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    Default Minimalist Astrophotography



    In discussions of buying that first telescope the simple statement often crops up …”and I want to do astrophotography” or can I do astrophotography with such and such a telescope for under 500 dollars, euros, or pounds. The typical reply is “NO,” for astrophotography you will need … and a list of some expensive equipment follows. This typical reply is correct …… but, on the other hand, one can connect a camera to most telescopes, point it toward some object in the sky, and take a photograph. The questions are how practical is that task and are the results worth the effort?

    These questions have bugged me. I am a novice regarding astrophotography; just getting started. I’ve slowly assembled my kit for the traditional approach …. solid tripod and mount (Celestron CG5), telescope (Celestron C6S), accurate tracking (iOptron Nova GOTO), accurate guidance (yet to be acquired), and a good camera (Canon EOS 1000D).

    However, the maverick part of me kept asking the questions …. Why can I not use my lightweight SkyWatcher SynScan AZ GOTO mount for astrophotography? Is its drive really that bad? Surely some photographs can be taken with the mount? These questions led me down the road to what is turning out to be a long term astronomy project …. Minimalist Astrophotography.

    The objective of my project is simple; conduct a long term study of several minimalist photography systems and identify the techniques needed to obtain reasonably acceptable photographs with them. Such a study will have little credibility without photographic evidence demonstrating both the capabilities and limitations of equipment and techniques.

    Why I think Minimalist Astrophotography is worth the time to investigate, develop, and encourage:

    a. It is inexpensive... approximately $1000 including the camera, telescope, adapters, and computer programs or $1500 if a computer must be purchased.
    b. It can produce photographs of deep space objects that have an acceptable quality for many people.
    c. It is a low cost but excellent training exercise to learn photographic techniques used for photographing distant and dim deep space objects.
    d. It is an excellent training exercise to learn how to process "develop" digital images into photographs.
    e. It is an economical way to determine if someone really enjoys astrophotography before spending the family fortune on equipment.
    f. It is a dual approach for a newcomer to astronomy to develop both astronomy and photographic skills and knowledge using a parallel path.
    g. It provides an opportunity for a beginner to define the “dream” or practical photographic system with little economic risk.
    h. It provides a path that is easily upgraded one step at a time (mount, guidance, camera, etc.) to a more advanced system capable of taking world class photographs.
    i. It is not wasteful of money for if the system is upgraded, the telescope and mount purchased for the minimalist approach is perfect as a grab and go telescope.
    j. Finally, it provides information useful to experienced and skilled astrophotographers who may want to use a lightweight and inexpensive portable kit for occasions when using their advanced photography systems is not practical such as on family vacations, trips to remote areas, etc.

    The term Minimalist Astrophotography needs a definition. In my study I have arbitrarily defined it to mean photographing objects outside our solar system using inexpensive mounts, tripods, and tracking systems generally considered too unstable or inaccurate for photographing celestial objects. Inexpensive means the total price, purchased new, of the mount, tripod, wedge if used, modifications if any, and tracking system is under $450 if purchased in the USA. Meade does not sell the ETX 90 and the EXT 125 mount as a stand alone item but I have included it in my definition of minimalist astrophotography equipment.

    I do not think restrictions on telescopes or cameras are needed as the limited capabilities of mounts, tripods, and tracking systems falling under my minimalist definition provide the major constraints regarding astrophotography. For computer software, I also placed no restrictions as excellent freeware is available should someone wish to keep costs to a minimum. Modifications to mounts and tripods are allowed to improve stability or reduce vibration but the modifications must be done with tools typically found around the home and the cost of the modification is included as part of the total allowable cost for the mount, tripod, wedge, and tracking system.

    The minimalist systems I have access to for my project are:
    a. SkyWatcher SynScan azimuth GOTO mount which is essentially a clone of the Celestron SLT mount.
    b. Meade DS2000 azimuth GOTO mount
    c. Celestron 4/5 SE azimuth GOTO mount
    d. Meade LX3 table top azimuth/equatorial mount; ac synchronous motor RA drive controlled by a quartz crystal; no DEC drive

    The camera I will use is a Canon EOS 1000D with a 3x right angle finder attached.

    The telescopes I have available for my study are:
    a. Meade 2045; 102mm f/10 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope
    b. Celestron C6S; 150mm f/10 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope
    c. Celestron 4SE, 102mm f/13 Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope

    I will not use my 8 inch SCT as it simply is too big for the mounts I am evaluating. It will reside on my CG5 mount for the pleasure of visually observing the night skies which is why I got it in the first place. My 90 mm Meade refractor will not be included because I don’t trust its plastic focuser to support the weight of my camera. I included the 4SE because Celestron markets it as having astrophotography capabilities. Given its popularity, I believe that its photographic capabilities and limitations need defining. I do have a 6.3 focal reducer that I will use with both SCTs but not with the 4SE MAK. Hopefully I can find a way to include a EQ3-2 motorized or goto mount in the study.

    I have started this Minimalist Astrophotography Thread with three objectives.

    a. First as a place to document the results of my project as it progresses over time.
    b. Second, a place where others can add their experiences using minimalist equipment fitting my arbitrary definition.
    c. Third as a place where minimalist techniques and equipment can be discussed.

    My study to date is progressing at a snail’s pace… not because of any lack of motivation on my part but simply because nights without stars and a bright moon are proving to be few and far in between since I began this effort last September. Also, I had to take six weeks out to nurse a convalescing wife who is now back to her wifely duties.

    Here is a link to a minimalist approach that allows for some very sharp astrophotography: http://www.astronomyforum.net/astron...pe-images.html
    Last edited by sxinias; 02-17-2017 at 09:23 PM.
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    iOptron ZEQ25 mount; SkyWatcher SynScan AZ GOTO Mount;
    Orion ST-80A 80mm Refractor (OTA); Meade LX200 203mm SCT (OTA);
    Meade DS2090AT 90mm Refractor; Meade 2045LX3 102mm SCT;
    Celestron NexStar 4 SE 102mm MAK; Celestron Advanced Series C6S (XLT) 150mm SCT
    with an iOptron GOTO Drive

    My Photos:
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    Progress Report Number 1. Interim Findings for the Suitability of a SkyWatcher SynScan AZ GOTO Mount as a Platform for Photographing Deep Space Objects.

    (Note: the Celestron SLT mount is essentially identical to the SkyWatcher SynScanAZ goto mount except for the hand controller programming. Also, the SkyWatcher Azimuth Auto Tracking Mount is identical to the goto mount except for the hand controller. These findings should be applicable to the Celestron SLT mount and the SkyWatcher Auto Tracking mounts.)

    I. Findings:

    The SkyWatcher SynScan Azimuth GOTO Mount and, by inference, the Celestron SLT Azimuth GOTO Mount as well as the SkyWatcher Azimuth Auto Tracking Mount provide a limited capability for use as a platform to photograph objects outside our solar system. However, in spite of its limitations, useful photographs of deep space objects can be obtained and many photographic skills needed for long exposure work can be developed.

    The mount with a modified tripod can provide a platform suited for exposures of 10 to 20 seconds in duration for deep space objects located 30 degrees or more from the zenith. The mount’s tripod is very sensitive to the weight of the equipment it is supporting. To capture details of deep space objects, multiple exposures must be taken, adjusted for field rotation, then digitally combined for the final image. Dependent upon the number of exposures taken and the patience and skills of the photographer, the quality of the photographs taken will vary from poor to very good but however ascetically pleasing they may be, the photographs will have many technical issues. Whether they are worth the taking will depend upon the objectives of the photographer. They will not suit someone seeking perfection but will be satisfying for people who simply want to photograph what they are seeing with their telescope and share the photos with others or to keep a photographic record of their viewing achievements.

    The extent of the objects that are practical to photograph with this mount has yet to be defined and will be the subject of a later report. At the time of this interim report, success in photographing deep space objects is limited to objects like M24, bright star clusters like M 44, 45, and 48; double stars like Albireo; and nebulae like M42 and to a lesser extent NGC 7000. The limitation to short exposures of 10 to 20 seconds also impacts stacking techniques and requires exposures over multiple nights at specific times to obtain the best results.

    The mounts tracking movements limit exposures to a duration of less than 30 seconds. Field rotation imposes further restrictions in exposure time however, exposures of 20 seconds or more can be obtained by selecting objects further than 30 degrees from the zenith. The mount’s tripod as assembled from the factory is completely unsuited and tripod induced vibration will impact up to 90 percent of exposures taken; thus, it must be modified to produce a platform of sufficient stability to support photography.


    Components.

    The SkyWatcher SynScan AZ GOTO Mount

    a. Power Supply: 11 to 15 VDC 1 Amp
    b. Motor Type: DC Servo Motor
    c. Motor Resolution: 0.8923 arc seconds
    d. Slew Speeds: from 1.0X to 800X
    e. Tracking Rates: Sidereal, Lunar, Solar
    f. Tracking Mode: Dual Axes
    g. Pointing Accuracy: Up to 10 arc minutes
    h. Data Base: 25 user objects, Complete M, NGC, and IC and SAO catalogues, total 42,900 objects
    i. Tripod: Collapsible with 32mm diameter stainless steel primary legs and 22mm diameter extension legs, foldable center brace with accessory tray, aluminum tripod head, plastic fittings and leg sockets. Tripod height with legs extended 20 cm is 80 cm.

    Optical Components:

    a. Celestron C6S Optical Tube Assembly.
    Type: Schmidt Cassegrain
    Aperture: 150 mm
    Focal length: 1500 mm
    Focal ratio: f/10

    b. Meade 2045LX3 Optical Tube Assembly
    Type: Schmidt Cassegrain
    Aperture: 102 mm
    Focal length: 1000 mm
    Focal ratio: f/10

    c. Hirsch 6.3 focal reducer

    Camera: Canon EOS 1000D Digital Single Lens Reflex

    Software:

    a. Stacking: DeepSkyStacker v3.2.1 (freeware)
    b. Image Processing:
    PhotoShop Elements 8.0
    PhotoShop 5.0
    Corel Draw PhotoPaint 8
    GIMP v2.6.8 (freeware)

    II. Mount and Tripod Dysfunctions and Fixes.

    1. field rotation caused by the mount's inability to adjust for the earth's rotation
    2. blurred photographs caused by vibration from the tripod
    3. blurred photographs caused by the mount's tracking motions

    Field Rotation and Tracking Movement:
    An azimuth goto mount will track objects in the sky and a good one like the SkyWatcher SynScan can keep an object that appears to be in the center of view for hours. However, while the object appears stationary to our eye, the image is slowly moving as the mount’s tracking is not perfect and the image is rotating around the center of view due to the earth's rotation. The mount error is called tracking error. The movement due to the earth’s rotation is called field rotation.

    If you take a long exposure photograph, field rotation will cause the stars to appear like streaks; not stars. Also as you approach the zenith, the impact of field rotation becomes larger and at the zenith you will be limited to exposures of only two seconds by field rotation. The work around for field rotation is simple; not to photograph objects within approximately 30 degrees of the zenith. Dependent upon where in the sky the object is located, this provides for exposures from 20 seconds to a couple of minutes without field rotation having an impact.

    The SkyWatcher SynScanAZ mount was not designed with the tolerances needed for traditional astrophotography. It tracks in a ziz-zag kind of motion which causes photographs to be blurred. Also, its gearing can produce undesired movements. This will limit you to exposure times no more than 15 to 30 seconds dependent upon the luck of the draw regarding the tolerances of the components making up your drive.


    Tripod Vibration. The SkyWatcher SynScan azimuth mount’s tripod is the weakest link in an admittedly weak system. Out of the box, it will ruin about 80 to 90% of exposures taken with it. However there are some simple things that can stiffen it so the tripod is usable even in light to moderate winds. Here are the interventions required for photography that also work for visual usage of the mount:

    1. Tighten all the nuts and bolts on the mount.
    2. Use epoxy to fix the upper stainless steel tripod legs to the plastic sockets for the legs.
    3. Always use the tripod with the accessory tray locked in place.
    4. Lower the center brace and accessory tray 10 cm and use the tripod without extending the extension legs (Note: dependent upon the type and size of your telescope, this may reduce the stability of your tripod and make it easier to tip over.)


    OR


    BETER STILL


    5. Construct a new center brace that is located at the bottom of the tripod’s upper legs. Use all the parts of the existing center brace except the spreader bars. Replace the three 165mm long spreader bars with new ones 265 mm long. 15mm Aluminum channel bar is perfect for the task. Cut each end to duplicate the original plastic spreader bar and drill the mounting holes in the appropriate location. The new spreader bar will not have the accessory tray locking clip. Drill a small hole in the accessory tray and the each spreader bar then use a screw and wing nut to affix the accessory tray to the center brace spreader bars. This will make the tripod sufficiently stable for exposures of 20 seconds and longer. You will even be able to extend the extension legs by at least 20 cm.

    III. Image Processing.

    One final limitation is image processing. The combined limitations of the SkyWatcher SynScan AZ GOTO mount limits exposure times to about 15 seconds. To obtain the long exposures needed to photograph most Deep Space Objects with a restriction of a 15 second maximum exposure time requires the use of a digital process called stacking. The use of an azimuth mount requires an adjustment for field rotation. If you need an exposure time of one hour but are limited to exposures of no longer than 15 seconds, then you can take 240 exposures of 15 seconds duration and use a computer program to digitally combine them into one photograph. One such program (free download from the internet) DeepSky Stacker.

    The combination of needing a large number of exposures and movement caused by both the mount’s tracking characteristics and field rotation produce an interesting result with DeepSkyStacker. It will rotate and align each exposure but if movement is excessive the stacking is variable across the final stacked image. This is caused as combination of the earth rotation (15 degrees per hour) and the mount’s tracking movement, objects on the peripheral of the image will leave and new ones enter. DeepSkyStacker will adjust for this by rotating and aligning common parts of the image. As the elapse time of the photographic session progresses, the frames will need more and more movement to adjust for field rotation and tracking movement. This fans out the stacked images. Images taken over a two hour period can produce a fan of 60 degrees. Regardless of whether you choose the Standard or Mosaic mode, this fanning effect produces a final image that while well defined in the center, is less so away from the center and also produces an increase in noise away from the center of the final image. Another impact is that as the adjustment distances increase, DeepSky Stacker seems to reject a higher percentage of images.

    Two work arounds exist. One is to simply crop the image to the area common to all the photographs. For exposures over several hours this will eliminate a considerable part of the final image. The second workaround it to limit a photography session to one hour at night and do repeated sessions over several nights. You will need to adjust the starting time each night so the images taken each night have the same geographic orientation in the sky. This will produce images that are easily stacked and reduce the fanning effect. However, one show stopper …. the weather must cooperate.

    Image rejection is also a problem. Typically some images will not be of the same quality as the majority and are not usable. This is especially true with a lightweight mount and tripod. When an exposure is rejected by the stacking program, information is lost. Several work arounds exist.

    a. Take time to properly setup and align the mount to reduce tracking error to a minimum.
    b. Use the mount’s Pointing Accuracy Enhancement feature to define the location of the targeted object to reduce tracking movement
    c. Spend time to obtain a good focus.
    d. Eliminate shutter induced vibration.
    e. Take about 20% more exposures than you calculate you need
    f. Limit total elapse time for an image to about one hour per night
    g. Spread photographing an object over several nights to reduce the impact of field rotation
    h. Use a high ISO setting to maximize data collection vs exposure time
    i. Take plenty of darks to help minimize noise from using a high ISO setting
    Last edited by sxinias; 02-05-2011 at 10:58 AM. Reason: spelling
    SXINIAS

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    iOptron ZEQ25 mount; SkyWatcher SynScan AZ GOTO Mount;
    Orion ST-80A 80mm Refractor (OTA); Meade LX200 203mm SCT (OTA);
    Meade DS2090AT 90mm Refractor; Meade 2045LX3 102mm SCT;
    Celestron NexStar 4 SE 102mm MAK; Celestron Advanced Series C6S (XLT) 150mm SCT
    with an iOptron GOTO Drive

    My Photos:
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    See also 1st post here: Very long exposure photography

    I'd say that was pretty much astrophotography and on an extremely low budget. You just need some fresh thinking, anything is possible.

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    Following this with interest.

    Clear Skies

    Pete
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    Excellent idea! You could even prepare a manual when you are finished.

    I guess I am doing some minimalist astrophotography right now. "Astro" because it focuses on stars and a few DSOs. "Photography" because it is a picture.

    I am simply turning my tripod toward specific constellations and snapping pictures. I then process the shot and compare the pictures with my sketches and charts. I am staying under 20 sec. because of the earth's rotation. I am using ISO 800 or 1600. I use an 18mm lens with 3.5f. I try to process so that the camera view most closely matches my naked eye view.

    Almost everyone with a camera has done this sort of thing with Orion. Orion is bright enough for good views. I am trying it with most of the constellations and preparing a power point of the constellations and sketches. The goal? Nothing fancy, just to learn more about how to handle the camera and improving my observation skills.

    Minimalist photography will not yield the results that can be accomplished with expensive equipment, but it can help you "tag" an object in your field notes.

    So tell me, is there a way to inexpensively tag comets? What would be the cheapest equipment one could use and record the existence of a comet? My simple method will pick up a number of the Messier objects. Could a person take such a photograph of a comet night after night and put it into a power point? How bright would the comet have to be in order to be tagged on film?

    Your project might help a number of us know what our next piece of equipment should be, while helping us to have fun with what we already have.
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    Current Projects: nothing organized, just preparing for retirement in a few years
    Main Scopes: Orion XT10, Dob / ES ED80T / Orion 90mm Mak-Cass / 50 mm Galileoscope refractor / Celestron 8" SCT / Orion Sirius Mount / Various cameras and lenses

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    Hi
    This is a great topic.

    My homegrown project is to fit my new Nokia N8 cell phone to my telescope. I've been into wildlife photography for a while and I've recently been travelling around with a nice 60mm spotting scope in my rucksack to local green areas. I was seized by the notion of training it on Jupiter and the Moon and that has really been a great surprise.. Io, Callisto, Ganymede and Europa all just quietly hanging there next to Jupiter really amazed me... and I had my phone in my pocket!

    Of course Spotting scopes are now being used to 'digiscope' very commonly and I've seen there are lots of recommended adaptors for hooking up cameras... however, My Nokia phone has no camera thread at all so I needed a way to hold it to my scope eyepiece.. I drilled through the screw-threaded eyepiece cover that came with the scope and then fixed my phone into a sturdy camera case and then glued it to the eyepiece cover so that it was trained down the center. The cover screws on and brings the phone's 12 megapixel camera within a couple of mill of the eyepiece.. It's very minimal kit but desperation is the catalyst to innovation right?! Now my 12megapixel HD camera phone can gaze down my scope with me and I'm hoping for some good results..

    I love the portability of the set-up but I know that issues like having no option for long exposure times and poor photo editing software will cause me problems in the future. It's so fun to piece together my own kit this way and I think an improvement in the scope perhaps to a filter-compatible higher-mag scope like the Seben Comet Maksutov might let me capture some great images. This scope has a flip mirror diagonal too which to me seems the ideal way to get images alligned just right.. any thoughts on flip mirror use?

    I'll follow this thread with interest chaps, thanks!
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    Actually.. is this minimalist? A DSLR and a decent scope with motorised mount isn't exactly high end, but it's not minimalist either I think. I'm interested in how low end this could go (like the tin can camera in my post above!) I'm also very interested to see how this thread pans out though, a (comparatively) budget setup can usually be stretched a lot further than might be imagined.

    Some things this got me thinking about:

    - Is exposure time really limited? After 15s you start getting star trails. Ok. But can they be de-trailed in software later? I'm not sure on this, but I'll have a quick lunch-break experiment next week.

    - Can an alt-az mount be modified wedge-style into an EQ? If the mount doesn't wedge.. how about fixing the whole tripod onto an angled board? The tripod might take it, but I don't know about the mount.

    - Nothing can be done with the aperture, the drive can be tweaked a bit.. how about the camera? Removing the IR filter can help of course, but what else? Perhaps custom firmware? Ideally we need to turn the gain up as high as possible and remove all noise filters / white balance etc.

    Jimbo: I'm planning to do the same with my iphone when I get 1. time and 2. a clear sky. The camera isn't quite so good, but the software is totally under my control \o/ I've already written a light-enhancing app, so I'll have a live heavily enhanced view of whatever it does catch.
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    Actually you should be able to build a "barn-door tracker" and be able to get some great wide field shots with most any camera. I've seen examples that captured some of the large nebula and Andromeda in this manner.

    That's about a inexpensive as you can get and still get very reasonable results. Also gives you lots of practical experience with processing techniques using the free software programs you can get on line.

    Looking forward to more on your trials and results Joe!
    Great reporting job!
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    Thanks for the comments.

    How minimal is minimal? That's a very good question and one hopefully we can find an answer to.

    I purposefully did not include solar system objects in my study because the photographic challenges are completely different from that for photographing DSOs. Photographing Solar System Objects is a complete field in its own right. Mixing solar system photography with deep space photography is a fast way to make a Russian Salad. People are getting nice photos of the moon and planets with hand held cell phones. However, photographing objects outside our solar system greatly increases the difficulty. The purpose of this thread is to explore and document how well DSOs can be photographed with non traditional systems.

    The comment about a DSLR not being exactly minimalist is a good point and one that crossed my mind more than once. However, the alternatives are what? DSLRs are widely used for photography and can serve two masters ... home photography and astrophotography. The upper end point and shoot cameras and the lower end DSLRs do over lap in cost. Going the next step and modifying a DSLR seems to me as a step in sophistication above the minimalist level. While Canon and Nikon are the cameras of choice for astrophotography, a large gaggle of other DSLRs are used at home that can also can be used to photograph the stars. How well they will perform is an unknown but they definitely can capture photographs.

    Options exist other than DSLRs such as Meade's DSI or doing surgery on a low cost point and shoot to make a camera for DSOs similar to modifications done to web cameras when people started using them to photograph the moon and planets. In the end though, the laws of physics do govern and photographing very dim objects light years distant from a moving platform does require a certain level of technical capability that will not go away. Would be great if a pin hole camera such as the one used for the sun over the bridge in London would work for astrophotography but.....

    There may be some point and shoot cameras that can be used for afocal photography. My Kodak 650Z can operate at 400 ISO and can take exposures up to four seconds duration; however, it is very noisy at 400 ISO. I do plan to make an adapter of some sort and see what I can get with it some day in the future.

    I didn't get into trying to define a minimalist telescope for several reasons, one being that it was too hard and I have insufficient information to do so. One problem with defining a telescope is the Newtonians.... which Newtonians have sufficient back focus for prime focus work and how well will positive projection with a 32mm eyepiece work for those without sufficient back focus? When exposure times are short and every second is precious, a slow telescope is a definite liability which will impact people who use a MAK or SCT. I suspect that most people who will try minimalist photography will be using a packaged OTA/mount setup that is typically sold today. Scopes like Celestron's NexStar SLT series and Meade's DS2000 series or scopes on a motorized EQ3-2 mount come to mind.

    BTW one does not have to use a manufactured system for astrophotography. As Gordon points out, barn door trackers certainly produce excellent work. Piggybacking also produces great results. You can use a fast 55mm lens and get excellent results piggybacking with a less than stellar mount. Covington in his book "Digital SLR Astrophotography" shows his home made wooden wedge that he uses as well as a home made wooden piggy back support.

    True, star trails can be made back into stars. Hopefully minimalist photography is more than photographing stars but also nebulae and galaxies as well. A photo of a nebula which has star trails also has a blurred image of the nebula and fixing the stars does little for the nebula. While deconvolution programs exist, I suspect most people do not have access to them. I also suspect that most people who will do minimalist photography will not have access to expensive programs like PhotoShop, MAXDSLR, etc. but will be using freeware like GIMP, DeepSkyStacker, etc. or inexpensive programs like PhotoShop Elements, etc. But, on the other hand, I can also see someone who also owns a umteen thousand dollar astro imaging system including the best of software also using a minimalist system like a ETX 125 or 5SE while on vacation, etc.

    Last night I had my "traditional astrophotography" kit out which is a Celestron Advanced Series C6S (6 inch SCT on a CG5 computerized goto mount) and my Canon Rebel DSLR. I must say, after spending a few months with a minimalist system, it was a pleasure to use my "traditionalist" kit. The knowledge and skills I developed with the SkyWatcher AZ mount were directly applicable to the CG5 setup. One thing I am learning is that Minimalist Astrophotography, at least with a SkyWatcher SynScan AZ goto mount has a certain level of frustration associated with it that is not present with a more capable system.

    Again, thanks for the comments.

    Joe
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    Psonice

    Your questions are similar to mine. You can put an AZ mount on a wedge. That's done all the time and I do something similar with my Meade 2045LX3. But, an entry level goto mount like the SkyWatcher certainly will have problems. Could telling it you were located at the equator fool its programming so at least you could get it to track? Things to try out.

    You also bring up another aspect that I've thought about but did not elaborate on in my postings ..... what can someone with some electronic and mechanical skills do to either make or alter existing equipment for astrophotography? The early days of web camera is a good example when people were taking a webcamera, altering its electronic circuits and making imagers from them. Could something like this be done with a regular digital camera to make an imager similar to Meade's Deep Space Imager? I certainly don't have the knowledge to know if this is possible and if so to do the job but others may? It may be already done, I haven't researched the topic. Also, I've approached this from the use of a goto az mount or a motorized or goto German equatorial mount. What other approaches are there?


    Jimbo,

    I've no experience with a flip mirror but it seems to me that it solves one problem I have experienced trying to photograph galaxies and nebulae. If you get the target object in your eyepiece, then install the camera, very often there is no visible star in the camera's viewfinder to use to focus the camera and no objects bright enough for focusing show up on live view. This makes focusing a tedioius process. If you use a goto system you can stop at the nearest bright star, focus, then goto the target object. However, while this works in theory, it sometimes has a problem as the extra weight and imbalance/inertia of a camera and adapters tends to degrade the goto accuracy of these lightweight mounts and sometimes you get a closeto not a goto.

    Seems to me a flip mirror will give you the best of both worlds. Focus on a bright star then be able to find the target object.

    Joe
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