Phew, awesome responses. Catch up time.
The LXD75 is probably a bit overkill weight wise and perhaps the ad is sketchy, but it is a very solid mount and includes optional GoTo. A Nexstar 6 is a fun scope but really intended more for GoTo operations. Which is tricky when there is only one star up and the mount is programmed not to go to it. There is probably a method for doing a solar alignment but you would need to research that.
I've read up on the solar alignment a bit. At least enough to know that it's a valid option. Am I wrong to think of the iEXOS as an updated LXD75? I read that somewhere in this forum while searching.
Topic moved to our Solar Eclipse 2024 subforum for eclipse-specific discussion.
Thank you. That's definitely my short term goal, but we have a 3 year old that I'd like to introduce astronomy to a few years. I'd like to eventually try astrophotography, but I know myself. It'll take years before I have that sort of time.
For solar astrophotography, you don't need an equatorial mount--exposure times are short enough (even through a filter), and you're not stacking images. I'm familiar with the Nexstar SE, it's a great visual system.
The iexos system looks like a very nice equatorial mount for a DSLR or lighter camera. If you're using a DSLR with a cropped sensor (APS-C), a 200 mm (equivalent to a 300 mm on an old-fashioned 35 mm film camera) will yield a very nice image of the sun--or of deep sky objects. The mirrorless cameras would also be good. This type of mount is overkill for a cell phone camera.
If I went that route, I'd be using my 114mm reflector with my phone attached as I did before. I've shopped for a mirrorless with this in mind and will probably get one in the future before some vacation.
Great pics of the eclipse. I have the LXD75 with the 10" SN. My OTA is a bit too heavy for the mount but I get by. Your OTA would be nothing to it though as yours is pretty light. I'd say that getting any GEM to track OK is all about polar alignment but you probably know that already. I've gotten pretty good at doing that apparently even without being able to see the North Star (as I set it up in the daytime). I just have a compass that I apply to a small board against the rear two legs (which would run east/west) and I make sure that the magnetic declination is set on the compass. Also, obviously, the correct latitude has to be set on the tilt of the mount. the big thing about the LXD75 is it does weight a bit. Especially the 3 10lb counter weights I need for the OTA. You would need less though.
Thank you. Mostly luck through trial and error. They're not professional level, but I enjoy looking back at them knowing that they are exactly what we saw that day. Polar aligning isn't too bad. Unfortunately, this old mount has a bit of slop in the gears, which just adds another fun factor.
For our eclipse in 2017 we did need a tracking mount as we averaged the HDR images from the whole 2 minutes. Good polar alignment means you won't have to readjust pointing when the eclipse starts, you can start your exposure sequence and enjoy the eclipse visually.
We're using a system that will cost about $1700 for 2024 for our Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast Initiative sites... could be $1300 if you already have a laptop. We've tested it out and like the performance, field of view, etc. It is highly portable, and can be used for decent night time pictures and projects as well (we've measured asteroid light curves, for instance). The GoTo mount makes it easy to find objects, and SharpCap pro will make polar alignment easy. I can provide you with links where I have purchased these items if you like. Starting sometime in the summer we will be making training videos for taking data during the Oct annular eclipse, and in the fall for the April total eclipse. We will have several practice runs and will provide feedback on your data to improve your results!
I'll list the equipment below. Planning to start a thread about our project here, and please send a message if you are interested in joining! You can see an introductory description of our project at Sky & Telescope here:
DEB-Initiative Equipment package:
Skyhunter EQ/AZ $558
Askar FMA 180Pro $399
Camera Adapter $13
Neptune-M Player 1 $299
60mm solar filter $27
Example Laptop $376
SharpCap Pro $15
Great info, thank you. Are you going to be in Carbondale? If so, I'm not sure how much help another scope will be when it's only about 15min south of you. We're going to be visiting Giant City that weekend and probably setting up at a nearby winery like last time.
How close to that equipment list are you requiring participants to be? Do they have to use the SkyHunter, or even a GEM? If I went the Nexstar route this time around and set it up for tracking the sun, I assume that it won't be as smooth, but should still be fine for anything besides stacking like hdt mentioned. I'm currently leaning that way since I can always put the OTA on a GEM in the future.