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Thread: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

  1. #1
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    Default Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount



    Hi,

    How can I do astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount? I know it's not ideal because I can't do long exposures but I would like to consider all the options. Is it possible for me to get decent pictures with a telescope like the "Mead ETX-80AT" or the "Sky-Watcher SkyHawk 1145P"?

    Thanks

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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    Possibly but not easy. You can certainly do nightscape and widefield photography from a tripod.
    This gallery on my website is all tripod based photography.

    Nightscapes by Joe Cali

    The Sky-Watcher SkyHawk 1145P is an equatorial mount but the worms are not nearly accurate enough for prime focus photography and not strong enough to support a guide scope plus camera. Some small scopes don’t come to focus with a camera. I don’t know about the scopes you have identified.

    The Meade should come to focus.. It’s an acromat so you’re going to have some colour from chromatic aberration. There are techniques with altaz scopes to combine many very short exposures. No free lunch in astrophotographers lives.
    Good luck
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    It is possible but you will want a light weight imager like a ZWO CMOS imager and not a DSLR which is too heavy for the scopes. The ETX would be better than the SkyWatcher (which will not even bring a DSLR to focus) because the mount tracks. The SkyWatcher does come on a light weight manual EQ mount, which COULD be better (not likely) if you added a tracking motor (I do NOT advise this). The ZWO camera will come to focus with either scope.

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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro_Pingu View Post
    How can I do astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount? Thanks
    If it's a tracking Az-Alt mount, you can get short exposures -- assuming your telescope has a relatively short focal length, e.g., less than FL = 800mm. The shorter the focal length, the longer you can set the exposure time.

    If it's NOT a tracking mount, you can only do exposures of a few seconds -- or just a fraction of a second.


    Quote Originally Posted by Astro_Pingu View Post
    Is it possible for me to get decent pictures with a telescope like the "Mead ETX-80AT" or the "Sky-Watcher SkyHawk 1145P"?

    Thanks
    "Decent" is a relative term. But when you're just getting started, I suppose you mean decent in the sense of a picture that allows you recognize the object you targetted even if the picture has flaws.

    What might be helpful at this point is to go back to an idea floated earlier. One combination would be both the easiest for you to begin astrophotography and would produce the best images:

    1) get the best motorized equatorial mount you can within your budget
    2) buy a used DSLR with a lens

    In other words, forget about getting a telescope for the time being. The KEY to astrophotography is the mount -- NOT the telescope.

    So, for instance, if your budget is about $500 ... try to get a GEM tracking mount for $350 and use the remaining money to buy a DSLR.

    That's what I would do if I had to start all over again. Myself, I started with a $330 budget: bought a CG-4 for $190 and a Canon 450D for $140

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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    Yes you can do very good work photographing deep space objects with an azimuth mount and a DSLR; however, not with the telescopes you mentioned. See this sticky "Astrophotography with Azimuth Mounts" located on the "Astro Imaging Forum."

    Azimuth mount astrophotography makes most sense if you already have a DSLR and a suitable telescope like the Celestron 102SLT, ETC.

    If you are just starting and have no equipment buying an equatorial mount like the iOptron CEM25P or the Celestron AVX and using a short tube 80 mm refractor is a better starting point from a capabilities and growth perspective. The few hundred dollars you save with a entry level azimuth goto scope will rapidly evaporate in a couple of years. Also, an azimuth mount makes sense if physical or portability constraints require that you use a lightweight equipment; however the iOptron CEM 25 P mount less the counter weight is competitive here also.
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    Seems like your name has to be Joe to reply to this thread.
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    ST80/SLT/ZWO224 good for EAA (SharpCap will rotate a bit so you can stack a lot)
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    The ETX 80, and an astrocam like a ASI224MC, will work well for short exposure AP. If the mount/tripod comes with the wedge option, that will greatly extend your exposure times. Add a DIY webcam guide scope to the wedged EXT, you can get into the low minutes range. If the ETX doesn't come with a wedge, you can always make one for pretty cheap.

    The above, when paired with a Windows based tablet, would give you a fairly capable mini AP rig for next to nothing.

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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    Using Nebulosity (software) you can stack multiple images. Nebulosity allows for the rotation of the images which an alt/az mount produces. It's basically a second round of "aligning and combining images" and I used it quite successfully on 15-20 second exposures with my Ioptron Mini-Tower. You just have to take a lot of exposures. Not sure what, if any, other software image stackers have the rotation feature for alt/az images. Oh, and be aware that you probably have to get the object you want dead center because the field of view will rotate around the center - so anything on the edges will be lost when stacked.
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    Default Re: Astrophotography with a Non-Equatorial mount

    What Star Dada says, and if you decide to autoguide realize that the stars in the FOV will rotate around the guide star, which is quite hard to get in the center. Most guide scopes are very wide field so it's quite easy to be way off, therefore autoguiding is probably not a realistic option.

    Only good goto alignment and short exposures will work, and may work fine if you get a sensitive camera that can handle high ISOs. Nowadays there are good options, Sony has some interesting ones but look at exactly what the bulb and in-camera preprocessing options are.
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