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Thread: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

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    shadokp's Avatar
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    Default Astrophotography - I want it all!!



    So I have been using my 114mm scope for almost a year now - always in my yard with moderate light pollution. I have been taking photos with my cel phone and am fed up with trying to line up the phone to the scope. I think I am ready to go the next step and have researched on and off for a few months now what I want in a camera. I love the Milky Way but can't see it from my yard so traveling out to local star parties are even more special (except that every event has been cancelled because of clouds this summer.

    I like the idea of taking pictures and sharing them on Facebook as well as making it easier for my daughter and her friends to see out there in space so I might like the idea of a laptop with a view through a camera. I also like the DSLR option for the Milky Way but I also know the limitations of my scope and I don't want to spend too much - just starting out.

    My long winded questions are - given my situation - 114 mm and living in a 'red' area, can I take pictures or video and using a stacking program, etc and see more than I can actually see? I can see the Orion Nebula and Andromeda - there are quite a few stars out there but no Milky way. What would I need to do this. I want it all - Milky Way, planets, DSO but realize that I may not be able to do it all to start with.

    My research has led to some pretty good info as well as some in depth analysis. I am not necessarily looking for photos that I can put in a contest nor would I expect photos to compare to many on this site. I would like something that sort of resembles what I am looking at - if that makes sense.

    Price-wise I am leaning toward an entry camera like the Orion Star IV to practice on planets or might be able to attempt a low cost CCD camera for $400 range if I knew that it would be worth it. I can't rely on getting out in dark skies too often. I am also leaning toward a DSLR (visualize my swaying back and forth with all this leaning I am doing). That might be in stages with the body first and a wide angle lens later on.

    I know I have not narrowed anything down with this and that is because I read articles that sound so enticing for every option. Ideas?
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    Telescope - StarSeeker III 114mm Reflector with Goto
    Eyepieces - 25mm, 10mm, 6mm Orion Expanse, 2X Barlow Orion Shorty
    Camera - Currently my Samsung III Phone with SteadyPix Universal Mount

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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    A lot of what you wrote sounds so familiar... Like things I've posted here I've got a little 90SLT, live in Los Angeles County, in a red zone, and I still go out with my little guy, wife's DSLR, and capture what I can on the laptop!!! Therefore, I say yes you can do stacking and video. You're right it won't win competition but it will make your loved ones smile! Not sure if that helps but that's what I've got to say

    A few images I've taken under those conditions with my Alt/Az motor on a DIY EQ Wedge:

    M057:
    M057_1600ISO_03min_45s_05Frames_20150821_PS_001.png

    Jupiter (from video):
    Jupiter%u00252B03-03-2015%2B-%2B002.png

    M013:
    M013_1600ISO_26min_06s_58Frames_20150726_PS001.png
    OTAs: Explore Scientific ED80 Essential Edition / The Little Guy (Celestron 90SLT) | Mount: Celestron Advanced VX | Gear: Canon 70D / Hutech LPS-D1-48 / ES 2" Field Flattener / QHY PoleMaster / Celestron GPS / ZWO ASI120MC / Orion 50mm Guide Scope / Telrad
    Software: BackyardEOS Premium / PI / Stellarium/StellariumScope / PHD2 / Photoshop CC / RegiStax 6 / AutoStakkert!2 / PIPP
    EPs: Stock Celestron 9mm and 24mm / Celestron Omni 32mm (I love this one!) / Celestron X-Cel LX 3x Barlow (I think 2X would have been smarter...)

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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    I can understand wanting it all. But, realistically, you might want to specialize at least to begin with. DSOs and planets require quite different gear. Astrophotographers who do both typically have different rigs for each.

    The good news is that, whatever you do, the camera will see more than your eye can. I am in the fortunate position of having had dark skies since I got into AP, so I can't really comment about the difficulties of dealing with light pollution. Hopefully, someone with the relevant experience will reply soon. You may want to investigate the use of light pollution filters.

    Regarding equipment, for DSOs, you will want a fast scope (not necessarily a large one), a solid motorized equatorial mount, and a sensitive camera. DSLRs make excellent entry-level DSO cameras, and many experienced photographers continue to take excellent photos with them. Some APers eventually upgrade to a monochrome CCD camera with a filter wheel. I would not recommend that for a beginner.

    For planetary imaging, you want a long focal length to give the image scale you need. Focal ratio is less important for planets than it is for DSOs, since the planets are bright. Planetary imaging, at least the good stuff, is done exclusively with video cameras. The video mode of a DSLR will work, as will a modified webcam. However, there are some excellent dedicated planetary video cameras available. The mount is less critical for planetary imaging: some folks manage to do it with a non-tracking Dob, though a tracking equatorial mount makes life easier.

    If you have to have a single scope to do it all, get an equatorially-mounted SCT. The f/10 focal ratio can be reduced to f/6.3 for DSO imaging, or the focal length can be increased with a barlow for planets.

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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    I have two words, cooled cmos sensors.

    Ok it was three.

    Just my opinion but some of the new small CMOS sensors which are great planetary sensors are also pretty good at DSO.

    And when they are released in cooled versions which will hopefully happen in the next couple of months, they may very well be some of the best at both dso and planets. The price should be fairly reasonable too.

    So I would not invest a great deal of money in a camera until I saw what these new cameras do I terms of performance and price.
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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    No , the plastic focusers in beginner 114mm scopes are too weak to support heavy load.
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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    I don't think it is your emphasis but there were some hints in what you said which seemed to suggest you might want to do some landscape photography from your light-polluted area. You might find this write-up interesting: Expose to the Right for Astrophotography in Light Pollution – Palos Verdes, Los Angeles, California – Lonely Speck
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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    Quote Originally Posted by apple123 View Post
    No , the plastic focusers in beginner 114mm scopes are too weak to support heavy load.
    Does this mean larger cameras like a DSLR would not work?
    Telescope - StarSeeker III 114mm Reflector with Goto
    Eyepieces - 25mm, 10mm, 6mm Orion Expanse, 2X Barlow Orion Shorty
    Camera - Currently my Samsung III Phone with SteadyPix Universal Mount

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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy1271 View Post
    A lot of what you wrote sounds so familiar... Like things I've posted here I've got a little 90SLT, live in Los Angeles County, in a red zone, and I still go out with my little guy, wife's DSLR, and capture what I can on the laptop!!! Therefore, I say yes you can do stacking and video. You're right it won't win competition but it will make your loved ones smile! Not sure if that helps but that's what I've got to say

    A few images I've taken under those conditions with my Alt/Az motor on a DIY EQ Wedge:

    M057:
    M057_1600ISO_03min_45s_05Frames_20150821_PS_001.png

    Jupiter (from video):
    Jupiter%u00252B03-03-2015%2B-%2B002.png

    M013:
    M013_1600ISO_26min_06s_58Frames_20150726_PS001.png
    Thanks - this sounds like my situation perfectly.
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    Eyepieces - 25mm, 10mm, 6mm Orion Expanse, 2X Barlow Orion Shorty
    Camera - Currently my Samsung III Phone with SteadyPix Universal Mount

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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy1271 View Post
    A lot of what you wrote sounds so familiar... Like things I've posted here I've got a little 90SLT, live in Los Angeles County, in a red zone, and I still go out with my little guy, wife's DSLR, and capture what I can on the laptop!!! Therefore, I say yes you can do stacking and video. You're right it won't win competition but it will make your loved ones smile! Not sure if that helps but that's what I've got to say

    A few images I've taken under those conditions with my Alt/Az motor on a DIY EQ Wedge:

    M057:
    M057_1600ISO_03min_45s_05Frames_20150821_PS_001.png

    Jupiter (from video):
    Jupiter%u00252B03-03-2015%2B-%2B002.png

    M013:
    M013_1600ISO_26min_06s_58Frames_20150726_PS001.png
    this is a great post and some nice pictures too

    this is a very realistic of what you can get with a dslr and a scope with the aid of some software - and some time on the part of the photographer

    do not underestimate the time aspect, look at the software in fatboy's signature - there is a learning curve with all of that

    did you use your LifeCam for Saturn?

    the ring nebula I think is a really nice example and yardstick. I'm just North of Fatboy in Ventura county and I can make out the ring nebula by eye, but there is no color in it. It is relatively easy, at least as far as astrophotography goes to take an image that will look way better than you can see even in light polluted sky.

    i'm sorry if I kind of went off track on the cooled sensor thing but I think it might be possible to have it all, well, most of it with some fairly reasonable gear
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    My scopes:William Optics FLT 98 Flattener 4 - Celestron Edge HD 8" SCT - x0.7FR - hyperstar -Celestron OAG Lunt 60mm B1200PT
    My mounts:Celestron Advanced VX TPI spreader, iOptron IEQ45 tri-pier
    My cameras: ASI 174MM cooled, ASI 174MC, QHY163M, Nikon D800
    My eyepieces:31mm Nagler, 25mm ES, 20mm ES, 13mm Ethos, 10mm Ethos, ES 6.7mm

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    Default Re: Astrophotography - I want it all!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Purdyd View Post
    this is a great post and some nice pictures too

    this is a very realistic of what you can get with a dslr and a scope with the aid of some software - and some time on the part of the photographer

    do not underestimate the time aspect, look at the software in fatboy's signature - there is a learning curve with all of that

    did you use your LifeCam for Saturn?

    the ring nebula I think is a really nice example and yardstick. I'm just North of Fatboy in Ventura county and I can make out the ring nebula by eye, but there is no color in it. It is relatively easy, at least as far as astrophotography goes to take an image that will look way better than you can see even in light polluted sky.

    i'm sorry if I kind of went off track on the cooled sensor thing but I think it might be possible to have it all, well, most of it with some fairly reasonable gear
    I will keep an eye out for the cooled CMOS - they are not reviewed yet because the tech is brand new, correct?
    Telescope - StarSeeker III 114mm Reflector with Goto
    Eyepieces - 25mm, 10mm, 6mm Orion Expanse, 2X Barlow Orion Shorty
    Camera - Currently my Samsung III Phone with SteadyPix Universal Mount

 

 
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