I have stumbled upon so many fantastic posts here in the forums and have gained great insight through this community, but this is my first time posting.
I'm still in the research phase for the gear I would like to start out with. As most of you probably know, that can be a daunting task. For a beginner, we not only don't know what we're doing, but we also have little understanding of all the gear that is needed in order to take decent photos.
I have been researching the gear almost daily for more than 7 months. I feel I have an 'ok' understanding of the basics around the numbers, the type of scopes, and their unique pros/cons for specific targets. What I don't know are things that can only come from experience, and so I have a couple of questions for this community.
This will be a bit long so I'll break it down into parts:
- Location challenges
- What I plan to use it for
- The OTA
I have two location challenges I need advice on:
I live in Helsinki, Finland. My exact location is classified as Bortle 8-9, but having lived in New York City for the better part of a decade I can look at the sky and tell you that light pollution is not nearly as bad here. I can see stars and planets with the naked eye at night.
My assumption is that I will be able to bypass most of the light pollution using a workflow that includes shooting with narrowband filters, mono, and combining them properly in post production.
My question is, can I really expect to capture anything worthwhile in bortle 8-9 skies with narrowband filters? If not, do you have any recommendations as to how I can cut through the light pollution for astrophotography specifically?
The second location challenge is that I live on top of a 7-story building. I am planning to set the scope up on a part of the roof that is mostly blocking the wind, but not entirely. I know a lot of people have issues with the wind on the ground, so I'm pretty worried about whether or not this is a laughable location or if it's possible to get halfway decent long-exposure shots without putting an observatory up.
What I Plan To Use It For
The community always starts here when responding to beginner questions so I'll share my thoughts.
I became obsessed with astrophotography after seeing Mars last year when it was super bright. I love looking at images of Nebulae and that's what really pushed me over the edge to get into this hobby. Right now I am obsessed with galaxies and would love to be able to capture them with great detail. I'm not that interested in imaging star clusters or planets at the moment, although I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't want to see some of the planets visually with the scope. I just don't want to make any buying decisions based on that.
I realize that it sounds like an easy answer is that I want to shoot deep sky objects. I agree, but with one clarification: I have created a list of potential targets and using https://astronomy.to.../field_of_view/ . Many of the targets I wish to image require some pretty extreme focal lengths and almost all of them look better to me close up.
My assumption is that I would most likely benefit from an OTA with a medium-range focal length that I could use with a reducer or a (reasonable) barlow lens to get closer or further away depending on what I'm imaging. (to me, medium range is anything between 700-1200mm)
My question is: recognizing that I won't be able to shoot everything in the sky perfectly with a single scope, am I thinking about the focal length accurately in order to create a more versatile setup? If not, what would you recommend?
I was pretty sold on buying an apochromatic refractor with an aperture over 100mm and a focal length of more than 700mm until I saw the price range. I realize that apochromatic refractors are ideal for astrophotography in the sense that they achieve a very high level of detail and contrast in astro-imaging. Not only would I not have to worry about collimation (hopefully) with an APO, but really good APO OTAs produce amazing images.
The hard reality is that I can't afford an APO that would achieve the aperture and focal length I am looking for. So that leads me to think about more affordable options. (take that statement with a grain of salt)
Trying to keep this post as short as I can, my thoughts have focused in on Schmidt-Cassegrain or a Maksutov. I like these options because they have corrector plates. I am very nervous about collimation - not because I don't feel I'll be able to get the hang of it, but because I don't want to do it all the time and I don't want to get discouraged from the hobby as a result.
And in total contrast with my own thought process, if I am going to open the door to collimation, should I just simply jump in head first with an RC? Most professionals use these types of scopes which means there is a path forward with them that can lead to amazing astro-photos.
My assumption is that if I can't afford an APO, a Schmidt-Cassegrain is the best option for my needs. I can achieve the aperture and focal length at a price that works for me.
My question is: As a beginner should I just aim for an Achromatic refractor? They're more affordable, but I feel I won't get the image quality I am hoping for. Am I thinking the right way about this?
If you read all of this: I really appreciate your time and any insights you can provide to any of my questions.