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#1 gnome

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 08:58 PM

Hello all, I've been lurking and now its time to post. Sorry for yet another 'help me decide my setup' post, but I haven't found a good discussion that follows what I'm looking at. I'm unable to come to a clear decision about what to purchase, and given the current backorder status of everything I want to get in the right waiting line.

 

My primary goal is visual, with some lightweight astrophotography (yeah, I know you shouldn't start there, but I have to be honest and will attempt it no matter what I get). I'm also a casual photographer (hence the desire to do some AP), and the lesson I've learned with equipment is to get something more in the middle of the line that doesn't make you feel like you've wasted money on something lower quality than you can handle, but balance that knowing that I probably won't get the value of the more expensive professional series equipment. I also like to purchase something that is a mixture of versatile and potentially can be upgraded, should it become important. Portability would be nice, but I'm alright with something heavier if it is more versatile. I am realistic about my AP interest though, as something I'd like to learn and do occasionally and with easier targets.

 

I've been looking at the 6SE as the low end (it sounds like a wonderful, portable option), but its not a great option to pair with my DSLR. 8SE sounds a little too unwieldy for the mount, so I've eliminated it. Then I look at the AVX 6, 8, or even 9.25 and see mixed reviews on the mount (though it is equatorial so thats helpful for photography, it doesn't sound like its very smooth). Then I see the EdgeHD options, which increase not only the price of the optics but also the accessories. If I really want to do some deep space AP after a while I know I'll need a different scope to do it well, and would like the reassurance that my mount can handle it.

 

Given all of these details, I'm struggling to decide how much to invest. I'd like to keep it under 2k, but could bend that a little bit if necessary. I mostly don't want to spend more unnecessarily. If I don't do much AP then something like the 6SE would probably be more than functional (so why spent the extra money?). However, it likely means I'll be left wanting to buy another scope and mount for AP, and I'll end up spending more in the long term.

 

I know this sounds like a Dear Abby post, but any guidance or additional thoughts on what might work best would be appreciated! 



#2 Gary Z

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 09:26 PM

Welcome!!!

 

So you've done some homework as what you want to spend and what works for starting out.  To be honest, stay clear of any purchases until it is clear in your mind what to get and really, what you want to accomplish.

 

If you intend to do any astrophotography you may just want to stay clear of alt az mounts.  Hey they are great for easy setup and go, but beyond solar system imaging, an EQ mount will be what you will wish you had purchased.  Maybe an 80mm refractor and something like the Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro.   This is a very capabile mount and the Celestron equivilent is the CGEMII.  The AVX paired with a small refractor will work, but won't leave much room for accurate tracking with a larger telescope.  Visually use only yes, the AVX will work.  

 

As for the wonder C6 SCT.  I love SCTs and Maksutov, but they really make doing great astrophotography (DSOs) difficult to start out with.  However, for visual use, man oh man....wonderful scopes.  

 

Should you decide that solar system imaging is what you're really going to desire, then consider the Celestron Evolution Mount with the 6 or 8 inch SCT.. The mount heads for the 6, 8, 9.25 are the same....Only the larger tripod for the 9.25" is different.  But the Evo mount is the one I use almost all the time.  Very easy to setup, very accurate in its tracking, and handles whatever I have quite easily....72mm, 80mm, 127mm Maksutov, and C8.  Great solar system imaging rig.  

 

Hope this helps.  Keep the questions coming.

 

Gary



#3 Migwan

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 09:43 PM

I'm no Abby, but understand that it would be nice to get the right scope initially and not have to go through a couple of iterations as I did.  If you go with an SCT and just want to take 30 second exposures, a used Alt Az on a wedge along with a reducer/corrector might do it for you.  So you can get started in AP on brighter objects and do some descent viewing too.

 

Those Hubble like pictures you see around here require a bit more mount and your probably going to need a second rig for that.   Whether such a rig will be pleasing enough for viewing is, well, a personal question.

 

If you started off visually with a dob, you could save some of the budget for a second rig later on.  Maybe an 80mm on an EQ.   Just a thought. 

 

Good luck

 

jd


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#4 Michael Harris

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 10:04 PM

The Evolution series is a good overall system for visual and solar system AP. Since you are an experienced photographer, you might also consider the small attachment that fits onto the optical tube and essentially adds a standard DSLR mount, with a wide field or fisheye lens you do nice exposures of the milky way and larger nebulae and galaxies while the mount tracks. You are still limited to 30” or so exposures but with a fast lens you can get some great shots.

https://optcorp.com/...QxoCc0sQAvD_BwE

I have also used the Evo 8 for solar photography with a “white light” filter (ie not Hydrogen alpha). I am a beginner/intermediate astrophotographer so my advice is to be taken with a grain of salt, but unless you want to jump into a sturdy equatorial mount and trimmings this is a good place to start. For most deep sky objects a small refractor, 80 to 90 mm, is another good option but the image scale makes planets look tiny.



#5 bobzeq25

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 10:36 PM

Hello all, I've been lurking and now its time to post. Sorry for yet another 'help me decide my setup' post, but I haven't found a good discussion that follows what I'm looking at. I'm unable to come to a clear decision about what to purchase, and given the current backorder status of everything I want to get in the right waiting line.

 

My primary goal is visual, with some lightweight astrophotography (yeah, I know you shouldn't start there, but I have to be honest and will attempt it no matter what I get). I'm also a casual photographer (hence the desire to do some AP), and the lesson I've learned with equipment is to get something more in the middle of the line that doesn't make you feel like you've wasted money on something lower quality than you can handle, but balance that knowing that I probably won't get the value of the more expensive professional series equipment. I also like to purchase something that is a mixture of versatile and potentially can be upgraded, should it become important. Portability would be nice, but I'm alright with something heavier if it is more versatile. I am realistic about my AP interest though, as something I'd like to learn and do occasionally and with easier targets.

 

I've been looking at the 6SE as the low end (it sounds like a wonderful, portable option), but its not a great option to pair with my DSLR. 8SE sounds a little too unwieldy for the mount, so I've eliminated it. Then I look at the AVX 6, 8, or even 9.25 and see mixed reviews on the mount (though it is equatorial so thats helpful for photography, it doesn't sound like its very smooth). Then I see the EdgeHD options, which increase not only the price of the optics but also the accessories. If I really want to do some deep space AP after a while I know I'll need a different scope to do it well, and would like the reassurance that my mount can handle it.

 

Given all of these details, I'm struggling to decide how much to invest. I'd like to keep it under 2k, but could bend that a little bit if necessary. I mostly don't want to spend more unnecessarily. If I don't do much AP then something like the 6SE would probably be more than functional (so why spent the extra money?). However, it likely means I'll be left wanting to buy another scope and mount for AP, and I'll end up spending more in the long term.

 

I know this sounds like a Dear Abby post, but any guidance or additional thoughts on what might work best would be appreciated! 

A few basics.

 

Visual and imaging are two completely different activities.  Unsurprisingly, they demand different setups.  The camera does not work because it's "better" than your eyes, it works because it's different.  Principally in its ability to gather data over a long time, something your eye is completely incapable of.  That difference, and the computer processing of the data gathered by the camera, have very large implications.

 

Learning imaging is different than doing imaging.  Again, different setups are best.  Analogy.  A Formula One car can go very fast, but it would be a rotten choice for learning how to drive.

 

The results of the above are fiendishly unintuitive.  A big scope is great for visual, it feeds your eyes with data very fast, which is necessary.  It's not necessary for imaging, and, for a variety of reasons, a big scope makes learning imaging quite difficult.

 

Your eyes, hooked to a smart brain, easily ignore some movement.  Dumb .005mm pixels are intolerant of the slightest movement, it really messes up the data.  For visual, the scope is the most important thing.  There are three things that are important in imaging DSOs (planets and the Moon are also very different).  The mount, the mount, and the mount.  <smile>  Tracking needs to be incredibly precise, it's uneconomic to make even gears that are "good enough".  You have to add an autoguiding system.  It monitors a guidestar, and provides feedback to the mount re mount errors.

 

Put it all together, and you have a few classic beginner mistakes (because of the unintuitive aspects).  The first two are often combined.  Putting too big a scope on an inadequate mount.  This happens.

 

"I regret spending the first 6 months trying to learn <DSO> imaging with an 8" Edge on an AVX mount. I lucked out and got one of the good AVX's, but with that scope/mount combo it was a losing effort. Fortunately got a nice little refractor, and not only have the quality of my images improved but I'm actually enjoying the process of learning how to do it!"

 

The third is trying to get one setup for both visual and learning imaging.  That goes like this.

 

"I got back into astronomy about 8 years ago with the intention of buying a scope setup that could  "here it comes, you haven't heard this from every new guy"  work great for visual AND <DSO> AP. So yeah, I bought a C11 CGE. Yeah I know :-).  I finally tried AP just 2 years ago, and it didn't take long to buy a 80ED doublet for AP duties."

 

Imaging is expensive.  The pretty pictures do not come easy.  <smile>  Here's a good introduction. 

 

https://www.astropix...bgda/index.html

 

Scroll down to the picture of the author.  That's a $500 70mm refractor on a $1200 Sirius (aka HEQ5) mount.  He didn't choose those because he had them lying around.  <smile>It's darn near an ideal setup for learning DSO AP with a scope on a low budget.  $1700 + camera (you may already have a DSLR).  Figure $2500 by the time you add this and that.

 

The inexpensive workaround is to ditch the scope and learn imaging with a camera and a lens.  The short focal length, light weight, and fast optics dramatically reduce the demands on the mount.  A $500 camera tracker works fine, no autoguiding necesary.  The book spends a good amount of time on that approach, and it's an excellent one.

 

For doing visual also, the inexpensive solution is a 6-8 inch Dobsonian.  The 6SE is a decent option.  Either could do planetary/lunar AP, the SCT is a better choice for that.

 

That's enough for now.  Do the research.  The antidote to the unintuive nature is knowledge.


Edited by bobzeq25, 13 August 2020 - 10:49 PM.

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#6 PolyWogg

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 11:04 AM

At the risk of confusing you, I have a completely different take on AP vs. visual. I think you get different advice depending on whether the advisor is:

 

a. Primarily interested in visual;

b. Does equal parts visual, but also spends a lot of time on AP; or,

c. Is hard-core AP.

 

If you think of it as a simple spectrum going from visual on one end to AP on the other, you have two extremes and the middle. Those seem like three obvious points in the spectrum, but I don't think they really are. I would instead do five points on the spectrum -- visual, 3/4 visual+1/4 AP, 1/2 visual and AP each, 1/4 visual + 1/4 AP, and AP.

 

In reading your post, I suspect I'm closer to your world than most already advising, which is why I'm throwing my two cents in. I am personally in the "first quarter club" i.e. half-way from the midpoint to visual. In other words, I am clearly primarily visual, but about 1/4 of what I do is AP. I have ALWAYS known that I prefer visual adn to the extent that I do AP, I have ZERO interest in hooking up a DSLR and laptop and a bunch of cables, letting my scope image for hours on end to see something I could just as easily download with better data from a remote site. That's not a criticism of others, I just don't enjoy that aspect.

 

For me, I am as I said primarily visual. But I'm willing to spend SOME time doing some AP (edit: I said visual here originally), and I think of it a bit like souvenir photos when I'm travelling. I have a camera, I'll snap souvenir shots, I may even spend time on composition and technique to improve things, but I am not nor will I ever be primarily a photography tourist. I am a tourist who takes some photos; equally, I am an astronomer who takes some photos.

 

There are tons of people who START saying they're just visual, but what they secretly think is that they will then go for the AP stuff later. As you've discovered, that's a great way to end up owning two telescopes. I am on the visual end, will stay on the visual end, and as a result, SCTs and Maks are GREAT choices for me, as are simple Alt-Az mounts. Highly portable, fast setup, I'm good to go quickly. A dob would also be a great value for money. If I step one step down the line from visual to 3/4 visual and 1/4 AP, I don't think the calculation shifts much. I can do smartphone stuff, point-and-shoot stuff, I can use a wedge, I've connected a simple webcam (NexImage 5) to a laptop, I've connected my DSLR. Weight is an issue for my setup but I *can* do it, and since my goal is only 1/4 AP, my combo works fine for me. I have the 8SE, my son has a 4SE with built-in wedge, I can do some stuff. I also have simple tripod options with my smartphone or camera by itself, without the scope.

 

But, as I said, I don't want to go beyond that. I already have enough gear to set up, I do not want a laptop, extra power, light shielding, more technique and software to learn, blah blah blah. I was interested enough to TRY it but not to commit to it for the hobby. I'd rather go the other way -- to a simple Dob or a 6SE over my large 8SE, not add to my gear. smile.gif At the 3/4 mark, still the same equipment options. I can do AP without being a hard-core APer.

 

However, if you are beyond that, that you think really you're at the half-way mark or even 3/4 AP or a hard-core AP who just hasn't done it yet, then there is little point in starting with a rig that doesn't support AP. Get the refractor or the big honking SCT and put whatever you need on GEM. You won't regret the visual views, maybe just the setup time, and the path to sliding into future AP is way cleaner.

 

In an ideal world, you'd be able to attend a local club's star party and see the different scopes in action...alas, that isn't possible right now.

 

TL;DR version is that if you think you'll go hard-core AP later, you might as well buy something now that goes that way anyway, without buying the AP gear yet.

 

Good luck...

 

Paul

aka PolyWogg


Edited by PolyWogg, 14 August 2020 - 05:09 PM.

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#7 Newbutnotreallynew

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 04:58 PM

At the risk of confusing you, I have a completely different take on AP vs. visual. I think you get different advice depending on whether the advisor is:

 

a. Primarily interested in visual;

b. Does equal parts visual, but also spends a lot of time on AP; or,

c. Is hard-core AP.

 

If you think of it as a simple spectrum going from visual on one end to AP on the other, you have two extremes and the middle. Those seem like three obvious points in the spectrum, but I don't think they really are. I would instead do five points on the spectrum -- visual, 3/4 visual+1/4 AP, 1/2 visual and AP each, 1/4 visual + 1/4 AP, and AP.

 

In reading your post, I suspect I'm closer to your world than most already advising, which is why I'm throwing my two cents in. I am personally in the "first quarter club" i.e. half-way from the midpoint to visual. In other words, I am clearly primarily visual, but about 1/4 of what I do is AP. I have ALWAYS known that I prefer visual adn to the extent that I do AP, I have ZERO interest in hooking up a DSLR and laptop and a bunch of cables, letting my scope image for hours on end to see something I could just as easily download with better data from a remote site. That's not a criticism of others, I just don't enjoy that aspect.

 

For me, I am as I said primarily visual. But I'm willing to spend SOME time doing some visual, and I think of it a bit like souvenir photos when I'm travelling. I have a camera, I'll snap souvenir shots, I may even spend time on composition and technique to improve things, but I am not nor will I ever be primarily a photography tourist. I am a tourist who takes some photos; equally, I am an astronomer who takes some photos.

 

There are tons of people who START saying they're just visual, but what they secretly think is that they will then go for the AP stuff later. As you've discovered, that's a great way to end up owning two telescopes. I am on the visual end, will stay on the visual end, and as a result, SCTs and Maks are GREAT choices for me, as are simple Alt-Az mounts. Highly portable, fast setup, I'm good to go quickly. A dob would also be a great value for money. If I step one step down the line from visual to 3/4 visual and 1/4 AP, I don't think the calculation shifts much. I can do smartphone stuff, point-and-shoot stuff, I can use a wedge, I've connected a simple webcam (NexImage 5) to a laptop, I've connected my DSLR. Weight is an issue for my setup but I *can* do it, and since my goal is only 1/4 AP, my combo works fine for me. I have the 8SE, my son has a 4SE with built-in wedge, I can do some stuff. I also have simple tripod options with my smartphone or camera by itself, without the scope.

 

But, as I said, I don't want to go beyond that. I already have enough gear to set up, I do not want a laptop, extra power, light shielding, more technique and software to learn, blah blah blah. I was interested enough to TRY it but not to commit to it for the hobby. I'd rather go the other way -- to a simple Dob or a 6SE over my large 8SE, not add to my gear. smile.gif At the 3/4 mark, still the same equipment options. I can do AP without being a hard-core APer.

 

However, if you are beyond that, that you think really you're at the half-way mark or even 3/4 AP or a hard-core AP who just hasn't done it yet, then there is little point in starting with a rig that doesn't support AP. Get the refractor or the big honking SCT and put whatever you need on GEM. You won't regret the visual views, maybe just the setup time, and the path to sliding into future AP is way cleaner.

 

In an ideal world, you'd be able to attend a local club's star party and see the different scopes in action...alas, that isn't possible right now.

 

TL;DR version is that if you think you'll go hard-core AP later, you might as well buy something now that goes that way anyway, without buying the AP gear yet.

 

Good luck...

 

Paul

aka PolyWogg

+100 

 

All to often newbies say they're interested in AP when really they mean they are a tourist that would like to take some souvenir photos.... space is the holiday destination and usually saturn or jupiter or the moon are the souvenir shots lol.gif  I say this with so much confidence because I was a newbie that did that crazy.gif

 

Hardcore AP'ers then (well intentionally) really run away with the fact the person said they're interested in AP forgetting most non AP people do not differentiate between holding your phone to your telescope lens and taking a picture, and actual AP. 

 

I don't know but I think it'd be a really smart thing to clarify what the OP means by AP in posts that mention or hint at "I'd one day like to dabble in AP". <<< General comment/observation/suggestion 

 

In particular to this thread I echo everything Paul said, it was very elegently explained! 


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#8 gnome

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 06:02 PM

Thanks for the thoughts so far everybody. I think I'm very close to Paul (PolyWogg) and that is a great perspective, thank you.

 

If I do AP, even with a less than ideal setup, its just for fun and I'll be happy just trying. I don't have the interest to mess with the whole gear setup. At best I'll tinker with what I can do with my DSLR, knowing that its not going to be perfect and has limited utility. I probably will study that AstroPix book, more out of curiosity. I'm a tourist for the foreseeable future.

 

That gives me more confidence to say I can go with the SE or Evo setup, and not be so worried about a GEM mount. That was part of my hangup, but now I think should the day come where I actually want to go beyond my fun tinkering with AP, I'll study, invest, and setup something correctly. I have little kids, so I don't have time to deal with it now if I wanted to. I'm proud of some of the photos I've taken with my DSLR camera while traveling, but its not the reason I travel and I spend maybe 5-10% of my time on vacation with my good camera. My photos of Neowise were passable given the limitations of exposure time on a tripod, but I'm actually content with the results (for myself at least, it isn't going to impress NatGeo).

 

The biggest lesson learned here is I probably would end up with two rigs for visual and AP (if I wanted to go that route) so I should pretend I'm not doing AP and get a great system for visual.

 

Now I'm largely settled on a SCT, 6 or 8" SE or Evo. Now what...I figured I'd be happy with 6SE overall ($800), but really would like 8SE ($1200), but it seems a bit unwieldy, but its a pretty big jump to Evo 6 ($1300) or 8 ($1700) or even 9.25 ($2200). It seems if you go Evo 8, its basically the same as AVX 8 ($1750). Then you could do Evo EdgeHD 8 ($2300) for about the same as the Evo 9.25. Advice is generally buy the most aperture you can afford, compare the onboard benefits (Evo has built in wifi/battery), compare portability needs, and watch out for some having more expensive accessories (looking at you EdgeHD). I could push my budget to get the right thing but its not clear to me when the return on the investment is really worth it. Any advice for how to reconcile these options? I've seen good reviews for all of the scopes, with the exception of SE8 being a little too big for the mount.



#9 vjstangelo

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 06:15 PM

I vote for the 6SE. They pop up used on Cloudy Nights Classified often for $400. If you get aperture fever, a C8 can be mounted lickity split.

#10 mac57

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 06:46 PM

Look at it this way, your mount for AP will cost more than a 16" Dob.  Visual and AP are two different worlds.



#11 PolyWogg

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 08:43 PM

Hello again,

 

now that you are in the mainly-visual world, with occasional forays into playing with AP, I think you have two big choices:

 

a. Full Dobsonian which gives you the biggest viewing value for your money;
b. SCT like you're considering which has better portability, comfort while using standing up, etc.

 

Since you're in the SCT world pretty quick, there was another post this week considering the SE and the EVO which I won't rehash here and you have a handle on that anyway.

 

My take is more on the 6SE and the 8SE. I have commented previously, in other threads, that for me, the 8SE is NOT "portable" but rather luggable. I'm 50 years old, I'm not the most fit guy, but I can lug it easily...I just don't WANT to lug it very far very often. If you are tossing your scope in a garage to store and then into a car to drive somewhere, portability goes way up. If you're in the backyard, where you open a shed and drag it all out, luggable is fine.

 

I have the 8SE, I love having that over the 6SE, but I would love more portability with the 6SE size. I spent a LOT of time trying to find an easy-to-transport case for the 8SE tube where I could leave my diagonal on and not worry too much about the sides and back...nor pay $300 for a case. I found a GREAT little case for it, except there was no room for foam padding. I almost cried. It would have fit a 6SE no problem for $30 with foam. It was a simple toolbox with lockable lids. Instead, I have a very large rolling case from Lowes ... I put other things in it, but the wheels are good on concrete / pavement, useless in the grass. So if I am setting up far from a car, I'm literally carrying it, so I can't put too much else in the case. For a long time, I carried everything in a soft padded gym bag / duffle bag. But I was always afraid I would bang it against something. I wanted more protection for my clumsiness. But it takes up a lot of room in the trunk. By contrast, the 6SE is compact. Heck, my son's 4SE fits inside a case with all his EPs too AND his Rigel finder. I'm not willing to go that aggressive on portability, but I often just grab his for a quick outing. I'm hoping there might be a small opportunity in my future to revisit an observatory option for the 8", but we'll see.

 

If you're fine with manual, save the $$ and get the Dob; if you want compact, get the SE; if you want convenience, get the Evo. But I would think really hard about the 6 over the 8 if you're lugging it very far. I have NO idea what the guys with 9.25" or 11" are thikning when they lug them out to as portables to distant sites.

 

P.



#12 Terrybythe sea

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 03:00 PM

"If I do AP, even with a less than ideal setup, its just for fun and I'll be happy just trying."

Some folks use EAA for that kind of dabbling in AP, and there the SE or EVO mounts are considered adequate. It basically involves using software to 'stack' a series of short exposures, so the stability of the mount is less vital than in true long-exposure AP.

https://www.cloudyni...-astronomy-eaa/

Edited by Terrybythe sea, 15 August 2020 - 03:01 PM.


#13 adiubald

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 10:16 AM

A slightly different approach to picking out your gear- This is what I do (AP or visual).

 

You need to consider the entire package (telescope and camera/ eyepieces and accessories (barlows/ reducers). 

 

For each scope and camera/ eye piece you are considering, calculate the expected field of view in arc minutes. There are many FOV calculators on the internet for both AP and visual. 

 

Then go to Stellarium and pic out some objects you think you might want to observe. Stellarium will give you the size of the object in degrees, arc minutes and arc seconds. This way you can determine if the object will fit in your FOV or not- whether you will fit just Orion's belt or the entire constellation in your field of view.   

 

Alternatively, Stellarium has an ocular calculator where you can put in the scope and eyepiece/ camera details and when you pick an object to view, it will show you your setup's FOV. 

 

The long focal length (zoom) of SCT's reduces the number of DSO's that can fit in your FOV- without adding focal reducers or modifying the SCT. 

 

If you know your setups limitations going in, it will reduce the frustration later. 



#14 lampcord

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 11:50 AM

Hello all, I've been lurking and now its time to post. Sorry for yet another 'help me decide my setup' post, but I haven't found a good discussion that follows what I'm looking at. I'm unable to come to a clear decision about what to purchase, and given the current backorder status of everything I want to get in the right waiting line.

 

My primary goal is visual, with some lightweight astrophotography (yeah, I know you shouldn't start there, but I have to be honest and will attempt it no matter what I get). I'm also a casual photographer (hence the desire to do some AP), and the lesson I've learned with equipment is to get something more in the middle of the line that doesn't make you feel like you've wasted money on something lower quality than you can handle, but balance that knowing that I probably won't get the value of the more expensive professional series equipment. I also like to purchase something that is a mixture of versatile and potentially can be upgraded, should it become important. Portability would be nice, but I'm alright with something heavier if it is more versatile. I am realistic about my AP interest though, as something I'd like to learn and do occasionally and with easier targets.

 

I've been looking at the 6SE as the low end (it sounds like a wonderful, portable option), but its not a great option to pair with my DSLR. 8SE sounds a little too unwieldy for the mount, so I've eliminated it. Then I look at the AVX 6, 8, or even 9.25 and see mixed reviews on the mount (though it is equatorial so thats helpful for photography, it doesn't sound like its very smooth). Then I see the EdgeHD options, which increase not only the price of the optics but also the accessories. If I really want to do some deep space AP after a while I know I'll need a different scope to do it well, and would like the reassurance that my mount can handle it.

 

Given all of these details, I'm struggling to decide how much to invest. I'd like to keep it under 2k, but could bend that a little bit if necessary. I mostly don't want to spend more unnecessarily. If I don't do much AP then something like the 6SE would probably be more than functional (so why spent the extra money?). However, it likely means I'll be left wanting to buy another scope and mount for AP, and I'll end up spending more in the long term.

 

I know this sounds like a Dear Abby post, but any guidance or additional thoughts on what might work best would be appreciated! 

One thing you could think about is getting a system that is future upgradeable. For example, you're considering a 6SE. For a little more you could get an 8" CST. That would provide much better viewing of solar system objects but it has one other huge advantage. If down the road you decide to get more serious about AP, you can get a hyperstar and turn it into an F/1.9 DSO scope. 

 

That might be more extreme than you are looking for but just something to keep in mind. I don't believe the 6" is Hyperstar compatible.



#15 Terrybythe sea

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 12:16 PM

I don't believe the 6" is Hyperstar compatible.


Actually it is, fwiw ...

https://starizona.com/store/hyperstar

#16 lampcord

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 12:45 PM

Actually it is, fwiw ...

https://starizona.com/store/hyperstar

Sorry, I stand corrected. And $300 cheaper. They have a pretty amazing pic of Andromeda with 15 second subs with that setup. 

 

https://starizona.co...tar/hyperstar-6


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#17 Terrybythe sea

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 01:27 PM

Yes, that is quite the shot for a C6 alright.

#18 gnome

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 08:43 PM

Thank you everyone, there is some good advice and considerations here. I'm able to tinker with a friend's 127SLT this week, which is 5", so that will help me get a sense of things better for visual.

 

A slightly different approach to picking out your gear- This is what I do (AP or visual).

 

You need to consider the entire package (telescope and camera/ eyepieces and accessories (barlows/ reducers). 

 

For each scope and camera/ eye piece you are considering, calculate the expected field of view in arc minutes. There are many FOV calculators on the internet for both AP and visual. 

 

Then go to Stellarium and pic out some objects you think you might want to observe. Stellarium will give you the size of the object in degrees, arc minutes and arc seconds. This way you can determine if the object will fit in your FOV or not- whether you will fit just Orion's belt or the entire constellation in your field of view.   

 

Alternatively, Stellarium has an ocular calculator where you can put in the scope and eyepiece/ camera details and when you pick an object to view, it will show you your setup's FOV. 

 

The long focal length (zoom) of SCT's reduces the number of DSO's that can fit in your FOV- without adding focal reducers or modifying the SCT. 

 

If you know your setups limitations going in, it will reduce the frustration later. 

This is a very helpful way to consider things, and explore a few different combinations. I want to see everything, but you are exactly right about knowing the limitations.

 

One thing you could think about is getting a system that is future upgradeable. For example, you're considering a 6SE. For a little more you could get an 8" CST. That would provide much better viewing of solar system objects but it has one other huge advantage. If down the road you decide to get more serious about AP, you can get a hyperstar and turn it into an F/1.9 DSO scope. 

 

That might be more extreme than you are looking for but just something to keep in mind. I don't believe the 6" is Hyperstar compatible.

My concern is the 8SE doesn't leave as much room for adding a camera without pushing over the mount capacity, so that seems like the Evo 8 or AVX 8 would be a requirement here. I'm not going to be lugging the scope very far, so 8" doesn't scare me.


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#19 lampcord

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Posted 19 August 2020 - 11:05 AM

Thank you everyone, there is some good advice and considerations here. I'm able to tinker with a friend's 127SLT this week, which is 5", so that will help me get a sense of things better for visual.

 

This is a very helpful way to consider things, and explore a few different combinations. I want to see everything, but you are exactly right about knowing the limitations.

 

My concern is the 8SE doesn't leave as much room for adding a camera without pushing over the mount capacity, so that seems like the Evo 8 or AVX 8 would be a requirement here. I'm not going to be lugging the scope very far, so 8" doesn't scare me.

That is a good point about the weight. I have an Evo myself so it isn't an issue with the beefier mount. But if you're still considering a 6SE, it turns out that it also supports a Hyperstar and even better, it's $300 cheaper and much smaller so that is something to consider. 

 

The one thing you may not have considered (I know I didn't even though I was warned about it) is that with an Alt / Az mount and a camera mounted on the back, you can only go up to about 62 degrees Alt before the camera starts bumping into the mount. That is one other huge advantage of using a Hyperstar. Not only do you get F 1.9 but you also get access to the clearest part of the sky.



#20 gnome

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Posted 21 August 2020 - 09:31 AM

That is a good point about the weight. I have an Evo myself so it isn't an issue with the beefier mount. But if you're still considering a 6SE, it turns out that it also supports a Hyperstar and even better, it's $300 cheaper and much smaller so that is something to consider. 

 

The one thing you may not have considered (I know I didn't even though I was warned about it) is that with an Alt / Az mount and a camera mounted on the back, you can only go up to about 62 degrees Alt before the camera starts bumping into the mount. That is one other huge advantage of using a Hyperstar. Not only do you get F 1.9 but you also get access to the clearest part of the sky.

The Hyperstar is a neat little tool, and easily a future purchase so make something more out of my SLT. That looks like both a reasonable investment and avoids needing to have a GEM, at least for a while. I haven't decided which SLT to get at this point, but I'm leaning towards Evo 8 or Evo 8HD. I'm probably going to wait for the holiday season to see if I can get a little better deal or pull the trigger when I see something in stock.

 

I went ahead and ordered a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro Pack, so I'd have something lightweight to use with wide field photography.



#21 lampcord

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Posted 21 August 2020 - 02:03 PM

The Hyperstar is a neat little tool, and easily a future purchase so make something more out of my SLT. That looks like both a reasonable investment and avoids needing to have a GEM, at least for a while. I haven't decided which SLT to get at this point, but I'm leaning towards Evo 8 or Evo 8HD. I'm probably going to wait for the holiday season to see if I can get a little better deal or pull the trigger when I see something in stock.

 

I went ahead and ordered a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro Pack, so I'd have something lightweight to use with wide field photography.

When I purchased my Evo 8HD it was $350 off. Or as I like to think of it, free StarSense. I don't know how often they have those types of sales but I get the feeling it's a few times per year.



#22 gnome

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 10:27 AM

When I purchased my Evo 8HD it was $350 off. Or as I like to think of it, free StarSense. I don't know how often they have those types of sales but I get the feeling it's a few times per year.

Is the EdgeHD worth the difference? I see opinions both ways, and know that the HD increases costs for accessories as well. For less than the 8 EdgeHD Evo, you can get the 925 Evo. Are the optics really worth it?



#23 bobzeq25

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 12:56 PM

The Hyperstar is a neat little tool, and easily a future purchase so make something more out of my SLT. That looks like both a reasonable investment and avoids needing to have a GEM, at least for a while. I haven't decided which SLT to get at this point, but I'm leaning towards Evo 8 or Evo 8HD. I'm probably going to wait for the holiday season to see if I can get a little better deal or pull the trigger when I see something in stock.

 

I went ahead and ordered a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro Pack, so I'd have something lightweight to use with wide field photography.

The Star Adventurer will enable you to do many things.

 

Dip your toe into DSO imaging, see how much you like it, and how far you might want to go.

 

Learn most all the (complicated) techniques.

 

Make some fine images.

 

This book will be helpful.

 

https://www.astropix...bgda/index.html



#24 lampcord

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 02:08 PM

Is the EdgeHD worth the difference? I see opinions both ways, and know that the HD increases costs for accessories as well. For less than the 8 EdgeHD Evo, you can get the 925 Evo. Are the optics really worth it?

That's a good question. I'm too much of a noob to answer that and my only point of reference is a 20 year old 3.5" Meade SC. 

 

If I were paying full price, that 9.25" would be very tempting. It was the steep discount on the 8HD that made my decision for me.

 

It is true that for example the .7 reducer is more expensive for the HD than the corresponding .63 for the standard 8.

OTOH, I'm pretty sure the HyperStar for the 8 costs $1000 whether it's HD or not but the 9.25 costs $1200.

 

The other thing I would think about is the weight. Which I didn't before but having lugged it up the stairs to my backyard many times I do now.

The 8HD OTA is 14 lbs but the 9.25 is 20. Add a StarSense, Focus Motor, reducer / HyperStar, camera and Finder Scope and you're getting pretty close to the 25lb. limit of the mount. Not to mention 6 more lbs to lug around.



#25 audioengr

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 06:48 PM

Thanks for the thoughts so far everybody. I think I'm very close to Paul (PolyWogg) and that is a great perspective, thank you.

 

If I do AP, even with a less than ideal setup, its just for fun and I'll be happy just trying. I don't have the interest to mess with the whole gear setup. At best I'll tinker with what I can do with my DSLR, knowing that its not going to be perfect and has limited utility. I probably will study that AstroPix book, more out of curiosity. I'm a tourist for the foreseeable future.

 

That gives me more confidence to say I can go with the SE or Evo setup, and not be so worried about a GEM mount. That was part of my hangup, but now I think should the day come where I actually want to go beyond my fun tinkering with AP, I'll study, invest, and setup something correctly. I have little kids, so I don't have time to deal with it now if I wanted to. I'm proud of some of the photos I've taken with my DSLR camera while traveling, but its not the reason I travel and I spend maybe 5-10% of my time on vacation with my good camera. My photos of Neowise were passable given the limitations of exposure time on a tripod, but I'm actually content with the results (for myself at least, it isn't going to impress NatGeo).

 

The biggest lesson learned here is I probably would end up with two rigs for visual and AP (if I wanted to go that route) so I should pretend I'm not doing AP and get a great system for visual.

 

Now I'm largely settled on a SCT, 6 or 8" SE or Evo. Now what...I figured I'd be happy with 6SE overall ($800), but really would like 8SE ($1200), but it seems a bit unwieldy, but its a pretty big jump to Evo 6 ($1300) or 8 ($1700) or even 9.25 ($2200). It seems if you go Evo 8, its basically the same as AVX 8 ($1750). Then you could do Evo EdgeHD 8 ($2300) for about the same as the Evo 9.25. Advice is generally buy the most aperture you can afford, compare the onboard benefits (Evo has built in wifi/battery), compare portability needs, and watch out for some having more expensive accessories (looking at you EdgeHD). I could push my budget to get the right thing but its not clear to me when the return on the investment is really worth it. Any advice for how to reconcile these options? I've seen good reviews for all of the scopes, with the exception of SE8 being a little too big for the mount.

 

I chose the EVO 8" Anniv. edition.  This one is loaded and three eyepieces, although I'll probably sell some of them. The optics I found was so superior on this scope that I had to do it.  The carbon-fiber tube is also lighter if you want to put it on the wedge.  LI battery so no power cables to tangle.  Control by WIFI from 2 different apps and the optional focuser is a must and not too spendy.  I had a Meade picked out and payed for and when I discovered this one, it was a no-brainer.  The Meade technology was too old.  I plan to put a wedge on it and a guider scope and do live stacking for the planets and some deep-space objects using either Sharpcap and maybe Firecapture.  With good eyepieces, like top of line Tele Vue, this scope should be killer for viewing and decent for some live imaging.  I have to haul it up and down a flight of stairs to the stardeck, so the light weight and ability to easily disassemble is a plus.


Edited by audioengr, 24 August 2020 - 06:51 PM.



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