Advice for a more mature Novice

Forums Telescopes Advice for a more mature Novice

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    Posted by Norman Morton at 12:57 on 2011 Feb 09

    Hello Good Peoples :)I am a new member & total Novice, so please be patient with the undoubtably Dumb questions I’m probably going to ask now & then :)…I am at present looking to but a Reflector Telescope that is reasonably portable (will fit in boot of Puegeot 407) but one I can also use from home (connected to a computer) if possible.. I am a keen Photographer & so am also looking for a Telescope that I can attach my Panasonic DMC-FZ50(DSLR) to hopefully be able to take some Good Photo’s of our very own Beautiful Moon, but also am hoping to be able to take some nice shots of the our other planets & deep space, Clusters,Nebula’s E.t.c (not sure if on my budget I’ll be able to get this though).I have been looking at three models of Telescopes at the moment & too help me decide wether I’m going in the right direction or I need to think again, I’m asking for Advice or knowledge known about thses particular models & wether they will be able to give me what I’m after?, IE: not only observing but taking of good photographs… It’s one of reasons I picked these models as they say there is attachtment’s for a Camera..The three models I’ve been looking at are :-SKYWATCHER EXPLORER 150PL (NEQ3 SynScan) longer focal length f/8SKYWATCHER EXPLORER 150P (NEQ3 SynScan) f/5SKYWATCHER EXPLORER 200P (EQ5 PRO) f/5 At present I’m favouring the 200P & at around £700 is pretty much my budget, but would appreciate anyone’s Views or Advice before I spend that amount & not be able to do what I was hoping ;)..I’m sorry this has been such a long post & many questions, I’ve tried to keep it as short as I could but still give some reasonable info, but if you should need more info, please ask :)..Many thanks for your time, Take Care All :)Norman


    Posted by Andrea Tasselli at 13:32 on 2011 Feb 09

    Hi Norman,In terms of overall ability to take long exposures and overall decent telescope and mount I think the 200P the only one the fits the bill. This said I’m afraid you camera (which isn’t a DSLR) won’t be much of help as the lens can’t be removed afaik. This said there are very cheap ways to accomplish at least some of what you’re after by using a suitably and easily modified webcam (Philips SPC900) and taking short movies of the moon and the brighter planets. With further modification (less easily done) even the brighter and smaller of the deep sky objects are within reach.Going deeper and therefore fainter would require:1. A way to "guide" the main scope usually done using a smaller scope in parallel and another "guiding" camera to give the mount the correction in order to remove the small errors in tracking due to the mount main drive.2. A specialized astronomical camera of a true DSLR so that the lens can be removed from a the body and the telescope used in liue of said lens. The best camera for such a job appaear to be Canons and while they can be expensive older generation cmaeras such the D300 as still pretty good for astrophotography.Hope the answers above will help.Andrea T.


    Posted by Roy Hughes at 14:47 on 2011 Feb 09

    Norman,Note that Philips SPC880 webcams (a SPC900 firmware upgrade is available free, or Morgans will do the firmware mod for you for £2.99) and adapter kits are being flogged by Morgans at the moment. Not as cheap as they were last year but still very reasonable. The SPC900s give very good results on the Moon using software and techniques readily (FREEly) available on the net, just google with somthing like Webcam Astronomy, SPC900, etc.I’ve not had a lot of success with planets. But others with more patience have. Just a couple of years ago they were state of the art at any (very amateur) price.see… various (more info) buttons will lead you into a sea of information, I spent a happy couple of hours surfing this on Monday. Best of luck,Roy


    Posted by Norman Morton at 16:03 on 2011 Feb 09

    Hiya & Thanks for the quick replies :)@ Andrea~~~ Thanks for those sugestions Andrea,Much appreciated :), You do realise I’m holding my head in my hands with shame now…. I forgot my Panasonic SLR didn’t have a detachable Lens… What a Numpty I am.. Sorry about that.. I was thinking about my old 35mm camera which does have that.. Anyway.. many thanks. :)I’ve had alook around & although I can get hold of the Canon 300D I’m thinking of going with the Canon 1000D, simply because it’s around 4 Megapixals larger than the 300D but only £60 dearer (for body only) & so i’m assuming I’ll get a better image quality using the 1000D..I’m going to go with the 200P (I thought that would be the one as it has the 8") & gives me a better chance of catching some Half deccent Photo’s.. Again thanks for your Advice on that also :)@ RoyThanks for your reply Roy & the link :).. Nice place lol.. Am thinking i’ll get one of these as well for when I’m at home sitting at the computer Star Gazing…Will use the Canon 1000D for when I go out to the edge of Bodmin Moor running the Scope off the 12v from the car or bat pack…All the bestNorman


    Posted by TonyAngel at 17:23 on 2011 Feb 10

    The Camera.You would need to have an adapter so that you could mount the camera on top of the telescope. You then use the telescope as the guide.The TelescopeI do not know the telescope but from the reviews it appears to be good value for money. The only comment I will make about it is that at F5 it is more suited to Deep Sky than Solar System objects. You may want to get a Telrad Finder. A lot easier to use when you are first starting out.Other things.A star atlasSome observing guides.A pair of 10×50 binos to help teach yourself how to get around the sky, (you will be surprised at what you can see in them)


    Posted by Norman Morton at 18:01 on 2011 Feb 10

    Hi TonyThanks very much for your input & advice, It’s much appreciated :)I’d never heard of the Telrad Finder, but it does look to be a good buy for someone like myself just starting out.The adapter for the Scope is on order as is the Canon 1000D camera..I do want to Photograph deep sky as well as solar objects & was trying to pick something that would (with abit of maybe filtering or adding certain adapter lenses) that would as a starting point give me some, If not all of what i would like to picture.. But I do take on your advice, so many thanks again for that.Have been looking around for star maps/atlas’s & guides, Doing a lot of reading up & beginning to get a very little grasp of things :). The welcome pack I recieved from BAA has come in very handy for finding information & links :).. Great pack I have to say..Thanks again for your Advice & TimeRegardsNorman


    Posted by Graham Relf at 18:34 on 2011 Feb 10

    The SkyWatcher telescopes are excellent. I have their 250 (10") f/4.8 Newtonian on an HEQ5 mount. The only bad aspect for me was a complete lack of any documentation. A Google search found a manual at but that still lacks a lot of important detail. I have therefore written a page about my own discoveries of how to use the various parts of the telescope: . (I am keen to encourage others to try astrophotography and that was the motivation for my web site.)You can avoid having to guide long exposures at all by taking a lot of short exposures and then using some software to align and stack them. That also has advantages for coping with light pollution and reducing overexposure of bright stars. I describe the procedure on my own site, and you can see some of my own results using an unmodified Canon DSLR without guiding: To use multiple 30-second exposures it is important to align the HEQ5 mount so that Polaris is within the small circle in the setting scope, as described in the PDF file from .


    Posted by Norman Morton at 22:22 on 2011 Feb 10

    Hi GrahamWOW!!!!! Thats a great site you have there, can see you spent alot of time & effort…Fantastic & Congratulations :)..You have wealth of imformation on there that relates to what I was hoping to do, albeit maybe not as clear as some of your images but gives a good idea of what I can get near to with a smaller Dia Mirror (8") on the SkyWatcher Explorer 200P EQ5 PRO SynScan 200mm Newtonian I have ordered & Canon 1000D @ 10megapixel.. :)..I shall enjoy reading through your very comprehensive & imformative pages while I wait for my scope to arrive sometime towards the end of the month.Do you believe that even with my smaller scope & camera that I will be able to achieve some good shots of not just Deep Sky but also Lunar & Planetary close ups?… With the help of your site of course :-)..Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post & help/advice that you provide… That goes to all of you….ThanksAll the bestNorman


    Posted by Robin Vann at 09:02 on 2011 Feb 11

    Here are a couple of book/atlas recommendations:’The Observer’s Sky Atlas, 3rd. Ed.’; E. Karkoschka; Springer; New York; 2007.’Sky Atlas 2000.0 Field Laminated, 2nd. Ed.’; Wil Tirion & Roger W. Sinnott; Sky Publishing Corporation; Cambridge, MA; 1998.’Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion, 2nd. Ed.’; Robert A Strong & Roger W. Sinnott; Sky & Telescope Media; Cambridge, MA; 2008.The first is a small paperback and contains a catalogue of 250 deep sky observing projects along with photographs. It contains observing notes for the objects and the presentation is very concise. I would thoroughly recommend this.The second, in it’s various forms (permutations of colour/black on white/white on black, paper/laminated) has become a standard. I have recommended the ‘Field Laminated’ edition which is white objects on a black background (to preserve night vision) on wiro-bound large plastic sheets.The acetate overlay supplied for measuring seperations also has ‘Telrad’ finder circles to match with a Telrad finder view should you invest in one.I find it useful to take a fairly hefty music stand into the garden to place the Sky Atlas on, along with my drawing pad (I’m a visual observer).I have also recommended the deep sky catalogue for this atlas (the publisher seem to have changed name) as it contains valuable observing notes. There are also catalogues of stars available for this but I feel they are of a less importance, details about stars being easily obtainable via the internet.Hope these recommendations are of interest.


    Posted by Norman Morton at 15:29 on 2011 Feb 11

    Hi RobinThanks for the list & info, much appreciated.. Looks like I’m going to be doing alot of reading & digesting of Information & instructions ;-)..Getting quite excited now I’m starting to get all the equipment & reading material together, Also seeing some of the images that others have got using similar equipment to me, is a real incentive.I know alot of those images are gotten so good with the help of using the "stacking" software on a computer, The computer side of things doesn’t faze me at all as I have always built my own computers from many years back & my present computer which is Water cooled, overclocked & built for high graphics & heavy processing content, so am looking forward to working on my efforts when I get my scope hopefully by the end of the month :)All the BestNorman


    Posted by Roy Hughes at 15:07 on 2011 Feb 12

    Norman, since this thread has moved on to catalogs etc.If you’ve got a laptop the absolute best(IMHO) luna atlas is the "Virtual Moon Atlas" FREEly available on line (though the Pro version is a huge download).When using a web cam on the moon it’s great to be able to show VMA and the webcam image side by side. With the small field of view of a webcam it is otherwise quite easy to get lost and end up snapping somthing entirly diferent to your target! I find the Expert Version entirly adequate for the purpose.Yes I know, I should learn my way round the moon a bit better, but with "Maturity" also comes a certain fuzzyness of the brain.Roy.


    Posted by Norman Morton at 23:00 on 2011 Feb 12

    Hi again Roy & thanks for the heads up on the "Virtual Moon Atlas", It’s downloading now :)..I also found this site for TriStar Map Atlas I’ve downloaded them & am now in the process of printing them of, I will then Laminate them myself as I have the gear to do it (It saves me a few quid rather than buying ready laminated maps) :)…. Also Thanks to Robin for pointing me in the direction of Star Maps, Although they do look pretty confusing to me at the moment. I’m going to look for a Total beginners guide to astronomy so I can start to get to terms with things, I really am that green ;-)… All I really know is when I look up to the night sky I can pick out some of the constellations, but thats about it!! So I have along way to go :)…I’m not put off in the least by all my confusion at the moment about knowing my way around the night sky, more, really excited about learning more & wanting to learn, also to have a better understanding of just whats out there.It’s only now that I’m in a position where I can begin to spend the time & effort to Learn more about this fascinating subject after spending alot of my working life travelling to various places around the world & many of those in fairly hostile environments (worked on Land based Drilling rigs).It’s mostly to do with my interest in photography & wanting to take pictures of the things in our night sky that I’ve often wondered what they look like if you could see them more clearly, Thats maybe the wrong reason by some peoples standards, but it’s whats drawn me to look into it in more detail :).Sorry!!…. I’ve rambled on abit there, I’ll stop now :-)…Thanks to everyone here that are trying to help me, it’s really appreciated & my enthusiasm is going from strength to strength..Have a Good Weekend allNorman


    Posted by Robin Vann at 06:51 on 2011 Feb 14

    I’m sure you’ll be ‘hoovering’ up information. That’s what happened when I started.Do have a look for TriAtlas ( before you commit to printing charts. There are three versions of increasing scale.Good luck,Robin


    Posted by TonyAngel at 09:41 on 2011 Feb 14

    They are very good. I have used them from when the first edition came out. His overall website is quite interesting.


    Posted by Norman Morton at 09:47 on 2011 Feb 14

    Hi RobinOhhhh Yes I’m ‘Hoovering’ up information alright :-)… It’s fascinating stuff this. As for the ‘Triatlas’ (thats the ‘Star Map Atlas’ link from my last post) I’ve downloaded the charts & have printed off & laminated about 50% so far, It’s quite an informative site, with some decent links also..I have also ordered the ‘SPC880 Web Cam’ (with the SPC900 Firmware Upgrade) from ‘Morgan Computers’ that Roy suggested from an earlier post.So things are beginning to come together now with the help & suggestions I’ve had from you good peoples here :-)..ThanksNorman


    Posted by Norman Morton at 09:54 on 2011 Feb 14

    TonyAngel wrote:

    They are very good. I have used them from when the first edition came out. His overall website is quite interesting.

    Hi TonyYes it is a very informative & interesting site as you say. I can’t believe just how much is on those maps!!.. It’s staggering :-)…


    Posted by Roy Hughes at 12:18 on 2011 Feb 14

    Norman,More on VMA. There is one problem I should have warned you about.The picture libraries (as downloaded) are so packed with information that your anti-virus software may report them to you as "Archive Bombs". AVG 11, took 7 hours (to do a previous 1.5 hour scan) before giving up and removing them to the sin bin. Once unpacked they should be OK though. If you want to keep a backup of the compressed libraries do what I did and burn yourself a DVD.Roy.


    Posted by Norman Morton at 09:00 on 2011 Feb 15

    Morning RoyThanks for the warning, I’ve downloaded the ‘VMA’ pack but haven’t installed yet as I’m just putting the finishing touches to a purpose built PC for my Astrological Escapades too come :)..Norman


    Posted by Robin Vann at 12:51 on 2011 Feb 15

    Ah! I didn’t pick up that your link was for TriAtlas. Apologies for recommending something you were already on to!


    Posted by Roy Hughes at 13:08 on 2011 Feb 15

    Norman,One more note – watch out which set of instructions you follow when converting the webcam for basic astro use.…and scroll down a lot(!) has a good explanation. You just need to unscrew the lens!The funny foot will just snap off (snap as in elastic not snap as in break).Some of the pages out there include the long exposure mod and start by ripping the case apart and you won’t want this, at least not at first!Roy

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