#1  
Old 24-03-2011, 10:50 AM
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ZeroID (Brent)
Lost in Space ....

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The Slippery Slope ...

Slowly but inexorably I am sliding towards astrophotography.
Several reasons. I am a serious amateur photographer, I want to see something for the time I put into astronomy and when the clouds cover the skies then it's good to process and play with the data. Keeps me involved, I am still doing 'astronomy'.

My interest photographically is towards Nebulae and DSO rather than planetary. I have a good DSLR and lenses and basic CCD as per my sig. My current efforts are being frustrated by poor equipment, a cheap EQ Mount being the main problem. Budget is available soon, up to $2000, but some advice is asked for on alternative paths to take. Not in any preferred order.

#1 An HEQ5 Pro mount, use existing 114 f8 Newt with CCD, small refractor and the DSLR. $1895NZ

#2 Buy a 127mm Mak SC with all the trimmings, GoTo, Track etc and use the CCD. How good are these things at tracking ? Also makes for a good portable system.
$1335NZ (Skywatcher 127) to ~$2200 ( Meade/Celestron models)

#3 An IOptron Minitower which can carry scope one side, camera or another scope the other side. Again use existing OTA's. Uses GPS to align as well. $2045NZ)

I've looked at finding an EQ3 or similar, new or second hand but I think to get good pix I need to go guided rather than rely on an accurate SCP alignment.

Maks require de-rotation, how difficult is this and how does it limit exposure times and picture acuity?

The Mak won't take the DSLR through the focusser but could it handle the DSLR mounted parallel?



I think I've just answered my own question, the HEQ5 Pro seems to be the best long term solution. Forgive my thinking out aloud but any comments and advice would still be appreciated. It's a lot to lay out for a hobby and I'd like to get it as right as possible because it's going to take quite a bit of explaining even to my incredibly tolerant darling wife. $$$$ $$$$

P.S. My 'Dodgy' chinese 114 Newt is actually not a bad piece of gear since I replaced the oversize plastic spider with a much smaller system. Putting a 2" focusser mount would let the DSLR attach, there is plenty of infocus travel to handle the camera.
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  #2  
Old 24-03-2011, 05:55 PM
gbeal
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Brent.
start with the mount, and the old adage "the most expensive you can" applies, and then some.
The HEQ5 will be a good toe in the water, but eventually you will nee something bigger. But for now it will suffice.
OK, that just leaves a scope, and here the shorter/lighter the better. An ED80 or decent 100mm scope is where I would be suggesting, partly due cost, but mostly due ease of use, as this ups the chances of success, important at this early stage.
I would not recommend starting with a Mak, sorry. Nor a mimi-tower, but to be fair I have never owned one.
HEQ5 and ED80.
Happy to shoot the breeze if you feel like ringing Hamilton at some stage too. PM me for a phone number if you do.
Gary
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Old 24-03-2011, 06:10 PM
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DavidTrap (David)
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+1 for the HEQ5 & ED-80 - great combination, which would be popular if & when you want to sell to finance an upgrade.

You are probably going to need an Autoguider as well to get nice round stars - you can modify a finder scope, but allow another $3-400 all up.

What sort of long lenses do you have - you could start with some wide-field shots with a 2-400mm camera lens.

I don't think you want to consider de-rotation - it means that you have to have 3 motors (alt, az and rotator) working in sync to track an object. Sounds good in theory, but probably best left to professional observatories with price tags in the gazillions.

DT
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Old 25-03-2011, 08:47 AM
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ZeroID (Brent)
Lost in Space ....

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Gary, thanks for the advice. May take you up on the chat later when I get serious. ED80 is around $300-400 I think so budget has suddenly grown. Might have to save a bit more, sell some stuff.

David, Upgrade to my upgrade ? Geez that slope IS slippery !!
Lenses are 18-70 f4.5, 35-105, F4.5 and 70-300 f5.6 all original KM glass. All zooms as you see which is not best but all good glass. I'm looking for an older prime 135 low f# or thereabouts on Trademe
And AutoGuider ..... hadn't quite factored that in ....
more budget required.
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Old 26-03-2011, 08:00 PM
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White Rabbit
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There are a few heq pro 5's for sale in ice trades. Buy a second hand mount and get a Ed 102 and an st 80 guide scope. That's what I have and it's pretty good.
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Old 26-03-2011, 09:51 PM
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Davros (Lauren)
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I will second the above. I have a HEQ5 and an ED80, both bought second hand and i love the combo. It gives a little room to expand with a guidescope when i get there. Have a look at the images JJJ puts out using this same combo. It should be more than enough to kick things off for you and could be had for less than your budget if bought second hand.
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Old 27-03-2011, 05:29 AM
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ZeroID (Brent)
Lost in Space ....

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Again, thanks guys. My big problem with buying off Ice Trades is that by the time I factor in exchange rate and shipping it gets pretty dear and many listings say 'Australia and 'Pickup Only'. The ones I have seen (and their equivalents, Vixen, Losmandy etc ) all either work out the same or dearer than buying a new HEQ5 Pro in NZ, $1795.
The $1500AUD setup becomes about $2200NZ or more by the time it gets here. NZ $ is buying about 73 cents AU at present. Ditto for bringing stuff in from the states. Your exchange rate to US$ makes it good for you guys.

And due to the smaller market, less suppliers and local demand you don't see much available over here either in second hand ED80 or mount range.
May have to look at equivalents across the mount range and just watch the local second hand trade like a hawk. So far I've listed Losmandy GM8S, Vixen SXW and Meade LXD-75 as being similar but I don't think I've ever seen any listed here. Might put out an APB to the nzastronomer distrib group to see if someone has a neglected mount they have upgraded from sitting in the back of the garage looking all forlorn. I can fix anything if I have to.

Thanks also to a couple of people who have PM'd me re this in great depth. Just makes you appreciate the knowledge and help on here, and the steepness of the slope !!
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Old 27-03-2011, 02:44 PM
gbeal
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And I've PM'd you again too.
Gary
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2011, 06:10 AM
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ZeroID (Brent)
Lost in Space ....

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My Apologies to you all ....

... for the clouds. They will cover all of NZ and probably a large portion of Australia as well.

I started this thread looking for an EQ3, looked at an EQ5, then moved onto to a HEQ5 Pro followed by a Losmandy GM8 and finally committed to an EQ6 Pro ..
Talk about a budget blow out ..
Dang, it's a slippery slope for sure.

I'll look at guide scope options once it arrives and I figure it out. Tempted to take the chain saw to the south fence and old orange tree by my concrete slab for an Ob site. It has great SCP views over to North 40 degrees alt.
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