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Review my parts list - Beginner starting a new journey

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#1 awong101

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 03:31 PM

Dear all, I made a thread earlier about how Comet Neowise has rekindled my interests in astronomy. Well, I've been learning as much as I can on my free time that, I don't think I should continue that thread. Since then, I've been acquiring parts to start this new exciting adventure. At the same time, I want to re-use and re-purpose existing equipment I already have to reduce cost. I hope like most of you, this will become a lifelong hobby.

 

Yes, I spreadsheet all of my hobbies. It gives me a perspective on how far I've come, or where the failure happened. I've been tracking my spending and parts list. I'd like some critiques and please let me know if I am missing anything for a beginner. (Yes, I will be adding an editing software as well)

 

For the foreseeable future, I will use be using camera lenses only. Because I think the lenses with longer focal length and higher magnification would just lead to frustration. Especially when the bulk of my focus now is gear setup, figuring out filters and exposures, and post-processing.

 

I appreciate your feedback, thank you!

 

 

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#2 awong101

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 11:28 AM

Here's another thought that...

 

Since I had to buy a new tripod $125, and the Sky Adventurer Pro comes in at $400... cost wise, am I just better off getting a used tracking mount?

 

I do want to learn how to find objects on my own though first, before jumping into an actual tracking GoTo mount.

 

Thanks!



#3 Stelios

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 02:19 PM

Tracking and GoTo are different things. I had a tracking mount in 1978--a Celestron C8 with a Byers drive. It certainly wasn't GoTo, but it was a godsend for keeping objects centered in the eyepiece while observing. 

 

Learning how to find objects on your own is not something you will get advice about in this forum. Astrophotographers want to spend every available moment taking images, even GoTo is too slow for them (they would need to manually center). They use plate-solving, and just center their targets automatically. There are several books to introduce to the night sky if that's what you want (I remember "Turn left at Orion" from way back). Personally, even when I was a visual observer (more than 50 years...) I found star-hopping to be tedious and incredibly boring. 

 

I strongly would recommend you get at least a camera tracker if you want to do astrophotography. I think you should also consider where you want to eventually go, or you may well end up buying things that you will be discarding later. For example, if you will buy a telescope, all the camera lenses you have would be useless (for *astro*photography) and your camera tracker would be an inadequate mount--you may have been better off starting with a real mount like a HEQ5-Pro or at the very least an iOptron CEM25P. The initial expense would be offset by flexibility--you could start with your lenses, and later add a refractor (and optionally sell the lenses to recoup some of the cost). 



#4 awong101

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 02:33 PM

And that is why I have much to learn, thank you!

 

I think for now, my primary concern is to keep my object still during my exposures. I think eventually, I will get to that point where star-hopping will be an absolute bore to me. But for now, I think it's a skill that I want to try to develop. What started all of this was Comet Neowise, and trying to find it after its closest approach was a real challenge, but man... That feeling when I finally tracked it, I'll never forget it. It was massively rewarding. I also understand why real astrophotographers don't want to spend the time finding objects.

 

For now, I think I will settle with something like a Star Adventurer and to pair it to my camera lenses. I want to start slow and get a (super) wide view perspective first. Yeah, I may outgrow my camera lenses. But I am not too worried given how much I paid for them from the used market, and that Rokinon 135mm re-sell like hot cakes!

 

Equipment aside, my primary focus for now is the setting up the gear for the night, figuring out proper exposure times, and post-processing.

 

Once I upgrade my lens beyond the capabilities of Star Adventurer, that Sky Watcher HEQ5 is definitely on my list! I suspect once I grow into something like a WO Zenithstar 61, I will need to upgrade the mount.

 

Oh by the way, I started out as just a visual observer as well. Then I quickly I do not care to look through an eyepiece. (I hate looking through eyepieces in general, even when I was in the labs and looking through microscopes)

 

What do you think of my filter choice? I live in San Francisco and we are easily Bortle Class 7 or 8.



#5 idclimber

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 02:35 PM

I think if your ambitions are to eventually take deep sky photos with a small refractor (80-100mm), then you would be better off purchasing a GEM rather than a tracker. 



#6 awong101

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 03:41 PM

I think if your ambitions are to eventually take deep sky photos with a small refractor (80-100mm), then you would be better off purchasing a GEM rather than a tracker. 

Absolutely, eventually I do want to graduate into DSOs. I could just keep the Sky Adventurer as a wide-field rig?



#7 idclimber

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:01 PM

Then you need to realize that the tracker will likely be harder to use and learn on, and before getting a refractor you will need to replace it. 



#8 awong101

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:10 PM

Then you need to realize that the tracker will likely be harder to use and learn on, and before getting a refractor you will need to replace it. 

Yes, I am looking at the Star Adventurer as a quick and less-expensive way to get into astrophotography. And once I get something like a WO Zenithstar 61, I will have to pair it with a GEM like you mentioned earlier.

 

Thoughts on my filter of choice?

 

Lastly, any other alternatives to Adobe Photoshop when it comes to post processing? (Not a fan of the subscription based pricing model)



#9 idclimber

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:37 PM

Astro Pixel Processor. It is easier to use than the other option. they have a 30 day demo. 

 

Pixinsight. This is much harder to learn, but is essentially the gold standard here. They also have a demo you can use. 

 

I started with a demo of APP and then eventually did the same with PI. I ended up purchasing a license for PI. I am still a beginner at all this stuff, but am now generating photos that are exceeding my expectations. 

 

I also use Photoshop to do final color calibration. I think many here do the same. It really excels at that subtle correction. 

 

I shoot mono, so the filters I am using are not suitable for a DSLR. 


Edited by idclimber, 05 August 2020 - 04:41 PM.

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#10 bobzeq25

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:54 PM

Yes, I am looking at the Star Adventurer as a quick and less-expensive way to get into astrophotography. And once I get something like a WO Zenithstar 61, I will have to pair it with a GEM like you mentioned earlier.

 

Thoughts on my filter of choice?

 

Lastly, any other alternatives to Adobe Photoshop when it comes to post processing? (Not a fan of the subscription based pricing model)

Thoughts.

 

Your basic ideas are excellent.

 

Consider the more recent iOptron Skyguider Pro.  It may be able to handle the 61. 

 

You don't absolutely need the CLS, and it's very old technology.  It's works best on emission nebulae and, if you don't have an "Ha modded" DSLR these are not great targets.  If you did, I'd recommend one of the newer duo or triband filters like the LEnhance.  I'm only Bortle 7, but I don't use any of these.  See below.

 

There are real advantages to an astro specific program that both stacks and processes, and has a good gradient reduction tool, which is my preferred method for combating light pollution.  As stated above, the two main choices are Astro Pixel Processor and PixInsight.  APP is easy to use as these things go, and capable of fine results.  PI is the ultimate, but difficult to learn to do well, which is necessary for it to be superior to APP.  "Free" alternatives will cost you time and effort, are unlikely to do as well.


Edited by bobzeq25, 05 August 2020 - 04:56 PM.

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#11 awong101

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 05:26 PM

 

 

You don't absolutely need the CLS, and it's very old technology.  It's works best on emission nebulae and, if you don't have an "Ha modded" DSLR these are not great targets.  If you did, I'd recommend one of the newer duo or triband filters like the LEnhance.  I'm only Bortle 7, but I don't use any of these.  See below.

 

 

So, would it be worthwhile to remove the IR cut filter from my T2i? Seems like everyone take those out anyways?

 

Just so I am not being confused. H-Alpha modded dSLR = dSLR with the IR cut filter removed, correct?


Edited by awong101, 05 August 2020 - 07:09 PM.


#12 awong101

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 12:36 PM

Thoughts.

 

Your basic ideas are excellent.

 

Consider the more recent iOptron Skyguider Pro.  It may be able to handle the 61. 

 

You don't absolutely need the CLS, and it's very old technology.  It's works best on emission nebulae and, if you don't have an "Ha modded" DSLR these are not great targets.  If you did, I'd recommend one of the newer duo or triband filters like the LEnhance.  I'm only Bortle 7, but I don't use any of these.  See below.

 

There are real advantages to an astro specific program that both stacks and processes, and has a good gradient reduction tool, which is my preferred method for combating light pollution.  As stated above, the two main choices are Astro Pixel Processor and PixInsight.  APP is easy to use as these things go, and capable of fine results.  PI is the ultimate, but difficult to learn to do well, which is necessary for it to be superior to APP.  "Free" alternatives will cost you time and effort, are unlikely to do as well.

Thanks for your response! Unfortunately, I already pulled the trigger on a used Sky Adventurer Pro. (Who knows when these trackers, iOptron included, would be back in stock. And I don't want to wait anymore)

 

This weekend, I'm going to attempt to modify my T2i. Wish me luck! I'm choosing to modify my own camera because these stock T2i aren't worth much on the used market and kind of hard to sell them. So if I screw up, I'm not really at a lost.



#13 bobzeq25

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 02:20 PM

So, would it be worthwhile to remove the IR cut filter from my T2i? Seems like everyone take those out anyways?

 

Just so I am not being confused. H-Alpha modded dSLR = dSLR with the IR cut filter removed, correct?

That's a "full spectrum" mod.  It requires the use of an external UV-IR cut filter.

 

An Ha mod is when the standard UV-IR cut filter is replaced by one which is broadened just enough to pass Ha.  Full spectrum sounds impressive, but adds essentially nothing to an Ha mod.  If you get the mod done commercially, an Ha mod is the way to go.  If you're DIYing the mod, using the external filter may be easier.

 

It's not necessary.  It works well for emission nebulae, not much else.


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#14 awong101

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:05 PM

That's a "full spectrum" mod.  It requires the use of an external UV-IR cut filter.

 

An Ha mod is when the standard UV-IR cut filter is replaced by one which is broadened just enough to pass Ha.  Full spectrum sounds impressive, but adds essentially nothing to an Ha mod.  If you get the mod done commercially, an Ha mod is the way to go.  If you're DIYing the mod, using the external filter may be easier.

 

It's not necessary.  It works well for emission nebulae, not much else.

So, if I graduate into say, galaxies way down the line, my modified camera with the UV-IR cut filter would not be all that useful? Well, I hope by then my skills would be good enough to appreciate dedicated astrophotography cameras. smile.gif

 

My primary focus now is to capture wide-view nebulae and the night sky in general, because they're large enough where I don't need to upgrade to scopes with longer focal length, and that I can maximize the use out of what the Star Adventurer Pro can support.

 

I see that if I want to re-use the modified camera for normal daytime use, I would have to add an UV-IR cut filter back in. But, I don't see that happening. I've had this camera for almost a decade and it saw little use. I'm only taking it back out because I want to dive into astrophotography. So, if the modification render it useless for normal daytime use, it'll be OK with me. 

 

Also, stock T2i barely worth anything right now $50-$100 on the used market, I'd rather experiment with it then to leave it alone and try to sell it. 

 

Thank you for explaining the difference between a full-spectrum mod and a HA mod. Still so much for me to learn!


Edited by awong101, 07 August 2020 - 04:07 PM.


#15 bobzeq25

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:24 PM

So, if I graduate into say, galaxies way down the line, my modified camera with the UV-IR cut filter would not be all that useful? Well, I hope by then my skills would be good enough to appreciate dedicated astrophotography cameras. smile.gif

 

My primary focus now is to capture wide-view nebulae and the night sky in general, because they're large enough where I don't need to upgrade to scopes with longer focal length, and that I can maximize the use out of what the Star Adventurer Pro can support.

 

I see that if I want to re-use the modified camera for normal daytime use, I would have to add an UV-IR cut filter back in. But, I don't see that happening. I've had this camera for almost a decade and it saw little use. I'm only taking it back out because I want to dive into astrophotography. So, if the modification render it useless for normal daytime use, it'll be OK with me. 

 

Also, stock T2i barely worth anything right now $50-$100 on the used market, I'd rather experiment with it then to leave it alone and try to sell it. 

 

Thank you for explaining the difference between a full-spectrum mod and a HA mod. Still so much for me to learn!

Note that, for astrophotography, you need a UV-IR cut filter, also.  Otherwise your stars will be bloated by the "invisible" light.


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#16 awong101

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:28 PM

Note that, for astrophotography, you need a UV-IR cut filter, also.  Otherwise your stars will be bloated by the "invisible" light.

Ok, now I'm confused again. 

 

If the UV-IR cut filter is needed, then how come the guides I am seeing call for their removal?

 

Maybe I should just leave my camera as is... hahah



#17 bobzeq25

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:49 PM

Ok, now I'm confused again. 

 

If the UV-IR cut filter is needed, then how come the guides I am seeing call for their removal?

 

Maybe I should just leave my camera as is... hahah

If the guides are sensible, they're assuming you'd add an external UV-IR cut.  For example:

 

"This option places a clear cover over the sensor in order to pass through all wavelengths. Now, your DSLR is sensitive to ultraviolet and infrared light. If your optics are all reflective, you can capture more signal this way. Most of us have some refractive elements (where light passes through glass), and many of these are not corrected very far outside the visible spectrum, meaning this ultraviolet and infrared light will be unfocused compared to visible wavelengths, so for general astrophotography, you will still need an IR/UV filter outside the camera, or you can use a convenient clip-in filter system (seen in the image at the top of the page)."

 

https://skyandtelesc...trophotography/

 

DSO AP is great fun.  What it isn't, is simple.  <smile>

 

Not modding is a real possibility.  If you like DSO AP, want to pursue it, you skip from a DSLR to an astrospecific one shot color camera.  They are sensitive to Ha, so you don't mod, some come with a UV-IR cut.


Edited by bobzeq25, 07 August 2020 - 04:54 PM.

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#18 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:14 PM

Ok, now I'm confused again. 

 

If the UV-IR cut filter is needed, then how come the guides I am seeing call for their removal?

 

Maybe I should just leave my camera as is... hahah

Not all UV-IR cut filters have the same passband.  The one that comes with standard DSLRs cuts a bit too much of the IR side, impacting the deep red wavelength (hydrogen-alpha, 656nm) that predominates a lot of emission nebulae.  Instead, you need one that lets this (and closely adjacent) wavelengths through, yet still blocks that stuff farther out.  The deeper IR stuff is often not in focus, due to telescope optics, and makes a mess of the image.

 

My unmodified Nikon passes less than 20% of this wavelength, meaning I need 5x the exposure on those parts just to break even with the rest of the image.  But not modifying a camera is perfectly fine.  It will restrict the targets you can easily image, but fortunately, the universe is really big, so there is hardly a lack of good targets.  A camera upgrade can be done later.


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#19 awong101

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:15 PM

If the guides are sensible, they're assuming you'd add an external UV-IR cut.  For example:

 

"This option places a clear cover over the sensor in order to pass through all wavelengths. Now, your DSLR is sensitive to ultraviolet and infrared light. If your optics are all reflective, you can capture more signal this way. Most of us have some refractive elements (where light passes through glass), and many of these are not corrected very far outside the visible spectrum, meaning this ultraviolet and infrared light will be unfocused compared to visible wavelengths, so for general astrophotography, you will still need an IR/UV filter outside the camera, or you can use a convenient clip-in filter system (seen in the image at the top of the page)."

 

https://skyandtelesc...trophotography/

 

DSO AP is great fun.  What it isn't, is simple.  <smile>

 

Not modding is a real possibility.  If you like DSO AP, want to pursue it, you skip from a DSLR to an astrospecific one shot color camera.  They are sensitive to Ha, so you don't mod, some come with a UV-IR cut.

Thanks. The guide I saw simply removes/cut the IR-UV filter, (with no clear glass replacement).

 

So, with a full-spectrum modification, I would still need an external IR-UV filter. That may not work for me since I live in San Francisco and a clip-in light pollution looks to be a necessity. (I can't stack filters, right?)

 

Do you have a link to DIY HA modify a Canon camera? Thanks!



#20 awong101

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:18 PM

Not all UV-IR cut filters have the same passband.  The one that comes with standard DSLRs cuts a bit too much of the IR side, impacting the deep red wavelength (hydrogen-alpha, 656nm) that predominates a lot of emission nebulae.  Instead, you need one that lets this (and closely adjacent) wavelengths through, yet still blocks that stuff farther out.  The deeper IR stuff is often not in focus, due to telescope optics, and makes a mess of the image.

 

My unmodified Nikon passes less than 20% of this wavelength, meaning I need 5x the exposure on those parts just to break even with the rest of the image.  But not modifying a camera is perfectly fine.  It will restrict the targets you can easily image, but fortunately, the universe is really big, so there is hardly a lack of good targets.  A camera upgrade can be done later.

So, if I were to HA modify my camera, are there aftermarket HA filter in place of the stock filter?

 

Thanks!



#21 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:25 PM

So, if I were to HA modify my camera, are there aftermarket HA filter in place of the stock filter?

 

Thanks!

Lots of options, but most are not going to be internal to the camera, and that's fine.  The filtering just needs to be somewhere along the light path.  If you're already using another filter (you mention LP), they may already filter out the UV and deeper IR stuff.  Check the bandpass of the filter you are planning to use, or choose one that accomplishes all of the objectives you have for the image at hand.  Stacking filters is possible, but requires more care, and will almost always be worse than a single, proper, filter.  Less glass is less opportunities to mess up the image.


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#22 awong101

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:29 PM

Lots of options, but most are not going to be internal to the camera, and that's fine.  The filtering just needs to be somewhere along the light path.  If you're already using another filter (you mention LP), they may already filter out the UV and deeper IR stuff.  Check the bandpass of the filter you are planning to use, or choose one that accomplishes all of the objectives you have for the image at hand.  Stacking filters is possible, but requires more care, and will almost always be worse than a single, proper, filter.  Less glass is less opportunities to mess up the image.

Let's say I leave it stock, and apply my clip-in light pollution filter. It will cut out the light pollution, but it won't increase my HA sensitivity?

 

I will be using the Skytech CLS-CCD filter.

 

Source: Astrobackyard

skytech-cls-ccd-review.jpg



#23 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:40 PM

No, if the internal filter blocks Ha, there's nothing you can do external to the camera to add it back in. 

 

If you could, there'd be a bazillion wonderful products you could make, like being able to look through walls, create an anti-cloud filter, and probably perpetual motion.  Not sure about the last one.

 

But the point is that the CLS-CCD filter already blocks the deep IR, so using it on a full-spectrum modified camera accomplishes what you want to do.


Edited by TelescopeGreg, 07 August 2020 - 05:41 PM.

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#24 awong101

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:48 PM

No, if the internal filter blocks Ha, there's nothing you can do external to the camera to add it back in. 

 

If you could, there'd be a bazillion wonderful products you could make, like being able to look through walls, create an anti-cloud filter, and probably perpetual motion.  Not sure about the last one.

 

But the point is that the CLS-CCD filter already blocks the deep IR, so using it on a full-spectrum modified camera accomplishes what you want to do.

Thanks, sounds like I am back on the full-spectrum modification train then.



#25 awong101

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 05:48 PM

Another question...

 

If I do the full-spectrum/naked sensor mod, and I use a clip on filter, will I be able to retain my focus using normal camera lenses?

 

(I am still learning, and won't dive into actual telescopes yet. I will be using my Rokinon 135mm extensively)




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