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Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

It's not the International Year of Astronomy anymore But who gives a poo poo, go look at some space!

I hesitate to call this a megathread, as I haven't seen many astronomy fans around the forums, but hopefully some will come out and some more will take up the hobby. I've only been involved with amateur astronomy for the last 6 months or so, but it's been a blast so far and I've enjoyed sharing it with strangers that happen upon me using my scope. I'll be writing this to appeal mostly to newbies because there are already plenty of resources for people who are already acquainted with the hobby.

The two main kinds of astronomy:

These two are not necessarily separate, but they're different enough to merit pointing out.

Visual Astronomy

This is the thing that everyone thinks of when they hear the word astronomy. It's some person sitting on a chair looking through a telescope, but most people don't know how sweet that poo poo can be, look at this:

M13 Globular Cluster:


Saturn:


I tried to make these images similar to how it looks live through the eyepiece, but image quality varies widely with equipment. Pretty much any telescope will see saturn well though. There's literally thousands of things to see up there that are worth looking at, it's not just stars.

Visual astronomy is much easier than most people think, and cheaper. You can get started with a capable pair of binoculars and a guide book for under $30 on Amazon (binoculars book(used)), and you can start out with a very capable scope for about 300-400 dollars, depending on if you buy new or used.

The biggest enemy to visual astronomy is light pollution. This mostly comes from street lights and city lights that project light into the sky instead of down at the ground. If you go outside for a few minutes, chances are you won't be able to see more than 10-20 stars in one half of the sky. If you live in some area where you can see the Milky Way from your front door, congratulations. I hate you.

What some astronomers have been doing to deal with this is:

Astrophotography

Like the word implies, this is taking pictures of the sky. You can get incredible images even in light polluted skies by taking long exposures (anywhere from 1 minute to 1 hour) and stacking multiple exposures on top of each other:

Rosette Nebulae:


The problem with astrophotography is generally a cost issue. About the minimum you'd spend to get into this is $1200, but the cost can balloon VERY quickly for better gear. I personally don't do astrophotography, so I don't have much information on it.

Gear:

I'll only cover telescopes and eyepieces, as there is a crazy amount of telescope gear and I'd run out of room if I tried to cover everything.

Telescopes:

I will only cover the 3 main types, as they make up the vast majority of what people use. The most important factor when looking at a telescope is the aperture, or the size of the primary light gathering device. Costs vary wildly per inch (or mm) of aperture based on what type of telescope you choose.

Reflector/Newtonian:


This is a reflector telescope on a Dobsonian base, which is a very common mount for this type of scope. A reflector is a very simple telescope that is basically made up of two mirrors and an eyepiece. The light first reflects off the primary (larger) mirror at the bottom of the tube, then it reflects off the secondary mirror, which is mounted at a 45 degree angle near the top of the telescope. Finally the light is focused into an eyepiece which you look in to.

Pros:
Very cheap for the size, you can get an 8" for about $300.
Durable.
Simple operation and minimal setup time (until you start getting to the HUGE ones).

Cons:
Bulky (my 8" Dobsonian is about 4 feet long and barely fits in my car).
Requires frequent collimation (collimation is essentially lining up the mirrors to obtain the best quality image).
Generally does not track stars, so you need to move it by hand, and most varieties will not work well for astrophotography (dobsonian mounts do not track the sky, so you will be limited to 1-2 second exposures).

Refractor:


This is what most people think of when they think of telescopes. It's a series of lenses that focus the light down to a point that your eye can handle. This is also a relatively simple type of scope, but they can get costly very fast. These scopes can be mounted on motorized mounts to track the sky and do photography.

Pros:
Smaller refractors are very manageable and do not require a lot of maintenance.
Capable of astrophotography.
Capable of tracking stars, instead of being moved by hand.

Cons:
Cheaper refractors have chromatic abberation (the blue halo you can see on the saturn image earlier).
Most expensive per inch/mm of aperture (A high quality 8" refractor can cost about $55,000).

Catadioptric:


This is a middle ground between Reflectors and Refractors. The pictured scope is a Schmidt-Cassegrain, but there are other varieties. It uses a series of mirrors and lenses to focus the light to your eye. These telescopes offer large apertures that are short enough to be easily mounted on a motorized mount. These scopes can do star tracking and astrophotography. These scopes are heavy, but compact.

Pros:
Lots of aperture in a small package.
Capable of tracking stars, instead of being moved by hand.
Mostly self contained telescope means minimal cleaning.

Cons:
Susceptible to dewing, so you either need to use a dew shield or electronic heaters (some areas dew more than others, and the weather matters a lot too).
Somewhat expensive.
Complicated optics, hard to service yourself.

Eyepieces:

Here is where it gets complicated. Eyepieces are the other half of the telescope equation. Eyepieces determine the FOV (field of view) and the magnification that you will see. The magnification is determined by dividing the focal length of your telescope by the eyepiece focal length.

For example, my telescope has a focal length of 1200mm, so with a 10mm eyepiece I would get 120x magnification, and with a 25mm eyepiece it would be 48x. More magnification is not always better, since the more you magnify, the less light you get. If you want to see large dim items (like nebulae and globular clusters), using a lower power eyepiece makes sense. Planetary viewing is almost always done at high magnifications.

FOVs vary from 40 degrees (low end eyepieces that come with your scope) to 100 degrees (eyepieces more expensive than my entire telescope, like the Tele Vue Ethos). The two main eyepiece sizes are 1.25" and 2", wider eyepieces generally have higher FOVs and larger focal lengths.

How to get started for under $30:

If you're interested in astronomy, do yourself a favor and skip running out to buy a telescope. I know, that makes no sense, but trust me. Pick up a pair of binoculars, and a used copy of this book so you can get familiar with the sky. These items together will cost you about $30, and will let you see some of the brighter objects like M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and the Orion Nebula. Next try to find an astronomy group or star party near you, amateur astronomers are generally very helpful and enjoy showing someone the sky and talking about their scope. You can find these by googling "<your city or state> star party" or "<your city> astronomy".

The nice thing about star parties is you get to look through truly incredible setups, but people generally set up all kinds of scopes, from home made reflectors to bus sized monsters:

(Ok, you probably won't see anything that huge, but I've looked through some 20-22 inch scopes myself, and it's absolutely crazy.

Resources:

Adding to this list as they are posted.

http://www.cloudynights.com/
The biggest amateur astronomy forum that I know of. You can find people here with expertise on anything from binocular viewing, to detecting exoplanets around other stars by measuring the light output of the star when the planet transits the star. Also has a classifieds section for buying and selling gear.

http://cleardarksky.com/
A great tool for predicting the weather for astronomers. This includes atmospheric transparency and turbulence, as well as cloud cover.

http://www.astroleague.org/societies/list
A list of astronomical societies by state.

http://www.stellarium.org/
Free planetarium software, pretty, simple, but useful.

http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/
Another free planetarium, way more complicated, not as pretty.

http://www.heavens-above.com/
Want to know when you can see the ISS? Or may just grab a sky chart to print out for a specific time and place?

http://www.astromart.com/
Place to buy and sell in the US primarily.

http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/
Astro small ads, buying second hand can save you a fortune.

Loztblaz fucked around with this message at 21:01 on Dec 7, 2011

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Sapper
Mar 8, 2003




Dinosaur Gum

I think you posted this in the wrong forum. PM a mod to have them move it, I guess.

I'm waiting with baited breath for my Galileo Scope. The 19 y.o. neighbor girl is home from college and back to changing with her blinds up again

er...I mean...uh, there's like, a comet coming, or something.

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


Amateur astrophotographer checking in, in my spare time I do this :


Click here for the full 800x533 image.

M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy

I'll post later when I have more time about equipment, techniques and anything else astronomy related if anyone interested!

Gary2863
Jul 19, 2000



I made a thread in the Coupons forum about the Galileoscope. It is a small telescope developed for the International Year of Astronomy, and it cost me only $23.95 after shipping. It appears to be of good quality for the very low price. However, there is high demand, so I do not expect mine until July at the earliest.

For only $12.50, you can donate a telescope anonymously to someone elsewhere in the world who can benefit from learning about the sky.

Galileoscope website, with specifications and ordering information

Coupons Thread



Pictures taken with the Galileoscope, which I found on the website:



Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

Jekub posted:

Amateur astrophotographer checking in, in my spare time I do this :


Click here for the full 800x533 image.

M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy

I'll post later when I have more time about equipment, techniques and anything else astronomy related if anyone interested!

That's really nice. I've been tempted to take up some photography, but I'd need a new scope first. Been considering a CPC 1100 on a wedge so I can have a capable visual and astrophoto scope in one setup, and still have a mount beefy enough to hold a piggyback refractor without dropping multiple thousands on a equatorial.

Gary2863 posted:

I made a thread in the Coupons forum about the Galileoscope.

Galileoscope website, with specifications and ordering information

Coupons Thread


These are also great little scopes for the price. I've donated a couple of these myself, and I have one on the way to mess with and give to some kid at a star party.

Books On Tape
Dec 26, 2003

Future of the franchise

How much of the cost for astrophotography is related to the actual camera? I have a decent DSLR already and have always been interested in astrophotography.

Yiggy
Sep 12, 2004

"Imagination is not enough. You have to have knowledge too, and an experience of the oddity of life."


Anyone know a good place for supplies if I wanted to grind my own lenses? I found some used books in a dusty old bookstore in Chicago a few years back from around 1920 on DIY telescopes and I've always wanted to play around with them just because I enjoy tedious craftwork.

Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

jerkstore77 posted:

How much of the cost for astrophotography is related to the actual camera? I have a decent DSLR already and have always been interested in astrophotography.

As far as I understand it, most of the cost is related to the mounting. A lot can be done with a lower quality scope or camera, but having a mount that can track for long exposures is critical. I'm sure Jekub would know more than I do.

Bolkovr
Apr 20, 2002

A chump and a hoagie going buck wild

Loztblaz posted:



Oh hey it's my telescope!

Tindjin
Aug 4, 2006

Do not seek death.
Death will find you.
But seek the road
which makes death a fulfillment.

Sapper posted:

I think you posted this in the wrong forum. PM a mod to have them move it, I guess.

Why would this be the wrong forum? "DIY & Hobbies"

on topic...

Talked the GF into staying here for a couple nights in August.

http://www.nmskies.com/index.php

Of crouse she gets the truck to run into town to shop while I sleep so I can stay up all night.

Cannot fricken wait!

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


jerkstore77 posted:

How much of the cost for astrophotography is related to the actual camera? I have a decent DSLR already and have always been interested in astrophotography.

All of my work is done with an entry level DSLR, a Canon EOS 1000D, my single largest investment is my mount.

If you want to start doing any serious astrophotography then having a mount that can accurately track objects is vital. but even with a carefully aligned and good quality mount you'll be lucky to get more that two or three minutes with out guiding.

You'll want to be looking for the following, I don't know anything about the fork type mounts so best ask someone else about those! The basic rule of thumb is over mount, under scope. Start with the right mount and everything will be easier. Even if you have to get a smaller cheaper scope you'll be a long way off reaching it's limits but a good mount will grow with you.

Budget

The skywatcher EQ pro mounts are the most popular budget mounts for astrophotography. Good capacity, goto, autoguider port built in. Plus the hand set supports periodic error correction and backlash correction (I think).



HEQ5 Pro, the lighter of the two Pro mounts good for small light scopes, or even an array of wide angle scopes. I know an imager with four 80mm short tube refractors mounted on one of these, all with modified webcams attached.



The EQ6 Pro, the heavy weight of the family, for supporting big OTAs with guide scopes and cameras.

It's important to remember that these mounts are made in china and are very much budget for this kind of work. Quality control is an issue and generally the thought is take the maximum stated carrying capacity and halve it for photography work. However they are hugely popular with a lot of after market support and resources to improve them, many people achieve amazing images (much better than mine) with these.

See also, lots of mounts from Meade, Celestron, the Vixen GP and others.

Mid Range

If you have a bit more spare funds you are spoilt for choice, here are a few of the more well known options.



Vixen Sphinx SX, the light weight of Vixens new computerised mount family, and what I currently use! Decent carrying capacity and being Japanese made, generally considered to be understated. The mounting of all motors and electronics under the RA axis means they act as counter weights allowing a reduction in the weight you have to add.



The SXD is it's big brother, higher carry capacity and you can also see the starbook hand controller common to both Sphinx mounts.

Both Sphinx mounts benefit from some fine tuning as the factory seem to tighten things up just a bit to much.



Losmandy G8, I nearly bought one of these but it didn't have go-to included. Very high quality engineering, have a bit of a reputation for requiring tuning, also know to burn out motors if badly balanced.



G11, the next one up!

See also the vixen GPD mount.

High End

Quite a big choice once you're spending 10k on a mount, the most popular however are in no specific order :



Software Bisque Paramount ME robotic mount. Not portable, this is what you put in the dome at the end of your garden. Amazing kit and something for the very serious to save up for.



Astro Physics 1200GTO, superb engineering and portable. I really want one.

I have a DSLR and just want to take pictures quickly and easily!



Behold the AstroTrac, a simple easy device which tracks for up to two hours and will take a DSLR with lens. You can even put a small scope on one if you want.


A mount is an investment that should last you through many scopes, getting the right one save a lot of head aches down the line. When I next have time I'll talk about telescopes and cameras.

Jekub fucked around with this message at 14:47 on Jun 18, 2009

Books On Tape
Dec 26, 2003

Future of the franchise

Jekub posted:


Thanks for the encouraging post. I'm still a little worried about the amount of light pollution I'll have to deal with, but I'm going to get started with just some long exposure shots on a tripod as described here as soon as the skies clear up.

I have a Canon Rebel XTi, and it conveniently seems like the lenses I already have are well suited for this.

Any recommended books on the subject (both astronomy and astrophotography related)?

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


I live in the middle of Basingstoke in south east England, the light pollution is awful. However with filters you can negate a surprising amount of the negative effects. Take a look at the http://www.astronomik.com/en/eos_clip-filters.html, they fit between the camera body and the lens, very handy.

I have very few astronomy books, the internet generally provides most of the information I'm looking for. Google around for your camera and astrophotography, you should find a wealth of information.

If you just using the DSLR you might want to look for a second hand EQ2 mount with a motor, they're really cheap and will track well enough for that load under low magnification.

A nice Moon shot from the start of the month :


Click here for the full 1680x1050 image.


Single frame through my 250mm reflector.

edit, stupid boy, links don't work like that

Jekub fucked around with this message at 12:47 on Jun 19, 2009

Books On Tape
Dec 26, 2003

Future of the franchise

Jekub posted:

I live in the middle of Basingstoke in south east England, the light pollution is awful. However with filters you can negate a surprising amount of the negative effects. Take a look at the <a href="http://www.astronomik.com/en/eos_clip-filters.html">Astronomic clip filters!</a>, they fit between the camera body and the lens, very handy.

That's good to hear. I was getting discouraged after stumbling upon this link and seeing that I'm smack in the middle of a "red zone."

Your photos are fantastic. Post more!

Not an Anthem
Apr 27, 2003

I'm a fucking pain machine and if you even touch my fucking car I WILL FUCKING DESTROY YOU.


I think it was in the DIY forum here but I ran into a page where it showed you how you could build your own telescope by grinding your own mirrors. Anyone know what it was or where I can find it?

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


Not an Anthem posted:

I think it was in the DIY forum here but I ran into a page where it showed you how you could build your own telescope by grinding your own mirrors. Anyone know what it was or where I can find it?


This looks like a good place to start :

http://www.telescopemaking.org/
http://www.atmsite.org

My first scope was home made after I found an old 8" mirror being sold off at a boot sale. Turned out it was made by and signed by a mirror maker named Henry Wildey, selling that turned a very nice profit.

I don't have a lot of pictures as yet, I've not been doing serious astrophotography for very long, but here's M27, the Dumbbell Nebula.


Click here for the full 1000x666 image.

Not an Anthem
Apr 27, 2003

I'm a fucking pain machine and if you even touch my fucking car I WILL FUCKING DESTROY YOU.


Is there an astronomy club site that lists meetups and all that jazz by location? I'd like to find telescope makers in Chicago, if they exist.

Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

Not an Anthem posted:

Is there an astronomy club site that lists meetups and all that jazz by location? I'd like to find telescope makers in Chicago, if they exist.

http://www.chicagoastro.org/

If anyone else is looking for one near you, I added a link at the bottom of the first post that has a list by state.

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


Some more useful links and handy free software :

http://www.stellarium.org/
Free planetarium software, pretty, simple, but useful. I'll stop using it when I talk myself in to buying The Sky instead.

http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/
Another free planetarium, way more complicated, not as pretty.

http://www.heavens-above.com/
Want to know when you can see the ISS? Or may just grab a sky chart to print out for a specific time and place?

http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/
Astro small ads, buying second hand can save you a fortune. There is probably a US alternative around.

Books On Tape
Dec 26, 2003

Future of the franchise

Here are some not very good shots of the sky I took from my balcony. This is obviously without a telescope. Just some long exposures on my tripod mounted xTi. It's kind of cool though because none of this is visible to the naked eye.


Click here for the full 800x533 image.


25 second exposure, 24 mm, f/4.0, 800 ISO



Click here for the full 800x541 image.


20 second exposure, 50mm, f/1.8, 400 ISO

Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

jerkstore77 posted:

It's kind of cool though because none of this is visible to the naked eye.

That's one of my favorite things about astronomy, there's so much more up there than we can see with just the naked eye. My moderate sized scope (Orion XT8i) pulls in about 875 times the light as my eyeball does. You can pretty much look anywhere and see thousands of stars in what looks like a totally dark part of the sky.

Gendor
Nov 1, 2004



jerkstore77 posted:

Here are some not very good shots of the sky I took from my balcony. This is obviously without a telescope. Just some long exposures on my tripod mounted xTi. It's kind of cool though because none of this is visible to the naked eye.

Just a couple suggestions for improving you pictures without spending any money. I have also done the unguided astrophotograph, and it can be challenging to get a good image, but there's a few tricks that can help.

First off since you don't have a guided mount your best off with the widest & fastest lens you have, and on an XTi ISO 800 seems to be the best choice for signal to noise ratio. Your best bet would be to keep the lens wide open, you might have some slight vignetting issues but that is less of a concern than motion blur from a exposure that is too long.

I noticed you posted a image at 24mm F4.0, can you open the F Stop up a bit more? Anything you could gain from stopping down isn't realy worth if if your stars are smudges imo. Also the focus seems to be a bit off, did you use the auto focus? From my experience using AF for astrophotography doesn't work well on anything other than the moon, and even then manual focus seems to be best. Normally I manual set the lens to infinity, take a test exposure to ensure the stars are pinpoint, if not make a very slight adjustment and check again, repeat as necessary. Usually with a lens below 50mm or so you can just set it to infinity and it should be good enough though.

Finally there is a good bit of light pollution, not much you can do about that other than go somewhere else. But you can get slightly better images if you try to point away from the city center, and/or point towards zenith (straight up).

Books On Tape
Dec 26, 2003

Future of the franchise

Thanks for the tips.

In both cases, I used max aperture. For the first photo, I had it set at f/4.0 and set the focus to infinity. The second shot was with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. It doesn't seem to have an infinity setting though, so I tried taking different pics at different zooms, and that was the best of the lot.

One thing I didn't try, was my 70-200mm F/2.8 IS lens. Maybe I'll try taking some with that this weekend. It's not my widest, but it's my fastest after the 50mm.

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


Well I won't be winning awards for this one, but it certainly works as a proof of concept.


Click here for the full 1000x752 image.


This is NGC6946, the fireworks galaxy, and it's my first image taken with the aid of computer controlled auto guiding.

Unsurprisingly the UK can be a bit of a headache for astronomy at times, and this month the weather has just been dire. Fortunately that gives me lots of time to indulge in one of the things I love most about this hobby, a bit of DIY.

This month I have built a dual mount bar so I can double mount my scopes, and modified a webcam to take long exposures for use as a guide camera.

Guiding allows software on my laptop to control my mount, it takes an image from the webcam on the small scope which is pointed at a star and corrects the motion of the mount to keep the star on the same point at all times.

NGC6946 is basically invisible to my eye looking through the scope, and even a two minute exposure only just brings out the core. The image above was composed of 8x6 minute exposures (plus darks, flats etc), not enough data to properly reduce the SNR but enough to prove to myself that it works.

FalconGuy016
Aug 25, 2005

by Fistgrrl


I'm incredibly jealous of those of you who can see galaxies. I love the idea of amateur astronomy I just never had time to get into it. But I'm starting to look into it now.

Is there a particular type of telescope or mount more suited for viewing of galaxies? I am fortunate that my parent's house is in an extremely dark and clear place in the Shenandoah mountains and it's only an hour away from me. Sometimes I can't help but stop and look up when the sky there seems literally filled with more stars than black space. I walked out of the front door a long while ago and looked up and froze because the milky way was just right there in my face. I want a telescope there so badly.

FalconGuy016 fucked around with this message at 06:22 on Jul 6, 2009

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


FalconGuy016 posted:

Is there a particular type of telescope or mount more suited for viewing of galaxies? I am fortunate that my parent's house is in an extremely dark and clear place in the Shenandoah mountains and it's only an hour away from me.

I dream of locations like that.

No specific type of mount or scope is required for general observing, it's just personal preference. For the faint fuzzies you'll want all the aperture you can get, a reflector will give you the most bang for your buck.

The mount is just personal preference with visual observing, if you don't mind manually hunting for things yourself using a map then just get a dobsonian. It's the most basic type of mount and you'll learn a lot star hopping around to find faint objects. You won't be able to automatically track things, but that's not a great issue.

The Skywatcher collapsible truss tube dobsonian scopes are excellent, and easy to move around in the back of a car. The bigger the better, the 12" model would be excellent, everyone seems to have a range of dobs now and the second hand market is worth keeping an eye on.

If you want to be able to track the object easily then get an equatorial mount like the type I've talked about above, if you want to have goto then most come with that as an option.

Visual observation of galaxies is a challenge though, don't expect to see stunning colour views or anything. At dark sites with a big scope you can expect to see the spiral arms of the brighter objects, M51 is always a good one. You'll do well with globular clusters, bright nebulas and most anything else.

PlasticSun
Feb 12, 2002

Unnaturally Good

I don't have a scope but I really enjoy using Stress Pill's 12" reflector, I haven't found a way to rig up my DSLR to it just yet, but I do take some long exposure shots from dark sky locations when I travel around.







I've been able to get some ok shots of the moon though a 200mm lens with a 2x tele-extender:



The trouble I'm having is I've got one of these http://www.telescope.com/control/pr...s509&id=pofs509 to hook up the DLSR to my friend's 12" reflector but I end up with an incredibly tiny image in a very small part of the frame that is typically very blurry. It seems like I need some kind of adapater that allows the camera to use the scope as a lens rather than looking through the eyepiece with another lens.

I mostly want this just for taking detail shots of the moon, so I should have plenty of light to freeze the motion but the dob mount seems really unstable particularly with a heavy DSLR attached near the eyepiece. Can anyone recommend a setup for taking shots of the moon with a dobsion mount?

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


Beautiful pictures you've got there.

Attaching a DSLR to a telescope for prime focus photography is pretty simple. If the telescope has a focuser which accepts 2" eyepieces then you get yourself a simple adapter like this. Or the second option is a DSLR T-Ring. which converts you down to a 55mm thread for which you can get all manor of adapters for 2", 1.25" and most anything else you want.

Right now I use a T-Ring, into which I have connected a Baader multi purpose coma corrector and a 2" sky glow filter. That little array slots strait into the telescopes focuser. Your only other concern is whether your focuser racks in or out far enough to achieve focus, you can get extension tubes and correctors for that as required.

Hopefully someone can guide you in the direction of a decent US supplier for the bits you need, Orion who you linked to do everything.

Astrophotography with a dob isn't something I've tried, but it can certainly be done, and for imaging the ISS they are perfect. The first thing I'd look at is balance, if you put a heavy DSLR on the scope you will throw the balance out. On my old dob I had a couple of 35mm film cannisters stuck on the back which I could put coins in to level things out. Place it slightly ahead of the object so the vibration has gone by the time you shoot and use remote shutter release so you don't have to touch anything, mirror lock up is handy as well.

My current setup, I just remounted everything.



Jekub fucked around with this message at 20:05 on Jul 6, 2009

Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

FalconGuy016 posted:

I'm incredibly jealous of those of you who can see galaxies. I love the idea of amateur astronomy I just never had time to get into it. But I'm starting to look into it now.

Is there a particular type of telescope or mount more suited for viewing of galaxies? I am fortunate that my parent's house is in an extremely dark and clear place in the Shenandoah mountains and it's only an hour away from me. Sometimes I can't help but stop and look up when the sky there seems literally filled with more stars than black space. I walked out of the front door a long while ago and looked up and froze because the milky way was just right there in my face. I want a telescope there so badly.

I'll echo Jekub's recommendation for a Dobsonian mounted Newtonian telescope. The thing is though, if you are planning on leaving the telescope there, you'll be able to get more aperture for less money, and have a quicker set up time by going with a solid tube scope.

Don't get me wrong, truss scopes are great, but you will always spend at least 10 minutes doing setup, and they're more expensive.

You can get a brand new 8" dob for 330 dollars (and sometimes free shipping if they're having a special sale, which is about 60 dollars that you don't have to pay). I use an 8" personally, and in pretty dark skies, the views are amazing. Of course, the bigger the scope the better the views.

We might be able to recommend something if you gave a budget and let us know if you plan to take it back and forth, or just leave it there. There's also the question of you wanting a computerized object locator system or not.

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


Astromart classifieds looks like a good place for second hand kit in the US, lots of dobs for sale

http://www.astromart.com/classified..._category_id=12

There's a 25" obsession, that would be fun.

Jekub fucked around with this message at 21:42 on Jul 6, 2009

PlasticSun
Feb 12, 2002

Unnaturally Good

Jekub posted:

Beautiful pictures you've got there.

Attaching a DSLR to a telescope for prime focus photography is pretty simple. If the telescope has a focuser which accepts 2" eyepieces then you get yourself a simple adapter like this. Or the second option is a DSLR T-Ring. which converts you down to a 55mm thread for which you can get all manor of adapters for 2", 1.25" and most anything else you want.

Right now I use a T-Ring, into which I have connected a Baader multi purpose coma corrector and a 2" sky glow filter. That little array slots strait into the telescopes focuser. Your only other concern is whether your focuser racks in or out far enough to achieve focus, you can get extension tubes and correctors for that as required.

Hopefully someone can guide you in the direction of a decent US supplier for the bits you need, Orion who you linked to do everything.

Astrophotography with a dob isn't something I've tried, but it can certainly be done, and for imaging the ISS they are perfect. The first thing I'd look at is balance, if you put a heavy DSLR on the scope you will throw the balance out. On my old dob I had a couple of 35mm film cannisters stuck on the back which I could put coins in to level things out. Place it slightly ahead of the object so the vibration has gone by the time you shoot and use remote shutter release so you don't have to touch anything, mirror lock up is handy as well.

My current setup, I just remounted everything.




Nice thanks! I think adapter to the focuser will work.

babyeatingpsychopath
Oct 28, 2000
Forum Veteran

I just have to point out http://spaceweather.com. I realize that it's satellite tracking, but with the ISS at -4.0 right now and the supply ship coming up behind it at 0.5, I figured it's a good time to be able to go look at something in the sky.

FalconGuy016
Aug 25, 2005

by Fistgrrl


Loztblaz posted:

I'll echo Jekub's recommendation for a Dobsonian mounted Newtonian telescope.

We might be able to recommend something if you gave a budget and let us know if you plan to take it back and forth, or just leave it there. There's also the question of you wanting a computerized object locator system or not.

After thinking a bit, I'd probably just leave it there.

Jekub posted:

I dream of locations like that.

The Skywatcher collapsible truss tube dobsonian scopes are excellent, and easy to move around in the back of a car. The bigger the better, the 12" model would be excellent, everyone seems to have a range of dobs now and the second hand market is worth keeping an eye on.


Haha, it is possibly the only good thing about that place.

I don't mind looking for things on my own (of course, I haven't tried both), but more importantly if I can use the money for a better picture instead of a tracking stars mount I most definitely would.

My budget would be $300-$500 or around there. I have some things that I never use I could sell pretty much instantly.

Edit: Hmm, I just realized galaxies are extremely far, and I imagine I'd need a really strong eyepiece. Wouldn't that make the Earth's rotation extremely noticeable? Or would it be completely managable

FalconGuy016 fucked around with this message at 20:37 on Jul 7, 2009

Jekub
Jul 21, 2006

April, May, June, July and August fool


FalconGuy016 posted:

Hmm, I just realized galaxies are extremely far, and I imagine I'd need a really strong eyepiece. Wouldn't that make the Earth's rotation extremely noticeable? Or would it be completely managable

Actually you'd be better off with wide field views than to much magnification for faint fuzzies. I don't normally drop below 10mm unless I'm observing a planet or the moon, but a selection of reasonable quality eyepieces is worth having.

Loztblaz can probably advise you better on what's available in the US market, but for that price you could get a new 8" and a set of extra eyepieces, more than enough to get you started. Second hand you could probably get a 10" with some extras thrown in.

The very best advice is to find a local astronomy society or star party and go along. Have a look through some scopes and get an idea of what you can expect to see and what best suits your needs, you'll get no end of useful information.

Some where there is a website which shows deep space objects as they appear to a visual observer in different size telescopes and in different conditions, but it's late and I can't find it.

Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

FalconGuy016 posted:

After thinking a bit, I'd probably just leave it there.


Haha, it is possibly the only good thing about that place.

I don't mind looking for things on my own (of course, I haven't tried both), but more importantly if I can use the money for a better picture instead of a tracking stars mount I most definitely would.

My budget would be $300-$500 or around there. I have some things that I never use I could sell pretty much instantly.

Edit: Hmm, I just realized galaxies are extremely far, and I imagine I'd need a really strong eyepiece. Wouldn't that make the Earth's rotation extremely noticeable? Or would it be completely managable

Galaxies are extremely far! Fortunately, they are also extremely large. I typically observe with a 14mm and 24mm when I'm looking at galaxies and nebulae, and a 8mm when I'm looking at globular clusters. If I were you, I would try to find a 8" dobsonian, solid tube design. Used this would run you about 350, which leaves you enough left over for a couple solid eyepieces and accessories.

Now here's where you have a choice. You can try to find a used scope and save some money, or buy new. I'd probably go for this one if you wanted to get a new one, so that you have some money to spare for an eyepiece or two.
You can wait for a free shipping special to save 50 bucks if you want to, they happen every few months it seems. The only issue with this setup is that it only has one eyepiece and the finder is a cheap red dot type.

If you're looking for a used scope, try to buy from someone who is also interested in the hobby. They'll always take better care of their gear and often let you try before you buy. If you're buying used, stick to 8" dobsonians from Zhumell, Orion or Meade. There are other makers that are equal or better quality, but they also may require some fixing up.


So for your other accessories, I'd suggest:

A Telrad finder, ~$35 this is similar to what comes with the scope, but much better.
Two eyepieces: Astro-Tech Paradigm 15mm and Astro-Tech Paradigm 8mm, $60 each.

These eyepieces have a 60 degree FOV, which isn't amazing, but I personally own these two and find them to be very solid eyepieces for the price. You could get a 68 degree FOV eyepiece for about 40 bucks, but you'll notice some chromatic abberation (colors bleeding on the edges of objects, mostly seen on planets), and other optic issues.

You could also skip buying multiple eyepieces and go straight for a (possibly used) Baader Hyperion Click-Stop Zoom, which can do 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24mm. These run about $215 new, and maybe 150 used. This eyepiece is amazing for starting out, since you're getting 5 eyepieces in one (8 with a barlow lens). The only downside is that you do sacrifice a little field of view at the higher powers (40 degree at 8mm).

And as Jekub said, try to go to a star party and take a look at everyone's gear. It's not uncommon to find people there that are wanting to get rid of an older scope of theirs if you put out the word that you're wanting to get into the hobby.

Loztblaz fucked around with this message at 22:41 on Jul 7, 2009

ValhallaSmith
Aug 16, 2005


Also if anyone really wants to get into this take a look in your local area for an amateur observatory. Not too sure how common they are but this is the one near me http://www.graaa.org/veen.html . For some reason west michigan has quite a bit in the way of astronomy facilities. Hell the middle school I went to out here has its own planetarium.

Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

ValhallaSmith posted:

Also if anyone really wants to get into this take a look in your local area for an amateur observatory. Not too sure how common they are but this is the one near me http://www.graaa.org/veen.html . For some reason west michigan has quite a bit in the way of astronomy facilities. Hell the middle school I went to out here has its own planetarium.

Some of the bigger astronomy groups have these too, for instance the place I go to has this observatory set up at the star party grounds, with a pretty nice 16 inch cassegrain. If you're wanting to find one, try to check your local astronomy groups. If they don't have one, they probably know where the nearest one is.

FalconGuy016
Aug 25, 2005

by Fistgrrl


I have a question with field of view in eyepieces. It seems the higher the FOV the more money, but when a eyepiece is say 60 degrees field of view does that literally mean you can see 60 degrees of the sky? How does that work with different magnifications with the same FOV?

Loztblaz
Sep 8, 2004
1-14-04, Never Forget.

FalconGuy016 posted:

I have a question with field of view in eyepieces. It seems the higher the FOV the more money, but when a eyepiece is say 60 degrees field of view does that literally mean you can see 60 degrees of the sky? How does that work with different magnifications with the same FOV?

The amount of sky that a telescope/eyepiece combination can see is the true field of view, which is almost never more than 2 degrees, and usually much less.

The apparent field of view is the size of the field that your eye sees when looking through the eyepiece. Low FOV eyepieces are like looking at the galaxy through a circular window, you can only see what's in the middle, and anything outside of that area isn't visible. Higher FOV eyepieces are like sticking your head out of that window, and having your entire field of view full of stars.

Loztblaz fucked around with this message at 00:26 on Dec 1, 2009

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Bolkovr
Apr 20, 2002

A chump and a hoagie going buck wild

Last weekend I drove up to Philadelphia to see Galileo's telescope at the Franklin Institute. Pretty cool exhibition, highly recommended for anyone with an interest in not only astronomy, but also history, navigation, geometry, etc.

Now I want a medieval astrolabe, bad.

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