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Thread: What scope should i buy for deepsky imaging?

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    Default What scope should i buy for deepsky imaging?



    hey again all

    I bought an oriox XT10 like 6 months ago and seen awesome deepsky with it . but now i would also like to start deepsky imaging

    Does anybody got some advice for which scope and cam i should buy to get some good results when i got some experience ofc

    I heard from lots of people that SCT scopes are kinda crap at deepsky imaging but other people say its fine, so i got kinda confused which scope would be good for it. My budget is 2000-2500.

    Thank you in advance
    Orion skyquest xt6
    Orion skyquest xt10
    Celestron Neximage ccd cam

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    Hi there,
    well I guess on the definition of "crappy" is

    Crappy to some people means trailing stars, and even non-perfect ones, coma, noise, and other issues like light pollution - basically anything away from perfection that only comes with very dark skies, and expensive equipment.

    I think it depends what makes you happy as most people do not understand what taking photos of sky objects is like, in the city or other tough environments, or how to take decent photos with equipment that costs less than $5000.

    If you don't know much about field flatteners, coma-correctors etc. all the better. Personally right now I don't care about them, but with a refractor i may have to deal with them slightly (although less so than say a SCT or Newt).

    You would need at least:

    - Camera (do you have a DSLR?)
    - Mount (most money here)
    - maybe new Telescope?
    - eventually Autoguider and guidescope although you can get buy with a webcam and a finderscope for now for less than $150
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    Default

    "Imaging is all about the equipment" and to many that means learning about GEM mount and tracking and guiding if you don't already have it down.

    For DSO imaging you are looking at taking long exposures where the mount needs to be 'rock solid' on target, and the scope optic is flat and 'abberation free'. Essentially the longer you can image at any focal length, the more you get and the deeper you can go. This why small apochromat refractors so popular for imaging (no color, collumation, cooling issues, flat field). New are the inexpensive fantastic AT, SW, others, type RC cats, getting rave reviews, but from experience of friends, still not as straightforward as a small refractor. Generally small refractors are better for getting wide fields and RC/Cat types better and detailed norrower field -this entirely a function of the scope design.

    Although there is a lot of complexity - but in broad strokes-
    the ccd has pixels of a certain width. You telescope has a FOV measured in degrees or fraction of them. There is some disagreement as the ccds pixels have become smaller in sensitivity eetc migrates - but as an overall figure of quality - you want the mount to track with the 'scope of choice' to where any tracking error doesn't translate into more than a pixel if possible. Sure the more pixels the more of the field of view in the picture - and so the 'flatness' of the field is important. This why 'field flatteners so popular and mony manufacturers have dedicated ones for their scopes. The pixel stuf also gets to what resolution you final image can cantain at a maximum idea perfect world scenario as a function of the fov.

    In truth - often your skies (like always) may be the limiting factor which is why some post the 'arcsecond' seeing the image was made under.

    The maximum length of exposure is determined by when the scope/ccd combination becomes saturated (overexposed - and this has a lot to do with the target chosen) or light polluion starts producing a gradient in the image, or errors in tracking/alignment cause stars to become 'out of round'. Some of LP can be minimized with a good IMAGING LP filter - but there will still be an exposure limit unless you are at a dark site, where the only thing to worry about is your exposure time and faint detail. Many folks for bright objects with extended detail take two sets of exposures to overcome this, and then process accordingly. Focal reducers do change the f# of the optic cone to the CCD and reduce exposure time (they also change the fov a bit in proportion). So what took 8 minutes can be done in mabe 6 minutes. This also changes the star/pixel formula a bit.

    Anyway - going one shot color - you only need to capture 'x' number of images and you have everything. If going monochrome or narrowband you have to take images for luminance and then your colors, narrowband it depends on what the object light is composed of. Personally I think 'mono or 'narrowband' images show more fine detail as there is no 'Bayer matrix' to 'interpolate'.

    Going the mono or narrowband route introduces need for filter wheel and filters. Ads a bit more complexity as it's another thing to put in the optical path and think 'focusing requirement' and also to remember while imaging 'did I already get my SII for that or was it the Ha?'

    A lot of imaging has to do with the mount and it's ability to be accurately Polar Aligned (and hold it!), and Track with the 'scope of choice'. Most mounts for imaging have an ST4 compatable 'Autoguider Port', as guiding can increase tracking accuacy and compensate for some mechanical issues.

    There are a few ways to accomplish 'autoguiding' -one, use a piggyback guider, two, use a mechanical pickoff before your imager, three, spend money and get a camera that has guiding capability 'built in'.

    Four - dont use any autoguiding and just get your mount Polar aligned and Drift or Iteratively aligned to within the exposure limit. *Stars track spot on for several to many minutes - and this certainly possible, though I wouldn't say it is easy.

    Anyway - autoguiding has revolutioned astro imaging and a profound imapct on quality of the raw image.

    So assuming you scope optic is flat and abberation free, The quality of the finished product is most profoundly affected IMO, by this one item, the mount and ability to track. There'a multitude of mount/scope combos out there but the general rule is to keep the 'total imaging payload' WELL UNDER the mount rating unless you spend about triple your stated budget on an AP mount.

    Dont let that scare you though - start small with a small mount, small color free flat field scope, and any imaging rig the leftover $$ will allow. I recommend refractor as CRITICAL FOCUSING is far easier to learn, and genrally won't change much over a night or a meridian flip and they are small and easy to handle. Yes I have imaged with SCT /Cats, and it's definatly do-able, I just dont recomment starting with one.

    There a long running joke...

    How can I do astro imaging on a small budget?



    Start with a large one!

    Not near as true for the CCDimagers and cameras as uesd to be, but the scopes and mounts 'all things said and done' still somewhat true. It's certainly possible to take fantastic images with your budget using an CG5/ASGT5 or a CGEM(or equivelant) mount and a small 80-100mm color free refractor.

    One last thing. a lot of those great images you see are processed. What is that all about? Basically simple, and a little time consuming.

    take flat field images to characterize the anomoly in optics. (dust and etc...)
    take dark flats to 'calibrate the flats'
    take many images of the object - there are calculators for this but you get the hang of it for your particular system pretty quick.
    Take darks (if necessary depending on imager/camera.
    subtract the 'flats' / darks fromthe raw image data. often called calibrating
    combine the raw images
    convert to color
    stretch, sharpen blur whatever.

    \This takes software which CAN BE EXPENSIVE if you don't want to spend a lot of time learning how to do it with inexpensive software (or even expensive software) heck I think either way you go here it is possibly a significant investment of time or money or both. Processing is what makes it happen - and there is a lot to it. So not a bad idea to allow for some expense (up to $500)? for this - all depends on you. This part is a world unto itself apart from the 'mechanics' of your setup.

    Take your time in choosing, you are looking at climbing a big learning curve whatever the choices. Sorry for this rambling post, tried to cover the waterfront of choices and differences, but hope it helps clarify a little about the general choices relative ease and difficulty.
    Last edited by klaatu2u; 12-10-2009 at 05:46 PM.

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    Default

    Go here for additional, expert advice:

    Astrophotography Techniques
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    I was thinking of the Celestron advanced gc5 GoTo mount

    Scope, Orion 6'' Newtonion imaging optical tube

    Camera, Meade DSI II PRO Deep Sky camera with RGB Filters


    Would this be a proper beginner setup? thanks in advance
    Orion skyquest xt6
    Orion skyquest xt10
    Celestron Neximage ccd cam

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    Default Re: What scope should i buy for deepsky imaging?

    Great site you mentioned austin . It's a keeper.
    J K :
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    Default Re: What scope should i buy for deepsky imaging?

    Excellent info in your Reply Jim!

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    Default Re: What scope should i buy for deepsky imaging?

    If I was recommending a scope for someone starting out in AP, I would go for the following setup.

    HEQ5, ED80 and an Atik 314L+

    I know that there are some imaging with much less, but the HEQ5 is generally accepted to be the minimum mount for AP. The ED80 (whatever brand) is a good grab and go scope that is pretty much ready as soon as you take it out the box. No collimation required and very little cool down. Coupled with a Sony 285 chip CCD (Atik 314L+ for example) you have got an excellent started in AP that will keep you going for a long time. It really is a winner and there are many using this type of set up to great affect. That's not to say that alterntatives are wong, but the hobby that is AP is damn difficult at the best of times. I want kit that I stand a fighting chance at to start with, not having to battle with it at every hurdle.

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    Default Re: What scope should i buy for deepsky imaging?

    Wow. My head exploded when I read klaatu2u's post! Note to self get coffee and make sure brain is up to speed before reading something like that! It was amazing by the way and thank you klaatu2u for posting it. It was my fault for not making sure I was spooled up to speed.

    To the OP-

    For $2,500 budget and were it me...

    Celestron CG-5ASGT mount $700 (CGEM is better but on your budget not likely)
    Explore Scientific 80mm Triplet $849
    (my personal choice over the Orion because it comes with more kit for the price including mounting rings, dovetail, finderscope, and diagonal in case you wanted to do visual as well)
    Canon Rebel T3 DSLR $500
    Misc kit (t ring, spacer, etc) $200

    Total $2,250

    Leaving you $250 dollars for software et al.
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    Default Re: What scope should i buy for deepsky imaging?

    I'd agree with cbrucker' suggested kit. Although the 80mm aperture means that you'll be spending a bit longer collecting photons than with a larger aperture scope - especially as I asume that your Northern European light pollution will likely mean the addition of a LP Filter.

    You could supplant the ED80 with the AstroTech AT8IN 8in Imaging Newtonian, and with the reduced price pick up an Orion Mini-SSAG Guider. Then you'd have 200mm of aperture to funnel in those photons and a faster F/4 to get them into the DSLR. And the AT8IN will still ride decently on the CG5 mount.
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