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Beginning Astrophotography

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#1 shortStack

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 08:15 PM

Hey guys!

 

   I inherited a Questar from my Grandfather and wanted to start using it. A friend who was doing astrophotography told me to come here in order to get help.

 

   I have spent some time looking into the equipment necessary and I think I already have all of it or can get/make it for relatively cheap(no clue how to use it, Still have to read through the guides for that). This is the list of the things I think I need, I feel like I must be missing something?

-Scope: Questar (have)

-Camera: Nikon D600 (have)

-Camera to Scope adapter (This just slides over the eye tube thing right? I can easily 3d print that)

Do I need to make a star tracker? I was thinking about DIYing one using Open Star Tracker

 

 

Also, what are the software that stack the images called, and what do you guys recommend?

 

Thanks for the help!!

 



#2 rich.g2

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 09:09 PM

First let me say I envy your Questar!  I've never had the chance to even look through one.

 

Now onto AP questions.  Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) is a good place to start stacking your pictures.  It handles the NEF (RAW) format that NIKON uses.  Always shoot RAW.  There are other better and more expensive software, but you can grow into that. Photoshop is also useful if you have access to it.

 

If you have any long lenses, try shooting night shots with those lenses before coupling the camera to the Questar.  Even if you’ve just got the kit lens try some exposures with it to get a feel for night sky photography.

 

Not familiar with the Questar focusing mechanics, but I would be concerned about its ability to keep focus with a fairly heavy camera.  Along those lines, the full frame D600 could be noticeably vignetted because suspect the questar focuser is not an optimum diameter compared to the full frame camera.  Next, the adapter would need to slide “into” the focuser in order to focus the image.  Many scopes offer a T-ring adapter that securely connects the camera to the focuser.  I also wonder if you have enough back focus to achieve focus.  
 

I hope another user lucky enough to also have a Questar will be able to answer a number of these questions.

 

Did your Questar come with a tripod?.  At its focal length, you’ll need a sturdy tripod just to get a non-blurry shot.  Also, you’ll need to use a remote. 

 

Without a means to follow the stars, you’ll be limited to fairly short exposures, especially with the very slow focal ratio of the Questar.

 

If you have a local astronomy club, they will be a goldmine of information

 

I don’t want to discourage you, but there are some pretty good challenges on the path you’ve proposed.

 

 Best advice... read, read,  read.    try something....  keep reading and try again. 


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#3 shortStack

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 12:38 AM

Thanks for the advice Rich!!

 

 

If you have any long lenses, try shooting night shots with those lenses before coupling the camera to the Questar.  Even if you’ve just got the kit lens try some exposures with it to get a feel for night sky photography.

Definatly will try this. I'm guessing max focal width and high ISO?

 

 


Without a means to follow the stars, you’ll be limited to fairly short exposures, especially with the very slow focal ratio of the Questar.

The Questar spins on its tripod, is this star tracking? or should I take the scope off the tripod and make a star tracker for it? Also, how many seconds am I looking at?

 

 

I can't wait to get this scope working. I feel like it would be a disservice not to.
 



#4 spereira

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 07:06 AM

Putting a DSLR camera on a Questar will add a lot of weight.  You may want to consider a small astro-specific camera instead.

 

There is a forum here dedicated to the Questar, and some excellent imagers post there.  Take a look and ask some questions there - I'm sure that you'll get a ton of attention and assistance.

 

https://www.cloudyni...-questar-forum/

 

Clear & steady skies!

 

smp



#5 kathyastro

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 08:27 AM

I haven't seen a Questar "live", but from the photos I have seen, it came with an alt-az base with a clock drive, and some legs that could be spread to form a makeshift wedge in order to provide equatorial tracking from a tabletop.  Adding the off-balance weight of a camera will likely require you to make a proper wedge that will support it at the correct angle for your latitude.

 

If the motor drive is still functional, it will track stars, provided that you have properly polar aligned it.  Polar-aligning a wedged fork mount is tricky, and will require some practice.

 

The camera adapter would be used in place of an eyepiece.  You don't want to get into "eyepiece projection" photography.  Prime focus is easier and gives better results.  I don't know what kind of adapters are on the back of a Questar that you could attach a camera adapter to.  The normal configuration for mounting a camera on a scope requires a brand-specific T-ring for the camera, and an adapter that converts the T-thread of the ring to whatever the scope needs.  The adapter also gives you the spacing you need to focus.  The Questar, being a Mak, probably has a large focus range, but you may have to experiment to find a suitable distance.



#6 rich.g2

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 09:30 AM

Shortstack:

 

Definatly will try this. I'm guessing max focal width and high ISO?

 

With many lenses, you’ll want to drop at least 1 f-stop short of max open.  ISO needs to be high, exposure time will vary with your sky’s level of light pollution.  

 

The bigger problem is going to be focus.  Start with a bright star or the moon and use live view.  Zoom way in and try to get as sharp a focus as you can.

 

You mentioned you had a 3D printer.  Find a Bahtinov mask generator and print one for your lens.  This will allow you to get a much better focus than eyeballing thru Live View Zoom.

 

 

The Questar spins on its tripod, is this star tracking? or should I take the scope off the tripod and make a star tracker for it? Also, how many seconds am I looking at?

 

If the mount is motorized, it very well may will track the stars in alt-az mode.  If I remember correctly, some of the Questar”s had a simple wedge type mount as well.  Either way, You’ll need to try and Polar Align the mount.  The idea is to point the mount (including scope and camera) as close as possible to Polaris.  The true North Pole is really off center from Polaris, but it will due for now.

 

As noted earlier the Questar specific forum will be a great resource.

 

Regardless of your first shots (good or bad). Keep at it.  Shoot, experiment, learn, try again.  AP is not a “one-shot” art.  

 

Good luck.



#7 Sacred Heart

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Posted 16 August 2020 - 10:06 AM

First, congratulations on the 3.5 Questar.  I have one, mine is roughly 20 years old. It runs off of 120v wall current.  Do you have any photographic coupling tubes??  To connect to the rear cell, straight out the back.   A DSLR is kind of heavy,  you will need to use ankle/wrist weights, sand bags, to counter balance the tube. You can wrap them on the dewcap that slides over the tube with velcro.  Or you can get a declination lock from Jim at Questar, the coupling tubes and T adapter as well.  T adapter is specific to your camera.

    With the camera out the back, you can parfocal an eyepiece to the camera.  Do this during the day light hours, aim at something far away, 1/2 mile to a mile. That way at night you just focus using the eyepiece, flip the levers and you are taking photos.  You may want to put the solar filter lever up to block stray light from coming in through the finder mirror. 

    Questar accessories are not cheap.  They are their own animal, their threads on the couplers and eyepieces are not the same as everyone elses.  After you get comfortable using your camera you may want to invest in a light weight astro camera, to get out of the counter balance issues.

    Another thing is your Questar 3.5 a duplex??  Meaning the barrel will come off the fork mount and can be put on a equatorial telescope mount.  Do you have a good photo tripod??  One that can hold 12lbs at your angle of latitude??

Iam sorry for the long message,  alot of info here. Take time to digest it.   The 3.5 is a good little portable viewing scope.   Look at the moon, if you have a lunar filter great, if not wear sunglasses.  The Questar is a fine instrument,  setting circle are accurate.

Enjoy,  Joe



#8 shortStack

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Posted 04 September 2020 - 03:47 PM

Thank you everyone for the input!!

Sorry for the slow reply, ive had a lot of work from online classes lateley and had little free time.

I will go ask this question on the questar forum.




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