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Archive 2012 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions
  
 
johnbirch
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p.1 #1 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


I would like to purchase an equatorial mount (star tracker) for photos of stars. I am having trouble finding good information on the web. Probably because I just don't know enough about it to make a good search.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a good solid mount, or a good website that explains what I need?

I shoot with a D800E and mostly wide lenses, although I might want to use a longer lens sometimes. I also have a solid gitzo tripod. I would like something sturdy enough for longer exposures.

Thanks.



Aug 19, 2012 at 04:22 AM
carnac
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p.1 #2 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


Take a look at:

http://www.astrotrac.com

There are also many DYI pages to make your own low cost "barn door" star tracker:

http://www.astronomyboy.com/barndoor/links.shtml

Jim



Aug 19, 2012 at 08:04 AM
parsons
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p.1 #3 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


astrotrac, vixen polarie and numerous other EQ1 or 5 mounts. or build your own.
gogle scotch mount or haig mount or barn door trackers.

i am about to go the vxen polarie route as thats all i need, though to be truthful the astrotrac has been on my buy list for a while. its only due to an upcoming trip to zion i may swing the other way.
i wil use the 1dsmk2 and contax lenses or nikon 14-24. the weight stated as max is 2kg, but online reports and actual shops report higher payloads upto 3.5kg is ok too.

simon



Aug 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Chris Moy
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p.1 #4 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


Please keep us posted on your experience with the vxen. Thanks!

parsons wrote:
astrotrac, vixen polarie and numerous other EQ1 or 5 mounts. or build your own.
gogle scotch mount or haig mount or barn door trackers.

i am about to go the vxen polarie route as thats all i need, though to be truthful the astrotrac has been on my buy list for a while. its only due to an upcoming trip to zion i may swing the other way.
i wil use the 1dsmk2 and contax lenses or nikon 14-24. the weight stated as max is 2kg, but online reports and actual shops report higher payloads upto 3.5kg is ok too.

simon




Aug 19, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #5 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


For travel and keeping things fairly light weight, the Astrotrac is well worth considering. But remember that for the Astrotrac you need to provide something under it as an equatorial wedge, and that adds weight and cost. Astrotrac sells a fairly expensive wedge made for their drive, or some people use a gear head to provide for that. Others may even make a wedge, but home made wedges would rarely include fine adjustments to achieve alignment. You also need an external battery pack to run the Astrotrac. For the Astrotrac, the polar alignment scope is another item that adds cost and a little weight. And for the Astrotrac you also need to provide a ball head above the drive to adjust and aim your camera. As a photographer you usually have a ball head and a tripod available to use, but just keep in mind how the whole system needs to be configured. Also keep in mind how the weight of everything adds up, especially if you are planning to travel with it.

If you consider a used Astrotrac, remember that the original one only had the basic astro rate of movement, but not the other speeds for tracking of the moon or the sun. For me that is an important factor.

One fairly new product that you might consider is the iOptron SmartEQ portable GoTo German equatorial mount. I have never used one, but reviews of other mounts from iOptron are generally good. The mount is a little heavy, but the weight includes the equatorial wedge. But the total weight will depend on the camera load, and thus which counterweights you will need to use. It also comes with a tripod, which most photographers would not need, especially if traveling and having a good tripod available. Also note that the interface at the bottom of the mount that goes on their tripod is not 3/8 inch threads, so it likely would need to be adapted. And the top part would need a dovetail plate to adapt to a camera or lens collar. And a polar alignment scope is available but not included, so keep that in mind when comparing costs. When done, you get a GoTo and tracking mount, and you do not need a ball head on top, because the mount has two axis built in, and can thus point various directions on its own. And the cost is a lot less than an Astrotrac plus a wedge.






Aug 19, 2012 at 04:28 PM
 

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johnbirch
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p.1 #6 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


Thanks for the suggestions. I will check out the astrotrac and others. I am not too concerned about weight as I plan to use it around the family cottage and in the winter I will move it around with a snowmobile.

I want to make sure I fully understand what I all need, so I don't expect paying $500 when the total price would be more like $1500.

Just checked out the iOptron. Sounds like a good deal. I will have to do some research.



Aug 19, 2012 at 08:13 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #7 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


I am pleased with my first outing using the Vixen Polarie. I put it on top of a manfrotto geared head that sits on a leveling base. This is a bit bulky but steady. My 5 minute subs with a 32mm fov where tack sharp at 100%. Since I plan to use it only during travel, I needed something fairly small which is why I did not get the astrotrac. The main limitation for the vixen already mentioned, payload, seems to be mildly conservative by reports. If you use a light weight ball head and non pro body, you should be able to use a 70-200 mm lens fine. The other negative is range of motion. If you want to look south and low on horizon with a longer focal length, you might bump into the vixen. I'm too tickled by it to care about this small limitation I read about.


Aug 20, 2012 at 02:00 AM
dasams
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p.1 #8 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


I recently purchased the Polarie and have been very happy with it. As shown in the pic, I added a short plate to the bottom for easy attachment to my existing tripod / ballhead. I also added a 2nd ballhead to attach my D800. If you want to stack multiple exposures, the polar scope is also recommended to attain accurate alignment. There's a ton of astrophotography info at cloudynights dot com and especially the DSLR & Digital Camera Astro Imaging section. GL, dave







Aug 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #9 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions


I recommend a manfrotto geared head and leveling base under the polarie. Makes polar alignment very easy. You can set your zenith on the ballhead, then line up a compass to north for azimuth. You can fine tune it with the gear head dials from there For those yet to set up the polarie, you will need a 1/4 to 3/8 inch adapter to mount a standard ballhead to the front of the polarie.


Aug 22, 2012 at 07:52 PM





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