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Thread: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

  1. #61
    Phil Leigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts



    Quote Originally Posted by carter_rick View Post
    Doesn't a Wedge allow accurate tracking with Azimuth Mount?
    A wedge can allow accurate polar alignment which in turn enables longer exposures.
    However, almost all wedge conversions of alt-az mounts are inherently compromised by:

    1) the mechanical quality of the wedge - good ones are expensive
    2) the tripod that came with the alt/az mount now needs to carry a HEAVY wedge that it was not really designed for
    3) the centre of gravity for wedged fork mounted scopes will be outside the COG of the tripod/scope, leading to inherent instability that can be hard to deal with
    4) it can be VERY difficult lifting a heavy scope (think Celestron CPC1100) onto a wedge on top of a tripod.
    All of this can be dealt with by pier mounting - which means a permanent setup. After all, that's what is used in real observatories... alt/az mounts...

    The expensive Celestron Pro HD wedge will only take up to 11 inches of scope...

    IMO wedges are best avoided. YMMV.
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  2. #62
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

    In addition to what Phil said, not all azimuth mount have an equatorial alignment or tracking capability.
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  3. #63
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

    I have a CPC 9.25 on a HD pro wedge, IF you can get an accurate polar align using ASPA you can easily get about 60-80 second exposures unguided with the focal reducer. With the starshoot mini and PHD you can get several minutes +(I'm light pollution limited even with filter). The biggest downside is the lifting operation, which is easiest with two people, and the fact that my CPC has more trouble getting a good pre-polar align in alt-azm or eq then my nexstar 6se did. I suspect this has to do with backlash settings which I don't really know how to fix. With the exception of the lifting operation I think this setup is a lot easier to use then an GEM one because the alignment doesn't require the calibration stars, you don't have a meridian flip, even in the most awkward position it is still easy to access the eyepiece/focused area ect....

    Now with all that said I'm personally thinking of going with hyperstar for my main imaging one because it would allow me to image after work as alt-azm is just that much easier to get going vs either the wedge or a GEM.

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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

    Interesting thread. Do you think Orion SteadyStar AO will be effective enough to solve field rotation issues?

  5. #65
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

    Really the only way around field rotation is camera rotator or short exposures. I did have a sort of ground breaking though recently, given my light pollution and time limitations, and that is to get a hyperbolic astrograph or powernewt type setup and put it on a iOptron MiniTower II. I'm probably going to give hyperstar a try first and see how that works but this is a possible second step. I realize that this seems like an expensive use of a very nice scope but realistically I won't be able to go past 30 seconds anyways in the F2-3 range and it would allow me to do imagining on work nights. I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people in this situation. To bad GSO doesn't make a hyperbolic astrograph or hubbleoptics doesn't sell an actual OTA structure to go with their optics.
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

    Thanks for your answer!

    According to the Orion website the SteadyStar AO could be sold with a field rotator feature:

    <http://www.telescope.com/Astrophotography/Autoguiding-Solutions/Orion-SteadyStar-Adaptive-Optics-Guider-with-Rotator/pc/-1/c/4/sc/60/p/53077.uts>

    Not good enough I guess?

  7. #67
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

    Actually that should work just fine. The question is whether your telescope in Alt Azm can track without vibration. My 6SE couldn't but my C9.25 can. I wonder how a Minitower 2 would do.

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    Default Re: Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts

    Update regarding using the Orion ST-80A or the SkyWatcher StarTravel 80 as a camera scope for azimuth mount astrophotography.

    The ST80A has a 80mm aperture, 400mm focal length, and a focal ratio of f/5 with fully multicoated lenses. The ST80A makes an excellent camera scope to use on lightweight azimuth mounts for very short exposure astrophotography (20 to 30 second exposures). Objects and stars in the center of the field of view are sharp as a tack. Chromatic aberration exists on very bright white stars which can be a distraction with objects that have a lot of white stars..however, it can be mitigated during photo processing. Stars near the outer edge of the field of view are bloated and elongated. Cropping removes them. For me, the advantage offered by this fast f/5 refractor more than make up for this scopes shortcomings. I've attached two images.

    One is M42, the Orion Nebula which was poorly composed and the nebula was near the edge of the field of view. This gives a good example of the star elongation at the edge of the field of view. A properly composed image would have centered the nebula in the field of view and the elongated stars cropped out of the picture. With M42 I was not concerned with the image but how well the Astronomik CLS filter would perform on an az mount where little advantage of its capabilities could be used as the option of increasing exposure time is not an option with an azimuth mount. The image of Orion is by far the best I've done of the object at my home or anywhere else for that matter. Needless to say, I am a happy camper with both the ST80A and the Astronomik CLS filter.


    The second image is of M45 which has a lot of white stars to give an example of chromatic aberration after processing. The image was made with a ST80A, Astronomik CLS light pollution reduction filter and is the only success I have had in my many attempts to capture the nebula in M45. I suspect that the 60 second exposures allowed by the 4SE mount in the equatorial mode are responsible.

    Image details:
    M42; SkyWatcher SynScan AZ mount; 119x30 seconds stack, unmodified Canon 1000D at 1600 ISO, f/5 Orion ST80A, Astronomik CLS light pollution filter, interval timer
    M45; Celestron 4SE mount (equatorial mode), 46x60seconds stack, unmodified Canon 1000D at 1600 ISO f/5 Orion ST80A, Astronomik CLS light pollution filter; interval timer


    M42 LRF 59M30S 119FR noise reduction small.jpgm45 Small.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
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