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RE: Any Suggestions For A Beginner

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Posted by Jon Voisey on December 4, 2004 01:43:38 UTC

I'm not sure exactly how new to all this you are so just to cover all the bases, I'll be as thorough as I can. If something doesn't make sense, let me know.

First off, if you're going for deep sky objects, you'll definately be needing a telescope that can track. This is because you'll be doing long exposures (anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours). Since the Earth is spinning, if you don't have a telescope that tracks to match that movement, you're going to have images that streak. For brighter objects (moon, sun, planets), your exposure times will usually be pretty short so you can get away with a non-tracking telescope.

The standard telesope type seems to be Schmidt-Cassegrains. The two main makers of these are Meade and Celestron. From what I've heard, some of the advances in Meade's line gives advantages over Celestrons, but I've been using a Celestron for since as long as I've really used telescopes and am very happy with them.

For sizes of scopes, I use an 8", but there's nothing wrong with starting small. If you do look at an 8", prices for a new scope will probably be a few thousand. You can also look at getting one used off ebay or somewhere else. This is what I've done but be careful when doing this.

However, you'll still need more equipment. There's three basic types of ways to connect a camera to your telescope, and each has a different set of equipment to go with it.

The first is "piggyback" in which the camera just rides on the back of the telescope. The only additional piece of equipment you'll need for this is a piggyback mount (Item #93598 from Celestron). This type of set up will allow you to take wide field pictures.

If you're wanting to zoom in, the next method is called "prime focus". In this, the lens is removed from the camera and your telescope becomes a very expensive tele-photo lens. I don't know anything about your type of camera, but one of the first things you'll need is an adaptor to be able to attach it to your scope. They come specially designed for each type of camera.

Next up is the "eyepiece projection" method. In this, another adaptor is used in which it slides over the eyepiece and the image is projected onto the film. This provides the most magnification. However, ANY sort of tracking problem will become very apparent. To compensate for this, you'll need an off-axis guider. This tool allows you to find a star near the edge of your field of view and make sure your telescope stays aligned by keeping that star in a set of illuminated crosshairs. To make the corrections, you'll use a small hand panel that will come with the telescope. This method becomes very tedious when doing very long exposures and having to stare through the eyepiece for long amounts of time. But the results can be fantastic.

Another tool you'll definately want is a cable release. This allows you to trigger the shutter without having to directly touch the shutter release on the camera. This gets rid of shake that could make your image blurry.

That's about it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


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