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Starting over - Telescope and Astrophotography - E

Started by sdcinvan, 05/15/2017 06:48AM
Posted 05/15/2017 06:48AM Opening Post
Hello all,

I am jumping back into observational and astrophotography astronomy after a ten-year hiatus and I am looking for a little advice to especially prepare me for the 2017 solar eclipse, in addition to deep sky photography.

To begin, part 1 purchase was relatively easy:
- Celestron CGEM II 800 HD
- Celestron Eclipsmart Solar Filter for 8" SCT & EdgeHD
- Celestron PowerTank Lithium
- Celestron Lens Shade 6" / 8"

So, now I have the telescope and some basic essentials. Now I need guiding (for deep sky), essential eyepieces, and astrophotography accessories. This is where I need some advice:

Here is my shopping list (I have about $1500 remaining in my budget):
- ZWO ASI120MM-S camera to use for auto-guiding and imaging. (Will use PHD and Firecapture for guiding)
- Adapter to connect the ZWO to the Celestron finderscope 9x50 OR should I consider a larger guidescope?
- Celestron Polar Scope Advanced VX / CGEM (later - will consider Celestron StarSense AutoAlign smile)
- 1.25" flip mirror diagonal (i.e.
- Essential eyepieces:
> Barlow 3x (i.e. Celestron 93428 X-Cel LX 1.25-Inch 3x Barlow Lens)
> Zoom eyepiece (i.e. Celestron 93230 8 to 24mm 1.25 Zoom Eyepiece)
> Other recommended eyepieces?

Lower priority accessories:
- 1.25" filter wheel (i.e. low-cost Gosky 5-position 1.25inch Manual Filter Wheel)
- LRGB 1.25" filter set (i.e. Astromania Telescope Lrgb)

DSLR Astrophotography Questions
t-rings/t-adapters, etc.

1. What accessories do I require in order to image the full sphere of the sun using my DSLR with the telescope? (i.e. prime focus)
> Ideally, I would love that I have the option to quickly switch between viewing and astrophotography via flip mirror diagonal.

2. Similar to above... what is required to do astrophotography via eyepiece?

3. I would also like to piggy-back my DSLR with a telephoto on the telescope for long-exposures. What accessories will I require? i.e. dovetail (like William Optics Vixen-Style 8") and a DSLR mount?

4. Any tips on travelling (by vehicle) cases for the OTA and the mount? I am considering saving a bit of money by building a custom case with large wheels and a pull handle.

Unknown unknowns? What else should I consider now and later on (when I can build up a new budget)?

Thanks so much for your valued advice.

Photographer (terrestrial and astro), most of my astro-equipment is in transition but I have an ASIair Plus, a homemade SDR-based radio telescope, swapping out my Celestron EdgeHD 800 for a refractor 90mm or greater and a Maksutov-Cassegrain for planetary observations.
Posted 05/18/2017 02:44PM #1
I'm really pissed off. I just spent 30 minutes typing a lot advice for you. Now I remember why I no longer use Astromart for this stuff.

Astromart took my long message to you and trashed it saying: "You must be logged on to send a messasge."

I was logged on. But AM logged me off automatically while I was busy typing.

My first piece of advice is to ask for advice from people in some other website -- there are lots of them and they are FREE and they won't trash your message. Use Astromart strictly for the classifieds and auctions.

Sorry, but I am really ticked at AM. I never understood why they don't fix this problem. It's been around for years.


In lumine tuo videbimus lumen.

Scopes: 17.5 Dob -- Meade f/9 102mm APO -- DIY f/5 4in refractor
Mount: Celestron AVX
Camera: Canon 450D & Fujifilm X-A1 / Orion SSAG
Posted 05/29/2017 11:18PM #2
Hi Shawn,
I think this subject is more complex than you realize. grin

First, where you image, has a great deal to do with your equipment selection, as well as the type and sizes of objects you intend to capture.

When beginning, short focal length, is recommended. The mount is the heart of any system and deserves a lot of consideration before purchase. To me, this should be your biggest investment.

Buy well, buy over time, upgrading as you go. This is not the simplest hobby one could choose, good luck. wink

[SIZE="Large"][/SIZE][COLOR="Blue"][/COLOR] Floyd Blue grin
Amateur Imager
Posted 05/30/2017 12:25AM #3
Hi Shawn,
Picking up on Floyd's consul, incremental progression is the most enjoyable / least frustrating. Visual constellations, binox, scope then piggyback constellation pics, then more ambitious telescopic imaging. That could take a couple+ years... but well worth it. By then, you will know what equipment and specialty you want, and probably have touched base with locals already into that stuff. There is no one right pursuit; we each find our own. Regarding the Great Eclipse: Totality is only a couple of minutes! If wanting to do imagery, MUST simulate/practice with your equipment well ahead of time. And make it as automatic as possible else miss WATCHING the event! A friend asked me to assist Crowd Control during Eclipse Totality. I gave a polite but emphatic "NO." From few min before Totality to few min after... we all should share only "Ooohs and Ahhhs." Tom

29-inch Dob in a dome
36-inch upgrade soon
LUNT 80/80 solar scope
FLI 6803 cam
APM 100mm APO Binos
JMI RB-16 Night Vision Binos
Zeiss 20x60 IS binos
Posted 07/19/2023 03:24AM | Edited 07/19/2023 04:56AM #4
OMG, I feel so bad that I never responded to any of you.

I sincerely hope you're all still here, survived the pandemic, and are still happily doing astronomy!

I'm back again and this time I am preparing for the 2024 solar eclipse. 

You are all correct... astronomy is a long-term investment and must be carefully thought out... unless money is no object. LOL

For 2024, I am carefully planning this out b/c my Celestron EdgeHD 800, while a very nice telescope, turned out to be impractical for a city dweller. Because of it's weight (mostly the tripod and mount), I rarely took it out since 2017. sad 

Also, this time, I can't drive to the eclipse, which means I need to look at a reasonable travel scope.  I was instructed, by my much smarter wife, that must first sell my EdgeHD to fund my new scope. Perfectly reasonable considering I rarely use it. 

So, for my travel scope, I am looking for a 90-100mm OTA (preferably a triplet but a good doublet will suffice). For the mount, I have my eye on an iOptron HEM27 and carbon fiber tripod, to keep the weight down. The refractor will need to be under 12lbs so that I can fit a camera and other accessories w/o exceeding the mount's weight limit (w/o counterweight). I'll get a separate Maksutov-Cassegrain for planetary viewing.

Clear skies,

Attached: One of my photos from the 2017 eclipse.

Attached Image:

sdcinvan's attachment for post 199397

Photographer (terrestrial and astro), most of my astro-equipment is in transition but I have an ASIair Plus, a homemade SDR-based radio telescope, swapping out my Celestron EdgeHD 800 for a refractor 90mm or greater and a Maksutov-Cassegrain for planetary observations.
Posted 03/28/2024 10:30PM #5
Hello Shawn,

About your homemade SDR-based radio telescope; You probably have an old C band Dish for an antenna? I'd be a curious, what's the frequency band of your SDR?


John Ott

Custom built 20” F4.0 Equatorial Fork Mount Newtonian. Remote controlled house to observatory.
QHY 268 backside illuminated cooled Mono camera, 6280x4210 pixels, Camera has a 40x26.8 arc-min field of view on this scope.
QHYCFW3-L (large) 7-position filter wheel with Sloan 2" SG,SR,SI and Clear filters.
ZWO Offaxis Guider (guider is in front of filter wheel so guiding is done even when dark or bias frames are being taken)
Guide camera: ZWO ASI174MM Mini.
Baader coma corrector

8" Meade SCT
Full aperture solar filter