I’m trying to figure out the right rig for getting into EAA with my 10-year-old. Reading the various posts here and beginners guides on other Astro websites has taught me lots of things I would buy if budget constraints didn’t exist, but I need to learn what the *next* improvement priority needs to be if we are to have any change at decent images (not hopelessly blurry) of the planets, lunar surface, and maybe some star clusters and nebulae if we feel lucky.
We can’t get sharp captures at all, even though we’re using an ASI 662 camera and SharpCap and running strings of short exposures that add up to about 4 mins of data when combined in DeepSkyStacker.
StarSense Explorer 102DX with the plate-solver mirror attachment
on the stock Alt-Az mount and tripod that came in the box
ASI 662 camera (brand new)
Laptop (Windows, fast Intel CPU, 16GB RAM and 500GB SSD)
Help me prioritize upgrades?
A. Image train: I can’t get focus with the 102DX straight into the ASI camera unless I use my Svobony Diagonal. (I got that because the plastic diagonal that came with the scope was really rough). Should I get a spacer that would allow me to take the diagonal out of the train?
B. Scope: We got the 102DX as a family toy a couple years ago. It’s F6.7 and FL is 660, so the camera FOV isn’t great (small sensor), but the platesolving bracket works pretty well, and we’re finding stuff fine. It’s just … impossible to get crisp focus. (Yes, we’ve used a Bahtinov mask) Even when we leave the scope outside so it’s nice and adjusted to the temp. Even the moon is fuzzy. There’s also chromatic aberration, but that’s to be expected. Is the dinky focuser our problem? Any way to fix? Or do we just need better glass?
C. Mount: Manual Alt-Az mount means we’re constantly chasing stuff across the field of view. E.g. we tried shooting the Famous Comet and it would only stay in frame for about 30 seconds and then we’d have to move the scope, wait for the vibrations to settle down (about 5 secs) and start again. I thought startracking wasn’t needed for EAA because you’re just doing short bursts anyway. But would a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi change our results more than anything else?
Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom…