Old 24-07-2019, 02:09 AM
Xeteth (David)
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Astrophotography First Kit

Hiya IIS - first time poster here!

Over the past few months I have become borderline obsessed with the idea of doing deep sky astrophotography and as such have spent countless hours browsing the net for advice and information about starting off. I've also attended an open evening to get some advice and ideas about which gear to get.

I've narrowed it down to a few bits of equipment and thought I'd get some last minute advice before I pull the trigger and buy.

For the mount I am looking at the AZEQ6 GT or EQ6-R Pro. They seem fairly similar except the AZEQ6 has has Alt-Az which I can't see myself needing and therefore would be a waste? I'm happy to spend the extra few hundred if it's worth it, but I'm unsure if it is or not?
Note: I did look at the NEQ6 but after much research I want to go with a belt-driven mount.

For the scope - I've always loved the idea of a refractor and I am currently looking at the Explore Scientific ED102-FCD100 CF. It looks to be a super compact and light-weight scope with great optics, the only question is whether I should go with the ED80 instead? I understand the 80 will be more forgiving for tracking, but I plan on getting a guide scope/cam ASAP so I think I'll be okay with the 102.

I'll be starting off with a simple DSLR whilst I learn the ropes, but assuming I'm enjoying it as much as I think I will it probably won't be long before I upgrade that as well.

Is there any advice anyone might be able to give with regards to these choices?

Any help would be much appreciated, cheers!
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Old 24-07-2019, 05:09 AM
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RussellH is offline
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Hi and welcome to IIS, it’s a great community here.

I’m just setting up for AP myself, so can’t provide a lot of practical advice, but I can relate what I’ve found in my search that may be relevant.

It seems money isn’t a big issue to you, so that’s good. I have a very constrained budget, so was going cheap as possible on everything. I already have DSLR’s, so that was no cost. All up so far I’ve spent about $2,500. My mount was $1,100, scope about $500, and the rest has been the bare necessities to join it all together and hook up to my computer. So don’t forget to factor in all the extras you need.

I bought a 2nd hand HEQ5 Pro, and while I couldn’t afford anything more, I am already regretting I couldn’t go for the EQ6 to get an 8” newt instead of a 6”, so I think you’ve made a good choice in mount. I didn’t even consider alt-az, I think EQ is the way to go.

Getting the newt was my personal choice. Most of the advice I got was to get an 80mm refractor as a starter, which probably would have been great as well, and much easier to carry around than a newt, I just prefer newts for little reasons that aren’t that relevant. I think the 100 will be great. I’ve seen a couple (not the majority) advise starting with a 100 instead of an 80. You just might need a focal reducer if you want some wider field imaging.

One final thing regarding the DSLR. While I will have lots of fun with it, I’m already thinking about things a dedicated cooled ASI like the 1600 could do for me that the DSLR can’t. Don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford one of those so I haven’t even bothered investigating, but if money is no object, you might need to think about exactly what you want to image to make sure the DSLR can and can’t do for you. I’m sure other more i formed people can give you more advice on that than I can.


Last edited by RussellH; 24-07-2019 at 05:12 AM. Reason: Clarification and correction
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Old 24-07-2019, 06:13 AM
xelasnave's Avatar
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Welcome David
Your plan sounds good to me..go for it and start posting some photos. Good luck.
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Old 24-07-2019, 07:01 AM
Startrek (Martin)
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Hi David
You have picked a great hobby so enjoy the journey
If you getting straight into AP then an Equatorial Mount ( EQ) is a must
I have an EQ6-R Mount after 3 years into the hobby , my first mount which I still use in Sydney is a HEQ5
The EQ6-R is a great mount and will last me a lifetime , it carryís my 8Ē f5 newt plus all the other AP gear, Canon 600D , guide scope , dew heaters, adapters , coma corrector, cables etc...

Good luck and enjoy this amazing hobby !!
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Old 29-07-2019, 07:14 PM
Xeteth (David)
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Thanks all for the encouragement and advice!

One last question I have - the scope I’m getting doesn’t come with a hard case. I’d like to get one for transport and unfortunately Explore Scientific don’t sell them. What do most people do for this usually? DIY project and make one on your own? Are there any common brands that are good and sturdy for this type of equipment?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 29-07-2019, 07:50 PM
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RyanJones is offline
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Hi David and welcome,

Iíve been playing this game for about 18mths now and have been constantly upgrading my gear. Initially budget was a significant issue for me. Not that it isnít now but just slightly less so. My advice would be to focus on a mount that is at least mildly future proof. It sounds like youíve got this but covered with the 6. I have a HEQ5 pro that is pretty much maxed out with an 8Ē Newt and a 9.25 SCT. Thankfully thatís as large as I plan to go for a while. The 6 will see you able to go bigger than that in the future if you desire but also will be far more stable than mine even if you donít move to large apature.

As far as the camera side of things goes. I image with an old modified DSLR and I plan to stay that way. I like the portability of this kind of setup. I also have a stand alone guider which means I donít have or need a laptop to image. This is a bit plus for me.

As has been said, keep in mind all of the little extras youíll need because they do ad up. Iíve recently bought a single 2Ē filter that set me back over $500 ! Thatís not far off what I bought my 8Ē Newt for.

Youíre going to have a ball when you get started and Iím looking forward to seeing your images and watching your progress !
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Old 29-07-2019, 11:37 PM
Ukastronomer (Jeremy)
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Originally Posted by Startrek View Post
If you getting straight into AP then an Equatorial Mount ( EQ) is a must

Whilst I accept and agree partially with what you are saying there are many and I mean MANY on Dobsonian and SC sites like me with a Celestron Edge HD who would disagree, using our scopes to image, you don't HAVE to have an eq mount
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:45 PM
Xeteth (David)
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 120
Thanks everyone for your advice!

My full kit arrived in the last few days, took some first (very basic) shots of the moon to test some equipment. I'm learning how to do an accurate polar alignment, however this is proving to be tricky as I can barely see Sigma Octantis over my rooftop from my backyard.

Ah well, it's just another thing for me to figure out on this journey
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