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Stargazing A good telescope with tracking for deep sky objects

  1. Jun 10, 2018 #1
    I've had a refractor telescope and I've managed to get some okay photos of them moon and jupiter. The only thing it lacked however was a tracking system.

    I would really like to buy a low maintence telescope that has a straightforward tracking system I can use to take pictures of things such as galaxies. I could probably spend in the magntitude of $400 or $500.

    It's really hard to do a search online for a good telescope since every company thinks theirs is the best so I thought I'd ask you guys.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2018 #2

    Drakkith

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    $400-$500 isn't really a good price range for tracking mounts (by mount I mean the mount only, no telescope). The mounts in this price range can only handle lightweight loads, aren't particularly stable, and are rarely designed for the kind of accurate tracking you'll need for astrophotography work. I spent about $1200 on a telescope and mount when I first started, and boy was it an enormous pain in the butt to try to do astrophotography using that setup. I quickly upgraded to a mount that was a bit more expensive than the price I had just paid for both a mount and a telescope.

    Unfortunately astrophotography is one of those hobbies that has a significant monetary barrier to entry. If you're strapped for cash, you may want to browse local classifieds, ebay, and/or astromart for used equipment. Alternatively you could get involved with your local astronomy club if you have one nearby and have someone there take you under their wing so you can see what the hobby is like before you buy anything.
     
  4. Jun 11, 2018 #3
    Really helpful advice! I really had no idea, so you have given me a good perspective on the pricing.
    I'm surprised a good mount can go over $1000.
    Would it be possible to just build one? Using milling machines,3d printing etc..? Or would that be impractical?
     
  5. Jun 11, 2018 #4

    Chronos

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    A good quality tracking mount capable of supporting an 8" scope [about the minimum size needed for deep sky AP] is going to run you about $1500 with all the proper accessories - and that's just the mount. Of course you can get cheaper mounts, and pay the price in cheaper results. Sorry to burst your bubble, but, that's the price of admission to the world of deep sky AP. For some sound advice try cloudy nights. Getting it right the first time will save you a lot of money in the long run. I have a losmandy GM-8 and that is pretty much the low bar, IMO. A tracking mount is truly a precision instrument, that is why good ones are so danged expensive. Without some extraordinary talent and equipment, building one yourself is unrealistic.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  6. Jun 11, 2018 #5

    Drakkith

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    Even $1000 is on the low end. $1500 is about what you'd pay for a decent mount, and for a good mount you can expect to pay between $2,000 to $4,000.

    It would be horribly impractical unless you already had intimate knowledge on how to build all of this stuff, put it together, and program it. In which case, why aren't you in business for yourself?!? :wink:
     
  7. Jun 11, 2018 #6
    In the UK and Europe it is common to image with 80mm APO refractors which require accurate but smaller mounts. These are often paired with Sky-Watcher mounts EQ6 or even EQ5. Results can be seen here https://stargazerslounge.com/ for example.

    Regards Andrew
     
  8. Jun 11, 2018 #7

    russ_watters

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  9. Jun 11, 2018 #8

    davenn

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    Hi there

    As others have said, $500 ( and I'm assuming that is US$) is a bit on the low side
    You really are looking at US$1000 and up for a respectable solid mount.
    This is the one I have .....

    https://www.bintel.com.au/product/skywatcher-heq5-pro-goto-mount/

    SWHEQ5PRO_1-8.jpg

    It's an excellent and solid mount for telescopes up to 13.5 kg (~ 6 lbs)
    AU$1300 = approx US$1000 at current exchange rate
    I use mine for my solar scope

    img_1096sm-jpg.jpg


    as well as my big refractor

    upload_2018-6-12_9-33-48.png

    This is a GOTO mount = when the mount is polar aligned correctly ( you need to do that anyway for astrophotography) you can use the hand controller's database to get the mount/scope to go straight to an object


    Yes, good idea ... but don't buy without seeing/checking first .... what to make sure the bearings are not worn out and all else functions :smile:

    but not that particular one, tho ... comments talk about rusted parts :frown: and it doesn't have the hand controller
    which is really needed for small changes in the aiming.

    Dave
     
  10. Jun 13, 2018 #9
    Thanks for your suggestions, in that case I will just save up a bit more for some of the mounts mentioned at the $800-$1,000 range.
     
  11. Jun 13, 2018 #10

    davenn

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    That really is a good idea, if you skimp on a decent sturdy mount, you will be really disappointed
    when it vibrates all over the place every time you touch it or the scope. Like when trying to focus the scope

    you still haven't answered the Q as to what telescope you have ?? :smile:
     
  12. Jun 13, 2018 #11
    The refractor I have is a Meade telescope with a lens of about a 3in diameter. I got this off ebay years ago. I also have a reflector with a 6in mirror, however I must say the mount is horrible. It's made of plastic and the telescope is not sturdy on it at all. I bought it off ebay for around $600, the cost wasn't really worth it.
     
  13. Jun 13, 2018 #12

    davenn

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    not good :frown:

    As you are noticing, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good sturdy mount
    It really helps with just optical (eye) observing. But for photography, it is absolutely essential

    Well with a good mount, you may be able to put both scopes on the one mount at the same time
    both your scopes are reasonably small and a mount like my one in the pix above would handle them both easily

    my mate, Martin, from Florida really goes to the extreme with 4 optical systems on the same mount ......

    27482347907_bd4a5b03bc_c.jpg

    I'm not suggesting you go that extreme, just showing what can be done with a decent mount :smile:


    Dave
     
  14. Jun 13, 2018 #13
    Let's just start with one for now :oldbiggrin: But in all seriousness that's something I never thought about! I'm definitely going to try that. I remember when I manually tracked Jupiter to get a picture of it, oh boy did that take some luck.

    1.Low exposure
    2.regular
    3. increased contrast of the second image
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Jun 15, 2018 at 7:07 PM #14

    Drakkith

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    Seconded. I can't stress how much pain it will save you if you save up for a decent mount. Luckily a 3-inch refractor is well within the weight limits of even the smaller mounts, and the short focal length makes imaging easier since the errors in the mount's gears and alignment are magnified less compared to, say, my 2000 mm focal length reflector.
     
  16. Jun 15, 2018 at 7:09 PM #15

    Drakkith

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    Hey now, that should be the goal of every astrophotographer!
     
  17. Jun 16, 2018 at 4:41 PM #16

    Chronos

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    If you try out AP on a typical bargain mount you will develop a much better appreciation for what you need to get it right. It will take you a full season of fooling around with it to figure out what he heck you are doing, anyways. Sure, you will be out the $$ you spent on that craptrap mount, but, you can alway sell it to some other fool. You may, by then, decide AP is not really your calling.
     
  18. Jun 17, 2018 at 9:01 PM #17

    russ_watters

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    For reference, here's my first ever astrophotograph:

    saturn-11-5-04.jpg

    I took it with a webcam on an unguided 60mm refractctor. I'm quite proud of it and it remains on my website!
     
  19. Jun 18, 2018 at 12:46 PM #18
    First deep sky (M31)
    m31_1.jpg
    My most recent M31 (a few years old - I'm not very active anymore)
    M31_ST33_8bit.jpg
    Same mount (CG-5) but the first one was using a 20 cm Newton (very borderline on that mount) and the second was using a a setup based on a 200 mm Canon lens, Canon 600D and a guide scope. I also figured out how to focus, align and handle the telescope between the two shots.

    As someone else suggested it is a good idea to get started. If your current mount is an motorized equatorial design and you have a DSLR camera with some decent lenses (or not) you can start practicing with "wide field" shots.

    If the mount is not equatorial or motorized it sounds (from your "can I build my own mount" comment) that you could build some kind of barn door tracker that is good enough for just a camera.
     
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