Looking for advice for mount and OTA purchase at NEAF :)

bhpr
20 Mar, 2018 16:32
Hello all!

I am relatively new to AP and am using my Nikon D810/D500 with a 200-500 F5.6 Nikkor Lens. I have added a 1.4 and 1.7 teleconverter at times for some more range. At the moment I am piggybacked on my astronomy clubs C14 for image acquisition.

The C14 becomes slightly unbalanced as I am replacing the William Optics scope and my rig is a little heavier and longer so I am stuck with 60-70 secong max exposures.
I am planning on traveling to NEAF and getting a mount for my camera and possibly an OTA which will give me more "zoom" without being too long.

I have posted on a couple sites and have learned that the mount is very important so I am looking for a decent one smile

I have a Nikkor 500 F4 I want to use when I get my legs. I am thinking about an astrograph for my 1st OTA. I have looked at MakNewts, RC's and the C8 or 9.25 Edge. Weight is a factor as I want to travel with the setup after I retire.

I am considering the IOptron CEM60 for my mount because the head is 27lbs and I can handle that no prob. The Atlas is 40 and that's not really good for me. (Yep I'm a girl… and been around for a while ….. lol)

IOptron also has an IEQ 45lb mount and then there is the wonderful and expensive MyT which is probably not on the table just yet.

Are there any reasonably priced mounts (under$2,500) that might fill the bill which I am not aware of?

I want some room to grow and my main focus is photography so that is what I want to base my decisions on.

I posted my 2 best shots and certainly hope to improve upon them and all others. I have been into photography for 40+ years so this is a new and exciting version of it and I am tickled to be able to do it.

Thanks for taking the time to read and appreciate the wisdom here. The shots are phenomenal and I want to be adding to them!

smile
huerbsch
20 Mar, 2018 17:23
Welcome to AB! From the weight/cost perspective the IEQ45 Pro and CEM60 are probably your best bets. A Celestron Edge 9.25 gives you many options and only weights 21lb. I saw one on CN classifieds for $900 this week… I would go with the CEM60 with the Edge HD, or IEQ45 would work if you go with with a refractor that doesn't have the super long focal length/tiny image scale which is hard to guide.

F/20 4700mm with a 2x barlow for planetary work (crazy zooooom)
F/10 2360mm native resolution
F/6.7 1500mm with an Astrophysics CCDT 0.67x reducer would be great for small galaxies
F/2 470mm for widefield/nebula/narrowband work with hyperstar

Starting AP tho, a mid size refractor is the easiest to start using.
Edited 20 Mar, 2018 17:25
bhpr
20 Mar, 2018 18:36
Thanks! I agree about the refractor but as I already have that in my 500 F4 with 2 teleconverters I don't think I would gain anything with a medium sized refractor.

Besides I am already wanting more focal length for those pesky smaller but beautiful galaxiessmile

I have some time to ponder and thanks to the many nice astronomers/APers on the boards lots of info to ponder on smile
Starminer68
21 Mar, 2018 04:36
You will trade all your lenses fot good triplet - beleive me, I passed this stage too. And with the time you would like to switch to CCD or cooled modified camera.  smile
bhpr
21 Mar, 2018 13:20
I still shoot regular stuff so doubt I will get rid of my lenses but may end up adding a refractor if I get deep enough into thissmile The club has a nice William Optics which is the mount I am using though I have shot the William Optics. It is a great scope but small for me at 420. I want more!!!! I have looked into the WO 132 which would be more to my liking with a focal reducer for the wider stuff.

Before that though I thought an 8" RC or Celestron Edge might get me some great stuff without being to hard to learn, and of course a focal reducer.
I do have lots of photographic experience and patience so not gonna be dissuaded by rough nights…. they are a learning experience.
If it were easy everyone would be doing it smile

Of course gotta have a mount for any of this to happen so that will be the 1st purchase. Looks like IOptron is in the lead mostly because of weight advantages.
I know a few here have the CEM60 and Astrobackyard is using one. I do enjoy his videos! Learned a lot.

One thing I really love about photography is those who are serious about it are usually very happy to help those who have less experience. I have given and received lots of it and it has made my passion more fun and more rewarding smile

Astrophotography is just an extension that I need more help than I can give right now but I see younger future AP's everywhere and can't wait to give them a leg upsmile

I will add my Flickr account in my info but 99% of it is not AP. Someone might like a few of my other stuff thoughsmile

Thanks for all the info! Keep it coming. I read and ponder all comments smile
Starminer68
21 Mar, 2018 18:24
If you would like to go for RC 8 - it is a good choice. I also looking for this scope for AP.  Your would need a very good mount for precise guiding-Skywatcher EQ-6 or better. Another option - mobile setup: decent light mount, guider and DSLR, easy to setup - easy to transport. Clear skies! smile
huerbsch
22 Mar, 2018 11:04
I would get the 9.25 Edge over the RC. I hear the RC's tend to need focuser upgrades and have a learning curve with collimation, but I don't own one. Maybe someone else can chime in about a RC for beginner AP. Usually not the recommended starting route, I think the Edge is a better choice (Hyperstar)  smilesmile

The WOFLT132 is also a very nice scope!
Carballada
22 Mar, 2018 16:44
I could tell you my own experience.
I started with SC (6" and 8"smile but when I changed to RC (8" and now 10"smile I was so happy. Also I am using a 107 refractor for wide field.
I am using a GSO variant with a really good relation price/performance.
Of course, needs more care than others specially in collimation, but it's so much fun!!  smile
My advice, start with a 80 refractor and maybe an AZEQ6 or CEM60, because I think is necesary to fight with tracking and all the other stuff and after gain some experience go for a RC.

You are welcome to look into our RC group here and look their images:
https://www.astrobin.com/groups/91/

regards
Edited 22 Mar, 2018 16:45
gnomus
22 Mar, 2018 17:07
Hi bhpr

Personally I would start with something like a Skywatcher EQ6-R.  This is a new model of a mount that has been around for a long time.  The next level up from that is going to cost a lot more money.  Avalon (maybe); AP; Mesu; Paramount

You will get conflicting advice, but my strong suggestion is that you avoid excessive focal length.  You will know from your Nikons that you can hand-hold a 50mm lens in the daylight in most situations, but it is very difficult to do that with your longer focal length lenses.  So it is with AP - your EQ6 will happily guide an ED80 or thereabouts, but you will start to reach the limit of what the EQ6 can do if you start putting on a load of focal length.  That being the case, I would keep to shortish focal length scopes.  Refractors don't need to be collimated, so they are pretty easy.  A brief overview of my 'journey':

  1. Against the advice of astrophotographers on another forum, I boutgh a CGEM (similar to the EQ6) and a Celestron Edge HD 8 (2032mm focal length).
  2. As predicted, the images were poor.  Edge HD8 and CGEM - great for visual - less good for AP
  3. Bought a Skywatcher ED80 (very cheap) - start to get somewhere… I am happy-ish but decide to …
  4. … 'Upgrade' to Takahashi FSQ 85 - I get a poor copy and the worst customer service I've ever had - I eventually manage to return the scope
  5. Then get a Williams Optics Star 71 - I had to get 5 of these to get 2 good copies. (Nothing against WO, but this scope had a very poor start in life - I think the build quality of the Mk IIs may be a bit better).   I like the scopes I have ended up with.
If I were starting again, I would look very closely at the Skywatcher Esprit 80 or 100.  (I have an Esprit 120, and like it very much.  The 150 is well thought of too).  The downside of the Esprit 80, though is the mounting mechanism.  I struggle to see how you get get a decent guide scope on there, so you either have to use an OAG, or guide via the finderscope.

I won't bore you with the rest, but it all got a bit ridiculous.

Good luck.
bhpr
22 Mar, 2018 22:56
Well as someone who has handheld a non VR 500F4 (beast) prime and manage a few good shots size is not gonna scare me.

That said I also am not foolish enough to buy a 10 or 14" SCT and think I'm gonna get anywhere with it.

The EQ6 is a great mount but the head is 38lbs and that's a lot for me on any regular usage. The CEM60 holds more and the head is 11 lbs lighter because of the center balance. It's bigger than I would like to travel with but I was told the mount was very important, and as I totally agree with that  I am getting the best I can manage.

I like the price point and size of the 8" RC and have seen some great photos from it so that is on the short list. I have heard collimation can be difficult but it should hold well……

I will keep absorbing info and use it to help me make a hopefully good decisionsmile Thanks for all the good advice!
bobzeq25
27 Mar, 2018 03:36
bhpr
Well as someone who has handheld a non VR 500F4 (beast) prime and manage a few good shots size is not gonna scare me.That said I also am not foolish enough to buy a 10 or 14" SCT and think I'm gonna get anywhere with it.

The EQ6 is a great mount but the head is 38lbs and that's a lot for me on any regular usage. The CEM60 holds more and the head is 11 lbs lighter because of the center balance. It's bigger than I would like to travel with but I was told the mount was very important, and as I totally agree with that  I am getting the best I can manage.

I like the price point and size of the 8" RC and have seen some great photos from it so that is on the short list. I have heard collimation can be difficult but it should hold well……

I will keep absorbing info and use it to help me make a hopefully good decisionsmile Thanks for all the good advice!
I have a CEM60, like it.  Bum leg makes light weight a necessity.

The 8RC is more than a bit difficult to collimate.  Some have given up on it.  You could search for a thread on the other forum entitled
"Borderline ready to sell this piece of ****".  One guy found out the collimation did not hold well.   Some do use it successfully,
experiences vary, it's the complaints you see more.  The price may be somewhat misleading.  By the time I gave up
on my 6RC I had $1200 in the "$400" scope.  Some replace the focuser with a Moonlite.  I replaced it with a 3.7 focuser,
but attached to a 130mm F7 TS refractor <smile>, quite happy with the change.

i also considered an 8 inch F5 Newt, above average quality, not top of the line.  1000mm is a nice focal length,
my skies rarely could use more.
Edited 27 Mar, 2018 03:43
bhpr
28 Mar, 2018 20:05
I keep hearing about collimation issues from different sources so I believe it is a real thing. I have handles a lot of photographic equipment in my day but never anything that needed collimation so that is a concern.

How are the Edge series scopes quality wise? I really want to photograph and visual will be a secondary option.
I want the best optics I can afford and manage weight wise.

I figure I could go $2500-$3000 on the OTA. I don't want to spend that and then need to spend another $600 on a focuser. I just don't understand quality scopes needing a new focuser out of the box.

Thanks for the continued advice! I really like the folks in this hobby. They are smart and helpful smile

I also need to figure out how I'm gonna guide this stuff so open to suggestions. Guide scope vs OAG. Ahhh starting a new expensive addiction….. so much fun smile
Space_Oddity
28 Mar, 2018 23:58
Here is my 2 cents for what its worth:
I would look at the iOptron CEM 60EC. The price has been reduced due to the release of the CEM120. I have a CEM120 EC and let me tell you the tracking is incredible. I have shot 1800sec images with only need to guide in the DEC axis. The encoder tracked the RA to near perfection. I have been shooting 600 sec subs with no guiding what so ever.  It may be a little more money than the standard CEM60 but having gone through several mounts myself,I am extremely pleased with the results that the encoder model has been producing.

As far as an OTA, SCTs are much easier to use than an RC due to collimation concerns, but an SCT has its own issues, primarily mirror flop.  The Edge has added mirror lock to help with this issue, but it is still a concern having had both a an Edge 11 and an Edge 8. The real nice thing with an Edge is than you can use it at f/10, f/7.0 and f/2 , thus you get a very versatile OTA all in one.

Personally I prefer triplett refractors. They are the most expensive choice ,but the results are worth it. Pinpoint stars with  a  velvet black background. In addition flat to the edge of the image. A telescope is designed to gather light..period using either  lenses,  or mirrors, the objective is the same…more photons , better signal to noise. Long focal lengths that are achieved with SCTs are great but come with a trade off. A very good tracking mount, and a very good guiding setup is needed. Without either of these 2 , imaging at 1800mm or more could be a nightmare. Oblong stars can totally ruin an other wise perfect image.

Trust me you will be totally surprised at the the difference between astroimaging with a camera lens as compared to imaging with a telescope.  Camera lens are great for widefield. I have bought a Rokinon 135mm f/2.0 ED just for this purpose.

OK I have rambled long enough..To sum it up buy the best mount that you can afford.. and worry about getting a super OTA in the future!!!   It is the most important piece of this otherwise crazy hobby we call astrophotography!  smile

CS

Bob
bhpr
29 Mar, 2018 00:38
Well I had come to the conclusion that the CEM60 was the mount but had not considered the EC version as I planned on guiding. If I could get 600sec subs I wouldn't need guiding. Frankly I was planning on 3-4 min subs most of the time (I am stuck at 60 sec with what I am using now) so the EC version (which could make life easier) may not be necessary.
I assume PA is critical for good tracking to happen? I have never had to do that so a skill to learn with maybe Polemaster or Sharpcap?

I would love a big refractor but a good one is very spendy and I have that fine Nikon 500mm F4 with a couple teleconverters which covers up to 850mm. I have yet to shoot with that lens as it is to big to piggyback on the scope I am using. I am shooting a 200-500 F5.6, also a nice lens but not an F4 prime…..

So does the 8"Edge have a 2"connection at the scope where I can attach my camera. I don't want to shoot 1 1/4 inch. I have a sweet D810 that would love all 2" of imaging space. The 9 1/4 would be the other option but then I need a 3rd party reducer because Celestron doen't think that scope is worth making a focal reducer for…..  At least it should still be manageable for me weight wise, just not sure size wise. That is the main purpose of going to NEAF. I really gotta kick the tires and see what things are really like. Not spending thousands based on a picture on the internet.

OMG rambling is contagious! lol

Either way this is an adventure and I am looking forward to wherever it leads me smile

Clear skies!
Space_Oddity
29 Mar, 2018 01:21
bhpr
So does the 8"Edge have a 2"connection at the scope where I can attach my camera. I don't want to shoot 1 1/4 inch. I have a sweet D810 that would love all 2" of imaging space. The 9 1/4 would be the other option but then I need a 3rd party reducer because Celestron doen't think that scope is worth making a focal reducer for…..  At least it should still be manageable for me weight wise, just not sure size wise. That is the main purpose of going to NEAF. I really gotta kick the tires and see what things are really like. Not spending thousands based on a picture on the internet.
Yes the Edge does have an adaptor that makes it the correct  back focus distance to accommodate a DSLR. Just attach a Nikon T-Ring adaptor to it and you are good to go.

I was told that it was a problem for Celestron to make a reducer for the 9.25 due to it being and odd ratio. I believe Optec has a reducer for the 9.25.

I hear ya about going to NEAF. My goal is to come home this year with a few new toys myself. That is where I bought my Stellarvue SVA 130. Took it right out of the hands of Vic Maris. : smile
glend
30 Mar, 2018 02:52
As a retiree myself i offer my experience. If your imaging you want the scope to be as fast as possible, there are many choices that can run at f5. Imaging at f8 and above is much harder and usualky requires more investment. I would forget about Edge HDs (although i have an Edge HD 8, which is used visually and for planetary high frame rate video stacking).  A mount like the NEQ6 can handle a variety of scopes but the imaging payload should be kept below 15kg for best results. You mentioned Mak-Newts, and i have one that I highly recommend, the Skywatcher MN190. It is a very versital scope, with the ability to handle high magnification visually, but can provide good astrograph performance ( with no coma, no diffraction spikes, and a perfectly flat field) all at f5.3.  The MN190 is very close to a large APO refractor in contrast at 1/3 the price. The MN190 is much less susceptible to condensation/fogging than any SCT, Edge, etc and i believe this is due to the thick corrector at the front which is easy to keep regulated with a dew strap wrapped around the front of the scope. SCTs and Edges have much thinner correctors and for some reason they dew up easily in my experience.
Good luck
bhpr
30 Mar, 2018 16:21
Glend,

I really like the idea of the MakNewt but it is nearly 30lbs and 3 feet long. I'm not sure I can physically manage it but that is the advantage of NEAF. I expect they will have one there that I may be able to try out. Might help if they made it in carbon fiber but either way it is a beastsmile
Thanks for the suggestion though. I agree completely but wanting it and being able to handle it are 2 different thingssmile

The Edge is there because it's lighter, not better…..

That is also why I am considering the CEM60. Head weights 27 lbs. Head on a EQ6 is around 38lbs? I plan to travel and will often be imaging alone so I need to be able to handle all of my equipment alone. I'm in my early 60's and a female with a very iffy back so keeping the weight down is really an important part of the selection process. Not gettin' any younger smile

Thanks again though, I do plan to take a look but unless a crane is included I may have to pass smile
bobzeq25
31 Mar, 2018 04:05
You're doing fine on the mount thing.

The scope thing….

For "getting your legs",  the ideal scope is short, light, and fast.  The SCTs are the opposite.

If your goal is to image small targets with a big scope, you'll reach it faster and better if you start with a small one,
and big bright targets.  That setup is _much_ easier to learn on.  For many reasons.  One is that it makes issues
easier to diagnose.  And there will be issues.  <smile>

This is why it's recommended by the expert authors of "how to get started in astrophotography" books.  And by
people who have walked the path.

In my opinion that trumps your concern about balancing focal lengths of this and that.  A side benefit is that it helps with
the weight thing.  An option is to start with the 500mm F4 lens (short, light, and fast) rather than any scope.  You mount the
camera on whatever mount you want.  With a side by side setup you could learn autoguiding, too.

Whatever you decide, this book will be very useful.

https://www.amazon.com/Deep-sky-Imaging-Primer-Second/dp/0999470906
bhpr
31 Mar, 2018 18:20
Bob,

Thanks for the info. I'll look into that book smile
bhpr
23 Apr, 2018 16:03
Soooooo Neaf was sensory overload for sure!

I looked at so many things and the vendors were pretty good about letting me lift and hold stuff so I could see if I could manage it on a daily basis.
I looked at several RC's,  Celestron Edge 8 and Edge 9.25, Explore Scientific, Ioptron….the list goes on.

In the end, common sense and all of the good advice here won out. I got a WO 102, 703 mm FL. It's no where near as long as I wanted but it is a really nice scope and it is the much better option for my learning curve.

Mount not here yet but the CEM60 is the choice just firming up details.

Really looking forward to 1st light on my 1st scope. I can say that William and his son James were so nice and very helpful and that thing is built like a tank smile

Thanks again for sharing your experiences and knowledge.

Clear skies

Now if I can just find some smilesmile
Edited 23 Apr, 2018 16:04
Starminer68
23 Apr, 2018 23:55
Congratulations!!! Williams Optics makes great APO, you will not regret on your choice. Last piece of advice - buy flattener or flattener/reductor, you will notice the difference on your photossmile Clear skiessmile))
Edited 23 Apr, 2018 23:56
huerbsch
24 Apr, 2018 01:50
congrats! Thats going to be a great setup. Looking forward to your 1st light with the new equipment. Id highly recommend a Polemaster… 4-5 min to near perfect PA and an auto focuser. Rigelsys nStep you can use the same stepper motor and move it between scopes.
Edited 24 Apr, 2018 03:11
bhpr
24 Apr, 2018 19:01
Adel, bought the flattener with itsmile

Robert, working on getting a polemaster, still don't have my mount….working on that nowsmile

Also getting to know PHD2 and maybe APT to do some guiding eventually smile

So much to learn, so ready to do it!
GregGurdak
25 Apr, 2018 14:26
Hello there … if you’re beginner my advice don't buy any SCT yet ! Start from nice refractor 70-100mm … I know you wanna shot galaxies but is not about the objects yet … you have to learn how to deals with mount weight balance PHD tracking etc.. if you start from long focal length SCT or refractor your hobby can turn to disappointment, girl smile …. now Nebula season around the corner, you don’t wanna shot most nebulas with long focal length instruments smile ….my advice WO 71-98 mm and CEM45 or 60 best option to start with ….. I would buy CEM60 and just add extra weight if your scope will be to light for it ….good luck smile
Edited 25 Apr, 2018 14:48
 
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