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Something cheap for the kids / publics

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#1 TheNewGuyHere

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 11:26 AM

hi all - 

 

Looking at a cheaper setup for the kids with an alt alz go to with a small scope...

 

https://www.skywatch...atcher-virtuoso

 

Currently have a dob but without tracking it is a strange night of me finding a target, getting it lighted up, asking the kids (6, 10, 13) to view as fast as they can without bumping the scope lol.gif   I was thinking EAA might help these nights out.  

 

I am thinking of running sharpcap with either:

 

https://astronomy-im...roduct/asi224mc

 

https://www.celestro...stem-imager-5mp

 

My goal is not amazing views ... views that impress the kids and get a wow out of them.  Am I going the right direction here?  Anything cheaper?

 

Thanks!!!


Edited by TheNewGuyHere, 22 July 2021 - 11:29 AM.

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#2 alphatripleplus

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 11:53 AM

I could be mistaken, but I think the SkyWatcher Virtuoso Alt-Az mount does not provide celestial tracking - looks like it just has altitude and azimuth motors for movement. Also for EAA, you want a reasonably fast scope, so you might want to check the specs on that OTA which I think is f/13.9. A  f/13.9 Mak is too slow for EAA without heavy focal reduction. I suspect you would be better off starting with an entry-level Alt-Az astro mount with celestial tracking and better (faster) scope.

 

As for the two cameras, I would pick the ASI224MC over the Celesctron Solar System Imager - the latter does not have the sensitivity of the 224MC and would not be good for capturing DSOs.


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#3 GazingOli

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 12:21 PM

the problem is that astronomical imaging is hardly ever a cheap game. the correct "toy" for your kids would probably be the eVscope (3 kEuro) - easiest setup and easy to operate.

  • astronomical imaging requires a relatively fast scope with a decent optics - which makes it costly. minimum would be a semi-apo refractor or a Celestron C6 as for ease of handling or a 6" Newtonian, which is less costly but not that easy to handle.
  • second you need a tracking mount, better is a goto in order to find the objects easily.
  • third is the camera and computer to capture images, stack them in real time an display them on the screen. in your case I could image a revolution imager, just for ease of use and cost reasons. if you want to deal with computer & software for live stacking the ASI224 is a perfect choice.

maybe one last word: astronomy is not a tv show! you need to know a good deal about the celestrial objects to find them, because there is a limited numer of objects you can reach, they are widely spread in the night sky and most of them are only visible during a certain period of the year. so you cannot just point the scope to the sky and hope to accidentially hit one of the great nebulae oder galaxies.

 

CS.Oli



#4 Jeff Struve

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 12:57 PM

I dont have an issue with a pushto dob for kids... but I do have encoders that not only help me find objects quickly... kids get bored if it takes too long... and I can watch the HC to ensure that the object stays in the FoV... so maybe add encoders to yours?

 

Its good training for the kids not to bump the scope, and how to nudge it to keep the object centered



#5 ex-Bubblehead

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 10:14 PM

You could consider the AZ-GTe with an acro and the 224. I think that would meet your requirement for not an amazing view, but a view that would impress kids. They like color, right?? Depending on your OTA choice, that would put you back not much more than $1K. Assuming you already have the computer.

#6 dcweaver

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 08:29 PM

Seems like today, the best outreach would be via livestream on YouTube.  Set up your own scope and camera vs spending money on an outreach specific setup, and the kids can log into YouTube and see the same thing you are seeing on their phones.  This won't work if you are away from civilization, but should work for a lot of situations.  If you have a phone, you have a hotspot, and that means internet.

 

Here's a link with lots of good advice on how to do that:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-livestreaming/



#7 SchoolMaster

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Posted 02 August 2021 - 12:47 PM

I could be mistaken, but I think the SkyWatcher Virtuoso Alt-Az mount does not provide celestial tracking - looks like it just has altitude and azimuth motors for movement. Also for EAA, you want a reasonably fast scope, so you might want to check the specs on that OTA which I think is f/13.9. A  f/13.9 Mak is too slow for EAA without heavy focal reduction. I suspect you would be better off starting with an entry-level Alt-Az astro mount with celestial tracking and better (faster) scope.

 

As for the two cameras, I would pick the ASI224MC over the Celesctron Solar System Imager - the latter does not have the sensitivity of the 224MC and would not be good for capturing DSOs.

I have a Virtuoso.  I have bought the $65 SkyWatcher WiFi dongle for my Virtuoso and that allows it to be controlled by the SkyScan app, which gives alignment, GoTo, and tracking.  I also run a cheap ST80 on the mount.  The 90mm OYA is too slow for EAA, based on my limited experiments, although I have yet to try my cheap 0.5 reducer.  I have a ZWO224 too.

 

An open box SkyWatcher StarTravel on the GTe or GTi mount with a 102mm f/4.9 scope might be a good alternative.  That's what I'm starting with at the moment.


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#8 Rickster

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Posted 03 August 2021 - 09:41 PM

An inexpensive and workable option would be to piggyback a small refractor+cheap focal reducer+ASI224 on your main rig.  Run the output to a laptop equipped with Sharpcap.  The short focal length will obviate the need for tracking.  With this setup, your kids will be able to watch what you are seeing in real time.  Actually, they will be able to see more in "their" little piggy backed EAA rig than you will see visually in your dob. waytogo.gif



#9 alphatripleplus

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Posted 04 August 2021 - 07:23 AM

+1 on Rick's suggestion. If you have an existing set-up with a tracking mount, piggy-backing a  focal reduced scope and camera is an easy and inexpensive way to start in EAA. If you don't have any existing rig, it will be more expensive to get going.



#10 ShaulaB

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Posted 04 August 2021 - 07:30 AM

Use lower magnification with the Dob. Kids, and adults, are wowwed by the Moon at 40x. Planets at 75x likewise will thrill them. I know this because I have been doing outreach since the 1980's. As has been stated before, train observers to NOT grab the eyepiece or bump the scope.

Used Revolution II imagers s come up on the CN Classifieds fairly often. Most are priced around $200. Images are not spectacular, but you'll get something.


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