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Old 26-03-2014, 08:36 PM
lark2004 (Andrew)
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Hi, My names Andrew and I've just started looking up at night :-) the views pretty cool... I only have a 3inch reflector at the moment but it's good enough that my kids and I could see Jupiter and three of its moons on Sunday night then it started raining here in Brisbane :-(

Anyway, I'm looking forward to learning whatever I can and spending time at night looking at the sky instead of the tv
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  #1542  
Old 26-03-2014, 09:52 PM
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Allan_L (Allan)
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Excellent Andrew !
Welcome aboard
Its a friendly bunch here so ask any questions you may come across.
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  #1543  
Old 28-03-2014, 10:32 AM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Ultra newbie

Hey guys

Amateur photographer planning to get into astrophotography in the long term.

Preaching to the choir here, having done some basic research have obviously found and understood the steep learning curve and eventual financial outlay.

Is it possible to get an entry level setup with the view that can still be used for getting the basics down, to then use with DSLR?

Understand the need to upgrade down the track but want to be smart with the financial outlay.

Any help would kindly be appreciated.
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Old 28-03-2014, 10:46 AM
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jenchris (Jennifer)
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Ryz - Hi,
What sort of lenses do yu have for your DSLR - if you have some white lenses like a F2.8 70 - 300, you can use them on a tracking mount to get some wonderful shots widefield.
Tracking mounts come in all shapes and sizes and I should think about that before you go out and get a super rig and find you're not suited to trying to find your focus ring inthe dark.
Astro trac type of mount may be what you're after maybe?
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  #1545  
Old 28-03-2014, 11:05 AM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Thanks for the reply Jen.

Only got a couple of kit lenses at the moment which obviously won't do the trick (18-55, 55-200) but happy to gr

Apologies for the ignorance, when it comes to equipment im completely in the dark (no pun intended!)

Are you able to shed a bit more light on mounts or direct me to wear I can read up on it?
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  #1546  
Old 28-03-2014, 11:12 AM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Also, if it is still ok, what would be the best telescope to start with that fits my above criteria?
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  #1547  
Old 28-03-2014, 11:53 AM
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Budget?
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  #1548  
Old 28-03-2014, 12:41 PM
Ryz (Ryan)
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At this stage anywhere probably anywhere between 500-1500
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Old 28-03-2014, 01:53 PM
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niko
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Ryz,

in my experience I started with a secondhand 8" dob from here to do visual observing and learn the sky. I held a point and click camera up to the eyepiece and got some acceptable photos of the moon and saturn. I also used a DSLR on a tripod to photograph the night sky (30sec shots at 1600 or 3200 iso) and take star trails.

I "progressed" (keeping the visual setup) into photography with a DSLR ED80 scope (refractor) and a HEQ5 tracking mount - again, secondhand here for about $1500 or so. I think there is a similar setup for sale presently. Lots of little addons added to the cost - guidescope, guide camera, various t-rings and extension tubes etc.

You COULD get a Dob as they hold their re-sale value pretty well and are cheap these days. Learn the sky with that and have some fun. The camera on a tripod in any case will produce some decent widefields under a dark sky with nothing more than a tripod and a shutter release cable (intervalometer).

Photography through the scope requires accurate polar alignment which can reduce the newbie to their knees pretty easily. It's a slippery and frustrating slope that produces great results with perserverance.

niko
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  #1550  
Old 28-03-2014, 02:14 PM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Thanks Niko

Are you suggesting to start with the DOB then upgrade to a refractor scope (not sure what that is - talking to a dunce at the mo )

What was the timeline from the Dob to the ED80?


Something like this be ok then?

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Saxon-Dob...a76c93b&_uhb=1

Thanks very much for the feedback guys, very much appreciated. Been a long standing desire to get into, but been a bit put off by the learning curve.
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  #1551  
Old 28-03-2014, 02:19 PM
julianh72 (Julian)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niko View Post
I "progressed" (keeping the visual setup) into photography with a DSLR ED80 scope (refractor) and a HEQ5 tracking mount - again, secondhand here for about $1500 or so. I think there is a similar setup for sale presently. Lots of little addons added to the cost - guidescope, guide camera, various t-rings and extension tubes etc.
I recently bought a new Saxon EQ2 mount / tripod from Astro Pete's in Brisbane for just $39 (yes, $39 - they're still showing them at that price, while stocks last http://www.astropetes.com.au/mounts.html ), and an EQ-2M RA motor drive from Bintel for $99 http://www.bintel.com.au/Mounts---Tr...oductview.aspx.

I bought them for my 90 mm short-tube refractor, but it makes a great star-tracking mount for my DSLR with a 300 mm telephoto lens for 30-second to 2-minute wide-sky shots with no discernible star trails.
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  #1552  
Old 30-03-2014, 05:54 AM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Originally Posted by julianh72 View Post
I recently bought a new Saxon EQ2 mount / tripod from Astro Pete's in Brisbane for just $39 (yes, $39 - they're still showing them at that price, while stocks last http://www.astropetes.com.au/mounts.html ), and an EQ-2M RA motor drive from Bintel for $99 http://www.bintel.com.au/Mounts---Tr...oductview.aspx.

I bought them for my 90 mm short-tube refractor, but it makes a great star-tracking mount for my DSLR with a 300 mm telephoto lens for 30-second to 2-minute wide-sky shots with no discernible star trails.
Thanks Niko, pardon my ignorance would this work with a SW680?
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Old 30-03-2014, 06:10 AM
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Allan_L (Allan)
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Thanks Niko, pardon my ignorance would this work with a SW680?
No.
The Saxon EQ2 Equatorial Telescope Mount was designed with medium-sized telescopes in mind and has a load capacity of 6.5 kgs
The SW680 is much too big for this mount.
It would generally be used with an EQ5 or more.
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  #1554  
Old 02-04-2014, 08:39 AM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Thanks Alan.

Took this out last night to finally have a go.

Before I say the following, will preface it by saying most likely aware I will have answered my own questions, perhaps point out what im doing wrong.

Taking into account:
  • Very light but still present breeze
  • Location in SE Suburbs of Melbourne (not close to the city) but slight light pollution
  • Time - around 10.30 pm (after letting the tele temp equalize after half an hour)
  • Realistic expectations of details - planets/nebula

Only got a view no different than what you would get with a set of binoculars.

Had the kit 10 eyepiece on the barlow.

Someone able to point out what I may be doing horribly wrong?


Definitely will have a look at going along to one of the nights at MPAS.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:43 AM
julianh72 (Julian)
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Originally Posted by Ryz View Post

Only got a view no different than what you would get with a set of binoculars.

Had the kit 10 eyepiece on the barlow.

Someone able to point out what I may be doing horribly wrong?
Ryz,

Can you just confirm your equipment - you have a Skywatcher SW680 8" Dob (1200 mm focal length), with the standard supplied 20 mm and 10 mm eyepieces, and a Barlow (presumably 2x) - is that right? (Reading through your posts, I didn't see a confirmed list of what you own.)

With that sort of gear, you should be able to see a LOT more than through binoculars - higher magnification, and MUCH more brightness (= lots more stars)!

Suggest you start out like this:

I suggest you start in daylight, to learn how things work. (But be careful to not point the telescope at the Sun!) Set up your telescope to point to something on the horizon (or at least 1 km away), and insert the 20 mm eyepiece. A man-made object like a TV tower or high-rise building can make a good test target, because it will have detail that you can make out easily to check your focus is good (steel bracing members in a TV tower, or balcony handrails etc on a building). Just looking at distant tree-covered mountains can be a bit tricky first time out, because it can be hard to see if you have exact focus on "soft" targets like the tree canopy at a long range.

Adjust focus until you see a clear image. (It may not be very stable, as you are looking horizontally through warm air, but it will do to get you started.) If I have your equipment list correct, this will be a 60x magnification, which is a lot higher than typical binoculars (7x to 10x are typical for binoculars). Make a note of where the focuser is positioned, because this is roughly where you will need it for stargazing at night. If you can't get anything like a focussed image in this condition, you may have a problem with the telescope, and you need to resolve this before you move on.

Take the opportunity to make sure your finderscope is aligned at this point, because you will need this to find targets in the night sky.

Now put in the 10 mm eyepiece and repeat. If you are lucky, it will be almost in focus already, but more than likely, it will need a bit of re-focus. This will be a 120x view.

Now take out the eyepiece, put in the Barlow, and then insert the 20 mm eyepiece into the Barlow. This will give you pretty much the same view as the 10 mm on its own, but will almost certainly need some significant refocusing. Now take out the 20 mm and insert the 10 mm into the Barlow, for a 240x view. This is your highest magnification, and may be pretty blurry due to atmospheric effects, but again, you can experiment to see how much refocus is needed.

Swap the eyepieces and Barlow around a few more times, to get the "feel" of how much refocus you will need as you change field of view / magnification.

Now wait impatiently for nightfall.

Pick a nice bright target, that is easy to find, and will show some detail - Jupiter is ideal right now if you have a view to the north-west in the early evening. The moon isn't visible right now, but will start to come back into view in a week or so.

Always start with your 20 mm (low-power) eyepiece, target the scope with the finderscope, and check out the view in the eyepiece. With the 20 mm eyepiece, you should be able to make out Jupiter as a small disc, and you should pick up the 4 moons as well. Soak in this view - you will never tire of it!

Get Jupiter centred, and swap to the 10 mm eyepiece - remembering to refocus as per your daytime experiments. You should now be able to make out some distinct colour banding. Now try the Barlow with the 10 mm - if viewing conditions are OK, you should see it magnified even more, but Jupiter is pretty low right now, so it is very unlikely you will get an optimal view at high power - you may not see much more detail than with the 10 mm on its own.

Now start looking for some other "easy finds" - the Great Nebula in Orion (in the western sky in the early evening) is the biggest, easiest and most spectacular nebula for a beginner, so you can get some idea of what a bright nebula looks like. Again, start with the 20 mm, and only go to higher power once you have taken in the wide-angle view.

Hunt down a couple of star clusters, again starting with the 20 mm eyepiece each time.

With these easy finds under your belt, you now have some idea of what to expect when you start chasing trickier targets. A bit later in the evening, check out Mars (you probably won't see much more than a slightly shaded red disc).

And don't go to bed until you have checked out Saturn in the eastern sky at about 11:00 pm!

Hope this helps!
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  #1556  
Old 02-04-2014, 10:43 AM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julianh72 View Post
Ryz,

Can you just confirm your equipment - you have a Skywatcher SW680 8" Dob (1200 mm focal length), with the standard supplied 20 mm and 10 mm eyepieces, and a Barlow (presumably 2x) - is that right? (Reading through your posts, I didn't see a confirmed list of what you own.)

With that sort of gear, you should be able to see a LOT more than through binoculars - higher magnification, and MUCH more brightness (= lots more stars)!

Suggest you start out like this:

I suggest you start in daylight, to learn how things work. (But be careful to not point the telescope at the Sun!) Set up your telescope to point to something on the horizon (or at least 1 km away), and insert the 20 mm eyepiece. A man-made object like a TV tower or high-rise building can make a good test target, because it will have detail that you can make out easily to check your focus is good (steel bracing members in a TV tower, or balcony handrails etc on a building). Just looking at distant tree-covered mountains can be a bit tricky first time out, because it can be hard to see if you have exact focus on "soft" targets like the tree canopy at a long range.

Adjust focus until you see a clear image. (It may not be very stable, as you are looking horizontally through warm air, but it will do to get you started.) If I have your equipment list correct, this will be a 60x magnification, which is a lot higher than typical binoculars (7x to 10x are typical for binoculars). Make a note of where the focuser is positioned, because this is roughly where you will need it for stargazing at night. If you can't get anything like a focussed image in this condition, you may have a problem with the telescope, and you need to resolve this before you move on.

Take the opportunity to make sure your finderscope is aligned at this point, because you will need this to find targets in the night sky.

Now put in the 10 mm eyepiece and repeat. If you are lucky, it will be almost in focus already, but more than likely, it will need a bit of re-focus. This will be a 120x view.

Now take out the eyepiece, put in the Barlow, and then insert the 20 mm eyepiece into the Barlow. This will give you pretty much the same view as the 10 mm on its own, but will almost certainly need some significant refocusing. Now take out the 20 mm and insert the 10 mm into the Barlow, for a 240x view. This is your highest magnification, and may be pretty blurry due to atmospheric effects, but again, you can experiment to see how much refocus is needed.

Swap the eyepieces and Barlow around a few more times, to get the "feel" of how much refocus you will need as you change field of view / magnification.

Now wait impatiently for nightfall.

Pick a nice bright target, that is easy to find, and will show some detail - Jupiter is ideal right now if you have a view to the north-west in the early evening. The moon isn't visible right now, but will start to come back into view in a week or so.

Always start with your 20 mm (low-power) eyepiece, target the scope with the finderscope, and check out the view in the eyepiece. With the 20 mm eyepiece, you should be able to make out Jupiter as a small disc, and you should pick up the 4 moons as well. Soak in this view - you will never tire of it!

Get Jupiter centred, and swap to the 10 mm eyepiece - remembering to refocus as per your daytime experiments. You should now be able to make out some distinct colour banding. Now try the Barlow with the 10 mm - if viewing conditions are OK, you should see it magnified even more, but Jupiter is pretty low right now, so it is very unlikely you will get an optimal view at high power - you may not see much more detail than with the 10 mm on its own.

Now start looking for some other "easy finds" - the Great Nebula in Orion (in the western sky in the early evening) is the biggest, easiest and most spectacular nebula for a beginner, so you can get some idea of what a bright nebula looks like. Again, start with the 20 mm, and only go to higher power once you have taken in the wide-angle view.

Hunt down a couple of star clusters, again starting with the 20 mm eyepiece each time.

With these easy finds under your belt, you now have some idea of what to expect when you start chasing trickier targets. A bit later in the evening, check out Mars (you probably won't see much more than a slightly shaded red disc).

And don't go to bed until you have checked out Saturn in the eastern sky at about 11:00 pm!

Hope this helps!
Play on words here, but you are a star

That's correct in regards to gear. Unfortunately despite very good assembly instructions, the use part of the manual is a bit more vague for someone at my level.

Will keep you guys posted if interested on how I go
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  #1557  
Old 02-04-2014, 10:51 AM
julianh72 (Julian)
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Play on words here, but you are a star
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:59 AM
Ryz (Ryan)
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Gawd im a nuffie.

Barlow isn't stock with the Dob kit is it?

Think ive gotten the eyepiece holder/adapter confused with a Barlow...

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Old 02-04-2014, 01:14 PM
julianh72 (Julian)
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Barlow isn't stock with the Dob kit is it?

Think ive gotten the eyepiece holder/adapter confused with a Barlow...
Some "starter" telescope kits come with just one eyepiece, some with two, some with two plus a Barlow, and some will give you a whole kit of eyepieces and filters etc - it really depends on what the manufacturer bundles, and what the reseller decides to "value add" to the deal. (Refractors and SCTs also come with a diagonal as well, but you don't need a diagonal with a Dob.)

The focuser / eyepiece holder stays permanently attached to the telescope tube, and racks in and out to focus the eyepiece when you turn the control knb. Eyepieces just slide into the focuser, and should be screwed in to make sure they don't shift or fall out.

The most common starter eyepieces would be typically 20 mm or 25 mm (low / moderate magnification) and 10 mm (higher magnification). The magnification you will achieve is equal to the focal length of the telescope (1200 mm for yours) divided by the focal length of the eyepiece, so a 20 mm eyepiece on your telescope will give you 60X magnification, while a 10 mm eyepiece will give you 120x.

A Barlow looks like a metal / plastic tube with a lens near the bottom of the tube (i.e. at the thinner end). It goes into the focuser, and then the eyepiece fits into the top end of the Barlow. A typical Barlow will be labelled "2x" (or sometimes "2.5x" or "3x"). It effectively multiplies the focal length of the telescope by the Barlow factor, so a 2x Barlow on your telescope makes it equivalent to a 2400 mm focal length, and a 20 mm eyepiece would give 120x magnification when used with a 2x Barlow.

Hope this helps!
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  #1560  
Old 02-04-2014, 01:39 PM
scottholio (Scotty)
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Hi guys,
I've been following this forum for a few months, but never posted anything. Everyone on here seems nice and helpful, so I thought I'd say G'day.
Scotty
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