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Astronomy gear options for Xmas

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#1 Leia

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 09:46 AM

I need to give my family some suggestions that will work with my current astro gear rig for Xmas. I enjoy DSLR AP, seriously considered telescope AP, and hopefully have a barn door tracker on the way from a family member. I'd love to learn Newts and EQ mounts, so I considered getting a EQ Newt + motor drive to learn AP with. Luckily, you amazing folks at Cloudy Nights steered me away from that, given how many problems there were with that idea. My current budget is around $400, but may be able to stretch some (though not as far as a CG-4, motor drive and the Skywatcher Evoguide 50ED). It can stretch to around $600 max, if it's something I really want, but no farther.

What I'm not looking for

-eyepieces

-filters

This is likely to be my biggest purchase ever.

 

What I am looking for

-Maybe new scope with EQ mount

 

I can buy from B&H used, or Adoroma used, or MPB, but not for sale by owner (eBay).

 

My AP camera is a Rebel T3, with a 135 f/2.8 lens that I haven't tried successfully due to lack of tracking. I've also heard that my scope gets unbalanced easily by heavy thing on the EP end.

 



#2 Leia

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 09:46 AM

I need to give my family some suggestions that will work with my current astro gear rig for Xmas. I enjoy AP, considering telescope AP, have done point and shoot AP, and hopefully have a barn door tracker on the way from a family member. I'd love to learn Newts and EQ mounts, so I considered getting a EQ Newt + motor drive to learn AP with. Luckily, you amazing folks at Cloudy Nights steered me away from that, given how many problems there were with that idea. My current budget is around $400, but may be able to stretch some (though not as far as a CG-4, motor drive and the Skywatcher Evoguide 50ED). It can stretch to around $600 max, if it's something I really want, but no farther.

What I'm not looking for

-eyepieces

-filters

- a Orion CT80

-binos

This is likely to be my biggest purchase ever.

 

What I am looking for

-Maybe new scope with EQ mount

I can buy from B&H used, or Adoroma used, or MPB, but not for sale by owner (eBay).

My AP DSLR camera is a Rebel T3, with a 135 f/2.8 lens that I haven't tried successfully due to lack of tracking. I've also heard that my scope gets unbalanced easily by heavy thing on the EP end. My point and shoot that I have now is lunar only, and is the Nikon Coolpix S8100


Edited by Leia, 23 October 2021 - 10:04 AM.

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#3 csrlice12

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 11:02 AM

You could possibly get pics of the moon and some blurry pics of the planets.  For AP the mount is the most important part....the CG4 is a nice Visual EQ mount, but not really designed for AP.  A good EQ mount for AP is gonna cost at least three to four times your budget for a minimally acceptable platform.  Visual is like flying a kite...AP is like flying an airplane.


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#4 alphatripleplus

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 12:10 PM

 

What I am looking for

-Maybe new scope with EQ mount

 

+1 to the last post. With a budget of $400- $600, I don't think you are going to get much of a new scope and mount (even if you buy used) suitable for  trying to do AP.  For around $400-$500 you might consider a small 60-70mm APO doublet refractor for wide field imaging, but the mount would be a significant additional cost.



#5 Leia

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 12:27 PM

Oh, well. Maybe Newt for visual with EQ mount to learn EQ mount + Newt all at once?



#6 sevenofnine

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 12:50 PM

Another member recommended this book. "The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer (2nd ed)" by Charles Bracken. It seems quite thorough to me. After reading it, you will know whether you are ready to take the plunge or not. The budget is a minimum $2k I've read. Best of luck to you! waytogo.gif


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#7 Leia

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 01:09 PM

My budget is $650 max if stretched. I guess I should stick to ~135mm focal length.



#8 Juzwuz

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 02:04 PM

You can definitely get cool photos with your T3 camera, 135mm lens, and a star tracker but you will have to set your expectations appropriately. For example, you would have a hard time getting detailed images of a small galaxy but a large galaxy like Andromeda would be pretty nice. With your budget of $400 to $600, you should get a nice star tracker like a Star Adventurer Pro, Sky Guider Pro, or SkyTracker Pro. Don't forget possible additional expenses like a laptop for capturing and processing images, dew heater, cables, adapters, and processing software. Eventually you can upgrade your camera, lens, and mount when your budget and interest expands.


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#9 WadeH237

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 02:11 PM

Oh, well. Maybe Newt for visual with EQ mount to learn EQ mount + Newt all at once?

Newts on GEM's for visual are not much fun.

 

The problem is that the GEM can (will, actually) put a Newt's eyepiece at odd angles.  Unless you are a contortionist, it's not going to be a comfortable experience.

 

You can get around this issue by using tube rings that allow the OTA to rotate, but the rings themselves would probably be more than your entire budget.



#10 rblackadar

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 02:33 PM

I just want to say, your Rebel T3 with 135mm should be awesome on a whole host of targets -- Orion for starters! I usually stop my cheap f/2.8 down to f/4 because that helps with sharpness -- but even at that, my guesstimated polar alignment and cheap tracking motor are usually up to the task. Very much fun. Even better with a modified DSLR (plus filter, when appropriate) but you can wait for that -- test the waters first and see if you want something more.

 

As for a scope and mount upgrade, I wait to see what others would recommend. The mount is certainly the more important thing to worry about, for AP -- I mean, you could put your existing 102 on a motorized EQ mount and have some fun with AP even though it's "just" an achromat. But that would probably require some rings to get good balance, and those can be expensive, so perhaps it's better overall to get a package deal on an OTA + mount. It may just be best to wait until you can afford more.

 

As for used equipment, you might consider adding CN classifieds to your list of preferred "vendors"; I've had good luck with it so far. (I've found Ebay to be fine for stuff like cheap adapters bought new from China etc.)



#11 Leia

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 03:10 PM

Oh, so maybe a Dob? I know Orion has good ones...



#12 WadeH237

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 03:14 PM

You could easily get an 8" Dob for well under your budget.  For visual observing, that would be a very cost effective strategy.


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#13 Leia

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 03:19 PM

Newts on GEM's for visual are not much fun.

 

The problem is that the GEM can (will, actually) put a Newt's eyepiece at odd angles.  Unless you are a contortionist, it's not going to be a comfortable experience.

 

You can get around this issue by using tube rings that allow the OTA to rotate, but the rings themselves would probably be more than your entire budget.

I've always been a refractor person and am just now getting into reflectors. Thanks for letting me know, as I wouldn't have otherwise known that. I guess maybe something else on an EQ?



#14 Leia

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 03:24 PM

I'd go for the Orion 6in Dob over the Orion 8 for weight and the fact that the price difference between the 4.5 and 6 isn't much, but 6 to 8 is over $100. That is, unless you think the 6 to 8 jump is that much worth it. Then I might consider the 8.



#15 Juzwuz

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 03:45 PM

https://explorescien...ts/es-iexos-100

 

The IEXOS-100 might be a decent alternative to a star tracker and it's within your price range.



#16 Signal2Noise

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 05:16 PM

Another member recommended this book. "The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer (2nd ed)" by Charles Bracken. It seems quite thorough to me. After reading it, you will know whether you are ready to take the plunge or not. The budget is a minimum $2k I've read. Best of luck to you! waytogo.gif

I’m also a believer in books and especially as gifts to give/receive. In addition to this one I’d recommend “The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide (4th Ed)” by Terence Dickinson & Alan Dyer.


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#17 LDW47

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 06:21 PM

Xmas !  Every day is Christmas, for years it has been ' if we see something, want something, we buy it ' I guess there are still some old school ......., lol  Or I guess many times we call it an ' early xmas gift ', lol


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#18 LDW47

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 06:25 PM

I'd go for the Orion 6in Dob over the Orion 8 for weight and the fact that the price difference between the 4.5 and 6 isn't much, but 6 to 8 is over $100. That is, unless you think the 6 to 8 jump is that much worth it. Then I might consider the 8.

I had 2 SW 8" dobs and a SW 6" dob, I sold the 2 8"" and kept the 6"  I just sold the 6" as part of my conversion to refractors (12)  But the 6" for the views vs $'s is a keeper and then go larger from there if you wish


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#19 teashea

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 08:02 PM

I need to give my family some suggestions that will work with my current astro gear rig for Xmas. I enjoy DSLR AP, seriously considered telescope AP, and hopefully have a barn door tracker on the way from a family member. I'd love to learn Newts and EQ mounts, so I considered getting a EQ Newt + motor drive to learn AP with. Luckily, you amazing folks at Cloudy Nights steered me away from that, given how many problems there were with that idea. My current budget is around $400, but may be able to stretch some (though not as far as a CG-4, motor drive and the Skywatcher Evoguide 50ED). It can stretch to around $600 max, if it's something I really want, but no farther.

What I'm not looking for

-eyepieces

-filters

This is likely to be my biggest purchase ever.

 

What I am looking for

-Maybe new scope with EQ mount

 

I can buy from B&H used, or Adoroma used, or MPB, but not for sale by owner (eBay).

 

My AP camera is a Rebel T3, with a 135 f/2.8 lens that I haven't tried successfully due to lack of tracking. I've also heard that my scope gets unbalanced easily by heavy thing on the EP end.

You are not going to get a decent telescope with mount for that budget.



#20 ShaulaB

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 08:43 PM

Go for the 6 inch Dob if it is f8. The longer focal length makes collimation less picky. Normal eyepieces can be used to get decent magnification.

A smartphone put up to the eyepiece will yield some nice pictures of the Moon and bright planets. Putting a DSLR on a tracker will get you some nice images if you have dark skies.

Best of luck, and have fun. It's a shame AP has to be so expensive. Have you thought about EAA electronically assisted astronomy? CN has an entire forum for that.

#21 Leia

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 11:05 PM

Don't you need a good EQ with motor drive for EAA? I'm thinking about that, but good EQs with motor drive are expensive for me.




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