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Archive 2013 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount
  
 
Andrew Welsh
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p.11 #1 · p.11 #1 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


The 500mm f/8 mirror lenses suck. For both still photos and astrophotos.

I sold mine soon after buying one. Unfortunately, there's no easy way out of paying $$ for quality optics. The closest you could do is a Mak-Cass 4 inch scope (Orion makes a nice 102mm scope.. the Apex) for around $300 used. Downside is it will be f/11 or f/13 and about 1300mm focal length. Difficult for astrophotos, but good for visual / planetary work, OK for daytime. You'll still get the donut bokeh.

Edited on Apr 03, 2013 at 03:18 AM · View previous versions



Apr 03, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Andrew Welsh
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p.11 #2 · p.11 #2 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Oh and in case Fred missed it, I was wondering what you (Fred) use for your AstroTrac guide scope.


Apr 03, 2013 at 03:17 AM
wlpelzmann
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p.11 #3 · p.11 #3 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred,

I see from the photos of your setup, you do not use a panning base with the AstroTrac wedge. I assume you are just making your rough initial north alignment by rotating the tripod ? The wedge itself does not appear to allow any coarse panning adjustment. Or, am I missing something?

Also, I assume you have IS off on the 500mm exposures ?

My AstroTrac backorder finally arrived yesterday. Now the weather needs to cooperate. I was hoping to catch PanSTARRS near Andromeda this evening, but the forecast looks grim over the next few days.

Thanks for sharing all your details. It sure reduces the trial and error for the rest of us.

Bill



Apr 05, 2013 at 05:58 PM
BenV
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p.11 #4 · p.11 #4 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Thanks to this thread I ordered the iOptron tracking mount. Good job FM community, make me spend more money -_-


Apr 05, 2013 at 06:31 PM
JameelH
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p.11 #5 · p.11 #5 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


wlpelzmann wrote:
Fred,

I see from the photos of your setup, you do not use a panning base with the AstroTrac wedge. I assume you are just making your rough initial north alignment by rotating the tripod ? The wedge itself does not appear to allow any coarse panning adjustment. Or, am I missing something?

Also, I assume you have IS off on the 500mm exposures ?

My AstroTrac backorder finally arrived yesterday. Now the weather needs to cooperate. I was hoping to catch PanSTARRS near Andromeda this evening, but the forecast looks grim over the next few days.

Thanks for sharing all your
...Show more

Indeed the wedge doesn't allow coarse panning. I've added a panning base below the wedge for this very reason.



Apr 05, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.11 #6 · p.11 #6 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Andrew Welsh wrote:
I am very interested in portable mounts, as my current setup is to piggyback on my 8" SCT, and moving it around and aligning is cumbersome.

A question for you, sir: you mention autoguiding your astrotrack mount.. what are you autoguiding with? My current autoguiding setup is rather involved, so I'm interested in hearing about simpler solutions.



Hi Andrew,
I'm using a fairly simple auto-guiding set-up. I have the newer Astrotrac with RA guiding connected to a 50mm scope and guiding camera. All this is connected to my laptop running PHD guiding software. It works with PC or Mac.
I posted a picture of my set-up here:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1192050/7#11430684

It's very portable and the results have been accurate even with long FL lenses.

I hope this helps!
Fred



Apr 05, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.11 #7 · p.11 #7 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


wlpelzmann wrote:
Fred,

I see from the photos of your setup, you do not use a panning base with the AstroTrac wedge. I assume you are just making your rough initial north alignment by rotating the tripod ? The wedge itself does not appear to allow any coarse panning adjustment. Or, am I missing something?

Also, I assume you have IS off on the 500mm exposures ?

My AstroTrac backorder finally arrived yesterday. Now the weather needs to cooperate. I was hoping to catch PanSTARRS near Andromeda this evening, but the forecast looks grim over the next few days.

Thanks for sharing all your
...Show more

Bill, you are right. The Astrotrac Wedge does not allow for "coarse" panning (azimuth control). However, IMO, it's not needed or desired.
First remove the Astrotrac scope and visually, place polaris in the middle of the hole. That will be a very rough alignment. Then, attached the scope and use the Wedge "fine" azimuth control knobs to place polaris at the precise location in the reticle.

With the iOptron, there is no azimuth control. I believe they expect us to pan with the tripod.
I believe, it's a flaw. However, getting a panning base solves the problem.
I'm using this one below and it's working great:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/848913-REG/FEISOL_PB_70_PB_70_Panning_Base.html



Apr 05, 2013 at 07:59 PM
BenV
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p.11 #8 · p.11 #8 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Does anyone know any places that have the Feisol panning base in stock? Everywhere seems to be on back order and my iOptron comes in on Tuesday.


Apr 05, 2013 at 09:57 PM
wlpelzmann
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p.11 #9 · p.11 #9 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Ben, did you try the Feisol website ?



Apr 05, 2013 at 10:05 PM
BenV
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p.11 #10 · p.11 #10 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


wlpelzmann wrote:
Ben, did you try the Feisol website ?


I have not, checking now.

So far I've checked the normal sources, BH, Adorama, Amazon.



Apr 05, 2013 at 10:16 PM
 

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BenV
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p.11 #11 · p.11 #11 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Feisol has it, but want's an extra $20 to ship it yeah I'm being kinda cheap, but Amazon I get free 2nd day, and BH is always free.


Apr 05, 2013 at 10:35 PM
harshaj1
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p.11 #12 · p.11 #12 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


I finally have my portable astro setup complete.
Equipment
Gitzo 5541L tripod that I already had.
Astrotrac tracker and the wedge.( the wedge arrived yesterday)
Polar scope
BH 55 RRS ball head ( already had this too)

I have done wide field (16mm) and 200mm up to 3 minutes(70-200/2.8 lens) with good tracking. Wedge made the system much more stable compared to my gear head.

Few thing I have learnt
1. I accidentally had the polar scope light on between sessions and it was dead the next time I used it. So make sure you turn the scope off at the end of the session.
2. Polarscope can easily fall off . It happened to me. So use a rubber band that was suggested on this thread or do what Fred did to secure the scope.
3. I have been using cam ranger to control my camera. Worked great. I can pretty much control all the camera functions(aperture, ISO, shutter speed, bulb, live view, bracketing, HDR etc,) remotely up to 150 Ft away. Made a huge difference in cold winter days. I was able to control the setup from my warm car or the garage. I can view NEF files from D800 from my Ipad but huge files takes time to upload. However if I shoot Raw + basic JPEG, ipad only upload the jpeg file for review. This happens very quickly.
Composition and focusing is much easier using bigger Ipad retina screen. Camranger only allows 100% magnification which is less than 300% camera LCD allows.
One drawback is that the camranger remote session sometimes terminates if the ipad goes to sleep. This can be easily fixed by tweaking the general settings menu in Ipad.

Once I polar align and setup my system on the target I don't have to touch the setup. I can pretty much control everything from camranger. Histogram (live) makes adjustments easy.
If you have a D800 and considering the cam ranger, the USB 3 cable that came with the camera works with the cam ranger so don't pay extra for that.
http://www.camranger.com/

No interesting pictures to show yet but stay tuned.

Wonderful thread with great info. Special thanks to Fred and Eric ( astro-ep)
Harsha



Apr 06, 2013 at 01:22 AM
BenV
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p.11 #13 · p.11 #13 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Don't let this amazing thread die! I'll be posting some photos next weekend when my tracker arrives


Apr 07, 2013 at 02:00 AM
danws6
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p.11 #14 · p.11 #14 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


My astrotrac and other goodies arrive today (a clone of Fred's setup except I just have a 70-200 f/2.8 II + 1.4x), a new moon this week but clouds in the forecast until Saturday.


Apr 08, 2013 at 05:44 PM
StarNut
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p.11 #15 · p.11 #15 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


danws6 wrote:
My astrotrac and other goodies arrive today (a clone of Fred's setup except I just have a 70-200 f/2.8 II + 1.4x), a new moon this week but clouds in the forecast until Saturday.


One of the fundamental laws of astro-imaging is that a significant new toy acquisition attracts lots of clouds.



Congrats, and enjoy!

Mark



Apr 08, 2013 at 05:49 PM
JameelH
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p.11 #16 · p.11 #16 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


In a similar situation here in Seattle re: weather and skies.

On a separate note, has anyone tried the astrotrac pier? I plan to head to the mountains to avoid city light pollution. Of course that means significant winds at 5000' or so. Even a 5 series gitzo won't be stable in that condition. Would the pier be stable? One option is to use stakes and tie down the tripod.

I am sure there are tricks experienced astro photogs have up their sleeve other than a bolt in block of granite



Apr 09, 2013 at 04:27 AM
astro-ep
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p.11 #17 · p.11 #17 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


JameelH wrote:
. Even a 5 series gitzo won't be stable in that condition. Would the pier be stable? One option is to use stakes and tie down the tripod.

I am sure there are tricks experienced astro photogs have up their sleeve other than a bolt in block of granite


I rarely image in windy conditions, even with my autoguided high precision equatorial mount. My scope is fairly short (530mm focal length), but even it acts like a sail in the wind. Shorter lenses or scopes will be better. But generally the odds of success imaging in the wind are lower. And since it's so much work to set-up and get my imaging system running, I rarely risk it, if it's expected to be windy.

My main reason for avoiding the wind has more to do with keeping the expensive optics and mechanics clean. Wind, here in the desert, means dust. Dust + Optics + Mechanics = Bad

If you decide to give it a try, staying lower to the ground is better for the wind, but worse for dust and dirt.

Eric



Apr 09, 2013 at 01:53 PM
JameelH
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p.11 #18 · p.11 #18 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


astro-ep wrote:
I rarely image in windy conditions, even with my autoguided high precision equatorial mount. My scope is fairly short (530mm focal length), but even it acts like a sail in the wind. Shorter lenses or scopes will be better. But generally the odds of success imaging in the wind are lower. And since it's so much work to set-up and get my imaging system running, I rarely risk it, if it's expected to be windy.

My main reason for avoiding the wind has more to do with keeping the expensive optics and mechanics clean. Wind, here in the desert, means dust.
...Show more

Thanks Eric. Makes perfect sense. I guess I need to look for lower altitude but further away from city locations which hopefully do not pose the wind challenge.



Apr 09, 2013 at 08:55 PM
StarNut
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p.11 #19 · p.11 #19 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


I've posted a couple of astrophotographs on the landscape forum this week; I have now been asked to post them to this thread as well.

This thread seems more like a thread about astronomical imaging with some specific equipment than about everyone posting their astrophotos taken with any equipment.

If there were an astrophotography subforum here, I'd happily post there, but I would rather not be lowering the signal-to-noise ratio of a thread about specific equipment by posting here each of my images made with completely different equipment.

Comments?



Apr 09, 2013 at 09:52 PM
dgdg
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p.11 #20 · p.11 #20 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


It's up to Fred in the end about a subforum.... there is interest.
I'd post them to landscape. Thanks for showing interest!



Apr 10, 2013 at 02:49 AM
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