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post #201 of 252
awesome thread, wish i had a good enough camera ot do this kind of stuff
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post #202 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post

In the spirit of a tech forum, I'm going to suggest something a little radical - make one.

As someone else said, that mount won't be great, and the mirror won't be very good at f/5 for that money (the faster the scope, that is to say, the lower the f/ number, the harder a mirror is to correctly figure).

Your best option, unless you can afford something in the range of a Meade LX200, is to make something.

Mel Bartels scope.exe will let you control a scope from a computer (goto functionality with software like starry night pro or TheSky). People motorise dobsonian mounts using stepper motors and rotary encoders all the time. It's a big(ish) project, but would be fun and educational.

That said, the issue with making a dobsonian is that you'll also need to buy or make a field derotator to use it for long exposure photography (ie. galaxies), but as a purely visual scope in the meantime, or for photographing bright objects like planets where exposures are short enough that field rotation is not a problem, you'll find a bigger aperture, home made scope absolutely outclasses what you can buy unless you spend a fortune.

As for making a mirror, you can either just buy one, or for more satisfaction and if you have room to do it, make it yourself.

Here's some excellent classic books on the subject:

AMATEUR TELESCOPE MAKING by ALBERT G.INGALLS

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Dobsonian-Telescope-Practical-Telescopes/dp/0943396557/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361848324&sr=8-3

If you do decide to buy, you'll need to spend at least 10x what you suggested to get satisfactory photographic results on galaxies - these objects are very dim, and exposures need to be long, so you'll find that the mount needs to be really very good, although modern image stacking and processing techniques do help to offset that a bit.

The other thing you need to ask yourself is how dark is your observing site? Without a properly dark sky, attempting to image galaxies with a scope of any size is pretty pointless.

Sorry to be a downer on your plans - it's just I've looked into this stuff a lot, I nearly moved to a super dark site and had plans to build a really big scope a while back, it never materialised but it's still there as a long term ambition, so I know quite a bit about the constraints and limitations, but even if you intend only a fairly simple setup for astrophotography you do need to take care over light pollution, mount quality and so on, and none of that comes cheap, but if you make it yourself you can end up with very good gear for a reasonable cost.

Good info! I also have had the idea of motorising a dob since I can get a really nice GSO 8" 1200mm FL for ~$600NZ. It's a project which I wouldn't mind getting into. I've hired out that dob from the Astro Society here and it's absolutely awesome, big mirror and being F6 everything was bright and I've observed tons of galaxies with ease.

I've seen people using Stellarium to control their scopes as a GoTo which is real neat.

I think the hardest part would be programming a microcontroller and getting it working correctly with the motors for smooth and accurate tracking.
Edited by ErOR - 2/25/13 at 7:52pm
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post #203 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErOR View Post

I think the hardest part would be programming a microcontroller and getting it working correctly with the motors for smooth and accurate tracking.

http://www.bbastrodesigns.com/BBAstroDesigns.html is the first place to look, and the ATM mailing list.
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post #204 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post

The other thing you need to ask yourself is how dark is your observing site? Without a properly dark sky, attempting to image galaxies with a scope of any size is pretty pointless.

Sorry, I should have mentioned I'm looking for something decently portable. I live right near a major city so my plan is to drive out to less populated areas. Forgetting the photography aspect, can you make a recommendation?
post #205 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by groundzero9 View Post

Sorry, I should have mentioned I'm looking for something decently portable. I live right near a major city so my plan is to drive out to less populated areas. Forgetting the photography aspect, can you make a recommendation?

Save some money for something like this.

Do you need a motorised mount?
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post #206 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by groundzero9 View Post

Sorry, I should have mentioned I'm looking for something decently portable. I live right near a major city so my plan is to drive out to less populated areas. Forgetting the photography aspect, can you make a recommendation?

OK so you have a basic tradeoff to make - you need a certain aperture to see much (aperture gives you brightness and resolution), but bigger aperture scopes are less portable, unless they are either well designed in terms of the tube (ie. a truss tube dobsonian), or use short-tube optics like a maksutov cassegrain or schmitt cassegrain. The Meade LX90 and LX200 are scmitt cassegrains - making cassegrains is not for the faint hearted, as the field corrector on the front is non-trivial to grind and polish, and for the same reason they are expensive to buy. The meade ETX range are maksutov newtonians which have the same constraints - they are expensive to buy and apertures are small.

I know it's still quite a lot more than you planned to spend, but if you don't want to make something, http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/816529-REG/Meade_1005_05_03_LightBridge_10_0_254mm_Reflector_Telescope.html looks good for the money and is not badly priced. I'd strongly encourage saving up this kind of money as it'll be much better spent than say $400 on something much less capable. Meade also make this in 12" and 16".

Truss tube dobs are very portable - the upper ring (where the eyepiece goes) comes right off and the tubes you can see that make up the structure of the "tube" come off, so you end up with the top ring, the truss tubes, and the mirror box at the bottom - even a 20+" truss tube dob easily goes in an average car boot and is easy for one person to set up once you learn how to collimate it. Incidentally, for clarity, a dobsonian refers to the alt-az mount invented by John Dobson, the actual optical arrangement is a newtonian which is the "original" mirror telescope type.

Comparing a dobsonian to a schmitt cassegrain at the same aperture, the dobsonian has several advantages (for you) - it is about 1/5 of the price, it collects more light (cassegrains have a big secondary mirror obstructing the light path at the front which cuts down the effective aperture), newtonians also have much shorter focal lengths (because they can have a smaller f/ number, cassegrains are invariably f/10 or more) which is good for you if you're interested in nebulae and galaxies, as you want a wide-field view which a newtonian provides.

JMI then make a motor drive for that scope (although this link is to the version for the 12" rather than the 10") - http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/680219-REG/JMI_Telescopes_TNTLB12_Train_n_Track_Motor_Drive.html

What I'd suggest if you must buy and budget is tight, is to get the lightbridge (maybe look for the 8" version if $700 is too much, but the 10" will give significantly better views of deep-sky objects because of the bigger aperature - a 10" has 50% more light collecting area than an 8") and hand-guide it for a while. That will help you decide what you want to get out of observing and it'll also help you learn the sky - having goto is not all it's cracked up to be, because you don't learn to star-hop to find objects, that said it can be frustrating at first not finding stuff, but if you persevere you'll get there - you'll want a copy of "Norton's star atlas". Also, not having tracking can be a bit of a pain but at lower magnifications (like you'd use for a lot of galaxies and nebulae, which though dim are actually fairly big in terms of the area of the sky they cover) hand tracking is adequate.

As an alternative to the JMI kit you could then look into motorising it yourself with stepper/servo motors and the scope.exe/BBastrodesigns stuff.

For eyepieces on a budget, http://www.universityoptics.com/eyepieces.html are absolutely excellent and to be honest, a hidden gem - a lot of their stuff is as good as the thousand-dollar naglers people buy.

I wouldn't advise buying second hand unless it's from a friend, as the trouble with optics is unless you know how to test them properly, you could get lumbered with a dud, although that's not so likely with a newtonian as it is with a cassegrain as the optics of a newt are inherently simpler and less prone to misalignment and damage that is not user correctable.

As for making something, http://www.atmlist.net/ is the place to ask.

Also http://stellafane.org/tm/index.html has tons of useful information and a list of ATM groups, maybe there's one in your area?
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post #207 of 252
I just noticed skywatcher make some very cheap dobs - http://www.skywatcher.com/swtinc/product.php?id=138&class1=1&class2=106

Looks like a finderscope is optional (is it on the meade? I don't know) but in any case you will definitely want one, trying to find objects at a magnification of 100x or so through the main scope is a recipe for complete frustration.
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post #208 of 252
jsigone, thanks for sharing your incredible photos and technique descriptions.

This is my first ever telescope attempt. It was cloudy, windy, and cold... the focuser was acting up and I forgot my remote release shutter. So, a lot working against me, heh.

K-30 + LX200 Classic 12" (non ACF version)

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post #209 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErOR View Post

Save some money for something like this.

Do you need a motorised mount?

I don't think a motorized mount is within my budget. I've been doing more research and think I've decided on this. That OTA plus rings, eyepieces, and a finder scope wouldn't be too hard to save up for. However, I'm having trouble trying to find what kind of mount I need for it. The Celestron CG-4 is rated for 22lbs which should be enough considering the OTA would be 16.5lbs + accessories. Do you think that would work? The problem is I can't seem to find any mounts that are better without jumping up to $650+. Would it be better to try to find a second-hand one?
post #210 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by groundzero9 View Post

I don't think a motorized mount is within my budget. I've been doing more research and think I've decided on this. That OTA plus rings, eyepieces, and a finder scope wouldn't be too hard to save up for. However, I'm having trouble trying to find what kind of mount I need for it. The Celestron CG-4 is rated for 22lbs which should be enough considering the OTA would be 16.5lbs + accessories. Do you think that would work? The problem is I can't seem to find any mounts that are better without jumping up to $650+. Would it be better to try to find a second-hand one?

That tube is huge, not really portable unless you have a big car, well in my books that isn't portable.

That mount will struggle with such a huge OTA, CG4 is something like a EQ3 so they really are not up to the task. For visual observing and no motors it will be ok but I suspect many vibrations when focusing and moving around.

Maybe you should join your local astronomy club and hire out some telescopes so you get an idea of what can be seen with how much aperture. While I had used a 8" I loved the views but for portability reasons I wouldn't buy, it was massive and it hardly fit in my car.

My ideal portability setup would be something like a iOptron mount (upgraded with better internals) and a small 100mm refractor or 127mm Mak.

Btw I'm not sure about this but the counterweights also have to be included into the total weight payload.
Edited by ErOR - 3/3/13 at 11:29am
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