I'm looking to get back into observing and astrophotography after a 11+ year break. Before I go and spend countless dollars on a better mount, cooled camera, etc., I want to check on two things: 1) I can get decent long exposures with the equipment I have, and 2) that I can get decent long exposures from my location (suburbs of San Diego, SQM 18.47 mag./arc sec2, Bortle 7). I know you can get amazing shots from places like this (or worse!) but I don't want to buy a bunch of stuff and be disappointed by my light pollution limitations...
First, the equipment I have:
10" LX200R, f/10
Milburn Deluxe Wedge
Meade DSI-II OSC (for imaging)
TIS DFK 21AF04.AS OSC (for guiding)
Supporting software (TheSky 6, PHD2, DSS, etc.)
In my previous efforts, I was never able to get anywhere above 30 second unguided subs, and most of those were marginal. I was able to some decent planetary imaging with the DFK.
I'm looking for a guide scope that I can easily mount on my OTA. I already have one rail on the bottom for counterweights, but I'm willing to put one on the top for the guide scope. I got the rail with the counterweight system from Ken Milburn (same as the wedge) but I don't know if it's officially compatible with the Losmandy D style or Vixen style rail. I know it's 1.5" wide, but that's all I know. The other option would be to replace the Meade 8x50 finderscope with the guide scope, if I can find a compatible mounting bracket.
I'm looking at two options right now. Again, I'm trying to keep the cost down until I can convince myself that I can do this! Here's what I'm thinking so far:
1) ASTRO-TECH 60MM PHOTOGUIDE REFRACTOR (or the alternate branded Astromania 60mm Compact Deluxe Finder & Guidescope)
My biggest concern is how to mount either of these scopes to my OTA. The mounting bracket for the 60mm doesn't look like it matches the 8x50 finderscope shoe, and I don't know what kind of shoe or bracket I would need. I suppose I could mount it with the rings holding the current 8x50 finder, assuming the OD is not too large. For the ST80, I'm assuming I'd need to get rings, which seems to be no problem, but then how to mount those rings on the OTA?
I like the idea that I could potentially image with the ST80 as well as guide, but the 60mm comes with the rings (if I can only figure out how to attach it...)
Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! I'm also open to other ways to start guiding, but still trying to keep the cost down initially.