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AT80ED or AT102ED? Which tripod/mount?

Astro Tech Mount Tripod
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#26 Oldfracguy

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 11:01 PM

Steve...whre did you get that extension column for your Twilight I?



#27 Steve Cox

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 06:16 AM

It's a Skywatcher EQ6 Pier Extension I bought from Agena.  Be warned though I did have to do some cutting and filing to both the tripod and underside of the mount head to make it fit.  If you go down this road there's no reverting back; but once installed it's wonderful and gets the eyepiece height up where it needs to be and keeps me off the ground.  The one complaint I have of the Twilight 1 is the tripod is too short even when extended.


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#28 Wenwald

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 08:48 AM

Thanks for all the replies. A variety of opinions but all very helpful as I consider what I actually need to start off.

I’m beginning to realize the astrophotography I do is limited by my camera, so 30sec or so of exposure per shot max, and I am not ready to upgrade the camera. An EQ mount with motors added could help but I’m only capable of lower exposure stuff. Just my camera + my lenses yield a helpful range for non-planetary photography, effectively 50mm to 1120mm taking into account crop factor and adapter. If I want longer than 0.4” exposure (rule of 500) at 1120mm, I think I would aim to get a SW Sky Adventurer tracker on top of any tripod.

Portability and weight matters to me as I research and consider. This telescope is going to be stored up a flight of stairs and will need to get carried up and down and through the house each time I want to observe. Also I live in suburbia with some tall homes around me and I need to sometimes pick up and carry my camera tripod from back yard, to side yard, to front yard to observe everything I am able to see on my property. Alt-Az seems ideal for that kind of juggling around. Alt-Az mounts are significantly less heavy than EQ mounts due to the counterweights.

So I’m currently leaning toward a lighter weight Alt-Az mount (but not spend too much so I can feel better upgrading to an EQ if that feels more right!) paired with an 80mm refractor to do mainly visual observation of stars and planets. A dob needs a table which would be tricky for my situation.

I’d instead use my real camera lenses for sky photos, but maybe sometimes attach it to the refractor to get some planet shots or other short exposure shots. The Pentax Q is super light and small so I am not worried about added weight at all.

All that said, $1000 for such a setup seems more than I’m willing to spend for lack of ability to seriously Astro-photograph stuff via the scope. I’d rather spend that once I’m sure I want to do it.

So considering all of that, now I’m leaning toward some of Explore Scientific’s more budget but decent quality 80mm offerings which come with a super portable (but decent sounding) twilight nano mount, and possibly the Sky Adventurer down the road.

Edited by Wenwald, 30 November 2023 - 08:49 AM.

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#29 Auburn80

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 10:00 AM

Steve...whre did you get that extension column for your Twilight I?

I'd you have to modify your CG4 to get it to 90°?



#30 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 10:25 AM

Thanks for sharing your situation.  Here are some more ideas...

 

First of all, for photography of pretty much anything in the night sky, you will need slow-motion position controls on your mount.  The ES Twilight Nano has a handle like a photo tripod, where you "pan" the scope around.  Those are a little "jerky" and are not well suited for aiming the telescope and tracking a target as it moves across the night sky.

 

The 80mm refractor is about at the upper limit for scopes you can use on smaller, lightweight mounts.  I'm in the same boat as you.  I have to carry the scope on its mount to different places in my yard, or to the side of the house, to see in different directions.  An 80mm refractor on a lightweight Alt-Az mount is no problem, whereas a 102mm or larger refractor on a much sturdier mount is doable, but not as easy.  Here is a cousin of the AT80ED, a William Optics ZenithStar 81, on a SW AZ Pronto mount:

 

101_2499.JPG

 

The ZenithStar 81 weighs a little more, maybe a pound or two, than an AT80ED when fitted with a diagonal, finder scope and eyepiece, but it still works on a smaller mount.

 

If you will have to carry your mount down the stairs, it will be very helpful if the tripod legs fold up easily.  That is not the case with the ES Twilight I.  I've had two of them, and one of the first things I did was to replace that long bolt with the handle that secures the mount head on with a section of M10 threaded rod, so that the mount head stays permenently attached to the tripod when you fold up the legs for transport:

 

101_0874_VGA (2).jpg

 

I used two nuts to secure the threaded rod underneath the top of the tripod after screwing it securely into the mount head.  I then used a wingnut underneath the triangular eyepiece tray / tripod leg brace to secure that.

 

 

 


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#31 balcon3

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 11:22 AM

Good choices. Do yourself a favor and get an ED version of the 80mm scope. You will be grateful when you view or photograph planets. Astrotech (our CN sponsor) sells a very good one for $377. On the tripod, as others have recommended, get a mount with slow motion controls.  They are easier to use and will allow you to keep a planet in the same position more or less as you photograph, so the pictures will be crisper. (Of course tracking is better, but for that you need an EQ mount). The Twilight 1 and AZ5 are examples. Good luck !


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#32 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 11:27 AM

Another thing that is important for visual observation, and especially for photography--astro or otherwise--is to get a scope that has a 2" focuser that will accept 2" diagonals and 2" T-Adaptors to connect your camera.  A 2" focuser makes a world of difference.


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#33 vtornado

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 12:19 PM

These are my opinions, not gospel.

 

  • TW1 mount is OK for the 80 not for the 100.
  • I like slow motion controls for Lunar/Planetary
  • CG4 will hold either tube in EQ or alt-az mode.  You may have to use a CW in alt-az with the 100mm frac to keep it from tipping, this adds some weight and diffiulty for a G&G type setup.
  • My CG4s are older. I've had no issues with "stripping" I don't know if new ones are not as sturdy.
  • Sky-Tee is an excellent mount but only available at first-light optics. 
  • Sorry I don't have an AZ5.

 

Do you really want to do AP?   or do you want to do EAA.  EAA because of the 10-20 second exposures  can tolerate a much cheaper mount. 


Edited by vtornado, 30 November 2023 - 12:20 PM.

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#34 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 12:33 PM

It's a Skywatcher EQ6 Pier Extension I bought from Agena.  Be warned though I did have to do some cutting and filing to both the tripod and underside of the mount head to make it fit.  If you go down this road there's no reverting back; but once installed it's wonderful and gets the eyepiece height up where it needs to be and keeps me off the ground.  The one complaint I have of the Twilight 1 is the tripod is too short even when extended.

I thought it looked familiar.  Great that you were able to do some modifications to make it work with your Twilight I waytogo.gif .  

 

That's one of issues I had with the Twilight I as well, the fact that the tripod legs don't extend as far as one would like, to get the scope higher up off the ground. The other issue I had with mine is that, when the tripod is set up, the legs are spread pretty far apart, and getting it through the side door of my garage was a pain.  However, even with the maintenance required to keep a Twilight I working well, they really are versatile mounts.  They can be configured to mount just about any type of OTA:

 

101_1137.JPG

 

101_1202.JPG


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#35 Pat Rochford

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 12:51 PM

Don't forget to keep an observing chair in mind also.


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#36 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 01:01 PM

I'd you have to modify your CG4 to get it to 90°?

To convert a CG-4 from GEM to Alt-Az mode only a few things need to be done.

 

First, you have to remove the two large latitude angle locking screws from the front and back of the mount head, and then remove two Allen screws so you can take off the little bracket on the back that one of those large latitude angle locking screws goes through.  Next, use a half-round file or some other tool to create a notch on top of the bracket.  Now rotate the mount head all the way over to the 90° position, with the polar axis pointing straight up.  Finally, reattach that bracket with the notch, which now serves to lock the mount head in place:

 

101_1582.JPG

 

When you make that notch, be careful to remove only as much metal as needed to fit under that little metal tab that the two latitude angle locking screws butt up against underneath the mount head when in GEM mode.  I took a litle bit too much off, and there is a little play between the metal tab and the notch.  When mounting a heavier OTA like a 6" Newtonian or a 120mm refractor, I can feel the mount head move just a bit when swinging around to look in a different direction.

 

Here's a closer view of the CG-4 mount head in Alt-Az mode:

 

101_1581.JPG


Edited by Oldfracguy, 30 November 2023 - 01:03 PM.

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#37 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 02:14 PM

Here is another Alt-Az mount that would be great with either an AT80ED or an AT102ED, the Vixen Porta II, and one has just been listed for sale in the CN Classifieds:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-porta-2-mount/

 

A couple years ago I had both Vixen Porta II and an ES Twilight I at the same time:

 

101_0876_VGA.JPG

 

The Vixen Porta II has a shorter, less wobbly mount arm than the Twilight I, but you are contsrained to mounting the scope with its dovetail rail on the right side as viewed from behind.  That should not be a problem with either an AT80ED or an AT102ED, since both scopes are long enough that their focuser knobs won't contact the side of the mount when the scopes are balanced fore and aft.


Edited by Oldfracguy, 30 November 2023 - 02:22 PM.


#38 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 02:20 PM

Here are two refractors on the Vixen Porta II and the ES Twilight I:

 

101_0852.JPG


Edited by Oldfracguy, 30 November 2023 - 02:21 PM.

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#39 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 05:17 PM

Here is a comprehensive summary of stuff pertaining to the ES Twilight I mount:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ilight-i-mount/



#40 Oldfracguy

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 06:19 PM

Don't forget to keep an observing chair in mind also.

Man, that is so true!  I wish I had purchased one of those right off the bat three years ago when I started to look through telescopes again after a layoff of about 50 years.  What took me so long I have no idea.  A few months ago I finally got one:

 

101_2578.JPG

 

In fact, if your are using refractors, or are seriously considering getting a refractor, I would say that an adjustable height observing chair is just as important as having a decent mount.  Since I have used this observing chair I have noticed by back no longer hurts in the morning smile.gif .



#41 rodsager

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 06:38 PM

You cannot possibly overestimate how much more mount you need for imaging, compared to visual.  The difference is night/day.

 

Good entry level imaging mounts are the CEM26, the GEM28, and the HEQ5 Pro.  All about $1400.  They'll handle the 80.  If you want headroom for a bigger scope later, you'll need more mount.

 

If that's outside your budget, the economical option is to replace the scope with a camera lens.  Then you can use a $500 camera tracker.  The setup looks like this, and it's a great way to get started in DSO imaging.

I have the iOptron Tracker Pro and it has made my astro imaging way better. I typically use a 135/2 lens.




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