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(Re)Starting Astrophotography - telescope recommendations?

astrophotography beginner dslr imaging optics
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#1 Professor2112

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 06:57 AM

Hello all! 
 

   So I am currently in the process of selling my wedge mounted CPC 1100. When I first got into astronomy, I didn’t even realize there was two very different main styles of mount(alt/atz & eq).  I had never owned more than a “toy” telescope as a kid before. I did a lot of research as far as ease of use and portability which the CPC does do well. I however never imagined I’d get into a Astrophotography and the only reason that it did happen is because I saw pictures of the CPC with a DSLR attached to the back and figured I’d give it a try.  This resulted in a struggle to get a setup not geared towards AP to work for AP and although I did have some success(see pics), I’m ready to do this thing right. Moving the entire setup and lifting the OTA up onto and off the wedge each session, not to mention getting it all polar aligned and guiding right(guiding isn’t that great on those mounts, acceptable if you tinker a while, but not great, for me anyway) is a HUGE bear. Now I’ve already settled on a mount. The Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro looks to be a very good and reliable mount for the price.  I guess the recommendations I’m really looking for are as far as which OTA to mount on top of the EQ6. I’m leaning towards the 800 Edge HD as this seems much better suited for AP, and I do love taking pics of galaxies, so I’m trying not to get too wide of a FOV. I am willing to go another route though if the advice leads me in another direction. Basically what I’m looking for is this… I want some thing that will still be able to get decent pictures of galaxies, but be able to fit slightly larger targets like some of the mid sized nebula, things like that. I’ll be imaging with a Canon 5D MkII and I have the Orion 80mm compact refractor/SSAG Pro Mono for my guide package. For really wide field I do have the option of using my 200mm telephoto piggyback. I should also mention that even though starting AP with 11”SCT is usually a “hobby killer” for it’s difficulty, I did manage some success with it, so I’m still willing to give a smaller one on a better mount a try. But any recommendations are much appreciated!

 

  Clear Skies Everyone!!!

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#2 Huangdi

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 07:48 AM

I wouldn't say that using a fork mount on a wedge is (much) more of a hassle than using a GEM. However you're right that the 8" edge will be easier to handle for AP.

You already got some nice results with the 11" and you know what you want to image (galaxies), so the 8" will be fine. The only issue with the gear you mentioned I see is the camera.

Shooting at F10 is really, really slow. That's why you want to shoot with a reducer. A reducer won't let you shoot with a full frame camera, because the image circle is smaller. Additionally, a full frame camera really is unnecessary for galaxies, because of their size. A ZWO ASI 1600 will be better suited for the scope.

I think the guiding setup you mentioned is fine (although OAG is better) and the mount you mentioned will handle the scope well.
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#3 bobzeq25

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 08:54 AM

This resulted in a struggle to get a setup not geared towards AP to work for AP and although I did have some success(see pics), I’m ready to do this thing right. Moving the entire setup and lifting the OTA up onto and off the wedge each session, not to mention getting it all polar aligned and guiding right(guiding isn’t that great on those mounts, acceptable if you tinker a while, but not great, for me anyway) is a HUGE bear. Now I’ve already settled on a mount. The Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro looks to be a very good and reliable mount for the price.  I guess the recommendations I’m really looking for are as far as which OTA to mount on top of the EQ6. I’m leaning towards the 800 Edge HD as this seems much better suited for AP, and I do love taking pics of galaxies, so I’m trying not to get too wide of a FOV. I am willing to go another route though if the advice leads me in another direction. Basically what I’m looking for is this… I want some thing that will still be able to get decent pictures of galaxies, but be able to fit slightly larger targets like some of the mid sized nebula, things like that.

I'm responding to this, and the "any recommendations" thing.  <smile>

 

You've seen the difficulty getting started with the 11 on a wedge.  The 8 on the EQ6-R will be somewhat easier, but still hard.  The guidescope may work, but you may need on off axis guider, which will require a better guide camera.  As stated above, most people use a reducer to speed up F10 scopes.  Finally, "mid-sized" nebulae may be larger than you think.

 

You seem to have a healthy budget.

 

All that combined leads me to suggest something like this, for right now.  It will work with your autoguiding setup.  It will do fine on larger galaxies or galaxy groups like the Leo Trio.  It will make life _much_ easier.  If your goal is to do nice images of small galaxies with a big scope, you'll reach it faster and better if you start out small.

 

https://www.skywatch...t-apo-refractor

 

My image of the Leo Trio with a 100mm below.  The CN jpg is poor, here's fullsized, with details.  Older image, these days I wouldn't darken the background that much.  Click on either image for a bigger version.

 

https://www.astrobin.com/342050/F

 

There are cheaper 100mms (which would be fine), this one is so good you'll see where you have issues.  There will be issues.  <smile>

 

Fellow professor, here are my two favorite books, from an extensive bookshelf.  Both spend a good deal of time on processing, which is half the game.  Basic book, and not so basic.  The first will be the best $40 you'll ever spend in DSO AP.  <grin>
 

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/0999470906/

 

https://www.amazon.c...h/dp/1138055360

 

For processing I suggest either the easy to learn, and good, Astro Pixel Processor, or the excellent, but really hard to learn PixInsight.  There are serious advantages to an astrophotography specific program that stacks and processes, and has an excellent gradient reduction tool.  If you do go PI, I recommend the next book.  It will teach you enough to make fine images, but is not comprehensive.  You can only do so much with PI in 350 pages.  <smiling, but not kidding>

 

https://www.amazon.c...y/dp/3319976885

 

Leo Trio V6.jpg


Edited by bobzeq25, 05 August 2020 - 09:03 AM.


#4 Gipht

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 09:04 AM

Very good pictures professor.  I think the  full frame and SCT would be a workable solution, although not the easiest to pull off.  One of the difficulties with an SCT is the stability of the focus with changes of temperature.  Many people using SCT's implement automatic focus equipment.

 

The large pixel size of the 5D does require some focal length to achieve the highest resolution.  With the 8" edge you would be imaging at just under 1"/pixel, which is about right for good seeing conditions, but is under  sampling for excellent seeing conditions.

 

If you were to purchase an ASI183MC-Pro and an 8" f/4 reflector you would have about a 0.6"/pixel resolution with the astronomy camera, and could use your 5D for the larger targets.  If you were to consider this option, avoid reflector options with cheap focusers.


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#5 Professor2112

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 10:01 AM

Well some extremely useful input so far! This is exactly the type of advice I so desperately need lol.gif  I don’t have time for a proper reply as I’m on break at work, but I will get back to the topic as soon as I have some free time! Thank you very much everyone and clear skies!


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#6 Professor2112

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 07:17 PM

I wouldn't say that using a fork mount on a wedge is (much) more of a hassle than using a GEM. However you're right that the 8" edge will be easier to handle for AP.

You already got some nice results with the 11" and you know what you want to image (galaxies), so the 8" will be fine. The only issue with the gear you mentioned I see is the camera.

Shooting at F10 is really, really slow. That's why you want to shoot with a reducer. A reducer won't let you shoot with a full frame camera, because the image circle is smaller. Additionally, a full frame camera really is unnecessary for galaxies, because of their size. A ZWO ASI 1600 will be better suited for the scope.

I think the guiding setup you mentioned is fine (although OAG is better) and the mount you mentioned will handle the scope well.

You know, I’ve had those thoughts in the back of my mind about the camera for a little while now, I’ve actually bookmarked the ZWO ASI071MC Pro Color Astronomy Camera as one of my top picks. Maybe I should look into making it more of a priority as well. I should also mention that I do also have a Canon 60D unmodded that I used when I first started AP. Maybe I could use that until I have funds for a dedicated astronomy camera. Thanks for the advice!

 

I'm responding to this, and the "any recommendations" thing.  <smile>

 

You've seen the difficulty getting started with the 11 on a wedge.  The 8 on the EQ6-R will be somewhat easier, but still hard.  The guidescope may work, but you may need on off axis guider, which will require a better guide camera.  As stated above, most people use a reducer to speed up F10 scopes.  Finally, "mid-sized" nebulae may be larger than you think.

 

You seem to have a healthy budget.

 

All that combined leads me to suggest something like this, for right now.  It will work with your autoguiding setup.  It will do fine on larger galaxies or galaxy groups like the Leo Trio.  It will make life _much_ easier.  If your goal is to do nice images of small galaxies with a big scope, you'll reach it faster and better if you start out small.

 

https://www.skywatch...t-apo-refractor

 

My image of the Leo Trio with a 100mm below.  The CN jpg is poor, here's fullsized, with details.  Older image, these days I wouldn't darken the background that much.  Click on either image for a bigger version.

 

https://www.astrobin.com/342050/F

 

There are cheaper 100mms (which would be fine), this one is so good you'll see where you have issues.  There will be issues.  <smile>

 

Fellow professor, here are my two favorite books, from an extensive bookshelf.  Both spend a good deal of time on processing, which is half the game.  Basic book, and not so basic.  The first will be the best $40 you'll ever spend in DSO AP.  <grin>
 

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/0999470906/

 

https://www.amazon.c...h/dp/1138055360

 

For processing I suggest either the easy to learn, and good, Astro Pixel Processor, or the excellent, but really hard to learn PixInsight.  There are serious advantages to an astrophotography specific program that stacks and processes, and has an excellent gradient reduction tool.  If you do go PI, I recommend the next book.  It will teach you enough to make fine images, but is not comprehensive.  You can only do so much with PI in 350 pages.  <smiling, but not kidding>

 

https://www.amazon.c...y/dp/3319976885

 

attachicon.gifLeo Trio V6.jpg

I should have mentioned budget! I do have an okay budget. The prices of the mount and OTA I’ve suggested are about as high as I’d like to go.. for now cool.gif  With that in mind, I actually like the idea of imaging through a scope like that, it seems like a very pleasant and rewarding experience! One of the reasons for this new setup is the versatility of being able to own multiple OTAs and just swap them out depending on the target. So I’ve bookmarked that scope for a definite upgrade in the future.

 

As far as the guide camera, I hoped the SSAG pro mono would be sensitive enough should I need to go the OAG route, but wasn’t sure. What kind of camera would be better suited for the job?

 

Also, very nice picture! Definitely gives people something to reach towards.. I have to admit, I’m a pretty fast learner when it comes to the hardware and the actual acquisition of data, but processing that data is a whole different story. I know I have a very long way to go there and it’ll be much slower learning. But I know it’ll be worth it. I’m actually in the middle of reading “Making Every Photon Count” and definitely want to check out your recommendations. Thank you so much for all the valuable advice!

 

 

 

Very good pictures professor.  I think the  full frame and SCT would be a workable solution, although not the easiest to pull off.  One of the difficulties with an SCT is the stability of the focus with changes of temperature.  Many people using SCT's implement automatic focus equipment.

 

The large pixel size of the 5D does require some focal length to achieve the highest resolution.  With the 8" edge you would be imaging at just under 1"/pixel, which is about right for good seeing conditions, but is under  sampling for excellent seeing conditions.

 

If you were to purchase an ASI183MC-Pro and an 8" f/4 reflector you would have about a 0.6"/pixel resolution with the astronomy camera, and could use your 5D for the larger targets.  If you were to consider this option, avoid reflector options with cheap focusers.

That’s very interesting to know about the pixel scale and the 5D. I’ve just recently started to comprehend all the pixel scale jargon and what not. It’s actually how I came to a decision on my guide package. I was able to find a set up with a ratio that was acceptable. Like I said to Huangdi, I’ve been looking a little bit into a dedicated astro cam, and really like the ZWO ASI071MC Pro Color Astronomy Camera. 




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