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SCT for ES/MS Education - what load and options?

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#1 SchoolMaster

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 04:24 PM

I'm a teacher in Tampa, Florida (28N, 82.5W) and I teach students aged 4 to 14.

 

I'm returning to this site after three years, because plans to do in-person observation using a donation fell though due to administrative and practical challenges.  I have new management and a new focus and support in this new initiative, built on equipment, experience, and infrastructure developed for the 'Year of COVID'

 

When the school year starts in August, I need to be able to Zoom share  astronomical images from an observation site to my students, at night, in semi-real-time; nothing really new and revolutionary there.  I have already used some of our equipment (camera and scopes) to capture real-time terrestrial observations, such as a nest of bees 30 feet up a tree and an osprey nest on top of a cell-phone tower, so I feel confident with the computer image out to the world part and my 'success' here has landed me in my current predicament.

 

Things advance quickly.  I need to put in a proposal for about $5000 worth of kit for a 'good' school system.  We will be observing from the end of a dock on a smallish lake at the school to get the most sky, because of all the trees on the property.  At times, the whole shebang will be transported home in my car.  Since I get up to prepare school at 4:00am and have a commute that can exceed an hour (or two on a bad day), I get more sleep if I can drive home before observing rather than after.  I'm nearly 70 and lifting weight of more than 60 lb on even an irregular basis is more than I want to do.

 

We will be doing EAA mostly with occasional visual.  NO AP (famous last words).  The scope will be controlled remotely and a feed will go to the school's TV studio.  The dock deck is a little bouncy so I am interested in remote/wifi/direct computer control possibilities.  I have experience with the SLT an GTe mounts.

 

I am looking at Ioptron AZ pro or Skywatcher AZEQ5 for a mount.

 

What is the 'best' SCT that these mounts can carry at about $2000 or less, the lesser the better, for Visual and EAA only, with the target 'viewers' being children and early teens and their parents observing via Zoom, where the weaknesses of simpler scopes will be less likely to be objectionable.



#2 carolinaskies

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 06:08 PM

Go for the AZEQ5, it's much better for your purpose and you should definitely consider dual mount setup. 

Currently Meade's reorganization is limiting their ability so I'd suggest a hyperstar capable C8 XLT (not EDGE) and you can, at that $2K budget, get a Hyperstar.  The F/2 capability along with the ability to use standard focal reducers on the opposite end giving the most ranging FOVs for visual and EAA combined.  

I would opt to mount a secondary telescope on the other side of the AZEQ5 like a 120mm F/5 achromat or if you want to avoid chromatic aberration look at an 80mm ED of some type.  Dual capability will allow you to show on Zoom calls a wider perspective by simply swapping camera views.  You can mount a cheap SVBONY on the secondary scope or even a DSLR on the refractor if you can get an older full frame Canon or Nikon that will really give you some options.  



#3 SchoolMaster

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 03:31 AM

Go for the AZEQ5, it's much better for your purpose and you should definitely consider dual mount setup. 

Currently Meade's reorganization is limiting their ability so I'd suggest a hyperstar capable C8 XLT (not EDGE) and you can, at that $2K budget, get a Hyperstar.  The F/2 capability along with the ability to use standard focal reducers on the opposite end giving the most ranging FOVs for visual and EAA combined.  

I would opt to mount a secondary telescope on the other side of the AZEQ5 like a 120mm F/5 achromat or if you want to avoid chromatic aberration look at an 80mm ED of some type.  Dual capability will allow you to show on Zoom calls a wider perspective by simply swapping camera views.  You can mount a cheap SVBONY on the secondary scope or even a DSLR on the refractor if you can get an older full frame Canon or Nikon that will really give you some options.  

Thanks for your suggestion.

 

The secondary scope planned is an AT102ED and we currently have 2 ZWO224MC, and you can see the other kit in my signature.  I plan to upgrade to something, 294 or 533, but that discussion, and the secondary scope, is for another forum, I think.

 

In what way is the AZEQ5 better for my purpose?  I think that the moderators will want this topic to focus on the OTA.  I have asked a similar question in mounts and that might be the best place to discuss the merits of the AZEQ5.

 

My main budget elements are:

 

Primary OTA under $2000

Mount under $1800

Secondary OTA $600

New big; camera reminder of budget.

In the future a third solar OTA will be added to the secondary side.

 

Yes, focal reducer(s) will be necessary, and maybe even a barlow, to give a wide range, and I plan to swap out the refractor for the 127mm Mak for appropriate targets.



#4 jgraham

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 03:49 AM

You might also ask in the EAA forum.

#5 carolinaskies

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 06:52 AM

Thanks for your suggestion.

 

The secondary scope planned is an AT102ED and we currently have 2 ZWO224MC, and you can see the other kit in my signature.  I plan to upgrade to something, 294 or 533, but that discussion, and the secondary scope, is for another forum, I think.

 

In what way is the AZEQ5 better for my purpose?  I think that the moderators will want this topic to focus on the OTA.  I have asked a similar question in mounts and that might be the best place to discuss the merits of the AZEQ5.

 

My main budget elements are:

 

Primary OTA under $2000

Mount under $1800

Secondary OTA $600

New big; camera reminder of budget.

In the future a third solar OTA will be added to the secondary side.

 

Yes, focal reducer(s) will be necessary, and maybe even a barlow, to give a wide range, and I plan to swap out the refractor for the 127mm Mak for appropriate targets.

I answered the AZ-EQ5 reasoning in the mount forum.  

As far as exploring the SCT options, make sure you spend some time looking at the EAA forum for results using the C8 and other SCTs.  And plugin your camera(now and possible acquisitions) into the Astronomy.tools website to give you a grasp on what specific reducers will do for your field of view for EAA. 

The C8 and even the smaller C6 are very capable in this realm... I push more toward the C8 personally because 2" extra circumference is really significantly more light able to produce more detailed resolution, which is what you want to be able to show.  Moving up to the Hyperstar too will increase your FOV with the simple caveat of the C8's camera limitations, but at F/2 native with 8" light gathering is still far better than any fast Newt or refractor whose OTA length will give you more issues than the SCT. 



#6 SchoolMaster

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 01:48 PM

I answered the AZ-EQ5 reasoning in the mount forum.  

As far as exploring the SCT options, make sure you spend some time looking at the EAA forum for results using the C8 and other SCTs.  And plugin your camera(now and possible acquisitions) into the Astronomy.tools website to give you a grasp on what specific reducers will do for your field of view for EAA. 

The C8 and even the smaller C6 are very capable in this realm... I push more toward the C8 personally because 2" extra circumference is really significantly more light able to produce more detailed resolution, which is what you want to be able to show.  Moving up to the Hyperstar too will increase your FOV with the simple caveat of the C8's camera limitations, but at F/2 native with 8" light gathering is still far better than any fast Newt or refractor whose OTA length will give you more issues than the SCT. 

Thanks for your information.

 

Your thinking is aligned with mine.  I have a 6" SCT I cannot mount.  It was donated to us and has an 'aftermarket' dovetail too broad to fit on the SLT or GTe mounts, even if they could handle the weight (which they should since the handle a 127mm Mak of similar weight.)

 

Since I'm budget limited (who isn't?)  you are suggesting that a Hyperstar 8" would be superior in most circumstances to  9.25" without (can't afford Hyperstar) or a Meade 10", even if the mount would carry it/them.  With a focal reducer and a barlow, what would give me f/2, and f/6.3 for DSO, f/10 for smaller deep space features, and f/15 or f/20 for solar system work.  Once I have the kit settled, I will refine it on the EAA forum.

 

I plan to search for open box or used items to extend my budget.



#7 carolinaskies

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 04:27 PM

The f/2 using Hyperstar is 406mm focal length meaning wide field and imaging very fast. Given your observing location you'll run into more nights where the resolution difference between 8", 9.25, and 10 will not be significant for your intended purpose.

The 6.3 gives 1280mm Fl which allows framing plenty of the bright nebula, galaxy clusters, open clusters, etc.

There is a reason that the 8" is the most owned SCT size, and it's this versatility vs weight.

Visually in dark skies yes aperture always surges ahead, but at increased equipment costs. But with EAA the gap lessens for general enjoyment of the target on screen. Again, we go back to resolving power, and except for planets an EAA 8" is going to show more stars than a visual 9.25 or 10 because the camera is going to collect those faint photons our eyes miss making up the difference. Look at the maximum magnitude the difference is not significant considering seeing will arbitrarily put a maximum magnitude.

#8 SchoolMaster

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Posted 23 June 2021 - 01:37 PM

The f/2 using Hyperstar is 406mm focal length meaning wide field and imaging very fast. Given your observing location you'll run into more nights where the resolution difference between 8", 9.25, and 10 will not be significant for your intended purpose.

The 6.3 gives 1280mm Fl which allows framing plenty of the bright nebula, galaxy clusters, open clusters, etc.

There is a reason that the 8" is the most owned SCT size, and it's this versatility vs weight.

Visually in dark skies yes aperture always surges ahead, but at increased equipment costs. But with EAA the gap lessens for general enjoyment of the target on screen. Again, we go back to resolving power, and except for planets an EAA 8" is going to show more stars than a visual 9.25 or 10 because the camera is going to collect those faint photons our eyes miss making up the difference. Look at the maximum magnitude the difference is not significant considering seeing will arbitrarily put a maximum magnitude.

Thanks a lot.  I'm time-crunched but can then expect to wait quite a while.  It's a bit rich to buy myself, in anticipation of the school's need, which is what I do for a lot of other kit.  I'll pencil the C8/Hyperstar into my budget.



#9 nighty

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Posted 24 June 2021 - 06:35 AM

This may be a silly question but, why not change the dovetail on the donated scope so it works with the mounts you have?




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