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Thread: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

  1. #1
    dmitchast's Avatar
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    Default Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please



    After a recent financial windfall, I'm hoping to buy a telescope, and I'd like to make sure I'm not getting things wrong.

    Constraints:

    1. Budget is around $700, maybe a bit more, but not much more.
    2. I'm almost always going to be using it from our back garden / driveway, which is very much in the city with lots of sky glow. But I also want something that I can feasibly load into the car if I do want to drive out to somewhere dark.
    3. I'm willing to haul something heavy around, up to a point; it doesn't need to be something I can pick up one-handed, though that wouldn't hurt.
    4. I want to show my wife/kids things, without having to spend a lot of time hunting around the sky for whatever-it-is.

    I'd pretty much settled on the Orion XT8i as the best bet under these circumstances, and after looking at the recommendation threads at the top of this forum, that seems to be a reasonable idea; I can get one of those for $639 (I'm in Canada), so budget is fine. However, I also have another thing I'm after:

    5. I'd like to do some astrophotography, moon/planets/DSO.

    At this point, things get awkward -- I know that dobsonians are tricky in the first place, because of camera mounting distance issues, and I know that anything with an alt-azimuth mount is basically out of the picture for any sort of decent exposure time. However:

    6. I have accumulated a lot of camera stuff already.

    In particular, I have a 400/f4 Tamron lens(real link) (112mm opening), which is almost-but-not-quite the same as a small-to-medium-sized refractor, just with a camera mount on the end rather than an eyepiece. I can already get pretty decent moon shots with that setup:
    (from a bit of playing around last night; click for fullsize)

    but I know that it won't work for longer exposures/darker objects without the right sort of mount.

    Now, I also have I also have a geared tripod head (real link), and a garage with a bunch of woodworking equipment, so I made myself a barn door mount last night and did some playing around with that and deep sky stacker. I don't know if I'll be able to get anywhere with the big lens that way, but at 100mm focal length or so I'm definitely okay -- so I certainly have things I can do to keep myself busy making images while I save up for a proper mount. (and there's improvements to barn door mounts with a bit more time spent on construction, too).


    Alternatives that I've thought about but decided against:

    1. I could go for something like the Celestron Omni XLT 127/150. Those come with an EQ mount so I could put a camera on there -- but then I'd have to buy a motor, which starts to get iffy for budget, and they're not as big as an 8" dobsonian, so by eye I wouldn't be able to see as much, and there's no GOTO/intelliscope there at all, so I'd be star hopping. (which I'm sure is fun once you can do it, but I'd rather it were an option later, rather than a requirement now).

    2. I could go for something with GOTO as a step towards a proper tracking mount. I know it's not a proper EQ mount, but this page has some pretty impressive pictures taken with a Nexstar 6SE. Problems: that's really stretching my budget, especially adding on the price of things to mount a camera to it. It's also dimmer than the 8" would be, which isn't as good for naked eye imaging.

    This thread has someone talking about exactly this comparison -- and they seem to come down on the side of the bigger scope, as does this interview linked from there. One other thing I've seen mentioned is temperature adjustment; I'm in Canada, and it's going to start getting pretty cold in winter, so having to wait a long time for an SCT to adapt when I take it outside could be a pain.



    So -- does this seem like a reasonable approach? Get an Orion XT8i so I can look at things with my eyes / show them to other people, and keep on playing around with my existing photography kit (and wood and hinges and screws and stuff), while saving up for a better mount for astrophotography? This seems like the best bang-for-the-buck given what I already have available; is there another option I'm missing?


    Also, assuming I _do_ get the XT8i, what's the best things to get next? It looks like that plus a shorty barlow plus a moon filter comes out almost exactly on budget, so does that seem like a decent starting point?

  2. #2
    KathyNS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

    Welcome to the forum.

    I'd go with the XT8i. It will get you up and running seeing a lot of neat stuff. You can't go wrong with an 8" Dob, and you will enjoy it for years. You might want to consider a tracking mount for your camera. Your 400mm f/4 lens will likely take great astro photos - all it needs is some tracking.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

    Sounds like the XT8i is a good solution for what you are looking for. Congrats in advance on your decision.
    Michael
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    Default Re: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

    Hello Dmitchast. The XT8i is an excellent bargain. It represents the crossroads for aperture size, portability, and price. The Intelliscope feature is also a great thing to have. Sometimes I just starhop with my XT12i. When the skies are not so good, then I use the Intelliscope controller to help locate things. It is a case of I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Thanks for your nice post, and best wishes on your telescope purchase decision.
    - Marshall

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    Default Re: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

    I read your post with interest and can't fault your thinking. Good luck, and don't forget to let us know how you get on.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

    Hello Dmitchast,

    as I can see in your post, you already have a fast 4" F/4 telelens with 2 ED glasses in the front assy, and a field flattener / focal reducer at the back, that's equal to, or more than the APO standard in astronomy. To get anything comparable in quality among the APO astro equipment, you would pay USD 3,000.00 and upwards. On your place, I'd simply start with it for the astrophotography of the DSOs. A quality Barlow with some adapter will allow you to take excellent pics of the Moon and of the planets.

    You can also use this telelens with the lens-to-scope adapter as a high quality richiest filed telescope.

    The budget you have can be reasonably spent on a good mount and on some accessories.
    Should you part from your telelens, then depending on its condition, I'd be interested to buy it from you.

    Best,

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  7. #7
    Joe Lalumia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

    Please remember that the 8 inch DOB is really NOT suited for astrophotography... it's a great visual scope. If you already have a lot of camera why not try some "nightscapes" using a wide field lens like a 15mm and take a bunch of shots until you discover the longest exposure possible without trailing stars. You can stack these using free software like Deep Sky Stacker-

    DeepSkyStacker - Free

    Clear skies.

    here are some nightscapes- 500px / Royce's NightScapes / Photos
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    dmitchast's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sanity check for purchases (and not purchases), please

    Thanks for the confirmations!

    Photography-wise I managed a reasonably sharp exposure at 100mm equivalent for 30 seconds with a barn door mount turning it by hand, which is of course just a baby step, but it at least confirms that the geometry is okay; DSS is obviously going to take some work, but it did take a lot of pictures and make one out of them, so I'm sort of on the right track there.. Next, trying to rig up a motor somehow; I'm a lot more optimistic about the idea of playing around with hinges and wood and stuff to make a cheapskates EQ mount, compared to trying to make actual _optics_ on the cheap..

 

 

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