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Hi All!

Started by RichardL, Mar 29, 2021, 22:00:33

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Hi All,

After a hiatus of 2-3 years, I've emailed member enquiries to renew my membership. Whilst I was only active for a short period back in 2018, it was great to meet some some like minded individuals, and I look forward to doing so again.

To date, I've primarily focused on night-sky photography, and deep space via remote imaging services such as iTelescope.net, and Chilescope - once my membership has been reviewed/renewed I'll post a few images here, however if you're on Instagram, feel free to drop by! @clearskyphotography

I'm now ready to take it to the next level, and have started looking at telescopes... primarily for astrophotography; close-ups of Moon features, planetary, and some deep-sky. My budget is limited, and what with all the peripherals (coma, correctors, collimators, and guide scopes etc), I've been looking at the following scopes; Sky Watcher Explorere 200pds (HEQ5 Pro), Celestron NetStar 8SE, and Bresser NT203-1000. I'd be keen to here from anyone who has/ or has knowledge of intermediate scopes in this range, and can offer critique or other suggestions.

I'm also open to second-hand scopes; is there a "free ads" on this site? Or, if anyone has suggestions on where I may look, they'd all be gratefully received.

Wishing you all clear skies!




Welcome Back Richard!
Hopefully we will all meet up again soon.
www.astrobuysell.com/uk/ is the place for all things secondhand astronomically.  The occasional item comes up on ebay.  I'm not a good source of advice on this, as I spent many years skimping on the basics and many nights in frustration trying to get kit to work as a result.
However; your first purchase (and the basis of your system) should be your mount; and that is where you need to budget the majority of your spend! - knowing what I know now I would say; buy the best you can possibly afford. 
In my opinion; the HEQ5 Pro is the only mount you have listed that could possibly give decent results (and only then if you happen to get a good one - I have a crap one).  If I were starting out again I would look at the iOptron CEM26-EC (I currently run an EQ6R-Pro - but I'm not happy with it).  PE and capacity should be your concern, but others more knowledgeable than I will add their suggestions I'm sure...
Synta mount, a bunch of telescopes and a shed (on wheels).


Welcome Richard !

Choose the kit wisely and there is far less likelyhood of frustration.  As Noel has mentioned get a good telescope mount and that is one less concern to worry about.  I think it really depends on your budget as to what you can go for.  Currently I see secondhand market prices being a bit inflated since, with the lack of manufacturing due to covid, there is a bit of a dearth of kit generally.

You seem to know roughly what you want to achieve so it's really down to budget.

We will try to make your entry into Astrophotography as smooth as we can.

Best wishes


Hi Richard,

I remember you, you did those fantastic Milky way over Bough Beech and noctilucent cloud images that were chosen for the 2019 OAS Calendar, plus I seem to recall a great one at St Michael's Mount, then you subsequently left the society which was a shame.  So really glad to see you back again.

Glad to hear you are planning on getting further into imaging and sensibly asking for advice.

I am an imager as you may recall, though not particularly technical, but Noel and Robert are right, the mount is the most important item, it doesn't matter how good your camera and scope is if the mount is not up to the job. 

As regards a telescope.  I am not so good to advise you on scopes for "close ups" and "Planetary", but I can tell you that a 200PDS whilst an excellent scope is not really suitable on an HEQ5.  I know the manufacturers often advertise the two together, but this is really only suitable for Visual as the 200PDS will act like a wind sail and the HEQ5 is not really sturdy enough for such a big scope for imaging.  With the 200PDS you need a heavier mount such as the more expensive NEQ6.  I had a 130PDS scope for a while and it was a pretty good all rounder and that worked well on the HEQ5 and even cheaper than the 200PDS.  Bit small for planets though not impossible.  To be honest I think a separate scope for planets would be best as it is difficult to do everything with one scope.

But my recommendation given your budget is an HEQ5 with either a refractor or a 130PDS, or 150PDS and yes you are right to choose the PDS version which is adapted for photography.  Then maybe a different scope for planetary. 

Celestron NetStar 8SE (I presume you meant Nexstar rather than Netstar), this might be OK for planetary, but the focal ratio @ F10 is too slow for Deep sky imaging and I certainly wouldn't advise the mount it normally comes on, not suitable at all for Deep sky imaging.

Bresser NT203-1000 - I am not familiar with this scope although the specs look OK, but best ask others about this one.

Finally to say, you were asking for 2nd hand scopes.  I have my Skywatcher ED120 currently up for sale for £750 but would reduce for OAS members, however I am not sure this will be in your budget, though I did do close ups and some planetary with it at one time though i wasn't very good at it.  It was my mainstay at one time, and it's been a hard decision to sell it, but with several other scopes it hardly gets used these days.  Still keep wondering if I will regret selling it.

Hopefully you can get further advice from other members.

Welcome back.



Hi Richard ~ yes, welcome back!

I see you have been seduced by the dark side of astrophotography!  Well, as you are already reading, we have a wealth of knowledge here in the society and it will all be good advice.

Be sure to join both our Zoom on-line meetings when and if you can.   Our observing session evening dates have become a social chat evening and the Society Evening dates are as normal as possible just on Zoom.  Various speakers are lined up for all of 2021.

Look forward to seeing you in person when we can?

Clear skies



Thanks Noel,

Hopefully it won't be too long before we can all meet in person! Thanks for the link to Astro buy & sell, I'll definitely take a look.
It's good advice regarding the mount, I had heard previously that as a minimum one should consider a HEQ5, or equivalent. The iOptron CEM26-EC looks nice, but possibly out of my reach at the moment...



Thanks Robert,

Telescope House have been really helpful, but the more I delve the more expensive it gets! I can well believe everything is inflated, as they also told me that there are pretty much no Skywatcher telescopes or mounts in Europe - though will be back in stock in a few months. And it seems a similar story for the Bresser NT203s that they also recommended.



Thanks Carole,

I'm intending to head back to St Michaels Mount this year, though only for one night, so hope its a clear one!
I've not worked my way through the whole of the gallery yet, but the versions of the Rosette Nebula you posted are fantastic, and as for the one of Barnard's Loop, and M78 that's just incredible! Having owned the Samyang 12mm, and 24mm, I've been tempted by the 135mm, but didn't realize you could connect it to a dedicated astro-camera, is it easy to do?

Thanks for your sharing your insights, the more I know the more confused I become! I did indeed read (after I posted) that the Sky Watcher Explorer 200pds could act as a wind-sail, and that you'd typically throw away many of your images! Though I guess I really need to decide whether I go for planetary or deep space, as it seems I can't have both (or at least in my price range!). I also received a recommend to go for a refractor rather than a Newtonian.... so many decisions!

I'm not familiar with the Skywatcher ED120, but will definitely look into it!



Thanks Hugh,

Its a fascinating pastime! Looking forward to meeting up remotely /in person! I've not heard back from membership yet, but will follow-up later in the week.



Thanks for your comments on my recent imaging Richard. 

QuoteHaving owned the Samyang 12mm, and 24mm, I've been tempted by the 135mm, but didn't realize you could connect it to a dedicated astro-camera, is it easy to do?

It is not that easy, there are a couple of options.  One of the members on Stargazers lounge has created an adapter that you can fit on the back of the Samyang 135MM lens in place of the bayonet and this probably gives more flexibility and security in particular with regard spacing.  I however did not want to remove the bayonet in case I wanted to use the Samyang with the DSLR at some point, and so I purchased a ZWO adapter from Bern at modern Astronomy.  When put together with the Filterwheel there is absolutely no room for tweaking spacing and my point of focus is right at the very end of the focuser, a fraction of a mm more and I would not be able to get focus. 

Then I needed a way of mounting it on my mount as no DSLR mounting screw with a CCD camera, and some-one told me about Astrokraken 3D printed mounting rings, which are great.  However I had an accident with the camera and filterwheel one day which got caught on the scope cover and rotated so that it unwound and the camera and filterwheel crashed to the floor.  Luckily no damage done but my heart was in my mouth until later than evening when I could test it out.  So I had an extra Astrokraken ring made so it now has 3 rings instead of 2 and holds the camera on securely.

As regards my Skywatcher ED120 I attach some pictures.  My only complaint about it is that is long and causes me problems if I image near the Zenith as the rear end will clash with the tripod/pier, otherwise it's a great scope.

Some pictures attached. (The splodge is sticky tape residue which has been removed since the photo).

There are a couple of marks on the tube from when I must have fitted some tubes rings in the past.

I also have a smaller chip Mono CCD camera for sale if you were interested.



Carole, I wouldn't put the 120ED on anything less than than an NEQ6 - putting it on an HEQ5 is asking for trouble in my opinion.  I would go for a much more mount tolerant (shorter) scope.

As an alternative to the Astrokraken I would suggest Astrojolo (https://shop.astrojolo.com/product/rings-for-samyang-135-f-2-lens/).  He has just made me a set for my 135mm, can adapt for whatever camera you decide to buy and is a bit more reasonable cost wise.


Yes l agree with you about a shorter refractor being better for a beginner and probably about the mount too but l did used to use the ED120 quite regularly on my HEQ5 with no problems except for the pier clash at the Zenith.

Good to know there are other cheaper options out there for mounting the Samyang 135mm lens, yes it wasn't particularly cheap.



Thanks Carole for the insight, really appreciated! I'll hold off buying yet another lens for now, as I focus on a scope, but will likely look at it for a future project!

Out of interest which CCD is it you're selling?



Hi Richard

Just to confirm that your email enquiry has just come through.  I'm sure that Andrew (our Chair and Membership Sec) will progress soonest.

Clear skies



Quotewhich CCD is it you're selling?

It's an Atik428EX Mono CCD camera.