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Help me choose

astrophotography beginner equipment mount
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#1 alex_da_fixeru

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 01:56 PM

Hi, guys!
 

I want to start with the right foot in gazing at the stars and maybe a bit of astrophotography - but this is not the main issue. I am torn between what to choose for the first setup. My choices are:
 

1. Mount and tripod: Explore Scientific Montura iEXOS-100 PMC-8 Wi-Fi GoTo +

    Omegon Telescop ProNewton N 153/900 or
    Skywatcher Telescop N 130/650 Explorer 130PDS or

    Newton Skywatcher 150/750 PDS

2. Celestron Telescop N 130/650 NexStar 130 SLT GoTo or
    Skywatcher Telescop N 150/750 Star Discovery P1 50i SynScan WiFi GoTo

My main interest would be exploring the night sky with my daughter and maybe dabble in astrophotography. I really like that eq mount of the iEXOS.
What would you suggest that would be the best combination? Feel free to suggest different setups, but the budget is limited and I am within bounds with this combinations.

 

Thank you!

 

Best regards,

Alex



#2 db2005

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 02:41 PM

Welcome to the forum, Alex!

 

It's really nice to see an aspiring beginner who hasn't gone completely overboard dreaming about a huge telescope. All the telescopes listed are "small enough" to be managable for most beginners, yet "large enough" to be useful for enjoying the night sky. Well done!

 

A few things to note:

  • Using a newtonian telescope on an equatorial mount can be slightly uncomfortable, because of the awkward observing positions and the need to do meridian flips when moving between the east/west part of the sky. I find that an alt-az mount is somewhat more comfortable to use.
  • Visual astronomy and astro-photography are completely different games. This is not to say you can't snap a few pictures of the moon through the eyepiece with your cell-phone, but if you want more than that, complexity and price will increase rapidly. To keep your options open for attaching a camera, one of the PDS Newtonians is a better choice because they have a 2" focuser and are "designed" for AP. But for visual use they will perform slightly worse due to a fairly large central obstruction which steals contrast (I actually own a 130 PDS, so I speak from personal experience)
  • For maximum ease of use and setup, a good quality 80 mm ~f/11 achromatic refractor on an alt-az mount is also worth considering. IME planetary contrast and double-star performance on such a scope is visibly better than a fast Newt of significantly larger aperture. But performance on faint objects will be worse.
  • To save money, weight and complexity, it's worth considering getting a manual mount instead of a computer-controlled mount. You'll likely want to start with easy targets like the moon and planets, bright clusters and easy-to-find double stars anyway, which don't require Goto to find.
  • How about a Dob? A decent 6" f/8 is almost cheap as chips and will outperform every scope on your list for visual use due to its smaller central obstruction. This could save some money for eyepieces which you will soon want too. Also, at f/8, collimation isn't going to be as critical as with faster scopes.

Clear Skies,

Daniel


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#3 ShaulaB

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 02:59 PM

Yes to what Daniel said.

How old is your daughter? A 13 year old will understand and appreciate objects in the eyepiece more than a 5 year old. Usually kids third grade and up understand that planets are places in our solar system, and nebulae are lit up gas clouds.

You can use a 6 inch f8 Dobsonian to view all 110 Messier objects and much more. You can get decent magnification of planets and the Moon. Electronic computer controls are great, until they have hiccups or glitches. It is frustrating when you question yourself-'is it me messing up or is it the mount. For a novice, troubleshooting can be a problem.

Whatever you choose, enjoy it! If you already have a DSLR camera, you can start out in astrophotography with that. Then investigate what else you can do.
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#4 alex_da_fixeru

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 01:50 AM

Welcome to the forum, Alex!

 

It's really nice to see an aspiring beginner who hasn't gone completely overboard dreaming about a huge telescope. All the telescopes listed are "small enough" to be managable for most beginners, yet "large enough" to be useful for enjoying the night sky. Well done!

 

A few things to note:

  • Using a newtonian telescope on an equatorial mount can be slightly uncomfortable, because of the awkward observing positions and the need to do meridian flips when moving between the east/west part of the sky. I find that an alt-az mount is somewhat more comfortable to use.
  • Visual astronomy and astro-photography are completely different games. This is not to say you can't snap a few pictures of the moon through the eyepiece with your cell-phone, but if you want more than that, complexity and price will increase rapidly. To keep your options open for attaching a camera, one of the PDS Newtonians is a better choice because they have a 2" focuser and are "designed" for AP. But for visual use they will perform slightly worse due to a fairly large central obstruction which steals contrast (I actually own a 130 PDS, so I speak from personal experience)
  • For maximum ease of use and setup, a good quality 80 mm ~f/11 achromatic refractor on an alt-az mount is also worth considering. IME planetary contrast and double-star performance on such a scope is visibly better than a fast Newt of significantly larger aperture. But performance on faint objects will be worse.
  • To save money, weight and complexity, it's worth considering getting a manual mount instead of a computer-controlled mount. You'll likely want to start with easy targets like the moon and planets, bright clusters and easy-to-find double stars anyway, which don't require Goto to find.
  • How about a Dob? A decent 6" f/8 is almost cheap as chips and will outperform every scope on your list for visual use due to its smaller central obstruction. This could save some money for eyepieces which you will soon want too. Also, at f/8, collimation isn't going to be as critical as with faster scopes.

Clear Skies,

Daniel

Hi, Daniel!

 

Thank you for your input! I am a photographer by trade, so photo equipment and computers are not a problem (maybe a storage problem, haha). From what I've read, the eq mount is better for astro-photography, that's why I am inclined to it. And I really like the idea to connect it to the laptop and use softwares like SharpCap and/or NINA.
Dobs are a little to big to store :) 

I was looking through the refractors and this guys caught my eyes:
Bresser AC 127L/1200 Messier Hexafoc and
Orion AC 120/600

What do you think?


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#5 alex_da_fixeru

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 01:53 AM

Yes to what Daniel said.

How old is your daughter? A 13 year old will understand and appreciate objects in the eyepiece more than a 5 year old. Usually kids third grade and up understand that planets are places in our solar system, and nebulae are lit up gas clouds.

You can use a 6 inch f8 Dobsonian to view all 110 Messier objects and much more. You can get decent magnification of planets and the Moon. Electronic computer controls are great, until they have hiccups or glitches. It is frustrating when you question yourself-'is it me messing up or is it the mount. For a novice, troubleshooting can be a problem.

Whatever you choose, enjoy it! If you already have a DSLR camera, you can start out in astrophotography with that. Then investigate what else you can do.

Hi, Shaula!
Thank you for your input. My daughter is 8 years old... and already likes to read about planets and stars. As I told Daniel, I am a photographer, so photo equipment isn't an issue here.



#6 db2005

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 02:19 AM


I was looking through the refractors and this guys caught my eyes:
Bresser AC 127L/1200 Messier Hexafoc and
Orion AC 120/600

What do you think?

 

A 127/1200 refractor is a powerful instrument, but it's pretty large and bulky if you haven't seen one in real life. Certainly at least as bulky (with mount and tripod) as a 6" f/8 Dob. The 120/600 is smaller and much more manageable but still requires a solid mount. It's primarily a wide-field scope for low magnification (such as scanning star fields and looking at large clusters), so it's a bit of a one-trick-horse.

 

Re storing dobs: You can get collapsible dobs.

 

If at all possible, I would advice considering going to a brick-and-mortar store to see the different scopes in real life. You may be surprised by the size of the scopes and by the differences in terms of how comfortable they are to move, set up and operate.


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#7 SeattleScott

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 07:53 AM

Dobs are super easy to store, especially the smaller solid tube ones that can just sit in their base. Hauling them to dark skies can be an issue as the tube takes the entire back seat, so if your daughter is too young to ride up front and you don’t have a truck or minivan, that can be a problem.

Newts and Eq mounts are not an ideal combination, but they work okay in the 5-6” aperture range. The tube is small enough you can usually contort around it without having to rotate. Might be a problem for a shorter child though, especially as reflectors require viewing through the top of the tube. I tend to use refractors or Maks when out with the kids. Just easier for them.

The drawback of that particular mount is that it is really designed to be used as GoTo only. Personally I prefer Eq mounts that can be used as GoTo or just manually with tracking. Sometimes I don’t feel like messing with a GoTo alignment, or sometimes I have technical difficulties with the GoTo alignment (often user error). So having the option of going manual is nice.

Scott
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#8 Eddgie

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 09:31 AM

The Explore Scientific Montura iEXOS-100 PMC-8 Wi-Fi GoTo mount will likely not be a good choice for imaging with any of the telescopes you mentioned with it.  It just won't have the stability and as others have said, viewing through a Newtinian on a GEM can be ergonomically unpleasant.

 

The Newtonians that are on Alt-az mounts will be much more comfortable for visual work, but not at all suitable for long exposure imaging. 

 

So, either you should take imaging off the table for now and turn towards a more capable telescope or take the Newtonian off the table and focus on a telescope that is more in line with the mount capabilities.  This though means a smaller scope that won't be as enjoyable for visual observing. 

 

A compromise there is to get a smaller scope on the GEM and couple it with an imager like the Revolution 2.  The Rev 2 is an EAA camera which can show objects with a very short integration time.  For example, if you used an inexpensive 80mm ED scope on the ES mount, you could get near real time images of many interesting subjects. 

 

 

https://www.revoluti...com/products/r2

 

And that would be my advice.   Light pollution can make telescopes very unrewarding for visual use but if you live under dark skies, even an 80mm telescope can be fun to use.  Under brighter skies though, an EAA camera like the R2 on a Go2 mount can let you explore some beautiful sights.  

 

And if you decide to go towards a more capable telescope, something like the Orion Intelliscopes that have object locators can help you find things to see and while it does not track, in an 8" scope, it is pretty easy to push the scope along with the target.  You can even do a little EAA with an intelliscope, but you are more limited to brighter objects. It would also provide really good planetary views

 

https://www.telescop...pe/p/102012.uts


Edited by Eddgie, 06 August 2020 - 09:35 AM.

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#9 alex_da_fixeru

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 12:17 AM

A 127/1200 refractor is a powerful instrument, but it's pretty large and bulky if you haven't seen one in real life. Certainly at least as bulky (with mount and tripod) as a 6" f/8 Dob. The 120/600 is smaller and much more manageable but still requires a solid mount. It's primarily a wide-field scope for low magnification (such as scanning star fields and looking at large clusters), so it's a bit of a one-trick-horse.

 

Re storing dobs: You can get collapsible dobs.

 

If at all possible, I would advice considering going to a brick-and-mortar store to see the different scopes in real life. You may be surprised by the size of the scopes and by the differences in terms of how comfortable they are to move, set up and operate.

 

 

Dobs are super easy to store, especially the smaller solid tube ones that can just sit in their base. Hauling them to dark skies can be an issue as the tube takes the entire back seat, so if your daughter is too young to ride up front and you don’t have a truck or minivan, that can be a problem.

Newts and Eq mounts are not an ideal combination, but they work okay in the 5-6” aperture range. The tube is small enough you can usually contort around it without having to rotate. Might be a problem for a shorter child though, especially as reflectors require viewing through the top of the tube. I tend to use refractors or Maks when out with the kids. Just easier for them.

The drawback of that particular mount is that it is really designed to be used as GoTo only. Personally I prefer Eq mounts that can be used as GoTo or just manually with tracking. Sometimes I don’t feel like messing with a GoTo alignment, or sometimes I have technical difficulties with the GoTo alignment (often user error). So having the option of going manual is nice.

Scott

I have taken into consideration the collapsible dobs when I began the research, but I live on the sea shore, so dust and sand on exposed mirrors would be a nightmare. Thank you, Daniel for the heads-up on the weight of the Bresser. What do you think of the Orion refractor 120/600? With my photo equipment I can get to 450 mm focal length, so anything below 600 doesn't make sense for me.



#10 alex_da_fixeru

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 12:21 AM

The Explore Scientific Montura iEXOS-100 PMC-8 Wi-Fi GoTo mount will likely not be a good choice for imaging with any of the telescopes you mentioned with it.  It just won't have the stability and as others have said, viewing through a Newtinian on a GEM can be ergonomically unpleasant.

 

The Newtonians that are on Alt-az mounts will be much more comfortable for visual work, but not at all suitable for long exposure imaging. 

 

So, either you should take imaging off the table for now and turn towards a more capable telescope or take the Newtonian off the table and focus on a telescope that is more in line with the mount capabilities.  This though means a smaller scope that won't be as enjoyable for visual observing. 

 

A compromise there is to get a smaller scope on the GEM and couple it with an imager like the Revolution 2.  The Rev 2 is an EAA camera which can show objects with a very short integration time.  For example, if you used an inexpensive 80mm ED scope on the ES mount, you could get near real time images of many interesting subjects. 

 

 

https://www.revoluti...com/products/r2

 

And that would be my advice.   Light pollution can make telescopes very unrewarding for visual use but if you live under dark skies, even an 80mm telescope can be fun to use.  Under brighter skies though, an EAA camera like the R2 on a Go2 mount can let you explore some beautiful sights.  

 

And if you decide to go towards a more capable telescope, something like the Orion Intelliscopes that have object locators can help you find things to see and while it does not track, in an 8" scope, it is pretty easy to push the scope along with the target.  You can even do a little EAA with an intelliscope, but you are more limited to brighter objects. It would also provide really good planetary views

 

https://www.telescop...pe/p/102012.uts

I can hook up one of my photo cameras as EAA. I've got my eyes on the Orion 120/600 refractor. What do you think?



#11 SeattleScott

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 01:13 AM

Lot of CA. Not the end of the world for EAA but will cause issues unless you do narrowband imaging. That’s really about as detailed as I should get considering this is the beginner forum. But you can research or ask for more details in EAA forum.
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#12 db2005

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:02 AM

The 120/600 mm refractor is not really suited for AP. As SeattleScott says: Lot of CA. And false color is likely going to be worse photographically than visually. If the instrument should be decent visually and photographically as well, a reflector (which has no CA) is the natural choice within your limited budget.

 

Your location close to the sea shore is a valid concern. You may benefit from a closed tube design, such as a refractor or an MCT. An MCT provides sharp, contrasty views and virtually no CA and is fairly affordable compared with refractors (for example, take a look at the Skymax 102 and 127). MCTs do have some other minor quirks though, most importantly their limited field of view (and being a slow scope, typically f/12 or slower) and thermal issues. The limited field of view isn't going to be a problem unless you plan on framing objects larger than approximately ~1 degree, twice the size of the full moon. Dew and thermal issues can be dealt with too fairly easily. As an added bonus, the observing position on an MCT is very comfortable because the tube is short and you observe from the back of the tube. And they are cute.


Edited by db2005, 07 August 2020 - 04:07 AM.

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#13 alex_da_fixeru

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Posted 10 August 2020 - 01:12 AM

And after careful research and consideration I completely changed my mind :) Sooooo.... apochromatic refractors:

 

Skywatcher EvoStar ED-APO 80/600

TS Optics Refractor acromat AP 80/560 Photoline

TS Optics Refractor acromat AP 80/560 ED

 

Interested in your opinions, experiences with them... any input is appreciated.

Thank you!



#14 db2005

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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:06 AM

The Skywatcher/Orion 80ED on top of your list is a classic - it's the ED scope that marked the beginning of the age of decent affordable ED scopes. I can't see how you can go wrong with that scope - I owned one for several years as my primary scope and was a very decent scope for its price. I only sold it after I got a Vixen SD81S which was better on all optical parameters.

 

I have no experience with the other scopes, but judging from specs they would all seem like good choices.


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