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EAA for Dummies or a Beginner's Guide to EAA

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#1 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 03 January 2021 - 03:07 PM

There clearly are more and more questions posted on this forum asking for help for the basics of EAA as more people seem to be joining our ranks.  While there is lots of good advice available here from so many experienced individuals, that information is not in a single place that is easy to reference.  I have been thinking for several years that I would like to write a book with all of the basic information needed to get started in EAA and have been collecting information to that end.  But writing a book is a major undertaking which I haven't had the time to do just yet.  So, I decided to use my web site to post Blogs from time to time on different aspects of EAA that I think will be helpful to beginners.  I do not claim to be the expert on this forum and do not expect to replace the expertise available here. Rather I want to supplement that information by putting basic information in a single place for easy reference.  I think that with more than 10 years at EAA and having contributed to this forum over the same, that I am now able to share enough information in a systematic way to help the beginner.

 

So far I have written and posted 3 separate blogs:

 

1.  Analog or Digital Camera  -  I realize that most of us have moved on from analog cameras to digital with the recent wave of great CMOS cameras.  And I recommend that anyone with a future or current interest in astrophotography skip analog and move directly to digital.  However, there are some good reasons to go with an analog camera and I outline the considerations in this blog from October.

 

2. Choosing a Mount for EAA  -  Just like in astrophotography, I believe that the mount is the first piece of equipment to consider for EAA in most every case.  There certainly are a lot of options which I hope I was able to break down into a helpful discussion.  I posted this one in early December so scroll down to find the Mount article

 

3. Choosing a Telescope for EAA  -  With so many telescope types and models available this can be daunting for a beginner.  This one took even longer to pull together than the write up on mounts. 

 

I will add blogs in this series on EAA once or twice a month so please check back from time to time.  I will post here when I do.  The next one will cover choosing a camera for EAA which is another huge topic.  Subsequent ones will include Essential Accessories, Software, Live Stacking, Focal Reduction and so on.

 

I hope that beginners will take advantage of my efforts and I would appreciate any feedback they have to make my write-ups more helpful.

 

I would also like the experienced EAA'rs on this site to take a look at what I write and provide feedback.  Since I do not have hands on experience with every mount, telescope, camera, etc. I  most certainly will have missed some important things.  Your hands on experience in areas different than mind will allow me to provide a better viewpoint where necessary.  Hopefully I have not made any major mistakes but will correct any if pointed out.

 

Please keep in mind that you have to scroll down in the blogs for each month as there may be more than one entry for each month.  

 

Best Regards,

Curtis


Edited by CA Curtis 17, 03 January 2021 - 05:14 PM.

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#2 GaryShaw

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Posted 03 January 2021 - 03:18 PM

Curtis

This will be hugely valuable going forward just as your coaching was to me just over 2 years ago. 
 

Hopefully our Moderators will find a nice way to pin a link to your blog where it can most easily be found by budding new-comers to EAA.  Thanks for your help in the past and for taking on task of creating a more coherent and structured learning path for beginners and for the lifetime learners in all of us.

Best wishes for 2021!
Gary



#3 SanjeevJoshi

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Posted 03 January 2021 - 03:31 PM

Great info.   there was one typo "focal reduction leads to concomitant reduction in FoV".

 

I think two worthy topics are:

 

1. what type of objects / size can you see with different set ups , and the relative counts of them

2. how does seeing conditions affect your choices

 

I think once folks get past the initial excitement with #1, #2 is actually the next step in evolution of this segment of the hobby.   I own 3 different types of set up as per my signature (actually 4 if you count my 50 mm f/3.2 guide), so I am not pitching any particular one.   But topic #2 is therefore more interesting.



#4 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 30 January 2021 - 02:22 PM

I just finished an uploaded the next installment in my guide to beginning EAA.  This one is "Choosing a Camera for EAA".  It took most of the month for me to cover everything I wanted to cover in this installment and I learned a lot just having to fill in the gaps of my own knowledge to cover the topic thoroughly.

 

You can find the entire series here: EAA for Beginners    So far I have posted 4 installments:

 

1.  Beginning EAA:  Analog or Digital Camera

2.  Choosing a Mount for EAA

3.  Choosing a Telescope for EAA

4.  Choosing a Camera for EAA

 

Next I will tackle "Essential Accessories for EAA" which will include accessories for focusing, focal reduction, field power and a few others.

 

As always, I appreciate feedback either here or by PM both from beginners who can let me know if this is helpful, and from experienced EAA'rs who can advise me if I have made any mistakes or to clarify points in areas where they have more experience than I do.

 

Best Regards,

Curtis


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#5 garyhawkins

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Posted 30 January 2021 - 04:53 PM

Curtis, Wow! This is fantastic resource for those starting out.  Kudos, sir. Gary



#6 SanjeevJoshi

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Posted 31 January 2021 - 08:16 AM

Great reading.   Only clarification I would suggest is that at F2, a 294 sensor may seem reasonable but it’s not.

 

The 183 (best) and 533 beat the pants off 294,   Except for the multiple degree size objects, 294 is inferior to 183 and 533 even under typical conditions wrt image details.  And once you zoom in, forget it.

 

I use the 294 with binning with native F10 for C8, and Andromeda + handful of objects with RASA.  For the rest it’s 183 all the way.



#7 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 31 January 2021 - 12:46 PM

Great reading.   Only clarification I would suggest is that at F2, a 294 sensor may seem reasonable but it’s not.

 

The 183 (best) and 533 beat the pants off 294,   Except for the multiple degree size objects, 294 is inferior to 183 and 533 even under typical conditions wrt image details.  And once you zoom in, forget it.

 

I use the 294 with binning with native F10 for C8, and Andromeda + handful of objects with RASA.  For the rest it’s 183 all the way.

All 3 of these cameras are fantastic and they just match with the best focal length/aperture. Using a camera lens at 200 mm I am not going to chose the 294 (unless for very large extended nebulas or M31), but the 183 and using a scope say C11 at f6.3 I am not going to use a 183 (unless for planetary nebulas or very small galaxies), but the 294.

 

Steve



#8 EmeraldHills

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Posted 31 January 2021 - 03:09 PM

I'm a beginner and there's a LOT here for me to learn, Curtis. I'll read it over and over, again and again, I bet.

Great job.

Wrote you directly.

Doug



#9 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 31 January 2021 - 03:56 PM

I appreciate the positive comments, but I appreciate the critical comments even more because I cannot possibly have experience with every camera and every scope combination.  I truly want to hear from those with different hands on experience than mine.

 

Having said that:

 

 

Only clarification I would suggest is that at F2, a 294 sensor may seem reasonable but it’s not.

 

The 183 (best) and 533 beat the pants off 294,   Except for the multiple degree size objects, 294 is inferior to 183 and 533 even under typical conditions wrt image details.  And once you zoom in, forget it.

 

 

At f/2 the FOVs are as follows on a C11 which is my main scope these days (you can do the calculation with other scopes):

 

294    80' x 118'

533    69' x 69'

183    81' x 54'

 

The 294 at f/2 provides a substantial FOV which is much better as you say for the very large objects like like the North American Nebula or the Eastern or Western Veils, or M33.  But I would agree that there are a lot more objects where the smaller FOVs of the 533 or 183  provide better magnification.  This just goes to say (as I think Steve is saying) that there is no one perfect camera just as there is no one perfect scope.

 

To the second point, I believe you are pointing out that with a pixel size of 2.4microns vs 4.63microns for the 294, the 183 provides twice the resolution.  True and important, but the 294 has a much deeper well depth that will allow longer exposures without blowing out bright stars.  And the larger pixel means more sensitivity and more detail for the same exposure or shorter exposures.  Normally I think of a sensor with a pixel size less than 3microns as being more suited to planetary than DSO viewing.  But with the 183 one could bin 2x2 and have the same pixel size for sensitivity and well depth of the 294 but with the smaller FOV.  

 

Also, as Steve says, all three cameras are very good.

 

Again, no perfect camera so we have to make the best choice unless we can afford several different cameras.

 

Best Regards,

Curtis


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#10 SanjeevJoshi

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 02:00 AM

I get all that but please don’t substitute practical experience using 183 and 294 with theory.   That’s my only critique of your content.   I use both on my RASA 8 and literally the only time 294 comes out is for Andromeda or similar big object framing.   Ask any other owner of RASA 8 or Hyperstar 8 who has used the 294 and either 183 or 533.

 

Now if the focal length is very different 294 can work well.  I love using the 294 with native C 8 at F10, most times with 2x2 binning.


Edited by SanjeevJoshi, 01 February 2021 - 02:03 AM.


#11 SanjeevJoshi

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Posted 03 February 2021 - 12:21 PM

Hi Curtis, one suggestion content wise to continue to build on your great info on various components needed

 

How about a few starter packages to help beginners get started?   I know we would all like to stay away from specific vendors and such but for a true beginner, sometimes that’s better.  Most people start on the EAA path after something like a C5/ C6 or C8, perhaps an 80 Newtonian or  80 ish refractor.

 

Just a thought.   Looking forward to the next installment.



#12 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 03 February 2021 - 01:54 PM

Hi Curtis, one suggestion content wise to continue to build on your great info on various components needed

 

How about a few starter packages to help beginners get started?   I know we would all like to stay away from specific vendors and such but for a true beginner, sometimes that’s better.  Most people start on the EAA path after something like a C5/ C6 or C8, perhaps an 80 Newtonian or  80 ish refractor.

 

Just a thought.   Looking forward to the next installment.

Sanjeev,

 

I had the same though.  This is where I need help from the overall EAA community since I am quite comfortable talking about SCTs and mounts for them.  I have some experience with refractors (80 and 127mm) but do not use them as often as I do the SCTs.  I want to start using the 127mm (I bought for my son but he is away at the University).  Almost no hands on with a Newt.   I am certainly open to suggestions. 

 

Also, price becomes as issue since some people need to keep costs as low as possible and others have a bit bigger budget.

 

In the category of SCTs I would recommend an 8" (my smallest is a 9.25") because of its light weight, relatively low cost, at the upper limit of being impacted adversely by seeing, and sufficient aperture to see a lot.  I have already recommended that to a coworker for a Christmas present to her husband along with the Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer.  No need for the Edge unless one wants to also do astrophotography or wants to work at f/2.  F/2 is a great option but the cost of entry in both the scope cost and the cost of the Hyperstar adapter is significant. This could be paired with a Nextstar Evolution Alt-Az mount for simplicity and cost, or a Celestron CGEM II if an EQ mount is preferred.  My suggestion included the IMX294, but I could see pairing this with the IMX183 instead.

 

For a refractor I would suggest one of the 80mm f/6 triplets which would be a scope one would keep for a lifetime I would think.  I mentioned this in my blog on choosing a telescope.  Lots of options for mounts.

 

For a Newtonian there are some f/3.9 and f/4 8" scopes which seem like good choices, but I have no hands on experience with these.  Also, which mount is not clear to me.

 

So I encourage EAA regulars to provide their inputs, especially on refractor, Newtonian and other setups.

 

Best Regards,

Curtis


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#13 Stosh68

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 12:19 AM

Did you forget a second “not” in this sentence?

 

“Even larger and more costly Newtonians are available but will not be discussed here since they are widely used for EAA”



#14 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 11:48 AM

I just posted the 5th installment in this series of articles on EAA for Beginners and Intermediates.   If you are new to EAA you might find these helpful.  This one is "Essential Accessories for EAA" which is my personal list of accessories beyond the telescope, mount and camera which I think are essential tools for any successful EAA session.  Even the experienced EAA'r might want to take a look and see how my list matches theirs.  And I always welcome comments and suggestions.

 

I am finding that it is hard to get one of these out every month given some other things I want to write about on my site and full time work.  But I plan to continue as I have lots of other article ideas swirling around that I want to get to.  I will let you all know as I post each new update.

 

Best Regards,

Curtis


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#15 Adun

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 05:36 PM

Hey Curtis.

 

One aspect worth mentioning is that whatever the budget, not all GEM mounts support lower latitudes, so if the reader is near the equator this is something to bear in mind.

 

Perhaps the iOptron ZEQ25 deserves to be included on the "moderate" list, as a mount that supports 0°N



#16 roelb

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 04:13 PM

I just posted the 5th installment in this series of articles on EAA for Beginners and Intermediates.   If you are new to EAA you might find these helpful.  This one is "Essential Accessories for EAA" which is my personal list of accessories beyond the telescope, mount and camera which I think are essential tools for any successful EAA session.  Even the experienced EAA'r might want to take a look and see how my list matches theirs.  And I always welcome comments and suggestions.

 

I am finding that it is hard to get one of these out every month given some other things I want to write about on my site and full time work.  But I plan to continue as I have lots of other article ideas swirling around that I want to get to.  I will let you all know as I post each new update.

 

Best Regards,

Curtis

On which page can I find the Accessories description?

Can't find it in the "Getting started in EAA" drop down menu at the top of this page: https://www.californ...ted-in-eaa.html



#17 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 06:12 PM

Roel,

 

Yes that is confusing.  You want to go to the Blog section here https://www.californiaskys.com/blog which will bring to you the latest entry.  You can read all the EAA blogs by clicking on the "EAA for Beginners" link to the upper right of the Blogs page which will take you to the entire sequence.  Just scroll down to see each entry.

 

Regards,

Curtis


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#18 Jsquared

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 07:41 PM

Great blog as a neube I thank you


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