Old 18-08-2019, 04:18 PM
atkinsonr (Rich)
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Gear choices for first imaging rig

Hey everyone

I've been observing for a few years now, and am going to take a crack at imaging (after a false start a couple of years ago).

I've acquired a belt modded HEQ5-Pro, and plan to drive it using Stellarmate on a raspberry pi.

I was thinking about jumping straight into mono+filters, but I'm now thinking about going easy on myself and starting with a cooled OSC.

I'm most interested in deep-sky, and I plan to start with a short refractor. Budget isn't fixed but I'm thinking of about 3k for a guidecam, guidescope, rings, ota flattener, UHC filter and camera.

For the camera, I'm considering the ZWO ASI183MC Pro (Cooled).

For the glass I'm thinking a Zenithstar 81 with a Flat6AIII.

Just wanted to socialise these choices to see if anyone has any better suggestions.

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Old 19-08-2019, 06:36 PM
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Slawomir (Suavi)
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Hi Rich,

Itís fantastic you are thinking of imaging as IMHO itís a very rewarding activity. How are your skies? If heavily light polluted, then you might be better off getting a mono a doing narrowband. If your skies are reasonably dark, then OSC should be fine. I personally very quickly moved from a small osc to mono, but I had great time imaging with the osc, even if for a short period.

Please keep us posted
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Old 19-08-2019, 10:00 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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If you've got enough back focus for it, you might want to consider using an OAG instead of a separate guide scope. With how sensitive the guide cameras are these days, you're unlikely to have any real problems getting a star in the FOV to use.
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Old 20-08-2019, 06:35 AM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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I use an OAG with my little ED72 and have never failed to find a guide star. Personally I reckon if you have the backfocus to use one over a guidescope they really are the way to go.
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Old 20-08-2019, 07:42 AM
glend (Glen)
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Keep it simple, a guidescope is fine. People seem to constantly suggest increasing complexity, when that is the last thing someone starting out in imaging needs.
One shot colour cameras are where most people start, with good reason. If your shooting mono / filters, your complexity increases 3-4 times; your sub exposures will blow out 3 to 4 the number required to capture a OSC, for a marginal increase in resolution, and frankly at the short focal length of your chosen scope, and the small pixels of your chosen camera, it's not worth it. You also increase processing complexity significantly.
As to your location, if shooting in Sydney, consider a good light pollution filter, that will set you up just fine.
There is plenty of time to grapple with mono cameras, filters, filter wheels, OAG (if ever required at all), and complex processing - once you learn the basics and have some nice images from your OSC setup.

Last edited by glend; 20-08-2019 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 20-08-2019, 01:19 PM
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Agree with Glen. I wouldn't be going anywhere near either an OAG or mono until you get it all sorted first. Guidescopes are simple, OSC is simple (and time-saving).

Heck, some of us stay with guidescopes and OSC (even after having used OAG's and mono)
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Old 20-08-2019, 04:59 PM
dan_iana (Daniel and Iana)
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I started with a c8 edge hd and mono camera + narrowband, guiding with a 50mm guide scope and wouldn't have done it any differently.

Research, test and learn, commit yourself and you'll be up and running within a handful of sessions. I still have a ton to learn but within 3-5 sessions I was taking images that I was proud of and each image gets better and better.

A small refractor makes it even easier as long as you have it reasonable well balanced which is where the mounting gear for your guide scope and main scope comes into play.

I'd go a small guide scope, zwo guide cam, 1600mm pro with the narrowband filters of your choice. If you plan on doing LRGB as well get the 7 slot filter wheels. I tried to skimp money getting the 5 slot and it's a pain to change it when moving between nebula, galaxies and planets. No need for a UHC filter if you go narrowband and put a bit of money into general accessories (mounting plates, rings, risers if needed, short cables to clean up your rig).
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Old 20-08-2019, 09:20 PM
atkinsonr (Rich)
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Hey thanks everyone for the advice.

I live under approx Bortle 4-5 skies, so not terrible - but not great.

I've just bought a widefield refractor in the form of a Sharpstar 60 ED to sit atop the HEQ5 Pro (from a legend on this forum). Now looking for a suitable flattener.

I'm going to start with a guidescope; still considering mono, but leaning towards OSC for the simpler processing, as has been mentioned.

Thanks all for the thoughts! I'll keep this thread alive with progress.

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