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Old 30-04-2014, 12:56 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Question Astrophoto Newbie Equipment

Hey guys,

I'm a Sydney based amateur photographer who would love to swap plants and landscapes for celestial bodies.

My initial focus would - of course - be the Moon and planets in our system. I've spent several weeks studying facts and researching options, then, when I thought I knew enough, decided to go for the Skywatcher 127 MAC... Thanks to a very no-bulls**t professional in Bintel I didn't waste my budget on something I clearly didn't know enough about. My planned budget basically doubled, which, on the other hand, would be quite understandable - I just wanted to check with this awesome community before I make further steps

I have an old Nikon D60, which could be quite heavy for weaker tripods and mounts, so I'm thinking about something really solid. I suppose it would be sufficient for this purpose - if not, should I get a CCD? A computer-driven one may be better, correct?

As I'd like to go for some real close-ups (talking about the Moon again), I should probably get at least an 8-inch refractor (if I remember correctly) - which piece would you suggest?

Also, for planetary observation, will a basic tracker do for longer exposures?

Is there any other must-have or even nice-to-have accessory to start with? (extra eyepieces, etc.)

TL;DR:

1) newbie- or medium-level scope for Moon/planetary photos?
2) (motorised) mount?
3) tracking accessories?
4) other extra accessories?

Any advice will be highly appreciated

and clear skies everyone!

Petr

PS: let's say my budget would be around $2000, give or take...
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Old 30-04-2014, 01:01 PM
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Amaranthus (Barry)
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I would not start with a CCD. I'd muck about with your Nikon to get a feel for iAP, and invest in a webcam designed for AP, which is really useful for imaging the moon and planets (as is the DSLR, for the moon and sun at least). You can use a Barlow to zoom your webcam on the moon. For planetary work on the webcam, you can get by fine with alt-az tracking.

Basically, I'd suggest taking baby steps, and gradually build up your AP kit as you learn the ropes. That is what I'm doing for AP right now, after being a long-time visual-only guy!
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Old 30-04-2014, 01:22 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Thank you Barry! Very glad to hear that - I'm not ready to give up on my Nikkie yet, haha.

As for the Barlow, 2x is the recommended magnification, is that correct? Is it worth investing in a more powerful one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amaranthus View Post
I would not start with a CCD. I'd muck about with your Nikon to get a feel for iAP, and invest in a webcam designed for AP, which is really useful for imaging the moon and planets (as is the DSLR, for the moon and sun at least). You can use a Barlow to zoom your webcam on the moon. For planetary work on the webcam, you can get by fine with alt-az tracking.

Basically, I'd suggest taking baby steps, and gradually build up your AP kit as you learn the ropes. That is what I'm doing for AP right now, after being a long-time visual-only guy!
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Old 30-04-2014, 01:24 PM
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ZeroID (Brent)
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Just generally speaking, the moon doesn't need big aperture as it's pretty durn bright. In fact it is common to put caps with a smaller hole on the scope to kill some of the photons.
For close ups you will need a longer focal length and a webcam to take videos which are then stacked (AviStack eg ) to overcome the instability of the atmosphere which will turn your single frame shots into mush. Similar for planets as well, bright and small so focal length and webcams is the best option.
DSO's etc respond better to big apertures and long exposures which are still stacked. Guiding becomes the big issue then and a good mount and system is the answer.
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Old 30-04-2014, 01:27 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Will keep this in mind, Brent, thanks a lot!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroID View Post
Just generally speaking, the moon doesn't need big aperture as it's pretty durn bright. In fact it is common to put caps with a smaller hole on the scope to kill some of the photons.
For close ups you will need a longer focal length and a webcam to take videos which are then stacked (AviStack eg ) to overcome the instability of the atmosphere which will turn your single frame shots into mush. Similar for planets as well, bright and small so focal length and webcams is the best option.
DSO's etc respond better to big apertures and long exposures which are still stacked. Guiding becomes the big issue then and a good mount and system is the answer.
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Old 30-04-2014, 01:37 PM
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Amaranthus (Barry)
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Quote:
As for the Barlow, 2x is the recommended magnification, is that correct? Is it worth investing in a more powerful one?
To give you an idea, on my 8" SCT at f/10, my Neximage 5 sensor, which is close to a 7mm eyepiece in terms of FL, is equivalent to 290x mag with a ~12' FOV. If I use my FR and take it down to f/6.3, it goes down to 183x with a 19' FOV. On my f/5 SW120 frac, it gives 86x with 40' FOV.

So the Barlow is not really required, but you can work out the higher mags and FOV quite easily from the above guidelines.
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Old 10-07-2014, 12:56 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Question First one

Hi guys,

Back after a short break...
How would this setup serve my purpose? Is it good for lunar/planetary imaging or is it too good (especially as my first scope ever)?

http://www.bintel.com.au/Telescopes/...oductview.aspx

T-ring, T-adapter and Barlow(s) would be purchased with it.

Cheers for all opinions and suggestions!

Petr
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Old 10-07-2014, 02:14 PM
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rustigsmed (Russell)
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Hi Petr,

If you are only interested in planetary, and considering your budget - a large goto dob would be my preference. seeing you have mentioned bintel this is what i mean http://www.bintel.com.au/Telescopes/...oductview.aspx

while you don't need a lot of aperture for the moon, saturn and jupiter come up much better with the extra resolution gained by having a large apperture.

I'd recommend searching for images of planets taken by different scopes and see the results. eg search ED80 Jupiter; then 12" newtonian Jupiter.

BUT if you are planning on doing deep space as well, i'd try and stretch it to atleast a 10" newt which means you'd need an NEQ6 (equatorial) mount (but that would pump up your budget to ~$2600 ish) unless you go second hand.

Best of luck

Rusty
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:42 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Awesome, thank you very much for your advice Rusty!

Last edited by Huuuda; 12-07-2014 at 12:45 PM. Reason: still half asleep
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Old 15-07-2014, 02:30 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Question ED80 or ED100?

The price difference is $200 (@ bintel) - is it worth investing this extra amount and get the ED100?
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  #11  
Old 15-07-2014, 02:48 PM
Poita (Peter)
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In all honesty, look at getting a polarie or similar, and try some widefield shots using your existing camera and tripod.
e.g.
http://tinyurl.com/polarie

You can get some thrilling images this way, and get used to ploar alignment and stacking images and all the fun stuff without a big outlay.

Setup time is minimal and it is much lighter and less hassle than

If you get bored of the Polarie, they typically sell 2nd hand for about 80-90% of the purchase price, so it won't cost you much to try it out.

You can get great moon shots with a polarie and a reasonable focal length lens.

If you find you are enjoying being outside in the cold and dark, and setting up and solving simple tracking/alignment issues and all the post processing, then I would look at getting a scope and mount and adapters and all the gear.
If you find you really aren't feeling the joy of being outside on your own in the dark and cold for hours, then you haven't invested in a lot of new gear that you will lose 50% on if you decide to sell it up.

If you do enjoy it, you will get some great images, learn heaps and be ready for a big gun, and know what you like to image.
If so, you will probably find you will end up using the polarie alongside the big gear, giving you something to do whilst imaging, catpuring widefields alongside the more 'close-up' stuff from the big scope.

It really is the easiest way, with the fastest results and you get great shots and learn the ropes.

I mean, check these images out!
http://astrofanweb.de/joomla/index.p...tis&Itemid=143

The current IOTW on the front page of Ice In Space, could as just as easily have been done using a Polarie and a DSLR.

Last edited by Poita; 15-07-2014 at 03:05 PM.
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  #12  
Old 15-07-2014, 03:16 PM
julianh72 (Julian)
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Perhaps you should consider this one?
http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/s...d.php?t=123444
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  #13  
Old 15-07-2014, 05:52 PM
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mldee (Mike)
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This is a seriously good starter outfit

Petr,

If you can afford the extra outlay, this is a quality setup, and easily resaleable if it doesn't work out for you. I'd recommend this to my mum, and no, no connections here to the seller.
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  #14  
Old 15-07-2014, 06:04 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Poita! That is awesome! Thanks so much for that tip, I'll make sure to check it out. And YES - I DO enjoy solitude, freezing tempreatures (I don't mind, I'm used to it from Europe (-20 and so on)) and stargazing!

Julian - wow, that's one mean combo there! PM sent, I hope I'll get to check that setup out soon! My budget does roughly match... Excited!!! )
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Old 15-07-2014, 06:05 PM
Huuuda (Petr)
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Mike, did you mean that Takahashi beast? Yeah I like it a lot! Just wondering if it wouldn't be a bit of an overkill for a newbie like me...

Slightly later: found out - it would ) So I'd better get back to comparing newts and dobs, hehe
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Old 15-07-2014, 06:29 PM
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mldee (Mike)
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Yes!
It's the sort of thing that won't disappoint you, like cheap and nasty stuff will. Takahashi is good stuff. You can hang your Nikon off that scope and mount no sweat.

I wish I had some Taks! Just remember that all astro photography means taking photos through ~ 100 Km of swirling atmosphere, of objects that are either close and relatively bright (planets etc) or far, far away and dim DSO's; galaxies, nebulas, etc. So it's horses for courses.

Maks do well on planetary, but too slow for DSO's. This Tak rig gives you a quality modest scope to start out on planetary, but a good mount to hang a bigger (Newt/RC) scope later for DSO's if you get into the hobby. Remember that apart from Jupiter and Saturn, planets have little visual attractiveness. (My view!) Stars also. Just pinpoints of light.

The DSO's are where the photographic attraction mainly lies. The Tak mount will let you get started there, too.

To paraphrase the old IBM saying, you will never get fired for buying a Takahashi.

Just my view, others may have differing outlooks.
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Old 15-07-2014, 07:55 PM
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codemonkey (Lee)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mldee View Post
Remember that apart from Jupiter and Saturn, planets have little visual attractiveness. (My view!)
While I personally agree with the sentiment, if the OP is really wanting to photograph our more local neighbours, would this scope really be a good fit with a focal length of 355mm? Seems like a great set up for widefield stuff though, which is far more interesting if you ask me ;-)
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  #18  
Old 16-07-2014, 12:03 PM
Poita (Peter)
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I agree, you can get the same focal length with a decent lens on the camera.

A polarie and the camera will get you started in widefield, get that nailed down then take your time looking for a mount and scope in the coming 12 months or so. In the meantime you are out grabbing amazing photos, learning the ropes and have really quick setup times, and can travel with it easily.
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