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Old 06-04-2019, 02:42 PM
Kilanya (Sarah)
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Equipment Advice Needed!

Hi folks,

New here and new to the hobby. About a month ago I bought some brand new equipment on a whim and have now discovered that it isn't overly suited to what I want to do, which is wide field AP but also and mostly nebulae & galaxies.

I currently have:
- Celestron NexStar 6SE with Alt-AZ GoTo mount
- F/6.3 Reducer Corrector
- StarSense
- Celestron 1.25 Eyepiece & Filter Kit
- Celestron Canon EOS T-Ring
- Celestron T-Adapter SCT
- Canon 80D (unmodded)

My plan is to sell the above (apart from the Canon 80D) and start with a SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro but unsure what scope and/or camera lens to go for.

Any advice would be great, and bonus points for the reasons you'd go with that particular item.

TIA!
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Old 06-04-2019, 03:41 PM
casstony
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Welcome to IIS Kilanya

The standard advice to newcomers is to attend a public viewing session put on by a local club if possible; that way you get to see all the different gear before buying.

The various EQ6 style mounts are good for astrophotography provided you comfortable lifting them (around 37 pounds for the head alone).

A 70mm to 80mm apo refractor is a good choice for getting into deep space imaging - you'll get sharp, colourful images with a minimum of fuss. Once you gain experience with fine tuning the mount, polar alignment and guiding you can shift to a longer focal length instrument.

You can also try imaging through any camera lenses you already have though I don't have any experience with that.
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Old 06-04-2019, 04:59 PM
glend (Glen)
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I would not advise you to dive right into AP, but take the time to learn the night sky visually first. You will be jumping onto a big learning curve going straight to AP.
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:34 PM
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Welcome.
You could try some short exposures going for a widefield using just the camera...say 3 or 5 seconds and start learning stacking and processing.
Good luck and hope you can contribute some photos real soon.
Good luck.
Alex
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:48 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Learn the night sky visually, with books , a planetarium like Stellarium, YouTube , join a club etc... for 6 months then think about getting a small visual scope like a small refractor or dob and then progress into astrophotography
Small steps at first
Good luck !!
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  #6  
Old 06-04-2019, 06:36 PM
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Heck I go for the jump in the deep end..I bought my first moto cross bike with out even either entering a race or even seeing a race...the first race I saw I was in it☺
Bought it on the Thursday ran it in on the Saturday ran it in a club day hill climb on the Sunday, came second, and raced it the following Sunday☺.
So take my advice in the context that I am probably an idiot☺.

If you can get to a dark place, ...do not understimate binnos...cruise the Milky Way. You can find many targets to follow up with the scope...and later the camera....
We all have our favorite set up...mine was eq6 with 8 inch f5 (a very forgiving unit as opposed to f4 I expect...but I am using an 80 mm espirt on an heq 5 ( which handles the eight inch as well (not both at once) which is a huge surprise..great mount for the money..even straight out of the box..I have not pulled mine down yet to tidy it up etc.
Also you could get some great Moon shots I expect which you will find most satisfying and again you take a few and stack them and start seeing what you can do in photos shop or gimp...I would spend days playing with my early Moon shots...negative..different colours major blow ups and trying to drag out detail...
The eight in inch is great value in my view but you pay near as much again for a coma corrector...which for starters you could do without.
Anyways share your thoughts and enjoy the chats.
Alex

Last edited by xelasnave; 06-04-2019 at 06:53 PM.
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  #7  
Old 06-04-2019, 06:45 PM
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Can you put a wedge on the current mount equal to your latitude and run your current mount as an eq..check the net someone would have I bet☺ there will probably be a youtube vid if not make one and be the first☺.

Also I use 7x 50 and 20 x 50 (I know folks should not work but they are great but if I had have noticed the high mag I would not have bought them...and 80 mm binos which are fantastic...only use scopes for photos and do all visual with binos...I have a 12 inch to fix for visual.
Alex
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  #8  
Old 07-04-2019, 01:17 AM
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Outcast (Carlton)
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Welcome to the forum,

You might actually be surprised by what you can actually achieve with the gear you have.....

Do a search for Celestron 6SE Astrophotography & then go look at some of the images on Astrobin that turn up in your search...

Here is but one example: https://www.astrobin.com/gear/20307/celestron-nexstar-6se/

Are there limitations, sure there is but, you can achieve some pretty good results with what you already have & learn how your camera works for short exposure work, learn processing & learn a whole bunch of useful things before you drop a ton of money on a full on AP rig..

Up to you though, it's your money...

Cheers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilanya View Post
Hi folks,

New here and new to the hobby. About a month ago I bought some brand new equipment on a whim and have now discovered that it isn't overly suited to what I want to do, which is wide field AP but also and mostly nebulae & galaxies.

I currently have:
- Celestron NexStar 6SE with Alt-AZ GoTo mount
- F/6.3 Reducer Corrector
- StarSense
- Celestron 1.25 Eyepiece & Filter Kit
- Celestron Canon EOS T-Ring
- Celestron T-Adapter SCT
- Canon 80D (unmodded)

My plan is to sell the above (apart from the Canon 80D) and start with a SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro but unsure what scope and/or camera lens to go for.

Any advice would be great, and bonus points for the reasons you'd go with that particular item.

TIA!
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  #9  
Old 07-04-2019, 01:41 AM
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Ukastronomer (Jeremy)
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My advice is never buy anything until 1. You join a forum and 2. join a club to try gear first, before buying even more gear join a club or attend a star party
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Old 07-04-2019, 01:41 AM
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Ukastronomer (Jeremy)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glend View Post
i would not advise you to dive right into ap, but take the time to learn the night sky visually first. You will be jumping onto a big learning curve going straight to ap.
a1
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  #11  
Old 07-04-2019, 02:00 AM
RyanJones
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Hi Kilanya,



I'm going to go against the grain and not say learn the sky and study things first for the simple fact that it's not the way I did it either. As both Carlton and Alex have eluded to, you can start with what you have. Yes it will be harder and yes there are limits but it's a good starting point.

If it's galaxies and nebs you're after as was the case for me, you're going to need some sort of ability to track with the rotation of the earth so this will be in the form of a wedge for your current Alt-Az or and equatorial mount. The first 9 months of my AP journey was on a 4se Alt-Az mount with a wedge. Your 6se and for that matter most SCT or Mak scopes have long focal lengths and high F ratios. The long focal length means that tracking faults show up easily and the high F ratios means you're not going to let in a lot of light in short exposure times. Having said that, it also means you're going to have a greater magnification on galaxies and smaller nebs ( particularly planetary nebs ). Finding the tracking flaws will force you to learn how to be fastidious about your setting up.

If you are committed to moving the 6se on, it's really going to depend on budget as to what you buy. I can promise you that AP can be bank account emptier if you're not careful about considering everything that is involved. I will say for sure that a lot can be achieved on a relitively small budget.

A few pointers to help you make a decision on what to buy are these.

1. The longer focal Length you go for, the more accurate your tracking needs to be before errors become apparent. Guiding is desirable but NOT impreritive.

2. Running your mount through a laptop has its advantages but in NOT impreritive.

3. Dedicated Astro cameras are amazing but expensive. Your Canon 80d will produce lovely images.

4. Focus is one of the keys to a good image. Get a bahtinov mask and learn how to use it really early on.

5. Shorter focal length telescopes with low f ratios tend to suffer from Coma which gives you egg shaped stars around the edges. Factor in a coma corrector. It is NOT essential straight away but it will become desirable as your images start to get better. They will tend to give you more instant gratification early on though.

6. SCTs are compact and great for galaxies but they are hard to learn with. Having said that, they will teach you to be accurate. The glass corrector at the front is a magnet for dew. This gets harder to manage as apature increases. Factor in a cheap dew shield. Dew heaters are advantageous but NOT essential.

If I was going to give you a package to start off with, and please bare in mind it is purely my opinion based on what I have in my collection, it would be a 5 or 6 inch F/5 Newtonian telescope on a HEQ5 pro mount.

I hope this helps.

Cheers
Ryan
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  #12  
Old 07-04-2019, 02:48 AM
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Ukastronomer (Jeremy)
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I'm going to go against the grain and not say learn the sky and study things first for the simple fact that it's not the way I did it either.


I didn't, still have not and will never do it but i still enjoy Astronomy.

HOWEVER you do need to learn the basic constellations etc to do at least 2 star alignment and to find out where you are looking
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  #13  
Old 07-04-2019, 02:49 AM
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Ukastronomer (Jeremy)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanjones View Post
hi kilanya,



I'm going to go against the grain and not say learn the sky and study things first for the simple fact that it's not the way i did it either. As both carlton and alex have eluded to, you can start with what you have. Yes it will be harder and yes there are limits but it's a good starting point.

If it's galaxies and nebs you're after as was the case for me, you're going to need some sort of ability to track with the rotation of the earth so this will be in the form of a wedge for your current alt-az or and equatorial mount. The first 9 months of my ap journey was on a 4se alt-az mount with a wedge. Your 6se and for that matter most sct or mak scopes have long focal lengths and high f ratios. The long focal length means that tracking faults show up easily and the high f ratios means you're not going to let in a lot of light in short exposure times. Having said that, it also means you're going to have a greater magnification on galaxies and smaller nebs ( particularly planetary nebs ). Finding the tracking flaws will force you to learn how to be fastidious about your setting up.

If you are committed to moving the 6se on, it's really going to depend on budget as to what you buy. I can promise you that ap can be bank account emptier if you're not careful about considering everything that is involved. I will say for sure that a lot can be achieved on a relitively small budget.

A few pointers to help you make a decision on what to buy are these.

1. The longer focal length you go for, the more accurate your tracking needs to be before errors become apparent. Guiding is desirable but not impreritive.

2. Running your mount through a laptop has its advantages but in not impreritive.

3. Dedicated astro cameras are amazing but expensive. Your canon 80d will produce lovely images.

4. Focus is one of the keys to a good image. Get a bahtinov mask and learn how to use it really early on.

5. Shorter focal length telescopes with low f ratios tend to suffer from coma which gives you egg shaped stars around the edges. Factor in a coma corrector. It is not essential straight away but it will become desirable as your images start to get better. They will tend to give you more instant gratification early on though.

6. Scts are compact and great for galaxies but they are hard to learn with. Having said that, they will teach you to be accurate. The glass corrector at the front is a magnet for dew. This gets harder to manage as apature increases. Factor in a cheap dew shield. Dew heaters are advantageous but not essential.

If i was going to give you a package to start off with, and please bare in mind it is purely my opinion based on what i have in my collection, it would be a 5 or 6 inch f/5 newtonian telescope on a heq5 pro mount.

I hope this helps.

Cheers
ryan


a1

I will say that whilst i do have automated scopes, my most used, and I really mean USED is a refractor on manual AltAz mount, nothing beats it for speed, simplicity and ease of use
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  #14  
Old 07-04-2019, 06:17 AM
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xelasnave
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I often get polar alignment by having the camera in line with the polar axis and shooting star circles or arcs really which gives a pretty good polar align without to much trouble..you move the mount until you center the arcs..easy but you may need a couple of takes☺.so if you could first mount your camera to the mount on top of its base aligned to the axis (right angles to the base should get you close☺) this assumes the base is on a latitude wedge...that should work...you will be limited to 30 second subs but an hours worth is an hours worth and many subs really help with noise...plus unguided and not exact polar alignment gives you a built in dither.

So you may be able to get started with a wedge and a t ring (scope camera fitting) ...get or make a focuser mask..a disk with two holes is easy to make until you get a bat mask.
Alex
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  #15  
Old 07-04-2019, 04:53 PM
Kilanya (Sarah)
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Thank you all for the replies, some great advice!

I attended an astro camp this weekend and had the privilege of using an older HEQ6 mount with my Canon 80D and some fancy lenses, hence my post about moving on my 6SE etc.

I managed to get some of the following images (these are unprocessed and the jpeg versions of the raw files, so please be gentle ).

https://astrob.in/399696/0/
https://astrob.in/399697/0/
https://astrob.in/399699/0/

As for learning about our night sky before starting AP, well.. too late! Haha! I've actually learned a tonne since starting already. I'm definitely a "learn as you go" type of person.
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  #16  
Old 07-04-2019, 05:01 PM
RyanJones
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Hi Kilanya.

They are some beautiful images you taken. Well done!

Taking nothing away from the images you've captured, the more magnified you go, the more challenging it becomes so just bare that in mind when you're choosing an AP rig.

Looks like you're well and truely on the right track
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Old 08-04-2019, 08:50 AM
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rcheshire (Rowland)
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A great start...
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:03 AM
GodsPetMonkey
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Nice photos, on your shot of Orion you can also see the flame nebula and a faint horsehead - amazing start to your journey.

Anyway, I think that your ideas are already on the right track. While you certainly can do things with what you have, if your aim is AP you will soon find that this is a hobby that is frustrating enough without having to fight with your gear.

The true-and-tried entry point is an 80mm refractor and an overspecced mount. The EQ6-R is a solid choice - plenty of capacity, pretty decent quality and the belt drive was a much needed upgrade for a family of mounts heavily used in AP. Biggest downside is the weight; not a killer if you can work from your own yard, but if need to be mobile, well, finding the right balance between quality, carrying capacity and portability is really hard (and something always has to give).

Up to you if you want to buy new, but plenty of second hand mounts come up in the classifieds here - great way to make your budget go further.

Telescope wise, well, nebula and galaxies are the opposite of one another. Lots of big nebula, perfect for short, light widefield scopes. Galaxies are small and a long way away, they need big, long scopes. Big long scopes are hard to use and hard to learn on - youd need to be super keen to start with them. So Id suggest you go for a widefield refractor - easy to setup, little in the way of maintenance, and pretty easy to troubleshoot your setup when something goes wrong. 80mm is the newbie friendly choice (and cheap as a bonus), but you can just as easily stick with camera lenses or go to 100mm or a little beyond.

Dont forget all the other stuff. I have an eye watering collection of accessories, but at a minimum youll need some way to attach the camera to the scope, and a way to remotely trigger it. Id also recommend getting into guiding - silly not to if you have a guider port on the mount, and a finder-guider setup is cheap and effective. Its one of those skills you can learn early and will never stop using. Then finally there is software, some great free options, but also some incredible paid ones. You can start with DeepSkyStacker and photoshop (if you have it already).

Finally, have fun and take your time. This is a hobby for the patient!
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  #19  
Old 08-04-2019, 02:04 PM
Kilanya (Sarah)
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Thanks again guys. I'm lucky to be local to a great Astronomy society that I'm a member of, and they have an awesome Imaging group with a lot of very helpful and knowledgeable people so I've also been picking their brains on it all.

I have dabbled in DSS and PixInsight which I'm enjoying. My only fear now is that I will be thoroughly disappointed by my home skies after spending the weekend away in dark skies, but what can ya do!
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Old 08-04-2019, 02:11 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Hi Gods Pet Monkey,
I agree with most of your advice with the exception of saying you need a big long scope to image galaxies
I started with a 6 f6 newt ( focal length 900mm ) on a HEQ5 mount and can image many galaxies without an issue.
See attached images
A 6 f6 newt is not a big long scope, it only weighs 6.5kg and is 870mm long
The only prerequisite you need is good polar alignment , good collimation ,focus and plenty of 3 to 4 minute exposures
I have progressed to an 8 f5 newt on an EQ6-R mount after 3 years but still use the 6 occasionally
By the way I still class myself as a beginner ( a late stater at nearly 60 years old )

Cheers
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