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Star Adventurer and Autoguiding

@astronomical.backyard
26 Jan, 2019 17:34
Hello fellow astrophotographers,

I've got a Star Adventurer (SA) with a Zenithstar 61 APO. The highest exposure time for a single subframe that I can created before the star-trailing kicks in is around 1.5 min.
My question is; "Is buying a small auto-guider (that fits with a Star Adventurer) worth it or do I need to accept the fact that I can't take longer exposure sub-frames with my current equipment?"

Any advice is highly appreciated  smile

Cheers!
Twan
scott.g.call
27 Jan, 2019 01:21
Hi!

I currently use an iOptron SmartEQ Pro+ which has the same payload capacity as the Star Adventurer. My scope is a WO ZenithStar73 so the big brother of your 61. I recently started guiding using a QHY miniguidescope (4.2oz or 120 grams) and a ZWO 120mm mono guide camera. It's a pretty light guiding setup and I've been able to get 5 minute exposures with good polar alignment. I stick to 2 minutes because of the light pollution where I live.

I'm pretty impressed at the scope and camera for the little weight it adds.

ZWO makes a 30mm guidescope but it appears to be heavier…same with Orion. I figured the QHY would be great for my focal length, and when I upgrade to a larger aperture my Z73 will be the guidescope.

Hope this helps.
-Scott
UN73
27 Jan, 2019 11:32
The SmartEQ Pro+ can be guided in RA and DEC, the Star Adventurer only in RA. So your polar alignment has to be good enough to keep the DEC drift within your limits as you can´t correct it.

Best wishes,
Ulf
@astronomical.backyard
28 Jan, 2019 14:58
Thank you so much for your feedback, it's really helpful smile
I think I'm going to dig more into small guider setup information and save up some money for the best thing, with which I can 'upgrade' my astrophotography game. (I'm not sure if a guider is the right way to go right now)

Cheers!
Twan
Edited 28 Jan, 2019 14:59
Santiago
29 Jan, 2019 23:47
Hi Twan,
I guide the Star Adventurer with a Orion 50 mm Mini Guide Scope and a Lacerta MGEN II autoguider, and I can easily take exposures up to 240 s without problems. Have a look here: https://www.star-watcher.ch/equipment/lacerta-mgen-auto-guider/ for more details of how to configure the autoguider for the Star Adventurer.
Hope this helps,
Santiago.
Albrist
30 Jan, 2019 12:14
Hi Twan,

Wow 1.5mins unguided with a StarAdventurer at 360mm focal length is quite impressive! What technique do you use to polar align? Do you have any special tipps? I have the same setup and am struggeling to get longer expsosure times
Greetings Chris
Edited 30 Jan, 2019 12:19
@astronomical.backyard
31 Jan, 2019 10:47
Hello Santiago,

Thanks for the reply and link you've send along with it.
I'll take a look into it, from looking at your photo's it seems promising. smile

Cheers!
Twan
Edited 31 Jan, 2019 10:48
@astronomical.backyard
31 Jan, 2019 11:04
*deleted comment*
Edited 31 Jan, 2019 11:06
@astronomical.backyard
31 Jan, 2019 11:05
Chris Schaad
Hi Twan,Wow 1.5mins unguided with a StarAdventurer at 360mm focal length is quite impressive! What technique do you use to polar align? Do you have any special tipps? I have the same setup and am struggeling to get longer expsosure times
Greetings Chris

Hello Chris,

First of all; I'm very impressed by looking at your photo's and seeing what you've achieved with only 30sec exposures!
I'm not sure if I'm using a specific 'technique' but I do have found some problems along the way, maybe they will act as tips  smile

I've found that balancing the Z61 was fairly impossible without turning around the little stand what you use for attaching it to your SA, as seen in the picture that I've send along with this reply.

Another problem that I've found was that I didn't "level" the crosshair. I don't really know how to explain what I mean by this so I attached another picture with this reply in the hope you can see what I mean.

I hope this all helps, if not, please feel free to send another message. smile

(Both pictures are not mine and I don't take credit whatsoever)

Cheers!
Twan

Albrist
01 Feb, 2019 08:24
Hi Twan,

Oh thanks a lot for your tipps I really appreciate!! As soon as i will get the opportunity to go out for astrophotography i will try out!!
Thanks and clear skies!
astroCH
01 Feb, 2019 11:02
Hi all,

My two cents to this interesting thread : with my iOptron SkyGuider Pro, to "level" the reticule and reduce the misalignment as shown by Twan, I usually first move Polaris along the "0-6" vertical axis up and down several times, by turning the latitude adjustment knob. The star should follow this vertical line as close as possible, but if it doesn't, I slightly rotate left or right the RA mounting bloc where the polarscope is mounted, until I reach a satisfaying level. After that, I go on positioning Polaris exactly based on the chart I get with a polar alignment app (iOS) for example.
Hope it will help too smile
Christophe
Die_Launische_Diva
01 Feb, 2019 11:29
Christophe Perroud
I usually first move Polaris along the "0-6" vertical axis up and down several times, by turning the latitude adjustment knob. The star should follow this vertical line as close as possible, but if it doesn't, I slightly rotate left or right the RA mounting bloc where the polarscope is mounted, until I reach a satisfaying level.

This is a nice tip Christophe!  Mind that it requires the tripod/mount to be perfectly level.
@astronomical.backyard
01 Feb, 2019 13:03
Christophe Perroud
Hi all,My two cents to this interesting thread : with my iOptron SkyGuider Pro, to "level" the reticule and reduce the misalignment as shown by Twan, I usually first move Polaris along the "0-6" vertical axis up and down several times, by turning the latitude adjustment knob. The star should follow this vertical line as close as possible, but if it doesn't, I slightly rotate left or right the RA mounting bloc where the polarscope is mounted, until I reach a satisfaying level. After that, I go on positioning Polaris exactly based on the chart I get with a polar alignment app (iOS) for example.
Hope it will help too smile
Christophe

Wow, I didn't though of that, thanks for commenting it! Hell… we're gonna be pro's at polar aligning now smile
astroCH
01 Feb, 2019 14:09
Die Launische Diva
This is a nice tip Christophe! Mind that it requires the tripod/mount to be perfectly level.
Yes, you're right! It's also important to check if the polarscope optical axis is perfectly aligned with the RA axis of the mount. This procedure can be easily done during daytime by pointing to a far-away terrestrial target such as electrical pylon, bell tower.



More information here.

Twan Oligschlaeger
we're gonna be pro's at polar aligning now

Never give up polar alignment ! smile

Cheers,
Christophe
dciobota
01 Feb, 2019 16:51
Great tips on the polar alignment scope.  One more note, it is ok for the whole image to shift around as you rotate the mount, as long as the crosshairs stay on the same exact object (like the top of the pole in the example).  I thought at one time that the image shift caused issues with my alignment, but it does not.

Hope this helps.

Daniel
Snjór
01 Feb, 2019 16:56
Twan,

I relatively new at polar alignment but have had good luck with following steps with Skyguider Pro:

1. Use PS Align app (Free) to see exact where Polaris is.
2. Take out tripod and tracker before dark so can more easily check is level. I made scratches on garden stones so set tripod in sameplace each time.
3. I like do alignment right at dusk when Polaris visible but other stars in area are not.
4. After mount camera and before begin exposures I do quick look make sure alignment still good.
5. After first two shots I remove card from camera run inside and check make sure tracking is good.

Mistakes I have made include, rushing, align wrong star, forget charge camera or tracker, not level, trip over tripod in dark.

Best wishes,
Sigga
dciobota
01 Feb, 2019 19:28
One more thing about the PS align app, make sure you select the correct mode for the polar scope in the app.  One of them is visual, the other is telescope I think.  If you choose the wrong one Polaris will be in the wrong quadrant for the polar scope.  I can't remember which option to choose for the polar scope, I think it should be telescope (can't remember if the polar scope images are right side up or not).
Edited 01 Feb, 2019 21:36
Die_Launische_Diva
01 Feb, 2019 21:36
Sigga
Mistakes I have made include, rushing, align wrong star, forget charge camera or tracker, not level, trip over tripod in dark.
LOL all of these plus cat playing/messing with hanging cables, me forgetting the lens at f/22 (can't blame the cat for that!), forget connecting the camera to the snap port, or shoot with tracking off, and the list goes on… you know, Murphy's Law.

Seriously now, Twan and Christophe have posted some great info here! Thanks! smile
Snjór
01 Feb, 2019 21:54
Yes tracking off, done that also! On positive side my swearing has improved a lot!
Edited 01 Feb, 2019 21:55
AC1000
01 Feb, 2019 22:28
Another "highlight" is imaging without inserted memory card!
Snjór
01 Feb, 2019 22:32
I will keep that one in mind Harald!
AC1000
01 Feb, 2019 22:44
Sigga, Canon has a setting which prevent you imaging without memory card, as I learned afterwards.
Sorry for being off topic.
Edited 01 Feb, 2019 22:54
Astro-tuto
02 Feb, 2019 05:47
You can see my configuration with Lacerta MGen and 72ED Skywatcher
For the moment I didn't try  over180 sec exposure
It's works fine but your polar alignement must be very precise
 
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