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Good gear for beginner?

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#1 dwassem

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 05:53 AM

Hi all:

 

I'm about to pull the trigger on my first AP gear. I'm interested in both DSO and planetary - but mostly the former.

I live in a major metropolitan (light polluted) area, and would mostly do AP from my rooftop.

Here's what I am thinking:

 

  • Scope: Vixen SD81S + SD Reducer HD Kit
  • Mount: iOptron CEM26 + build-in polar scope
  • Camera: ZWO ASI533
  • Other: ZWO Asiair pro + guidescope / guide camera set

 

Some things I considered as well, but would make things much more expensive:

 

  • Bigger mount: iOptron GEM45 (more future proof)
  • Better camera: ZWO ASI1600 monochrome + filters (better images, esp. on my bortle9 rooftop)

 

Would be happy to hear if I am making any major mistake anywhere.

Thanks in advance for advice!



#2 terry59

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 06:07 AM

You will be much happier if you learn narrowband imaging first. I would start with hydrogen alpha. With this you can image any time it is clear. Once you are ready add Oxygen, then Sulphur

 

Others can help you better with equipment



#3 dwassem

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 06:15 AM

Thank you for the reply! It's still on the table, but my thinking against it was basically
A) it adds a other layer of complexity (and cost)
B) I would probably have to buy a color camera anyway if I want to do EEA, right (and planetary)? So it made sense for me to start there...

#4 terry59

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 06:21 AM

Thank you for the reply! It's still on the table, but my thinking against it was basically
A) it adds a other layer of complexity (and cost)
B) I would probably have to buy a color camera anyway if I want to do EEA, right (and planetary)? So it made sense for me to start there...

I do neither EEA nor planetary so am unqualified to answer those aspects of imaging. I'm strictly a DSO imager and my recommendation was for that as you listed it as first priority smile.gif


Edited by terry59, 29 July 2021 - 06:22 AM.


#5 dwassem

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 06:27 AM

Understood. Appreciate the advice!

#6 abcdefghii

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 07:09 AM

Looks like a great beginner set up to me, I was going to suggest the ASIAir as it really does make life very simple but see you already have that. Something you could do, at least initially, is use a DSLR if you have one and in the meantime save towards the ZWO ASI1600MM. You can still get great DSO images using a DSLR, depending on the model, ASIAir can control it. 

 

I have no idea how well a DSLR works with either planetary or EAA though, so it may be useless for those things. 

 

Overall though, I'd say you have a pretty great starting point. 



#7 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 07:36 AM

Looks like a great setup to me.  Since you're looking for advice, I would offer this:

- Consider buying a cheaper telescope and go for that GEM45 mount.

 

You could get an Astro Tech 80mm f/6 Triplet APO refractor from Astronomics for almost half the price of the Vixen scope.

https://www.astronom...ractor-ota.html

 

That saved money could go toward your mount.

 

Like you are considering, I started out with a color astro cam (the ASI183MC Pro) and am loving it.  One day I'll switch to mono, but this camera will keep me busy and curious for a year or two.

 

Oh and I also use the ASIAir Pro and it's fantastic.


Edited by matt_astro_tx, 29 July 2021 - 07:36 AM.

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#8 72Nova

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 07:50 AM

As a beginner myself I think you are on the right track.  The 533mc is an excellent camera and IMHO a one shot color camera is the best option for a beginner.  I'm using a 60mm refractor (AT60ED) because my existing mount (AZGTi) has VERY limited weight capacity.  I also have the ASIAIR Pro and a 533mc and love them both!

 

I'm really pleased with my small rig but if I were to start over again, I would buy a much better mount with plenty of weight capacity with a reasonably priced 80mm refractor.  I wanted to experiment with AP and already had the AZGTi so I built a rig based on what I had (I also started with an old DSLR camera).

My next purchase will likely be a CEM40 or GEM45 mount and agree with Matt to consider the mount first. The CEM26 is a good choice but it will limit options if you want a larger scope in the future. Most here agree that the mount is more important than the scope, especially when you are learning this challenging and awesome hobby.

 

Edit:  I also recommend the Optolong l-eXtreme to use for emission nebula if you get a OSC.  It's great in light polluted skies.


Edited by 72Nova, 29 July 2021 - 08:10 AM.


#9 Deesk06

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 08:04 AM

A lot of great suggestions here. 

 

I agree with others here as well.

 

1. Go mono if you can now. There isn't much complexity to it. Insert the filter into the wheel. Attach it to the camera and scope, whatever software you use will be able to easily control it. Harder than a color camera? Doubtful, if at all, it is a minuscule amount more difficult. If you decide to stick with color then look into the L- Enhance or L-extreme. You will appreciate what it can do for you on targets rich in Ha & OIII. You wont need to worry as much about your light pollution or the moon. 

 

2. I would go with the asto-tech triplet as another user suggested. You can save a good chunk of money there. (do not forget a flattener and/or flattener/reducer). Another option is an astro tech doublet, but thats up to you, you may get slightly worse image quality with the doublet, but it is still a wonderful telescope for a beginner. Either of the two listed below are great. 

 

https://www.astronom...t.html?___SID=U

 

or

 

https://www.astronom...fpl-53-f-6.html

 

 

3. Always get the most mount you can afford. If you can stretch for a the CEM26 then do so, you will appreciate that in the long run. 

 

4. I might suggest investing in an auto focuser. ZWO EAF works great and you will very much appreciate it, one of the best investments I made, especially for the inexpensive price. I sleep during imaging sessions now without needing to worry about focus smile.gif . Not needing to slew to a bright star and throw the bahtinov also saves a lot of time. 


Edited by Deesk06, 29 July 2021 - 08:08 AM.


#10 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 08:11 AM

A lot of great suggestions here. 

 

I agree with others on two fronts. 

 

1. Go mono if you can now. There isn't much complexity to it. Insert the filter into the wheel. Attach it to the camera and scope, whatever software you use will be able to easily control it. Harder than a color camera? Doubtful, if at all, it is a minuscule amount more difficult. 

 

2. I would go with the asto-tech triplet as another user suggested. You can save a good chunk of money there. (do not forget a flattener and/or flattener/reducer). Another option is an astro tech doublet, but thats up to you, you may get slightly worse image quality with the doublet, but it is still a wonderful telescope for a beginner. 

Agree.  I only suggested the triplet because he was already looking for an APO in the Vixen.  I personally use the AT60ED and for $399 its practically a free telescope.  I have had zero complaints about it.  I would strongly recommend either the AT80ED doublet (also $399) or the AT80EDT triplet I linked to, which is in the $800 range).


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#11 Oyaji

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 08:40 AM

My only advice would be to think about your NEXT scope (and there likely will be one) and make sure your mount will handle it as well as THIS scope.

Edited by Oyaji, 29 July 2021 - 09:43 AM.

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#12 idclimber

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 01:04 PM

Upgrade the mount and look for a less expensive scope.  

 

EAA will be easier with a monochrome camera. This is because you will have shorter exposures and gather more signal and less noise that an OSC equivalent. This means better images in less time. The tradeoff is the loss of color. 

 

Planetary needs a totally different scope.

 

A mono camera will cut through the Bortle 9 skies better than a OSC camera, especially with a Ha filter. Integrations of just this channel can be quite beautiful

 

 http://<a href="http...insecure"/></a>


Edited by idclimber, 29 July 2021 - 01:06 PM.

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#13 sbharrat

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 01:45 PM

So *everyone* here recommends buying "up" on the mount. You see it sooo many times that you might do an eye-roll. I personally didn't give it enough consideration thinking that I have a budget limit and I can just upgrade later if I stick with it. What I didn't think about was, well, exactly *how* would I upgrade? A mount is not like a small scope or a camera. It is BIG and HEAVY. Selling it to anyone other than a local/pickup sale is extremely difficult (or cost prohibitive). I am certainly not advocating that a beginner needs a professional mount, but stretching for maybe "one model up" is well worth it. I wish I had. 


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#14 rj144

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 01:54 PM

So *everyone* here recommends buying "up" on the mount. You see it sooo many times that you might do an eye-roll. I personally didn't give it enough consideration thinking that I have a budget limit and I can just upgrade later if I stick with it. What I didn't think about was, well, exactly *how* would I upgrade? A mount is not like a small scope or a camera. It is BIG and HEAVY. Selling it to anyone other than a local/pickup sale is extremely difficult (or cost prohibitive). I am certainly not advocating that a beginner needs a professional mount, but stretching for maybe "one model up" is well worth it. I wish I had. 

I mean one could start with a smaller mount and then later keep it as a "travel" mount for a lighter weight setup too.  That's what I'm planning to do eventually.  I have an iExos 100 mount now primarily because I live in a condo and need something very portable.

 

When I move (was going to this summer until the housing market got of a control...), and get a place I can put a larger mount, I'll get a larger mount and use my current mount as my portable rig setup.


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#15 idclimber

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 02:25 PM

So getting back the OPs question about planetary. As I stated in my last post, totally different scope than the refractor you are looking for and getting any of the images found over on that part of CN. It is also a different camera as well. 

 

One of the better scopes based on price/performance would be a used SCT on an Alt Az mount. Something like an 8" LX200 or LX80. These can be found in many areas for under $500. All you need is good coatings on the mirror and one they did not mess with the corrector plate. An 8" SCT has a focal length of 2000mm. The refractors you are are looking for are all less than 500. Planets are tiny objects in the sky and you need bigger/longer optics to image them reasonably well. 

 

But here is where an upgraded mount pays off. As long as within the weight ratings you can do planetary with any appropriately sized GEM and your next scope, even if you instead eventually buy a new Celestron SCT. That is because exposure times are tiny fractions of a second and tracking isn't super important.

 

If you also want to do deep sky imaging with this second longer focal length scope, you will need more performance out of the mount and that is worth considering now, unless of course you don't mind upgrading. Don't underestimate this desire as it is pretty common when your interests moves to shooting the smaller galaxies like M101 or this months image challenge. 

 

"I bought too much mount" is pretty much never posted here. There is a reason. The mount is literally the foundation of AP. 


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#16 dwassem

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Posted 04 August 2021 - 08:18 PM

Thanks everyone for the kind advice! Looks like everyone is unanimous on the bigger mount, and most lean towards going mono as well.

Now thinking I should go for the below (although it is hardly "beginner" anymore smile.gif )

 

  • Scope: Vixen SD81S + SD Reducer HD Kit
  • Mount: iOptron GEM45 + build-in polar scope
  • Main Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM Pro Kit (filter wheel + filter set)
  • Planetary camera: ASI224MC
  • Other: ZWO Asiair pro + guidescope / guide camera set

 

Regarding going for a cheaper scope: Where I am (Japan) the options are quite limited. I cannot find any Astro-Techs, and the Vixen looks like the cheapest (least expensive) option.

Also, eventually I want to go with a bigger SCT for planetary, but I'd already like some small pics with the refractor hence I added the ASI224.

 

Some last questions:

  • Is 1.25" fine for the filter set? (It also comes in a - pricier - 31 and 36mm version)
  • Is the build-in polar scope a must for the mount? (I heard that you won't need a polar scope if you have the Asiair Pro but not sure)
  • Someone suggested the ZWO EAF - would this work with the Vixen?

 

Thanks a bunch!



#17 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:43 AM

You don't need the polar scope if you get the ASIAir pro.  It does polar alignment using your main camera and telescope.



#18 psugrue

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 03:28 PM

You don't need the polar scope if you get the ASIAir pro.  It does polar alignment using your main camera and telescope.

Yep and Guide scopes are on the table so you could use Sharp Cap for PA. Which once you have it dialed in takes literally seconds to plate solve a PA. The longest part is  physically tweaking the az/alt on the EQ. I think you are totally on track and I like the way you are thinking long term diversification and upgrade options. You are also getting some very good advice from some heavyweights that have helped me in the past. 

 

Respect,

 

Patrick



#19 Oort Cloud

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 03:55 PM

So *everyone* here recommends buying "up" on the mount. You see it sooo many times that you might do an eye-roll. I personally didn't give it enough consideration thinking that I have a budget limit and I can just upgrade later if I stick with it. What I didn't think about was, well, exactly *how* would I upgrade? A mount is not like a small scope or a camera. It is BIG and HEAVY. Selling it to anyone other than a local/pickup sale is extremely difficult (or cost prohibitive). I am certainly not advocating that a beginner needs a professional mount, but stretching for maybe "one model up" is well worth it. I wish I had.


+1 on this (sort of). I originally planned to upgrade from my NexStar mount to a PMC-8 Exos2-GT for $900, but due to the shortage, it was on a very long backorder. Then I saw the EQ6-r Pro in stock for $1600, and pulled the trigger. Now, I never got the Exos, so I can't really compare, but I have no regrets knowing that I can put pretty much any scope I'll ever be able to afford on this EQ6-r, and will (hopefully) never need to buy another mount. This wouldn't have been the case with the Exos, which I eventually would have wanted to upgrade (probably), as I would like to eventually get an EdgeHD scope (8 or 9.25) and possibly also a Quattro (8 or 10) to fill the gap between that and my short 'frac.
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#20 unimatrix0

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 05:35 PM

For telescopes and cameras  here is a CN special page to figure out what you want> 

https://docs.google....fGJ8/edit#gid=0


Edited by unimatrix0, 05 August 2021 - 05:35 PM.



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