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Beginning Astrophotography Tips

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#1 emmalobert


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Posted 08 December 2023 - 08:52 PM

Hi! I recently got a ZWO ASI533MC Pro camera for my Celestron CPC 1100 telescope. What are some of the easiest objects to start astrophotography with my setup? Thanks!

#2 72Nova



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Posted 08 December 2023 - 09:19 PM

I’m a novice imager but I think your setup lends itself to planetary imaging.  I can’t imagine learning deep sky imaging with 2800 focal length.

#3 TelescopeGreg


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Posted 08 December 2023 - 09:52 PM

As-is, "easiest" is none too easy.  The scope is really intended for visual astronomy, or imaging the fine details of the Moon and planets.  This sub-forum is aimed at Deep Sky Imaging, which are targets that can be really large (many are larger than the full Moon), and breathtakingly dim. 


Take a look at one of the virtual telescopes on the Web to get an idea of what the field of view is going to be.  Your field of view is 0.23 degrees square; the Moon is twice that size.  A favorite bright DSO target this time of year is M42, which is 4x as wide and 4x as high.  Most DSO imaging is done with focal lengths between about 500mm and 750mm, more or less.  You're at 2,800.  https://www.blackwat...maging-toolbox/


Also, your f/10 scope is painfully slow meaning that you'll need much longer exposures to gather enough light, but without an autoguider, your mount isn't going to be able to track the sky smoothly enough to keep the stars from smearing around.  The long focal length means high magnification, which magnifies all the mechanical bumps and burps that the mount introduces as it runs.  Even with a reducer you'll be having trouble.  Remember that the pixels in your camera are a couple of microns on a side, and microns are really really really small.  They're about the size of a pea being held by someone standing a couple of miles away.  Not the person, just the pea.  The mount needs to keep the light from the ideally-pinpoint stars in your image steady on the same small set of pixels for minutes at a time, as the Earth spins.  The mounts that come with these scopes are simply not designed to do that.


You might get away with using "EAA Techniques" - thousands of short exposures integrated together - to get something for some of the smaller targets.  There's a sub-forum dedicated to that style of imaging; you might browse there and see what folks are doing.  https://www.cloudyni...ost-processing/

Edited by TelescopeGreg, 08 December 2023 - 10:48 PM.

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#4 17.5Dob


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Posted 08 December 2023 - 10:29 PM

Have you deforked the 11" and put it on an equatorial mount ? Do you at minimum have it mounted on the wedge. Do you have the reducer ? If not, there are no easy targets for that scope. The focal length is much, much, too long. It's field of view with the small chip 533 is miniscule. You will be forced to shoot mosaics of just about any nebula. That's "if" you can track and autoguide well enough for the long exposures needed at f10.....Unless you have at least the wedge, deep space will be impossible with your mount. Even with the wedge, it will be extremely difficult and very frustrating.

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#5 Sacred Heart

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Posted 08 December 2023 - 11:47 PM

+1 for TelescopeGreg and  Dave.   


C11, DSO imaging requires experience, a very good mount and great skies, not to mention Lady Luck.


To do imaging with your set up, planetary and lunar. 


To be honest,  a sort tube refractor, 400mm to 600mm in focal length. Example, AT80EDT.  A modest mount, CEM 40 or GM8G or G811G, ZWO 120 mono and a guide scope, 50mm.  Your 533 camera.  Equals success  and fun, over and over.


With your scope, realistically, EAA style with a 6.3 reducer on small stuff, M57, M51.  High gain and very short exposures in Sharpcap live stack. Short exposures meaning 10 to 30 seconds maximum.


The othe option is Fastar / Hyperstar, convert your scope to f2.






Again, short exposures.



In astronomy, not just imaging, the mount is #1 - 7 on the top ten list.  #8 is the scope, #9 is the camera, you have a good one in the 533.   #10 is you, your ability to acquire and process a picture, to pull a rabbit out of a hat.



#6 idclimber


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Posted 09 December 2023 - 12:30 AM

The setup you have would work for EAA 

#7 smiller



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Posted 09 December 2023 - 03:12 PM

Hi! I recently got a ZWO ASI533MC Pro camera for my Celestron CPC 1100 telescope. What are some of the easiest objects to start astrophotography with my setup? Thanks!



To help you it would be nice to know a few things:


0) How experienced are you at using the scope and have you done any EAA or AP of any kind before?

1) Is this on the Celestron Alt/Az fork mount?

2) Do you have a wedge for it?

3) How experienced are you at using it (Can you find various deep sky targets like M27 (Dumbbell), andromeda, etc...?)

4) Have your shot planets with it so you have some experience connecting the camera to a computer?

5) Have you done any EAA and have experience focusing on deep sky targets and getting the EAA system to work? 

6) How dark are your skies?

7) Do you have a reducer for the scope because your telescope has a very long focal length and that’s one thing that makes it very difficult for deep sky astrophotography.



The easiest target may be dependent a bit on your location (latitude) and sky darkness.  But if you are in the Northern hemisphere, the easiest object may be M27 the dumbbell nebula that is just getting lower in the evening sky, but that first hour or so is just high enough to be good.  I found that I can find it pretty easily even in moderately light polluted skies and you can get a decent "getting started" picture of it in about 30-60 minutes.


The core of M31 (Andromeda) may also be bright but you’ll only get the very core so not very satisfying. In 2 months M81 and M82 are rising and fairly small and bright.  


You are getting feedback that your telescope isn't easy to use for deep sky and that's certainly the case.  To maximize the chance of any success and of having fun, you may want to take this in stages like I listed above:


1) Become really good at using the scope, aligning it, finding targets.

2) Try to do some planetary or lunar AP as that is easier and a great match for that scope

3) Then try to do EAA as that's harder than planetary but a lot easier than full AP, and it's a lot of fun!

4) Then try a first small bright deep sky target and learn the full capturing/stacking/editing process.  It'll be like EAA but you process afterwards.



Edited by smiller, 09 December 2023 - 04:57 PM.

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#8 JF1960


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Posted 09 December 2023 - 03:24 PM

It’s a common mistake to have a nice optical scope and think you can easily convert it to take pictures of DSOs.  In reality, the 533 has a small FOV and your scope has a very large focal length.  All targets you image will need to be very small.  And to get a good image will require a very expensive tracking mount and a lot of guiding equipment and experience or something like EAA.  The 533 is a great camera for DSO.  But if you are a beginner and want better success, buy a decent mount and a much smaller refractor 50 - 80mm aperture with a 250 - 400mm focal length.  The cheaper option may be to pair a camera lens (100-400mm focal length) you may already own with the 533 and a cheap star tracker.  If you have a decent lens, you will be surprised the nice images you can get.

#9 stardustborn


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Posted 09 December 2023 - 04:33 PM

None of them are easy and what they all said above is true.   But you could just aim it a small faraway galaxy (not M31) and stack 20 second exposures and be amazed at what pops up.


Blazing new frontiers, going where no man has before, meeting new frontiers, new galaxies that have civilizations and dating the women there.....


Oh wait, sorry, that's Star Trek.  smile.gif

Edited by stardustborn, 09 December 2023 - 04:38 PM.

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