#21  
Old 29-04-2016, 07:54 AM
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Amaranthus (Barry)
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APT in particular has come a long way. For instance, I used to plate solve using AstroTortilla, but now do it all within APT using point craft. And it's now a very stable software platform indeed, which is critical. Ivo has mentioned adding native support for Nikon (for now, you'd need to try and do it via ASCOM), but as luka notes, native support is not implemented yet. For Canon and any CCD with an ASCOM driver (i.e., all), it's really beaut.

Last edited by Amaranthus; 29-04-2016 at 09:50 AM.
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  #22  
Old 29-04-2016, 09:29 AM
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+1 to cartes du ciel. that is what i used to control the EQ mount. once you do that you really need to go to plate solving. i used Astrotortilla but it was a little flaky and extremely slow. after using theskyX, i am amazed at how quick it can find an astronomic solution.

i hate to break it to you Chris, you are on a slippery slope. you will always need better gear. at some point you have to be happy with what you got and try to improve with it. when you get a guider you are going to hit the problem of noise control with a DSLR, especially on hot nights, so you will want to cool your camera. you are going to hit sky glow issues which mean you want to use Narrow band filters. you will want to get better resolution so you will go for a bigger and longer FL scope. then you will need to get a coma corrector, laser collimation, ccd.
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  #23  
Old 29-04-2016, 10:11 AM
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Atmos (Colin)
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It just put a CCD on the back of an 80mm triplet (less CA than the doublet) Don't always need to go bigger for deeper images, a good well presented wide field makes me happy
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  #24  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Somnium View Post
i hate to break it to you Chris, you are on a slippery slope. you will always need better gear. at some point you have to be happy with what you got and try to improve with it. when you get a guider you are going to hit the problem of noise control with a DSLR, especially on hot nights, so you will want to cool your camera. you are going to hit sky glow issues which mean you want to use Narrow band filters. you will want to get better resolution so you will go for a bigger and longer FL scope. then you will need to get a coma corrector, laser collimation, ccd.
Oh I'm extremely, painfully aware of that already. I started with $200 boinoculars, then a $600 Dob, now a $2k mount & refractor, soon a $4-500 guiding system, then probably a $1k Newtonian & coma corrector, then I imagine a $1k CCD, then when I get frustated with the flexure of the metal Newt I'll need a $6k carbon fibre truss, which should probably get a better guiding system, the combined weight of which will necessitate a $5k EQ8 or pier, at which point I'll probably decide I should just spend a few grand on a dedicated observatory.

THEN I'll be happy. Right?

For the other stuff I have no real idea what the various software you all mentioned are actually for. The way I imagined it would work is that the guidescope camera connects to the laptop running PHD2 which then connects to the mount. What are all these other things for? Does PHD2 have an alignment process or is it absolutely necessary to go down the plate solving route?

I'm fine with using my DSLR and intervalometer for now (until I get frustrated with the noise, at least), so I'm not that fussed about controlling the camera. It's a bit fiddly but nothing I refuse to deal with. What am I missing there?

And what about Stellarium? It seems like a great program but I don't know where it fits in with CDC / PHD2 / EQMOD etc.
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  #25  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:19 PM
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Camelopardalis (Dunk)
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Stellarium looks pretty (mostly), although not as pretty as Sky Safari. CDC is very functional....but that's great for remote control.

The bottom line is that none of this is neurosurgery....I mean, look at all this lot that have mastered it It's just a learning curve. The slippery slope never seems to end, but a lot of satisfaction can be had from deliberately not spending much money It all depends what you want from the hobby.

If you do a good drift alignment then you're exposures will only be limited by your periodic error. There's a lot to be had within that timescale, whatever it is. Then there's guiding....I chose a netbook, cheap, low power consumption, does the job just as well as any...
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  #26  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:24 PM
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Thanks again everyone for helping this newbie out.

I'm a long way from understanding all the different paths opening before me, which is slightly concerning because if I choose the wrong thing now I'll likely have to sell it to fund the right thing when I finally make up my mind which direction I'm heading in.

All I know for now is that shooting unguided is somewhat frustrating - two nights ago I setup my mount on the deck which must have moved slightly as the night cooled (or something) and ruined a third of my subs; last night, avoiding the deck, my mount sank into the soft grass and completely ruined about 16 out of 20 subs. Yes using pavers will help that, but you know what will help even more? GUIDING.

As I was explaining to a few of the people here, our finances have taken some major hits in the past week or two so unlikely to be getting anything immediately, but will definitely be hitting you all up again when the time comes. Once I have the guidescope, laptop and the necessary cables I'll be dragging my sorry butt back here to ask "now what?".

Until then, thanks again folks. Much appreciated.
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  #27  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:29 PM
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Chris, don't think for a second that guiding is a substitute for iffy polar alignment

Ideally, your mount needs to track accurately and the guiding should only need to nudge it as necessary. It shouldn't be correcting constantly, as that will create all kinds of havoc with your long exposures.
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  #28  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:30 PM
raymo
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Chris, there are actually two distinct steps between a DSLR and a mono CCD camera.
Cooling your DSLR will allow you to move on to the limits of what a DSLR
can do,[ there are stunning DSLR images out there, they just take skill and commitment to acheive] and at a fraction of the cost of a mono CCD camera.
The second step is an OSC [one shot colour] camera which is a sort of half way house between a DSLR and a mono CCD camera, both performance wise and cost wise.
raymo
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  #29  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Camelopardalis View Post
If you do a good drift alignment then you're exposures will only be limited by your periodic error. There's a lot to be had within that timescale, whatever it is. Then there's guiding....I chose a netbook, cheap, low power consumption, does the job just as well as any...
Drift alignment is quite doable at 510mm (my current ineptitude notwithstanding), but I'm very keen to go bigger. Programming the PEC will help, but I need a guidescope to do that anyway so may as well just go the whole hog and take the next step down this sinkhole of money - as soon as I can afford it, that is.

And it's all worth it, really. I know I'm preaching to the choir with this particular audience, but the feeling I get looking at these images that you're all taking, and afterwards when I read up on what they actually are... colliding galaxies, exploding stars, stellar nurseries, stars older than the Milky Way, solar winds blasting out at half the speed of light... what an astonishing place this universe is. Just incredible. And so crazily beautiful.
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  #30  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Camelopardalis View Post
Chris, don't think for a second that guiding is a substitute for iffy polar alignment

Ideally, your mount needs to track accurately and the guiding should only need to nudge it as necessary. It shouldn't be correcting constantly, as that will create all kinds of havoc with your long exposures.
Well that's a major bummer of a realisation. I figured I could point it at the ground then plug it in and have all my problems solved. You're telling that's not the case?? Booooo. Boo and hiss. I figured as long as it was kinda pointed vaguely in the right direction I'd be fine. No, huh?

All good. I'm definitely getting better at drifting, slowly but surely - takes about half an hour from when I carry it outside to when it's ready to go. Just wish the NEQ6 altitude adjustments didn't make my hands bleed. What horrible things they are.
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  #31  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:40 PM
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Camelopardalis (Dunk)
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Yup, every time I look/image I'm amazed...never gets old.

But there's something for every focal length. Sure, guiding will help unlock the way to fainter things, but there's soooooo much stuff, especially as we come into winter, that is bright enough to be good at short exposure lengths.

Drift alignment just takes practice. Before long you'll be realising the limits of your mounts engineering....
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  #32  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:46 PM
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...erm...no but you're already making good progress by the sounds of it.

Yeah the adjustment bolts on the NEQ6 are shockingly bad. With a small, painful turn, mine lurches. It's just a question of hitting the right spot, almost by accident

The AZ-EQ6 is worth the extra few hundred $ for the smoother controls alone.
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  #33  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by thegableguy View Post
Well that's a major bummer of a realisation. I figured I could point it at the ground then plug it in and have all my problems solved. You're telling that's not the case?? Booooo. Boo and hiss. I figured as long as it was kinda pointed vaguely in the right direction I'd be fine. No, huh?

All good. I'm definitely getting better at drifting, slowly but surely - takes about half an hour from when I carry it outside to when it's ready to go. Just wish the NEQ6 altitude adjustments didn't make my hands bleed. What horrible things they are.
Hi Chris, if you want to raise the Alt on the EQ6, the best way to do is loosen the top bolt then use one hand to lift the counterweights (or just help take some pressure off) then raise the lower bolt.
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  #34  
Old 29-04-2016, 03:52 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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Chris,
I think before getting too worried about guiding I'd be looking for a more stable base for the mount - at least fixed patio slabs etc.
Guiding won't help if the mount is moving/ sinking.......
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  #35  
Old 29-04-2016, 05:06 PM
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Chris, while having perfect polar alignment helps, you can guide with OK-ish alignment, especially at ED80's focal lengths.
After doing a really good alignment once I have marked 3 spots on the ground (has to be stable) and I place the mount exactly on them and make sure it is perfectly level. Now the alignment is very quick and guiding takes care of small inaccuracies. You can do polar alignment with PHD as well and you get better at it very quickly.

You said that your guiding system will have to wait for a while. As a cheaper/free alternative, do you have a webcam that can be attached to the ED80? If yes can use this setup for guiding and to learn about it. You could even use a DSLR with a lens for imaging while guiding with ED80+webcam. I know it is backwards but at least it gives you a taste of it.

You can also use a webcam with ED80 to measure PE which you can then program into the mount. This will (hopefully) allow you to go longer unguided, provided the polar alignment is really good.
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  #36  
Old 29-04-2016, 06:21 PM
raymo
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Its funny how everybody goes on about how bad the polar adjusters on the
SW 5 and 6 mounts are. I've always taken some weight [ as Aidan suggested] when increasing the altitude on every EQ mount I've ever owned. It doesn't
make sense [ unless one has no mechanical knowledge at all] to tighten a bolt
against all that weight when using a mass produced budget level piece of
machinery. Different ball game if using a top drawer piece of gear.
raymo
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  #37  
Old 29-04-2016, 07:21 PM
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Atmos (Colin)
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Doing galaxies are far more demanding than doing wide field work, wanting a larger telescope with longer focal length. On the cheaper side you can get a small triplet refractor along the lines of the Esprit 80mm with a QHY8 or QHY9C for OSC imaging. They are more expensive than cooling your own DSLR down but it requires less DIY and they already work with most software packages.

If you are content with wide fields and some of the larger galaxies then you don't need anything bigger than a 3-5" well corrected refractor.
Or get a 6-8" newt which is considerably cheaper but have their own issues.
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