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Old 03-11-2011, 09:35 PM
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naskies (Dave)
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What's your opinion - should I "downgrade" from imaging to visual gear?

Hi everyone,

My apologies up front for the long winded post, but I'd really appreciate hearing your thoughts and advice.

I'm about to go back to full-time university study in two months' time (post-grad medicine), so I've been seriously considering liquidating my astrophotography equipment and replacing it with (cheaper) visual gear.

I love the technical aspects of deep space imaging, but the last few months of playing around have led to me to the following conclusions:

* it's ridiculously light polluted where I live,
* I don't have the time to do a full set-up / tear-down regularly,
* building an observatory isn't an option (cost, time, permission, etc),
* going to a dark site isn't practical for me (time-wise),
* I'd like better gear for visual observing (e.g. my refractor is too dim for my more 'mature' friends and family to see things).

After selling most of my astro gear (e.g. EQ6 mount, WO FLT-132 scope, diagonal and field flattener, auto guider, etc), I'm thinking of getting a portable non-goto 12" or 16" Dob, e.g. Meade Lightbridge or collapsible Skywatcher, and possibly also a pair of nice binoculars.

This way, I can better enjoy visual observing with friends + family, do a bit of planetary imaging better than before, and liquidate a bit of $$$ for flexibility during study. I'd also be able to throw the scope/binos into the car to share with friends when camping/etc.

A few years down the track (when I have things like an income and house!), I'd like to set up a backyard observatory and re-acquire some even nicer imaging equipment.

Any thoughts about my crazy plan? I'd kick myself if I regretted my decision within the next year, etc. On the other hand, I think this plan will let me stay more involved with astronomy for longer

If you say "go ahead" just because you're looking for a good deal on some equipment for Christmas, please say so too!


Cheers,

Dave
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Old 03-11-2011, 09:52 PM
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hotspur (Chris)
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re gear

Nothing wrong with that plan,Dave-you do what suits you!

Imaging gear takes a lot of fiddling and time,I know a few here on IIS who have recently sold similar gear to what you have and moved on,and away from astro imaging-one bought a 12 inch dob to keep some interest in astronomy-and is very happy.

If you get a 16 inch dob,you would really enjoy that-I can recommend a pair 0f 15 by 80 binos on a tripod-they give me a lot of joy-great for family and friends,good on camps,The astro views in these are amazing.You can go back to astro imaging in later years.Pitty you do not live closer-you could come up to Blackbutt Range and use gear in my observatory for imaging.

cheers Chris
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:15 PM
Poita (Peter)
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Go ahead! Make my Christmas!

Alternatively, sell off your cameras and get a mallincam and enjoy visual with a screen as well as just visual.

That way kids, people with glasses, older folks etc. can all join in the pleasure of seeing objects in the night sky, in colour and in far greater detail than they could through the eyepiece. It is still 'live' and very rewarding.

Just a thought

http://www.mallincamusa.com/Files/Ma...%20Welisek.pdf

http://www.nightskiesnetwork.com/
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:27 PM
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michaellxv (Michael)
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You know what they say. The best scope is the one you will use. But, if you want to do a bit of planetary imaging i'd be keeping the EQ6.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:35 PM
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I think your plan sounds good.

Imaging is time consuming and really does require dark skies for maximum flexibility.

You've got plenty of time to set one up later on as you say.

Greg.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:41 PM
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DavidTrap (David)
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Congrats on getting into medicine, where are you doing your degree?

As someone who's been through that course and have come out the other end, I can say with certainty that you won't have enough free time to pursue any astroimaging. If you've got aspirations to specialist training, you can kiss the next 12-15yrs goodbye.

Nonetheless, enjoy your time at uni and as a junior doctor in the hospitals - the experiences you'll have and the friendships you'll form will be amazing. Take the opportunity to travel and experience medicine in somewhere other than Brisbane/Australia (something I regret not doing!).

I'd offload your gear and when you have some free time in the years ahead, I'm sure your mind will be blown away by what gear is available for astroimaging. My interest in astronomy started in highschool. LX-200s were just being released along with early autoguiders. The images in the astronomy mags were all on film. I picked astronomy up again about 3 yrs after finishing my specialist training - 17yrs after highschool. I've now got an income to afford my gear, but my time is still limited...

The stars aren't going anywhere soon.

DT

PS. If you need a fix of astroimaging in the years ahead, get in touch with me - you're more than welcome to join me on a dark sky trip. More than happy to grill you with exam questions during the imaging runs!

Last edited by DavidTrap; 03-11-2011 at 10:44 PM. Reason: added a bit
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:42 PM
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Octane (Humayun)
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Life's too short. Go out and buy a nice Takahashi refractor, a nice 35mm full frame sensor (cooled CCD), a good mount and throw yourself into imaging.

Once you've finished your studies and have a job/home/family, you will have no time.

There is no time like the present.

This is why I will never own my own home and live in a rented unit forever.

H
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Old 04-11-2011, 01:27 AM
Poita (Peter)
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Seriously, on that course there will be zero time for imaging.

You might sneak out occasionally for some visual or mallincam type viewing, but even then it will probably be a rare thing.
Good luck with it, it is a ball breaker, but well worth it.
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Old 04-11-2011, 08:47 AM
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troypiggo (Troy)
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I don't see what the problem is. Just convert the time I spent boozing up, chasing girls, playing cards instead of studying when I was at Uni into astrophotography instead of study - you'll have several APODs in the first year!!!
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:48 PM
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Wow, thanks for the great advice and ideas... you guys rock! From the sounds of it, my suspicions may be on track - I'll enjoy astronomy a lot more by focusing on visual observing for the time being, and keeping a healthy bank account.

In case anyone's shopping for potential Christmas presents, I'll probably be doing a sale for Dec 11th - i.e. the day after the next lunar eclipse

In response to questions:

* My main camera is a Canon 5DmkII which I'll definitely be keeping for afocal imaging and terrestrial photography.

* I'm pretty sure I'll be happy with manual tracking for planetary imaging... I'm impressed with von Tom's efforts and would be happy to produce similar results.

* I'll be studying MBBS at the University of Queensland (UQ and I know each other rather well... that's where I did my undergrad engineering and PhD). In the future, I'd like to specialise in anaesthesia. I spent several months camped out in an OR for research and think I'd really enjoy it. I've seen first-hand the hours/workload of vocational training (it sucks) but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. I did heaps of travel during my research degree, so I'm quite happy to stay put for a few years!

* I like the "go-for-broke" approach (e.g. trade up to a Tak+PME ) but unfortunately I have too many hobbies - tennis, surfing, piano, photography, etc. I'm aiming for maximum efficiency between all hobbies

Thanks again for all of your thoughts... it's very much appreciated!
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Old 04-11-2011, 05:08 PM
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DavidTrap (David)
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Not surprised at your choice of speciality - technically minded, attention to detail - sounds like someone I know. My other choice for a uni degree was engineering.

Might see you at PA in the years ahead - all the best.

DT

Last edited by DavidTrap; 04-11-2011 at 05:12 PM. Reason: added a bit
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Old 04-11-2011, 05:52 PM
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naskies (Dave)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidTrap View Post
Might see you at PA in the years ahead - all the best.

DT
Cheers! I've nominated the PA as my first preference of clinical school (won't know for sure until next year), so it's a very real possibility!
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:46 PM
Smyths77 (Stuart)
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Mate,

Undergrad Eng + PhD + MBBS - you must love the place - and torture - Eng and MBBS are the worst.

I thought I was bad with Eng (Chem), BSc and PhD (I did like the place).

Enjoy it and visual is a great alternative - I have a 8 inch and 12 inch Dob plus a 6 inch Mak and find them easy and relaxing after a hard and long days work.

Stuart
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:23 PM
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Dave,
I guess you have to do what you think is right for you under the circumstances that you have in front of you.
When I studied engineering for 6 years part-time, I dragged my 60mm refractor outside 3 times from memory, just too busy to use it.
After those 6 years, I spent lots of time doing visual and film imaging whenever i found enough time.
Then in 1999, I built a 16" Dob and did visual only for 6 years...Did I enjoy it? You bet!! And of course, I learned heaps about finding my way around the sky too.

Later in 2006, I did what you are planning now, only in reverse!
I sold the 16" and commenced an imaging path again, combined with supernova searching, and I haven't looked back...

So, the moral of my little story is that the direction you take at any time doesn't have to be the only one that you stay with forever. Be prepared to change tack if necessary, and get the most out of it.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:41 PM
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as the others have said- you do what you think is right for you.
my $0.20 worth, though.

i bought an EQ6 and ED8 for imaging just when i started a degree in japanese. I used the gear 4 times in 4 years!

- i wish i had bought a 10" dob instead (or as well) so i could just go outside every so often for an astronomy fix

BUT: even though i did not use the EQ6/ED80 for imaging i did do a bit with camera and tripod.

so, i reckon you are on the right path selling your gear to do Visual work AND you can still get your astroimaging fix with camera and tripod, and maybe build a barn-door mount! for some slightly longer exposures if you really need to...

good luck in your studies...
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:53 PM
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bmitchell82 (Brendan)
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Im with all the other fellas on your visual upgrade

I went both ways, im doing Structural engineering atm and sometimes its insane but on nights where i know im going to be staying up most of the evening i turf the EQ6 out my bedroom window and remote image while im studying.

Though normally during a 7 month stint starting at the beginning of Sem1 though to the end of Sem 2 I don't even think about astronomy, but come that off time.. i jam in 12 months of astro in 5 months

On the flip if everything is getting ontop of me and i need to get away for a evening to clear my head, its the perfect outlet! dark skies nobody around quiet and piece while i am doing something I love.

Good luck
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:29 PM
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Thanks guys. I find it very interesting to hear your perspectives and experiences mixing big workloads with astro. Just seeing fantastic images being posted here doesn't really show what goes on behind-the-scenes.

Stuart - I'm like a goldfish... as soon as one degree's done, I forget all the pain and start thinking "wouldn't it be great if..."

Greg - studying engineering part-time is impressive - it's a big challenge even just doing it full-time I've been experimenting with leaving tracking and GOTO off on my refractor+EQ mount (i.e. using it like a Dob) and find that star hopping is actually quite fun, as is just exploring the sky. Congrats on your recent SN discovery by the way - what a great reward for all that hard work

DJDD - funny you should mention barn-door mounts, my success earlier in the year (no star trailing with 4 min exposures at 24 mm on my 21 MP full-frame dSLR) led me to the EQ6. It's like a gateway drug! I'm seriously considering an Astrotrac since it's so quick to set up, and minimal additional weight to take traveling/hiking. I was pretty chuffed at capturing the Horsehead Nebula using a fixed tripod (though I'd chalk that up to the technical abilities of my former 200 mm f/2 and ISO 6400 of my camera).

Brendan - sounds like a good plan! Whenever I drag out the EQ6 and set it up properly starting in the late afternoon, before I know it dawn's already arrived and then I'm buggered for the next couple of days
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Old 12-11-2011, 12:01 AM
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Harden up Dave where is ya fighting sprit. I thought you need that for engineering, I was talking to a mate of mine and we where saying to each other why the bloody hell do they start our exams at bloody 7pm for 3 hrs with Structrual analysis, matrix manipulations and theorys.........

We both started laughing at the same time and said because we all work though the night. This semester was especially bad, we started pulling all nighters to cope with the work load in week 3.... and it didn't let off till exams finished.! with a bang. 7 exams in 6 days
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Old 12-11-2011, 12:12 AM
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Yep, I did the odd all nighter doing my degree back in the early 80's doing assignments and my thesis, but I realize now it was just good training to stay up all night imaging years layer when I'm at Leyburn.
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Old 12-11-2011, 01:44 AM
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Haha, I have no problems at all staying up all night - it's the eventual crash and burn after doing it for several days straight that does me in

I never understood why my engineering lectures were usually scheduled at 8 am, but the exams were scheduled for 7 pm... both were annoying! Top effort on 7 exams in 6 days, though - that's brutal.

I started doing all nighters during my engineering honours thesis and it continued well into the PhD. On the bright side, it meant that I ran waaay too many experiments - my 9th thesis-related journal article was accepted for publication today. They didn't tell me at the time that I only needed three to graduate!
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