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  1. #1
    edr247's Avatar
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    Default HELP! Advice needed...



    I figured since I am still a beginner, I will post this in the beginner's forum. Hopefully I'll get a lot of helpful advice.

    So, I will soon be moving to Kisumu, Kenya for 1 year to assist on a malaria research project. While there, I would love to take advantage of the opportunity and do some astronomy/astrophotography. If anybody has done astronomy/astrophotography while visiting or living in Africa (and specifically Kenya), I would love to hear some feedback and suggestions.

    1) Telescope: I currently have a 70mm alt/azimuthal Meade refractor. While I enjoy it, I don't think it would be too portable, thanks to the length of the OTA. Are there any reflecting scopes that may be portable to take?

    Otherwise, how easy is it to purchase and ship astronomy tools in Kenya?

    Having a telescope isn't absolutely essential, of course, but I would love to have one while there, if possible.

    2) Camera: I have a DSLR, and have had reasonable success with it. However, if I want to do longer exposure shots (mostly wide-field), is there a good, portable equatorial mount out there? Cost is somewhat of an issue, but really, I should be able to take this with me when I fly to Kenya, and later when I am out sight-seeing.

    I've noticed the Orion Min-EQ, and that seems like the perfect candidate. However, this site, and others have noted that it isn't that reliable when it comes to maintaining the star track, among other issues. It's got good ratings by users on Amazon and such, but all seem to come similar conclusions about it's limits.

    I have a homemade tripod and barn-door, though the barndoor has been suffering from shaking. Would I be better off redoing the tracker and attaching a motor to it? The tripod is too heavy to take with me, but I guess the barn-door tracker can be disassembled?

  2. #2
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    Sorry I cannot answer your question on shipping to Kenya? ?

    However one of our members on the other side of the ocean will be along soon to help you.

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  3. #3
    OleCuss's Avatar
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    Default

    You might want to let us know your budget and just how portable the thing needs to be.

    Off-hand I'm thinking you ought to look at the Meade ETX-125. Fairly small and portable. Works beautifully as an AZ but I believe you can use it in an equatorial mode. Pretty well set up for doing a little astrophotography - and with a RACI diagonal you should be able to use it as a spotting scope for wildlife as well.

    But you budget and space may not allow for that telescope?

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  4. #4
    edr247's Avatar
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    Yes, the ETX-125 may be a bit too pricey for me to get. Not that I don't have $700+ to put down on a telescope, but I would rather put down that much for a nice, big Dobsonian when I get back home (if I haven't drained my bank account by then!). Plus, I would hate for something to happen to a nice, expensive scope.

    As far as astrophotography goes, I think I'll save up my money to get a proper setup to do DSOs. If I am to do any prime or eyepiece projection photography, it would most likely be lunar. I may try for planets, but smaller scopes aren't going to show breath taking images of Saturn or anything (or will they....).

    For a telescope, I am looking for something that would most certainly be able to be safely carried in a suitcase (if I am taking it from the US). While there, it would need to be portable enough that I could carry it in a backpack or the like. I'm not wholly sure on my living situation just yet, but hopefully, at the very least, I'll get access to a nice rooftop.

    The telescope isn't a must, and if need be, I'll take a smaller spotting telescope.

    However, I would like to use my DSLR for wide-field astrophotography. If the night sky is dark enough (and hopefully I'll have plenty of safe access to dark skies), I don't need particularly long, tracking exposures. However, if I did want to do some tracking, would I just be better off with a barn-door tracker than trying to find a portable equatorial?

    At this time I will likely use a shorter lens, and can't see tracking shots longer than a couple minutes.
    Last edited by edr247; 06-27-2011 at 06:48 PM.

  5. #5
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    Why not a meade ETX 80 backpack version, carry it right on the plane with you, and it will be safe. it has the camera port, flip mirror and they are pretty tough little scopes. I would recommend a Mak ETX-90, but I have been in some of the same conditions in Africa you will be experiencing, and a Mak might get bounced around on a puddle jumper flight or taxi in the middle of the congested city (that's a pretty big town)

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  7. #6
    Space Jockey's Avatar
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    .
    Here is a great price on a ready to go ETX80

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Refractor.html


    .

  8. #7
    OleCuss's Avatar
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    Default

    What the Space Jockey said. I can't think of any other idea as good as that one.

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  9. #8
    edr247's Avatar
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    Default

    Yes, I saw the ETX-80, with backpack. As far as telescopes go, that seems to be the best bet.

    Any suggestions for the astrophotography bit? Should I just try perhaps improving my barn-door tracker?

  10. #9
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    can you post a pic of the mount? are you using a door hinge?

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Jockey View Post
    can you post a pic of the mount? are you using a door hinge?
    I can when I get home.

    I used Gary Seronik(?)'s curved rod design. However:

    1) I used door/standard hinges. I know piano hinges or similar are recommended, but I couldn't find any.

    2) Gary's design uses a 10-32 threaded rod. The pitch is important to determine the distance from the hinges you put the rod through. I couldn't get a 10-32, but did get a 8-32. Problem is, finding T-nuts, etc for small threaded rods is tough, and it's difficult to turn the wingnut I did find, and that likely contributes to the shaking.

    I also need to better work out the balance issue, so that the camera is closer to the center of the tripod.

    And I need to figure out how the heck to motorize it, if at all possible. Hand turning is fine, but obviously a motor driven model would be better.

 

 
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