Telescope, Mount and Drive

Discussion in 'Nature' started by himanshu, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. Hello Everyone,
    I am an amateur astronomer and want to buy a telescope for viewing as well as some astrophotography. I intend on doing mostly wide field shots rather than deep sky objects. I already own a Feisol CT3441S carbon fiber tripod (load capacity claimed to be about 10kg) and a Canon 20D with a 16mm lens and a some other primes (50mm, 90mm) and a manual SLR with a 50mm f1.2 so I think I am covered camera/lens wise. My budget is about $400-$500 so I don't think I can expect a good telescope that comes with a good tripod. And since I already have the feisol I am thinking of buying a telescope, an equatorial mount and a motorized drive like the Orian EQ-1M.
    Will any telescope/mount fit my tripod or will I need to pay specific attention to compatibility? Is it a reasonable expectation to mount a 4" reflector scope with an equatorial mount on the Feisol or is it too much for it?
    Any suggestions/pointers to help me make the equipment choice will be deeply appreciated.
  2. Telescope and 35mm camera tripods are really two different things in my experience. You can probably get by with the feisol for a start with a lighter scope like the 4" reflector,, but I think you will soon want a much heavier unit for telescope use to avoid problems with movement, especially of you are doing long exposures with motor driven mount. I use a large Berlebach wooden tripod for scope use, as it is much better at damping vibration. Most scope mounts can be used with a camera tripod but some use a different mounting method than the standard 1/4 or 3/8 thread mounts on photo tripods so you need to check the specific unit you have in mind. I've used a Televue mount with 3" refractor on a large format Gitzo tripod and it works well for casual viewing.
    For wide field astro photos be sure you can get a camera mount adapter for your scope, which lets the camera mount above the scope and move with it on the motor drive for tracking. The 50 and 90 are good choices for wide field shooting on a small sensor DSLR.
  3. In my experince camera tripods aren't compatible with telescope mounts without a fair bit of work to get them to go together. Given that you are thinkng of buying a EQ mount why not get it with the tripod?
    With regard to observing and taking astrophotophs the problem is that the best value observing scope is different from the best value astrophotography sccpe. Here is a link to a page giving advice about the dfferent kinds of telescope and their suitability for astrophotography.
    Best of luck!
  4. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    I think if you just want 'wide angle shots' you may not need a telescope at all, Just a single-axis motor drive that you attach your camera to. You might try looking here:
  5. I would recommend:
    Astrophotography for the Amateur (Paperback)

    by Michael A. Covington
    Digital SLR Astrophotography (Practical Amateur Astronomy) (Paperback)

    by Michael A. Covington

    Covington knows his stuff! You may find some seriously good suggestions! These books are not cheap, but this author has been there and done that; so you may save money by his experiences. Check the library for similar references. BTW: "cheap" flimsy mounts will negate all other imaging investments for any deep space imaging and add frustration & disappointment. widefield and planetary shots are achievable with modest gear, however.
  6. Hi All,
    Thanks a lot for your responses. It seems like I was being over ambitious when I thought I can do visual astronomy as well as quality photography in under $500 :) ... looks like the ideal or even moderately acceptable equipment for the two things is very different from each other. Since each of a good tripod, equatorial mount, a refractor telescope for photography or a good enough reflector for watching stars is siginificantly expensive I will have to make a choice here... most likely I will start with a reflecting telescope on an equatorial mount for visual astronomy and as I learn more about the sky, I will think about photography...
    Since the equatorial mounts/drives are so expensive and the barn door tracker is such a good alternative at a low price, I was wondering are there people or companies out there that sell barndoor trackers or you absolutely have to make your own?
    Thanks again for all the answers :)
  7. A little late on the answer, but I have a few suggestions that might prove useful.
    I would suggest you buy a cheapish 8" (not less) dobsonian for observation. This would be more powerful than most of other telescopes at that price range (~300 euros).
    You don t need the motor drive for observation. At least not for easy targets that you would hunt as a beginner.
    The dobson mount is very easy to use and would be enough for your first steps on astro-observation.
    Then you can get a german equatorial mount just for your camera (~200 euros + 100 more for the motors).
    This combo would be powerful, effective and cheap enough to keep you busy for a long time, until you see what is that keeps your interest and invest to it more later (telescope, eyepieces, mount, whatever).
  8. Hi Kastaniotis,
    Thanks for your suggestions. I am currently in Mumbai which has very polluted/hazy skies not very conducive to sky viewing so I will defer the telescope purchase for some time. I do however intend to purchase a GEM and a motor to able to take photographs as I can travel with this more often and easily than with a telescope.
    I recently took a photograph of the Milky Way (attached) with my Canon 20D, Sigma 20mm lens on a Feisol tripod. The image was good enough to motivate me to try this more often and the stars moved just enough to justify buying a GEM and a motor :)

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