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Recommendations for a Newtonian Astrograph

Astrophotography DSO Imaging Reflector Equipment
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#1 fyferoni

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:35 AM

Title says it all! Check my signature for my current setup regarding what I'm working with currently, but i'm looking for a newtonian astrograph to complement my wider FOV that I get from my AT72EDII.

 

I have a deep love affair with diffraction spikes, and have always loved the aesthetic a newtonian brings to a final image, and am well aware of the added complexity of collimation/light leaks/etc that comes with a newtonian! I've had a decent amount of practice on my 8in. dob, so that aspect doesn't necessarily scare me away!

 

I'm thinking of something around 600-800mm that would allow me to get decent shots of larger galaxies and really hone in on center cores of DSOs (Cygnus Wall, Eagle, Orion, Etc. A decently fast one as well would be helpful, as my sky horizon is a bit limited by trees and houses, and I can't always get 6hrs on a target in a single night. 4.5hr is about the max I can manage at the moment. I'm in a bortle 6 suburb, so light pollution is an issue as well.

 

I know they Sky Watcher 150p is a popular go-to, but I've also heard quality issues as well with the focusers and excessive light leaks near the main mirror.

I've also seen tons of ads for the Apertura CarbonStar 150p. Anyone have experience with that guy yet? Thoughts?

 

Thanks CN! Any wisdom/feedback is really helpful!



#2 bbasiaga

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:43 AM

Cuiv the lazy geek has a side by side of the Carbonstar and Sky watcher newts on his youtube channel.  I recall he greatly prefers the carbon star.  


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#3 fyferoni

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:48 AM

Cuiv the lazy geek has a side by side of the Carbonstar and Sky watcher newts on his youtube channel.  I recall he greatly prefers the carbon star.  

I saw that video, and that's what made me originally think the Apertura is a decent option? I was just a little leery about it being a brand new product, and probably has some teething issues to work out over the first year of it's sale.



#4 Andros246

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:52 AM

I saw that video, and that's what made me originally think the Apertura is a decent option? I was just a little leery about it being a brand new product, and probably has some teething issues to work out over the first year of it's sale.

Its either that or purchase a quattro/150pds and spend a few hundred on upgrading/(fixing it) like flocking the tube upgrading the secondary spider, primary masking, fixing any potential light leaks by painting some surfaces with nonreflecting coatings ect ect.

 

Right now with what is out on the market its either cheap newts or the newer carbonstar.


Edited by Andros246, 30 May 2024 - 11:52 AM.

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#5 72Nova

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:54 AM

I’ve been using the Carbonstar 150 for the last two months and I like it a lot. Although I had never imaged with a Newtonian before, I can say that the Carbonstar has very good build quality, holds collimation well, and is easy to use.

My last 5 images on Astrobin were taken with the Carbonstar 150.

Edit: it also pairs very well with your 533mc. I’ve been using that camera and a 294mm with the CarbonStar

Edited by 72Nova, 30 May 2024 - 12:09 PM.

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#6 Jethro7

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:59 AM

Hello fyferoni,

Take a look at the Apertura Carbonstar 150. It is well done by GSO. I like mine.

 

HAPPY SKIES TO YOU AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro

 

Here is a link to Carbonstar threads on CN.

https://www.cloudyni...arbon-star-150/


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#7 Sky King

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 12:03 PM

I'm sure those are great Newtonians. Here's my bargain basement Newt:

 

I have the GSO 150, F5, 750, that I bought off classifieds for $225. Here it's new for $350. Read the reviews. You can get an upgrade to dual for the focuser for $60 which is easy to put in. Also comes in a F4 version, but the F5 isn't bad either, I use the Baader MPCC with this, also from classifieds for $100. I like it.


Edited by Sky King, 30 May 2024 - 12:08 PM.

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#8 jml79

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 01:00 PM

I have been researching the same question and the only "quality" newtonians I can find available today are;

 

CarbonStar 150

TS-Optics UNC line (Priced in EUR incl VAT so reduce the price by 19% before converting)

TS-Optics ONTC line (Priced in EUR incl VAT so reduce the price by 19% before converting)

 

Explore Scientific used to have an upgraded 8" scope and Lecerta Optics used to sell some upgraded, hand crafted newts but neither are available any longer.

 

Make sure to investigate the coma corrector as well. There are some older tests posted here that unfortunately don't include some of the newer correctors available but a less than great coma corrector can really impact the image potential. The SharpStar units and their rebrands seem to perform very well for the price but I haven't tried yet...


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#9 gsaramet

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 01:19 PM

I shoot the 8 inch f4 TS Optics Newt in my signature. 

 

It's not the kind of scope I would like to upgrade in any way. However, it's good enough with my 533. There are some issues with light - tape fixes that nicely. And a sock around the focuser draw tube. It was cheap enough (second hand) - I paid for the collimation kit and coma corrector more than for the scope. 

 

Not only it works, but it works without creating other problems. Collimation is stable. The focuser does not slip. A decent workhorse. Not too fast, not too slow. 

 

Next scope will be shorter, and hopefully faster ;) I am looking at the f2.8 astrographs or the f2 RASA. But, it's a long way until there, with the weather we are having I should rather sell the rig and buy a microscope :)


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#10 Markovich

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 02:48 PM

I took delivery of a CarbonStar 150 on Sunday to replace a SW 130PDS.  Weather has prevented a first light but some observations:

 

Build quality and design is very impressive!

Focuser is solid and smooth

The tube is pitch black inside with excellent paint and baffles

It is amazingly light

 

Also- the secondary needed centering under the focuser- eventually got it to where the Chesire/Auto-collimator and a Glatter Barlowed Laser all agreed.

Took out the primary cell and slightly loosened the clips ( time will tell if a mask is order) . Also, noticed the coating marks were not under the clips...that would have been nice.

The secondary adjustment screws should be knobs 

Also, time will tell if the bright red secondary vanes have any adverse effect.

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#11 Argyris

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 03:34 PM

Title says it all! Check my signature for my current setup regarding what I'm working with currently, but i'm looking for a newtonian astrograph to complement my wider FOV that I get from my AT72EDII.

 

I have a deep love affair with diffraction spikes, and have always loved the aesthetic a newtonian brings to a final image, and am well aware of the added complexity of collimation/light leaks/etc that comes with a newtonian! I've had a decent amount of practice on my 8in. dob, so that aspect doesn't necessarily scare me away!

 

I'm thinking of something around 600-800mm that would allow me to get decent shots of larger galaxies and really hone in on center cores of DSOs (Cygnus Wall, Eagle, Orion, Etc. A decently fast one as well would be helpful, as my sky horizon is a bit limited by trees and houses, and I can't always get 6hrs on a target in a single night. 4.5hr is about the max I can manage at the moment. I'm in a bortle 6 suburb, so light pollution is an issue as well.

 

I know they Sky Watcher 150p is a popular go-to, but I've also heard quality issues as well with the focusers and excessive light leaks near the main mirror.

I've also seen tons of ads for the Apertura CarbonStar 150p. Anyone have experience with that guy yet? Thoughts?

 

Thanks CN! Any wisdom/feedback is really helpful!

 

Since you're ready to accept the challenges of a fast newtonian astrograph, and depending on your available budget, my suggestion is to either buy a "descent" one like the TS-Optics ONTC line (to have descent mechanics to support the tight collimation tollerances of such an instrument), or built one from readilly available quality parts.

 

In the long run, either of those choices will prove cheaper than buying a "budget fast newtonian" from far East and trying to improve things later on by replacing parts = $$$ (with all the frustration of trying to make it work...).

 

My approach was to start building one from descent quality parts that are readilly available on the market:

I already had a budget 8'' f4 mirror & 85mm diagonal so:

- bought a custom made carbon fiber OTA directly from Klaus Helmerichs in Germany per my specs (to have a rigid tube to support the mechanics of the scope, increase collimation accuracy and stability in every alt, eliminate ota sag/tilt, avoid collimation/focus shift due to temperature changes, reduce weight etc)

- OTA specs where carefully designed in order to avoid any drawtube protruding in the light path, and also to have the coma corrector front lens hidding further into the drawtube to avoid any strange reflections from direct light that could hit the front lens (from light polution or even from a flat panel)

- flocked the entire OTA inside to eliminate any further reflection issues

- bought an TS ONTC mirror cell which (after minor twinking) works extremelly well (to have the ability to maintain precise collimation in every alt, support the mirror in a proper flotation way without excessive rms errors resulting from mirror stress & without mirror pinching since the mirror cell has appropriate & adjustable side supports and clips)

- bought an aftermarket CNC machined spider (for better secondary stability vs alt since diagonals of fast newts are large and heavy, and to avoid issues of non-parallel vanes)

- bought a descent and adjustable R&P focuser (to help eliminate any image shift/drawtube tilt etc while supporting heavy camera & coma corrector)

- install a custom made stainless stil reinforcement plate under focuser to further eliminate any focuser/ota sag under image train loads

- install a vibration-free mirror fan for the back of the ota

- eliminate any possible light leak under focuser/ota back

 

Also, quality collimation tools are an ABSOLUTE MUST for fast f4ish newtonians (I have Catseye tools as well as a quality and well collimated laser with tight beam). An F4 is a completely different beast vs F5 or slower....collimation tollerances are VERY tight. Same for the critical focus zone....your mechanics must be able to achieve & maintain all those tight tolerances....

 

I also installed an autofocus (ZWO EAF) to further improve my focusing (huge advantage over bahtinov masks, mainly from the easy focusing process that allows me to run autofocus more often and avoid temperature shifts)

 

- Next step will be way better optics (Mirrosphere - France) & better coma corrector (I use an ES HR2, will use a Paracorr 2 to yield a focal length of 920mm)

 

Newtonians are amazing (if you enjoy fine-tuning as I do!)

 

Best,

Argyris


Edited by Argyris, 30 May 2024 - 04:04 PM.


#12 Tomvictor

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Posted 31 May 2024 - 02:45 AM

Here is one also: https://teleskop-aus...t/FN2008c-new#m

Astrobin: https://app.astrobin...00-edition-2021


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#13 erictheastrojunkie

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Posted 31 May 2024 - 11:32 AM

I'll give my 0.02 after spending the last 6 months with the 150pds and doing all the modifications you can do for it. I have it on a GEM45 mount and get reasonable guiding on most nights at our location, we have generally average to below average seeing, and typically guide in the 0.7" total RMS area most nights. 

 

Pros of the scope are that it's cheap, it gives pretty good image quality, and at f5 it is easier to collimate than f4. You don't necessarily have to do anything right out of the box to make it work, but you will get lousy stars because of the mirror clips. It is relatively small so even on a middle of the road consumer grade mount like the CEM40/GEM45 (we have both, I used it on both, get pretty much the same results on both) it's easy to guide and not have to toss many subs. 

 

Cons of the scope are that it leaks light like a bucket with a million holes in it, although that's not hard to fix with some very easy to do things, some people throw a shower cap over the back of the scope and some tape over the focuser and call it good. I printed my own cover for the back and used some black velvet tape to cover some of the gaps where the mirror cell/rear attaches the tube. I also pulled off the focuser and put the flocking material between each piece of the plate setup and that blocked any leaks around the focuser. Speaking of the focuser, it's....meh. If you are ONLY using a camera it's probably fine, but with an OAG and a filter wheel with my Baader MPCC it wasn't up to the task. I switched the CYCK focuser and that's been good, a cheaper alternative to the various focuser options on the market and it seems high quality so far. I also switched to the CYCK spider vane, MUCH better than the stock one, and also flocked the interior of the scope with some black sticky velvet stuff from Amazon. Last thing I did was 3d print a mirror mask and make sur the primary is a bit more free in the mirror cell to reduce pinching artifacts. All in all the mods came to probably around $350-400, mostly in the cost of the focuser and spider vane. 

 

I bought the scope to get some reach on galaxies while keeping my worries about mount capability and collimation in check with the f5 scope. In hindsight I really wish I would have gotten the 200pds to image at 1000mm for galaxies, I think the GEM45 would have been up to the task with my 533mc/mm cameras. Then I could get the Starizona 0.75x reducer and image at f3.75 and 750mm for DSO. I'm going to start saving some dollars for a TS Optics ONTC 200mm f5 as my next scope, probably a few years down the road, the 150pds will serve me fine for a while. 

 

You have to be willing to work for the best image quality with these scopes, none are going to blow your socks off from the moment you throw it on your mount. They aren't a refractor, they all require some amount of tinkering to make work well and you have to be able to deal with the frustrations of Newts when they don't work well. 



#14 Devonshire

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Posted 01 June 2024 - 09:16 AM

I'm currently using a SW 130PDS (130/650mm), exclusively for astrophotography, and I'm happy with mine (after a little work).

 

I've added a DIY mirror mask and some flocking opposite the secondary, as well as shortening the focuser drawtube a bit and adding a third thumbscrew to it.  Drawtube intrusion into the light path is a thing that owners of the little 130 need to find a way to deal with, but I never heard of a 150 owner that had that problem.  So yes, some tinkering was required.  But hey, it's a color-free scope, so there's that. 

 

I do see occasional complaints about the focuser, but mine has been fine.  It's rotated to the 6-O'clock position on the tube, and carries my Nikon D5300a, plus a Sharpstar 0.95 coma corrector and filter.  This is NOT a light combination, but that Sharpstar nests inside the drawtube, so while it's not light, neither does it represent a large mass dangling far outboard from the focuser, so that may be a factor in the mixed field experience.  The focuser is both tilt and tension adjustable, and mine does not slip.

 

One unfortunate feature of the SW focuser is that they only provide two thumbscrews for retaining the camera.  This risks tilting the camera, particularly when used with the tapered nosepiece of a Baader MPCC (which I started off with), that is not fully bottomed in the focuser.  I drilled and tapped a third thumbscrew for mine, but there is also an aftermarket add-on with a brass tensioning ring that would probably be fine as well. 

 

I really hadn't felt impacted by light leaks, but one day I decided to try taking a camera shot with the scope capped while in a bright room.  Yep, I got leaks, most of which were sneaking around the primary's cell, with some minor ones coming from gaps in and around the focuser.  So I got a black shower cap and tried it.  Big difference in the bright room capped scope test.  But when I was imaging outdoors at night...in the dark...  Couldn't see a difference while imaging, with or without.  So I don't bother with the shower cap while imaging.

 

Regarding collimation, the little 130PDS holds collimation well, across several imaging sessions.  But I am very glad that my scope is a relatively unfussy F5, rather than an F4 or faster.  :-)

 

My EXOS2 PMC8 carries the 130PDS easily, and with good technique guides well, generally in the .6-.7 RMS range in reasonable seeing. 

 

Hope this helps!


Edited by Devonshire, 01 June 2024 - 09:17 AM.

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#15 jml79

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Posted 01 June 2024 - 10:44 PM

I'm currently using a SW 130PDS (130/650mm), exclusively for astrophotography, and I'm happy with mine (after a little work).

 

I've added a DIY mirror mask and some flocking opposite the secondary, as well as shortening the focuser drawtube a bit and adding a third thumbscrew to it.  Drawtube intrusion into the light path is a thing that owners of the little 130 need to find a way to deal with, but I never heard of a 150 owner that had that problem.  So yes, some tinkering was required.  But hey, it's a color-free scope, so there's that. 

 

I do see occasional complaints about the focuser, but mine has been fine.  It's rotated to the 6-O'clock position on the tube, and carries my Nikon D5300a, plus a Sharpstar 0.95 coma corrector and filter.  This is NOT a light combination, but that Sharpstar nests inside the drawtube, so while it's not light, neither does it represent a large mass dangling far outboard from the focuser, so that may be a factor in the mixed field experience.  The focuser is both tilt and tension adjustable, and mine does not slip.

 

One unfortunate feature of the SW focuser is that they only provide two thumbscrews for retaining the camera.  This risks tilting the camera, particularly when used with the tapered nosepiece of a Baader MPCC (which I started off with), that is not fully bottomed in the focuser.  I drilled and tapped a third thumbscrew for mine, but there is also an aftermarket add-on with a brass tensioning ring that would probably be fine as well. 

 

I really hadn't felt impacted by light leaks, but one day I decided to try taking a camera shot with the scope capped while in a bright room.  Yep, I got leaks, most of which were sneaking around the primary's cell, with some minor ones coming from gaps in and around the focuser.  So I got a black shower cap and tried it.  Big difference in the bright room capped scope test.  But when I was imaging outdoors at night...in the dark...  Couldn't see a difference while imaging, with or without.  So I don't bother with the shower cap while imaging.

 

Regarding collimation, the little 130PDS holds collimation well, across several imaging sessions.  But I am very glad that my scope is a relatively unfussy F5, rather than an F4 or faster.  :-)

 

My EXOS2 PMC8 carries the 130PDS easily, and with good technique guides well, generally in the .6-.7 RMS range in reasonable seeing. 

 

Hope this helps!

Now for the million dollar question, where did you find a PDS for sale in Canada. I have been keeping an eye open in the hopes of snapping one up cheap to play with but they seem to be as hard to find as magic dust. The quattro is only available with their reducer and for $800 which is a deal if you want their reducer and the only other option I have found are the iOptrons and they are almost $700. I almost never see any small imaging newts for sale used. I wish we could get some of the deals on GSO's available in the US but even many of them have been out of stock.



#16 unimatrix0

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Posted 02 June 2024 - 12:53 AM

The 130mm seem to be sold exclusively in Europe and Australia.  Not sure why SW didn't bring it to the USA.

 

On the other hand when I looked at it, it just looks very cheap to me, especially the focuser not even having a copper ring inside but just 2 screws push the camera to tighten? The store picture I linked doesn't show that, but I saw another image somewhere and that just looked disappointing. 

 

There are some 130mm scopes on amazon though- looks haflway decent, almost Skywatcher clone, but it would immediately need a focuser replacement, because they got a 1.25" focuser only.  But for almost the same money, that one comes with an EQ mount too. 



#17 Devonshire

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Posted 02 June 2024 - 08:29 AM

Now for the million dollar question, where did you find a PDS for sale in Canada. I have been keeping an eye open in the hopes of snapping one up cheap to play with but they seem to be as hard to find as magic dust. The quattro is only available with their reducer and for $800 which is a deal if you want their reducer and the only other option I have found are the iOptrons and they are almost $700. I almost never see any small imaging newts for sale used. I wish we could get some of the deals on GSO's available in the US but even many of them have been out of stock.

I didn't find one, here in Canada.   I got mine from First Light Optics, in Britain.  Shipping for my 130, plus some other bits and pieces, was probably not that different than what it would have cost for me to bring one up from the States, if they had been available there.   For whatever reason, SW doesn't seem to sell the PDS's in North America, but they're popular in Britain and Europe as a "value" astrograph.   There ARE cost and effort offsets (see above), and the PDS's may not suit all use cases, but it's fine for mine.  So far, if mine somehow died, I'd get another (although probably a 150).  FWIW.

 

Here's a link to my 130:

https://www.firstlig...30p-ds-ota.html

 

Frank mentioned the copper ring thing for the focuser.  I just drilled and tapped a third thumbscrew because I could, and that works fine for me.  But the copper ring thing is available as an accessory.  That's the thing about these scopes.  They may not be available here, but there's lots of them elsewhere, so accessories are available. 

https://www.firstlig...ractor-m54.html


Edited by Devonshire, 02 June 2024 - 08:37 AM.


#18 fyferoni

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 10:18 AM

Sorry to sleep on this thread for a bit! Thanks everyone for the great feedback! I think i'm probably gonna start saving for that Carbonstar 150p, both for the ease-of-use features, as well as the great build quality. This community rocks!


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