

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#5 astrohamp


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Posted 25 March 2020 - 10:18 AM

Spend some time on the astronomy.tools site using the FOV calculator to get a good idea about object image scale in various imaging configurations. 


Even with my 990mm focal length I am struggling to view DSOs beyond the Messier list.  With my short integration times (<30 minutes) they are poorly resolved or lost in the fog.  YMMV

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#6 TelescopeGreg



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Posted 25 March 2020 - 01:47 PM

What Madratter said.


I have the AVX and a 910mm focal length scope (long by DSO AP standards), and I've gotten it to work, but it's not an ideal setup.  The AVX has been reported to have a quite variable quality; some are pretty good, some not so much.  I think mine is on the better side of average, and I'm only able to guide to +/- about 2" with any regularity, according to PHD2's graph.  As with any mount, the AVX is very sensitive to what load you put on it, both in terms of total weight (try to keep it down to about 20 lbs) as well as the expanse (be as compact as possible).  My guiding got a lot better when I swapped out the 8" Newtonian for a 5" refractor, which put the mass a lot closer to the mount's pivot points, even though the overall weight didn't change much.


So besides the mount's capabilities (or the lack thereof), consider luck and potential need for returning the equipment if you want to go this route, especially if you're buying something used. 


That said, the AVX is relatively light weight, and is easy to use.  I was thinking (and was strongly advised) that it should be the first piece of equipment to upgrade, but once the mount and I came to "an understanding" of how it needed to be treated, I have been able to focus on the other aspects of the overall setup, and continue to use the AVX under it all.  Until the latest issues with public gatherings, about half of its use was at Star Parties, for which it works very well.

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#7 17.5Dob


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Posted 25 March 2020 - 08:00 PM

The AVX is popular solely because it's inexpensive, not because it's a good mount....

If you are looking to upgrade, the bare minimum mount would be an EQ6r.

To image any galaxy besides Andromeda is going to take 1,000mm+++fl and will be a nightmare transition from 300mm on a SkyGuider. You need to learn to walk, before you try running a marathon.

The tried and true 80mm APO triplet is going to be your cheapest and easiest option to start with. You could even go up to a 100 mm APO triplet. "Cheap" newts are a money pit and will end up costing you as much as a decent APO, once you figure in a good coma corrector, upgraded focuser, and precision collimation tools.

In any event, you also will need to budget in an autoguider (guidescope+ guide cam) as well.


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#8 oshimitsu


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Posted 25 March 2020 - 11:17 PM

I agree that the AVX is def a budget mount but depending on what you want it for it might be a good option. I have an AVX  and still use it for wide angle shots and it's super convenient if you just wanna grab and go. You will quickly find that there's a reason it's known as a beginner mount though, tracking can be a complete pain with it and you will lose your mind if you try to get good RMS values with it. Also I misspelled one of my scope recommendations, should be Apertura, I've actually thought about picking one up since they've gotten good reviews.

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#9 lemonade


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Posted 26 March 2020 - 03:48 PM

I think what I'm going to do is save up, and wait for a good deal on the EQ6-R, if one shows up in the classifieds. Then I'll worry about optics. I think I'm leaning more towards the 100mm triplet posted above, but I will probably look for good stuff in the classifieds and check out reviews of whatever I see in there. Thanks for your advice. I guess I had inflated the AVX's abilities in my mind.

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#10 nimitz69



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Posted 26 March 2020 - 05:02 PM

the Universe (except for Betelgeuse ...dalek12.gif) will look exactly the same whenever you are able to get your EQ6-R Pro .... and you'll be much happier 

Edited by nimitz69, 26 March 2020 - 05:03 PM.

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