Welcome to Cloudy Nights!
In December of 2014 I finally turned my photography interest to the Great Orion Nebula and with a spotting scope found the Nebula M-42.
I stared in wonder at it, and was captivated.
I languished for all of December about IF I wanted to venture into imaging space objects. There were so many pictures already available on the Internet...
Yeah. But none of them were mine. So I began.
I was, and remain, intrigued by these strange DSO's. All I had was my Nikon DSLR and a range of lenses from 10 to 600 mm. I came to the conclusion I would need another lens.
A telescopic lens.
I spent the next 4+ months studying telescopes and mounts. I started at Celestron's AVX with their largest refractor. Wrong telescope...
The more I learned, the smaller the telescopes got. But the more refined the lenses became. And conversely, exponentially expensive. Going from my 80 mm ED80T CF, to a 100 mm triplet, was a $1700 difference. Or $1,000 to $2700, for 20 mm in aperture. And at the time, I was having trouble finding telescopes specifically for my intended use, a camera lens quality.
There were plenty for visual, just not a lot for Astrophotography.
Now, just about 5 years later (Well, pre-covid 19) the market is awash with Apochromatic telescopes to decide from. Now, it seems, finding the telescopes is hard to do. And it's easy to get cleaned out on one large telescope. Oddly enough, my choice has held tight to what it cost me in May 2015 at ~$1,000, for the telescope alone.
I spent a month fooling around with an OAG (off-axis guider) before I gave up on the two different ones I tried. Then I went to a Guide scope and camera. It was an instant success. And has been my guiding set-up to this night. But I understand the importance of rock solid guiding to get good images.
The Boulders and Landslides
My learning curve was fraught with problems. My first mount, an AVX was one of the ones that proved problematic. Very problematic. And my fist choice in Astro Camera was also a terrible mess. Not the norm, and especially difficult when starting out.
In 2017 one of my friends approached me with loaning me one of his cameras. I resisted, he persisted. And he talked me into trying it. As it turned out, all my struggles, all my fights with bad equipment, and all the tricks I learned working around the bad equipment, came to fruition that first night. The skies opened up to my inquisitive eyes. Finally.....
I was still nursing along my mount, but I had honed my skills with it, learned it's bad points and how to work around them.
November 2019, my AVX died for its 3rd and last time. That thrust me into finding a new mount, or deciding to give it up entirely. I didn't want to give up my sky quest. I didn't want to sell off what I had worked so hard to try and learn and accomplish. So, for a lot of reasons, and many learned struggling in the dark for a few good picturds out of many thousand's of awful ones. I bit the bullet and got a truly-rest-of-my-life-mount February 2020. Just before the poop went through the fan with Covid, and everybody bought up everything available. (2020 and the great TP shortage!)
An EQ6R Pro would be a great starting mount. If you are after DSO, and imaging, there are many great telescopes available to choose from (Most have long lines currently). But there are a lot of good choices to pick from. And a wide variety of cameras. Good cameras, too. CMOS cameras have come of age, and IMNSHO have pushed CCD's aside to many extents. Color camera's (OSC) have also come of age.
You don't have to follow the old ways and means of Monaural cameras and color filters. And of late, newly developed filters are helping to get great shots with the color matrix cameras.
While it is true color cameras have fixed filtering matrixes, and do limit what you can fiddle into your pictures, there are many good points to them. And they can make your entry into DSO imaging a lot easier.
The initial costs can be rather daunting, but picking your path and staying with it brings rewards. Not for the faint of heart, nor those easily frustrated, just accept going in that there will be nights when you have to stop, pack it up, and vow to come back the next night because this one just sucks.
I think Forrest Tanaka sez it best. During my journey, I would take breaks watching his videos. And while he focuses more on reflectors and DSLR's, there is a lot to learn there.
Just keep your mind as open as the universe, and know that beyond the cloudy nights there will be the clear ones where everything comes together.
That's where the magic happens...
If you click these images, they open up to the gallery with explanations.
If Yan Can Cook, well so can you!
Edited by SonnyE, 02 December 2020 - 02:19 AM.