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Equipment to get started?...


Astrogirl
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Hi there, I was wondering if I could ask for some advice please on what equipment I would need to get started.  My main interest is to be able to eventually (probably after a lot of practice!) get some great pictures of stars, planets & nebulae. Maybe I'm being a little ambitious, however I'm quite keen on photography & have a real curiosity with astronomy too, hopefully can combine the two! :)  ..I've heard it may be a good idea to get hold of a Philips planisphere first as a guide on where to start looking in the sky at night? :rolleyes: ..thanks in advance for any help offered.


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Hi astro girl :). If astrophotography is your aim I hope you have extremely deep pockets! It is uber expensive. As far as planispheres go they are ok but will quickly be discarded for a good star atlas I recommend sky&telescope pocket star atlas and in conjunction with that download stellarium as once you input your latitude & longitude into the settings it will show you what your sky will look like for any date/time you wish and changes in real time also.

As or astrophotography I will let you be advised by those that have committed a lot of money and time as they know first hand how addictive and indeed expensive it really is!

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Hello Felix & thanks for the reply :) ..thanks too on the advice of the pocket atlas as opposed to the planisphere, I don't have deep pockets so it's great to get advice on what to get which is more appropriate for me.  Do you have any suggestions on what telescope or binoculars to get?


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The trick is to take it in stages.


 


Don't go out and spend a fortune and get frustrated when it doesn't all work straight away on the first night out.  Lots of people have done this and it's sad to see.


 


If you are already into photography you already probably have enough to try some long exposure wide field images without spending a penny.


 


Come to one of our meets and see what other people are doing.  Try before you buy is always good advise.

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Couple of good things to get you on the way : Stellarium - free to download planitarium software - beginners tool of choice for finding out what's in the sky at your location any time of day or night. Also get a copy of "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards which is a great guide to imaging equipment and stage by stage intro to all the steps in successful  astro photography. It'll be the best £20 you ever spent and save you a lot of money.


 


http://www.stellarium.org/


http://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html


 


As mentioned above - you don't need masses of expensive gear to start - just a camera pointed at the night sky will do for attempting star trails and circles, or some long exposures of the milky way. What you will need though is a good knowledge of how to find stuff in the sky - and that's something that comes with experience. It takes about a year to become accustomed to where everything is found and the seasonal variations.


 


So as much observing as possible is the way to go while you read up on scope choice, mount choice, and camera choice and settings. No single type of setup is right for snapping everything - just as no single setup is right for observing everything. If you'd like to see a range of equipment and find out what it's suitable for you'd be welcome to bring your partner and visit me and Di one weekend for an intro to the gear and techniques used. :)


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I would take Kim up on that offer as he has an absolute treasure trove of astro equipment that will both whet your appetite and give a good demonstration of the scale of astro equipment available.

As far as recommendations it is difficult as its a very personal choice based on what exactly you want to get out of your observing. However a good quality park of binoculars (I went or 15x70's) is a must to get started. If you want to comfortably hand hold binoculars all night then 10x50 is a good size or learning the night sky. 15x70 will show you more of the star cluster type objects but after a whole need a tripod as they can get too heavy to hand hold once your arms begin to tire. Like the guys above have said you can't beat actually trying the gear before you buy. I live not far from Kim and get around to his when i can and marvel at all his astro gear with envious eyes ;) Also the company is good too of course lol!

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Forget imaging,  just get a honking great Dob and enjoy visual! No knitting cables or swearing profusely at a laptop, just contended satisfaction with the universe.


 


Seriously, don't throw money at it, you won't get results.


There's an imaging workshop at the Wymeswold site, come on over and say hello, and get to grips with what might suit you. (See banner at top).


 


As Pat said, learn the sky first, it helps to know where you are aiming. Apart from that there is some great stuff up there.  :)


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Thank you all for such valued advice I'm very grateful.  Definitely with the appreciation i need to learn a lot about the night sky first, ..I have no idea where to look so far.  I have downloaded Stellariium, ...for some reason it's automatically planted me in the middle of a field in Paris!?  I'm just trying to work out how to put in my co-ordinates.  But will definitley get looking, learning & understanding, before even considering trying to photograph anything :)


 


Thank you to you too Kim for your kind offer too.


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If you hover your mouse to the left of the screen in stellarium a little toolbar appears vertically up the left hand side. The top icon (looks like a compass) is the location button and if you click it you can add the latitude and longitude coordinates for your location. You can get these off google earth/maps for your address :)

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It'll still come up with Paris next time unless you also save your settings in the Config screen which is a little further down the vertical pop up toolbar (with a spanner on it). The first screen has a "Save Settings" button. :)


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Hello


as someone in the same boat as you i thought i would tell how i am getting on with my basic kit (8.5 x 44 binoculors & and old star chart book from the library + sturdy tripod)


i was really unsure as to just how much i would be able to see, because of the street lamps where i live and a complete lack of knowledge but a lot of interest, firstly, be warm above anything else!, give yourself enough time for your eyes to adjust, (look for a "Dark corner" in your garden as i have done, it does make a difference after a few minutes) I have managed to get some wonderful views of the craters on the moon and just to spend some time trying figure out where things are in the night sky is good fun if completely baffling at times (small torch with red cover on is handy for looking in the book).


Keep at it, its worth it and look forward to the warmer evenings (ever the optimist)


Rick


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"Keep at it, its worth it and look forward to the warmer evenings (ever the optimist)"


 


Warm evenings means summer is on the way, summer means it gets darker later and later in the eveing (to a point when there is no astronomical twilight) :(


 


 


Summer not good, winter good!

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