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Is there anything rock solid out there?

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#26 nyx

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 08:56 AM

I know this is the refractor forum, and I'm a lifelong Refractor Fan, but have you looked at the EdgeHD's?

 

And, after 50 years of observing, IME the more pieces of glass you put between yourself & the object, the more problematic the views (or imaging, in your case).  I try to avoid even Barlows for high-power / planetary.  If I were you, I'd look at brand new mid-tier fast ED Triplets; or, used top-tier Fluorite Doublets, to make the videos.  Then, do the serious clean-up in post-processing.  IOW:  Gather the best data you can, then work it as best you can for the desired results.

As I mentioned on a previous post, my interest and focus is narrowband widefield imaging (nebulae only ). I need something that is "close to" grab and go, since I drive to a remote location to do all my astrophotography. Big gear like an EdgeHD along with the required mount for it is a no-go.


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#27 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 09:17 AM

I was once invited to take a private, individual tour of the Yerkes observatory in Lake Geneva several years ago. I got to see the famous 40" refractor and see and touch various historical objects stored there. The Yerkes (at that time) had an incredible R&D department in the basement and I met the guy who helped design and build the Hubble, the domes and equipment in Antarctica, and I even got to see and touch a cryogenic, infrared camera that was still being built by him for NASA. 

 

Later that afternoon I was introduced to one of the full-time astronomers employed there. She asked what I was doing later that evening/night and she invited me to test out the 40" reflector at the other end of the building (as it just had the newly polished mirror returned and installed) and do some imaging. 

 

For all the resources available to the Yerkes at that time, and having access to an incredible 40" reflector on a giant computerized mount, under a computerized, rotating dome (that shook the building when it turned) they still had some issues. For one, she could not connect her computer to the mount. At that time I was a network admin, and so together we got the computer to connect with the mount, and also connect the computer online to work in concert, real-time, with the rest of the world's observatories. We spent the rest of the night imaging a variety of DSO targets. Her specialty of study was NEO's (near earth objects). It was a night I will never forget to be sure.

 

My point is, I don't care how much money you throw at this hobby, you are going to deal with all kinds of problems regardless of budget or resources. It's all just part of the game. Looking for that "rock-solid", do-it-all scope, mount and accessories that perform flawlessly and never fail is an exercise in futility. If the Yerkes (and other professional astronomers) have issues imaging at times, what are your expectations as a hobbyist?

 

I've seen some of the most amazing astrophotos ever taken with some very meager and inexpensive equipment. Don't fuss over your equipment.

 

It's not what you have. It's what you do with it.


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#28 starryhtx

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 09:32 AM

I think Stellarvue is probably the best. Takahashi is good but they have flaws too.



#29 RichardE

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 10:09 AM

This is the deal:

 

Standard refractors (doublets and triplets) have a curved focal plane.  At a focal length of 480mm, 15mm off-axis, the stars will be about 0.7mm out of focus.

 

To provide a flat field, you can either purchase a field flattener and deal with setting it up properly.  That is generally the more affordable option.

 

The second option is to purchase a telescope that is corrected for field curvature.  Such telescopes are very expensive.  They are not doublets. They need to have a rear lens section to correct for the field curvature.   You can buy scopes in the 70mm range that are corrected for field curvature, I don't know how really good they are.  

 

Astrophotography is expensive if you want perfect photos.  And it's not just money, it's time.   It all starts with the mount.  The mount should cost more than the telescope. 

 

If you just want to have some fun and enjoy images that are less than perfect, things are much more affordable. 

 

 

      Jon,  how did you come up with the 15mm Off-axis amount of .7mm, I've been trying to figure out a way to calculate this same type of information for my es127 952 mm FL, I'm using it with the ASI 1600 MM, and see issues on the outside edge and trying to determine if this is just normal or if I have other issues etc, was looking at how bad is should be at 18mm from center

 

Richard

 



#30 dmorrow

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 11:13 AM

It seems like the AT72EDii plus matching .8 reducer/flattener should get you what you want w/o breaking the bank.  You could even upgrade the dovetail to losmandy and stay under $750 or so.  Pop that on a really nice Orion Sirius class mount and you should be good to go for less than $2k.  Less if buy used or go to something like the EXOSII-GT PMC8.  

 

The AT72EDii is on backorder though, so you would have to buy used or place an order to get in line.  I hope that helps.



#31 gnowellsct

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 12:09 PM

I get your point, but sometimes it's a bit worse than having elongated stars just on the edges/corners.

 

On another note, astronomy is a fairly new thing for me (compared to someone like Jon or yourself). You might know for a fact that something that costs 1-1.5k is "low grade gear". I don't. I do now. 

When I re-entered this hobby twenty years ago I had an email exchange with some guy on the west coast, I was unhappy that my mount was jittery and unstable and he seemed to know what he was doing.  I forget whether I was buying something from him or what.  And I said: what does it take to get rid of all these problems I described and he said "Losmandy G11."  So I look it up, $1800 back then, and laughed.  That was more than mount, c8, tripod on the rig I was using then.  The price seemed ridiculous.  I would NEVER spend that kind of money on a mount.

 

A year or so later I had one of those G11s and I still have it and still use it.  Great piece of gear built like a tank.  The expense works out to about $100 a year.

 

Now there were issues even back then that the G11 didn't deliver the kind of tracking people needed for longer exposures and there was a lot of complaints and a lot of after-market fiddling.  I wasn't involved because I don't image.  At that time there was a general movement (among OEMs) away from mounts that delivered 30 arc second periodic error towards mounts that could deliver 5 to 7 arc seconds or better, with a smooth curve that an autoguider could compensate.  With some redesign and improvements the G11s got to that point too (the new ones).   And now people seem to be buying mounts that are so accurate they need no autoguiding at all.

 

That $500 mount came and went because it was awful.  So I was out $500 for one year.  The G11 cost $2,000 and has lasted 20 years which I never would have imagined.  That's $100 a year.  So you see, cheap is expensive and expensive is cheap.    

 

There is such a thing as getting the low end of the high end.  The G11 is an example, and at $2k to $3.5k depending on the choices you make.  The imagers at NEAIC (North East Astro Imaging Conference) tended to speak highly of the Sky Watcher Esprit 80mm as a beginner's instrument ($1800) though lately I've read here about some complaints with the newer ones.   So that's a good deal less expensive than a Tak.  My friend bought the Esprit, removed the focuser, and put an adapter on it so he can use it with his $900 Feather Touch focuser.   I don't know whether to call that a $900 upgrade or a $300 upgrade because he has the same adapter for two other scopes and can use the focuser on all three.   Photography requires precise focus and people tend to be willing to invest in that.  You're trying to make wavelength level adjustments.

 

Wolfgang Promper did images like this one using a c8 (before there was an Edge) and a Losmandy G11 mount.  We'll call the total investment in mount and tube $4,000 which I think is high I bet it was more like $3,000.  That does not include imaging equipment.

 

Note that very wide angle shot is achieved by expert creation of a mosaic of smaller shots at f/6.3.  So he didn't bother getting a $3,000 apo with a field flattener.  Here's a pic he did of M106 (galaxy) much narrower field.   

 

The thing to "get" here is that at least in his early years he "solved" the corner problem by cutting the bad stuff out and putting together mosaics, and he was good enough at mosaics to put together images that many people who agonize over their corners in pics taken with high end refractors never manage to equal.  

 

Now Promper has since moved on to other types of gear that might easily be worth $100,000.  He made a point of achieving a high degree of mastery with mid-grade gear before moving up to the $20,000 mounts with $50,000 optics.    (Which is really beyond any ordinary sense of high end.)

 

There are very few people with $7,000 130mm apo refractors who match what he did with a c8.  

 

Since he did that work Starizona (and Arizona company) has come out with a whole array of gear for imaging with SCTs at very fast focal lengths which get you very fast exposure times.  That means that the mount is less critical which brings down costs.   You work out a system with them and compare it to, say, a Takhashi TOA 130mm on an Astro-physics mount, and you'll have a good sense of what-most-people-say is mid-level gear vs what-most-people-say is high level gear.  

 

So you need to find people who are getting good results and find out how they are doing it.  "One-shot color" photography also can make getting started easier and less costly.  

 

Also join Astromart and sell the stuff that isn't working out for you.  Get that money working for you in some other way.

 

Greg N


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#32 25585

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 02:51 PM

I am an all-rounder. Check my app or planisphere to see what I can see whether solar system or beyond. No specialisations, just go look. Grab & go of different sizes. As the seasons come & go, I look for the seasonal constellations at any given time, and circumpolar at higher altitudes. 

 

60 nights a year is good, Moon or no Moon.  


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#33 nyx

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 09:06 AM

For the record, I'm not looking for a do-it-all scope or a turn-key solution that does everything and does it perfectly. What frustrates me the most is how astronomy products are marketed. If you claim that a piece of gear does X, Y, Z, I expect to open the package and find a product that delivers the advertised functions. I know, marketing... I expect empty promises from a telemarketing commercial trying to sell me a mop that can (apparently) also make coffee. I kinda hoped that in a niche hobby like astronomy that wouldn't be the case. At least not for products that cost 500-1k or more.


Edited by nyx, 26 September 2020 - 09:08 AM.


#34 Jarno

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:08 PM

Well, to get back to the original question:

 

 

Why is it so hard to produce a telescope that is rock solid and doesn't cost 5-10k

 

The answer is actually really simple: mechanical tolerances and economics. A telescope is a precision instrument that has to hold the optical elements just right, no pinching but also no rattling. After manufacturing it has to remain within those tolerances so it also has to be mechanically stable. That requires higher material grades which are more expensive and often more difficult to machine. To achieve the required precision you need quality equipment which has to be carefully maintained, both of which require extra investments too. There are no shortcuts to quality and that's naturally going to be reflected in the item price. To make matters even worse, astronomy equipment is normally produced in much smaller numbers than, say, engine parts meaning you don't get the benefit of economics of scale. Unfortunately that leaves us astronomers with a nasty choice: either we suffer financially, or we suffer while using the telescope. I usually go for option 1 because then I have to cry only once and can at least enjoy my time under the stars.

 

Jarno


Edited by Jarno, 26 September 2020 - 02:09 PM.

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#35 dan_1984

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 02:47 PM

For the record, I'm not looking for a do-it-all scope or a turn-key solution that does everything and does it perfectly. What frustrates me the most is how astronomy products are marketed. If you claim that a piece of gear does X, Y, Z, I expect to open the package and find a product that delivers the advertised functions. I know, marketing... I expect empty promises from a telemarketing commercial trying to sell me a mop that can (apparently) also make coffee. I kinda hoped that in a niche hobby like astronomy that wouldn't be the case. At least not for products that cost 500-1k or more.

Unfortunatly for all of us, astronommy gear is expensive. A 1-2 k euros or $ investment is not considered “expensive”. The more expensive the scope, camera, mount etc. the better the quality control and the better it will perform. The more expensive the gear the less you have to troubleshoot each night. It doesn’t mean expensive gear is trouble free, it just means there is less time troubleshooting and more time imaging. 

And yes its all about marketing with some manufacturers. For example you will have a hard time imaging with an “imaging” marketed SCT edgehd or acf, but you will have an easier time with a apo refractor and a FF. 
When it comes to imaging do your research first and don’t be surprised if some imagers recomend a 10k mount and a 12 k frac. 


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#36 weis14

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:12 PM

The G11 cost $2,000 and has lasted 20 years which I never would have imagined.  That's $100 a year.  So you see, cheap is expensive and expensive is cheap.    

Another consideration is that if you have quality gear, it maintains resale value.  Your 20 year old G11 is probably still worth $1500 or so on the used market.  If you consider that, your cost of ownership is closer to $25 per year.  That is a bargain by anyone's standards!



#37 gnowellsct

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 10:18 PM

Another consideration is that if you have quality gear, it maintains resale value.  Your 20 year old G11 is probably still worth $1500 or so on the used market.  If you consider that, your cost of ownership is closer to $25 per year.  That is a bargain by anyone's standards!

Yes: but I don't think I'll be the one to sell it.  Let my heirs do that.  



#38 Chuck2

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 02:26 AM

Any hobby you are willing to commit time, effort, practice, and learning will cost as much, if not more than astronomy.

 

Buy a very nice set of golf clubs, custom putters, golf clothes, take a few lessons with a golf pro, shoot a dozen practice buckets at a driving range, buy a few dozen balls, play 26 rounds per year, have a drinks at the 9th hole, possibly dinner after 18 holes, start flying with your clubs to vacation resorts and eventually join the local country club. How much of your income will golf consume per year x how many years you play?

 

Ok, how about a less expensive hobby like bowling, a custom ball or two, your fav color, engraved, sized for your hand, weighted to your style, maybe a custom carry bag and of course a pair of shoes to improve your game. Now play 2-4 games every Friday in your league, drink a few beers, and chow down some pizza...again multiply those reoccurring Friday night costs by the decades of play.

 

By comparison, Telescopes are relatively inexpensive, costs are incurred up front, with few reoccurring costs. Buy high quality, keep for many years, use frequently at home at no added expense, eat and drink food prepared at home, no parking or valet fees, little or no gasoline needed, amortized over time, a bargain!

 

Buy a quality $3,000 scope, keep it for 7 years, view through it once per week. 7x52=364. $3,000/364 =$8.24 per view. Try to bowl on every Friday night or play a round each Saturday for less.


Edited by Chuck2, 29 September 2020 - 02:29 AM.

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#39 danmdak

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 05:53 PM

The key to seeing more detail in the faint stuff.. eyepiece time, developing your observing skills.  The more you look, the more you see.

 

You have been doing this 2 years.  How many nights is that?   I average 150 nights a year, I am 72, been doing this about 30 years, my eyes are not what they used to be but I am still learning.. 

 

Jon

150 nights a year!!!! I cant imagine that!! You must live in the desert! I've been doing this since 1974 and average 115 clear nights a year (yes I keep track). Consider the moon is up half of those nights, plus I had a work schedule (mostly weekend observing only) , plus we get to -10F or lower routinely in winter....I am lucky to get 40 nights in a  year. It HAS picked up now that I retired but I could never hit 150 nights a year unless I move.



#40 daquad

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 07:01 PM

My advice is to concentrate more on the science of astronomy and less on the instruments that can help you enjoy its wonders.

 

Dom Q?




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