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Thread: 500$ budget, autofind/goto not required, want imaging.

  1. #1
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    500$ budget, autofind/goto not required, want imaging.

    Ok... I'm noticing that I'm paying 100-200$ more to have the goto and what not... (which I wanted, since I don't know the simplest thing about star charts, and don't really have access to any astronomy groups or anything) but... I'd rather have 100-200$ in better optics and have the frustration of finding things myself... than not having the best optics...

    I'd also like to perhaps make a little photo journal of what I view... I'd like to try to keep the scope and an imaging setup (nothing spectacular... just images for myself) for the 500.

    Portability isn't too much of an issue, as if it can't fit in the bed of my truck, it isn't meant to be moved.

    Hrmm. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'd really like to be able to have photos of what I see so the imaging is a bit of a concern to me, otherwise I'd go with the Dob recommended to me in a previous thread.

  2. #2
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    If I were you, I'd put off the astrophotography for a while, get to know your scope and the sky first. Astrophotography is a huge step in astronomy and not really recommended for beginners. Decent astrophoto setups will run more than 500 bucks pretty easily. You could start with a 6" or 8" equatorial mounted reflector, get to know it and the sky, then add the astrophoto equipment later on, which may include upgrading your mount. Otherwise, I might stick with a dob at that budget. A mount and drives steady and stable enough for astrophotography might be more than 500 by itself, without an optical tube.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by redshifter
    If I were you, I'd put off the astrophotography for a while, get to know your scope and the sky first. Astrophotography is a huge step in astronomy and not really recommended for beginners. Decent astrophoto setups will run more than 500 bucks pretty easily. You could start with a 6" or 8" equatorial mounted reflector, get to know it and the sky, then add the astrophoto equipment later on, which may include upgrading your mount. Otherwise, I might stick with a dob at that budget. A mount and drives steady and stable enough for astrophotography might be more than 500 by itself, without an optical tube.
    I don't want fancy photography or anything tough. I simply want a picture of what I saw.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanmercer
    I don't want fancy photography or anything tough. I simply want a picture of what I saw.
    It's pretty simple to do some basic imaging of bright objects -- the moon, bright planets, and through a solar filter, sunspots. This is because the exposure time is short. You can even use a regular digital or film camera with a simple mount or even hand held at the eyepiece, then a little bit of Photoshop to make it look decent. There are also inexpensive cameras sold by the major telescope companies for this purpose.

    Another thing you can do to get started is star trails, get a camera that allows you to leave the shutter open for a half hour or so, then point a wide field lens at a dark sky... Don't even need a telescope for that.

    When you get to dimmer objects (galaxies, nebulaes) and extended objects (clusters), it gets tougher. You need to have accurate tracking on your telescope in order to keep the stars as single points rather than smears.

    There are some new inexpensive cameras designed for deep sky work (I think Meade and Celestron each came out with one within the last year) but you still need accurate tracking. Most inexpensive scopes on equatorial mounts aren't really suitable and to get nice pictures you might end up replacing the drive motor, buying an expensive tripod, etc.

    And then, if you take say 20 images of 15 seconds each, you will want a computer to stack the images so that you can actually see the dim object (it is easier to get a telescope to track correctly for 15 seconds than it is for 20x15 or 300 seconds).

    There are books and software packages that are dedicated to the topic of CCD imaging. Maybe get one of those or check in your local library first.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanmercer
    I don't want fancy photography or anything tough. I simply want a picture of what I saw.
    I think you may be underestimating the difficulty of this. For most objects outside the solar system, you're going to need long exposures, which means a VERY solid motorised equatorial mount. I'm not sure what is considered the bare minimum here, as I'm strictly visual myself, but I suspect you may be struggling to stay on the right side of $500. And then you'd need a telescope. Oh, and a camera.

    You might try asking around on the "Astrophotography" section of this board to see if anyone has had decent results on your budget.

  6. #6
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    If you already have a camera you can get one of these t-rings pretty cheap. The pictures won't look like the stuff you see in magazines, but it's not bad for the moon & planets. Basically they just turn your telescope into a big camera lens.

    I guess some telescopes don't have enough travel in the focuser to get the image into focus in the camera, not sure how common that problem is though - not an issue with my scope.

  7. #7
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    It might be wise to browse these websites to get an idea of just what astrophotography/imaging entails:

    http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaver...29/primer.html

    http://www.geologynet.com/astronomy/...hotography.htm

    http://www.eclipsechaser.com/eclink/...tsmt.htm#altaz

    Dave Mitsky

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