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Mount Advice Please

astrophotography beginner Celestron dslr eq SCT
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#1 acat

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 01:09 PM

Capturing photos of the current Neowise comet has inspired me into renewed interest in AP. I have an older Celestron 8 inch SCT on an equatorial wedge mount bought used in the early 90's. I have since modded it with encoders on both axes and star-hopped across the sky as well as (again many years ago) bought a small computer that enabled an object to be selected and then manually "gone-to". The rig has always a pain to align and although I have optics to flatten the field and add a camera, I have never even attempted to take photos. Now with new computerized Go-To mounts, better alignment equipment and even small (but no goto)ones like the Skyguider Pro and Star Adventurer I thought it time to reconsider AP. I've even become excited about the possibilities with the AZ-GTi GoTo and a DSLR. Besides the C8 I have a fair bit of Nikon gear (long zoom) including a 500 mm FL mirror lens and a Lumix GX-8 which I used with the mirror lens to shoot decent photos of neowise (see www.boulderwx.com/neowise.php)

 

So I have come to a fork in the road and could use some advice from those of you with experience... whether to go right and utilize the C-8 with new tripod and GoTo mount or left and get one of the camera-oriented mounts. There is appeal in getting a GoTo EQ mount that could be used for both the C8 and camera that would travel the skies with ease, take photos and really spend time enjoying viewing (albeit at a >>$1000 price tag), or just focus on AP and perhaps enter more tentatively and less costly using one of the iOptron or Sky Watcher mounts for the cameras. Although hopping around the night sky with a ball mount may be counter productive.That said, I would not hesitate to give up direct viewing since even with the C-8 dark sky objects do not exactly burn the retina. The GX-8 is surprisingly  good at viewing dim objects like Neowise, but navigating with the GX-8 with a ball mount sounds like it might be frustrating, which is how I gave the whole thing up before. But maybe it's not so bad. I've watched a few of the YouTube videos on the Skyguider Pro and Star Adventurer and they do look appealing. See the problem???

 

Your advice and opinion would be  most appreciated.

 

Tony C

http://www.boulderwx.com

 



#2 endlessky

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 01:37 PM

Hi, I was exactly in your situation: had a Celestar C8, with fork mount and push-to encoders, that I have used in the late 90s to do some astrophotography with a film camera.

Last October I decided to start back my journey and I was torn between a light star tracker (that wouldn't allow me to use my C8) or get a mount good enough for both the C8 and the DSLR and lenses that I already had.

I finally decided to get a good mount and bought a used NEQ6 Pro. My reasoning was that if I bought a star tracker I eventually would have had to buy also a good mount for the C8, resulting in more money spent in the long run. Buy once, cry once!

#3 SilverLitz

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 01:51 PM

Get a real GEM and not something like a Skyguider Pro and Star Adventurer, as these will only handle a moderate size lens and will not work well with heavier loads.   The long FL of your C8 will need a much more capable mount, even with a 0.63x FR/Corrector (definitely get this).

 

The biggest bang/buck on mounts seems to be an EQ6R-Pro.  It is signficantly more, $1595 full price, but it provides a lot of mount for the $$$.  EQ6R-Pro is an updated/better version of the NEQ6.  It should be able to handle the C8 and probably most refractors up to about 130mm.  You could save a couple-hundred $ on lighter duty mounts, such as HEQ5, but I am unsure how well these would handle the FL of a C8.  The EQ6R-Pro has much more upside capacity, possibly saving your hundreds of $ on future necessary upgrade. 


Edited by SilverLitz, 14 July 2020 - 01:51 PM.


#4 Stelios

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 02:00 PM

See the problem?

 

No. smile.gif Seriously, I don't. If you plan to be serious about astrophotography, the most important thing is the mount. The Skyguider Pro and Star Adventurer are camera trackers. They are solutions for those whose budget totally limits them. If you can even think of a more expensive mount, then the more expensive mount is the one to get. If the mount purchase doesn't make you flinch a bit, then you have done yourself a disservice in the mount you do buy.

 

The EQ6R-Pro is the recommended mount *IF* you can lift the 40+lb head. 

 

If you can't, your choices are between the iOptron CEM60 (admittedly expensive) and the relatively inexpensive HEQ5/Sirius which, however, has a more limited capacity. The HEQ5 would be marginal with a C8 scope, but not impossible if you use an F/6.3 focal reducer to limit the length.



#5 MrRoberts

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 02:02 PM

What he said (SilverLitz) waytogo.gif waytogo.gif waytogo.gif



#6 acat

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 02:06 PM

Seems unanimous, which is pretty amazing. 40 lbs is quite a load to haul. Does it come with the tripod? Mine is a POS.

 

Thanks sooo much.

 

Tony C



#7 SilverLitz

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 03:10 PM

Seems unanimous, which is pretty amazing. 40 lbs is quite a load to haul. Does it come with the tripod? Mine is a POS.

 

Thanks sooo much.

 

Tony C

Yes, it comes with a fairly substantial tripod, with about 2" diameter legs.  You do not want 1.5" diameter legs, you have to a a stable base.  My G11 tripod is MUCH bigger.  Most actual mounts, not camera trackers, come with a tripod and a GoTo computer control.  The benefit/cost of GEM/CEM mounts, in my opinion, is MUCH better than camera trackers.  Camera trackers would have a place for those who want to backpack with a limited AP capability or for the casual user that would ONLY use a light DSLR and up to a short telephoto lens.

 

The CEM60 would be an even better choice, but expect its cost to be 2x the EQ6R; If you go the CEM60 route, get the pricer tri-pier instead of the standard 2" diameter tripod.



#8 OhmEye

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 03:13 PM

Gratuitous pic of my EQ6-R Pro with 8" pier extension and tripod spreader on DIY dolly.

Hello Dolly


#9 endlessky

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 03:16 PM

Yeah, the NEQ6 Pro (and its newer version, the EQ6-R Pro) comes with a tripod.

You won't regret it. I absolutely love mine. Up to two minutes unguided at 300mm focal length, what's there not to love!?

 

I am glad I was not the only one with this opinion on this matter. I have to say I was tempted to get a HEQ5 during most of my decision making process and even posted ads in an online used market for one, but I was lucky enough to be contacted by somebody willing to sell his NEQ6 Pro. The price he asked was the highest I was willing to pay for the HEQ5, so of course I accepted his offer immediately. Getting a bigger and better mount for astrophotography is always the best choice. Leaves the door open for future gear upgrades. Imagine if you buy a lesser mount, then one day you decide you want bigger, heavier optics. Then you'll have to find the money for a new mount as well.

 

Again, buy once, cry once!



#10 acat

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 07:39 AM

So, I've done some more thinking overnight about my circumstances and I don't think I can pursue the EQ6-R Pro path to AP. I live in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and while I have lots of land, I don't have a square foot of flat. Moving horizontally, means moving vertically too. I only have wooden decks that are horizontal, and vibration I believe, will always be an issue. Also the weight of this solution would make moving of the mount such a chore that I would never use it. It would have to rest more or less permanently outside on a deck. The way I've taken pictures of Neowise has been with a shutter delay, so I could be motionless or off the deck while the photo is taken. I probably need to embrace post-processing as my friend and stack photos to get results.

 

So that said, my beef with the Skyguider Pro type approaches is ultimately the lack of usability. What I probably need is a "lightweight" load-wise German EQ mount with GoTo capability  that I can put a DSLR or small refractor onto. Any ideas on that approach?



#11 kathyastro

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 07:56 AM

I probably need to embrace post-processing as my friend and stack photos to get results.

You should be planning to do that anyway, regardless of what gear you get.  It is the only sensible way to do AP, aside from some specialty-type shots.

 

For a "lightweight" mount to hold a small refractor (an excellent combination!), lightweight means something like an HEQ5 or AVX.  Remember that you should not put more than 50-60% of the manufacturer's rated load on it.  Both mounts are rated at 30 lbs, so you are looking at 15-20 lbs maximum AP load.
 



#12 acat

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 08:28 AM

Thanks for the suggestion. This looks as if it still may be quite heavy. I'm thinking that the C-8 is off the table as a solution as it equates to these robust, heavy mounts. Among the Sky-Watcher products is the EQM-35 that they claim is suitable for a 100 mm refractor. Any thoughts about this for a DSLR, small refractor approach? Incidentally, you are clearly much more (vastly so!) serious about AP than I will likely ever be, based on looking at your website. I do aspire to full automation however.



#13 kisstek

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:04 AM

If you have lots of land, you leave the mount outside permanently setup. Maybe the scope too. Build a little observatory shed around it when you get time. That way you don't have to lug everything up the hill every time you want to use it. The less work it is to set up, the more often you will use it!



#14 KTAZ

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:14 AM

I love my EQ6R, but admit that I don’t love the tripod. I use it with the extensions about 60% extended and the shakes from just touching the focuser are annoying. I see a tripod spreader in my future; just hate to drop $300 on one.


Edited by KTAZ, 15 July 2020 - 10:14 AM.


#15 kisstek

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:18 AM

I love my EQ6R, but admit that I don’t love the tripod. I use it with the extensions about 60% extended and the shakes from just touching the focuser are annoying. I see a tripod spreader in my future; just hate to drop $300 on one.

Get the Celestron Focus Motor for SCT and Edge for $200 and never touch the focuser again. And you have a hundred bucks left towards something else.


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#16 KTAZ

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:39 AM

Get the Celestron Focus Motor for SCT and Edge for $200 and never touch the focuser again. And you have a hundred bucks left towards something else.

Good thought; however, I am also concerned about wind. When I eventually start imaging DSO's, I assume a decent gust is going to have an effect on my images if I cannot steady that mount.

 

Can the Celestron unit be tied back into software, perhaps like SGP or NINA, to perform auto-fucsing?



#17 kisstek

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:52 AM

Good thought; however, I am also concerned about wind. When I eventually start imaging DSO's, I assume a decent gust is going to have an effect on my images if I cannot steady that mount.

 

Can the Celestron unit be tied back into software, perhaps like SGP or NINA, to perform auto-fucsing?

I can't imagine being able to successfully steady a mount by hand when shooting at a focal length of 2300mm. I can't on my "short" 1600mm focal length.

 

I only touch my mount at the beginning of a night to uncover it and again in the morning to recover it. When I'm imaging, I don't touch it, I don't walk near it.



#18 acat

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:52 AM

As regards a permanent set up out side...I have that with the C8, covered. It's fared well in our dry climate. However, in the mountainous area where we reside, if you forget something and have to run back, you will not be happy about it. We also have wild beasts that would enjoy feasting on your person. Definitely have to look over your shoulder. Actually doesn't do much good to look over your shoulder with mountain lions anyway.


Edited by acat, 15 July 2020 - 10:52 AM.


#19 OhmEye

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:54 AM

So, I've done some more thinking overnight about my circumstances and I don't think I can pursue the EQ6-R Pro path to AP. I live in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and while I have lots of land, I don't have a square foot of flat. Moving horizontally, means moving vertically too.

How drastic are the slopes you have to deal with? How far do you actually need to move the rig? Are you aware that you don't have to level the tripod? As long as it's reasonably level as to be secure without toppling over it's fine. I have one location on my south yard where I push the rig up a 8 degree slope. It's not like you need perfectly level land to do AP.
 



#20 acat

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 10:59 AM

Viking 1:

That's good to know; I did not appreciate that. However, the greater issue is the wildlife here in the rural mountains, what with Mountain Lions and Bears. Lost a cat to a Mountain Lion last month. I'm trying to avoid being his next meal!



#21 Huangdi

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 11:00 AM

If you don't want to go down the Heq5/EQ6 route, there are two options.

1. Maintain decent payload capacity and get a CEM25P, it's not cheap though.

2. Lower your payload capacity and get an iExos100. I guided an Orion ED80 (600mm FL) without any troubles with it, its a well built but very lightweight mount.

#22 kisstek

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 11:05 AM

Viking 1:

That's good to know; I did not appreciate that. However, the greater issue is the wildlife here in the rural mountains, what with Mountain Lions and Bears. Lost a cat to a Mountain Lion last month. I'm trying to avoid being his next meal!

All the more reason to have a permanent setup: so you can run everything from instead where you won't get eaten nor frost bite!



#23 OhmEye

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 11:33 AM

I've had a bear come up on me 3 times while fiddling with the rig. The first time it happened I was on my knees craning my neck up to look through the polar scope in the mount and was motionless for a minute or so. When I suddenly stood up I startled the bear and we both ran, lol! The second time was a few weeks ago, I went out to manually rotate the camera and was standing there concentrating on my phone screen to match rotation when I heard heavy breathing a few feet away. It was pitch black and I didn't have my headlamp on, was using just the phone screen for light and my eyes weren't dark adjusted because of that anyway. I said "HELLO BEAR" loudly and heard it scuffle off and I went inside and got my headlamp, came back out with it on red. I didn't see the bear so continued with the rotator then shortly heard it again and looked around, the red light didn't have much reach and I couldn't see it so I turned on the white light and there it was about 20 feet away, eyes glowing green in the headlamp. I said "HELLO BEAR" even louder and walked a couple steps toward it and it turned back and went around the corner of the garage.

 

Fortunately the black bears we have here are more nuisance than aggressive. I run the rig remotely from inside but some things just require being outside at the rig sometimes.



#24 acat

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 12:50 PM

Viking 1

Yes, our Black Bears are "sissies" too, but the Mountain Lions are not. As I mentioned we lost a cat to an inexperienced rather young (as best I could see on the IR Camera) Lion. The more experienced adults usually don't mess with people, but there have been fatal "exceptions". Often it's the hungry, inexperienced youngins' that go for people. We've had four cubs at a time in the neighborhood, and two young guys just out the door. Gives one some pause before going out at night. That said it is quite rare to have an attack. Our neighbors had a Lion snatch a Beagle off a leash as they went out the door at night! Unbelievably, she wrestled the dog away and the dog survived albeit with serious wounds. I've watched our Golden Retriever chase a Black Bear down the slope in daylight. After a brief run, I could see the "thought balloon" say, "why am I the one running?" and turn around and chase the dog, who made the wise decision to change direction. This back-and-forth continued several times until both thought better of the time wasted. Sort of a "Keystone Cops" skit.


Edited by acat, 15 July 2020 - 12:51 PM.

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#25 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 05:15 PM

How far is it from the deck to the ground below?  If it's not huge, perhaps putting in a permanent pier through a hole in the deck (not touching it, so vibration won't transmit) would solve the problem?  Maybe in a corner.  Easy access, no vibration.  Put a sun dial or bird feeder on top when not in astronomy use?




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