Upgrading my mount ... and everything else
I’ve been out of the astrophotography hobby for a while now, but I think I’m ready to jump back in. Up until now I’ve had pretty good luck using a DLSR on my C8-SGT. I’m looking at upgrading all this equipment with the intent of trying my hand at narrowband imaging to combat the less-than-dark skies I find myself in now.
The basic setup I’m looking at is a new mount (the root of the question to come), a 4” class APO (perhaps the Stellarvue SVR102T-25) and an STF-8300 CCD with the autoguiding package.
So … the first step in this upgrade will by my mount. The CG-5 has worked OK, but I know I won’t be able to get the longer exposures needed for narrowband imaging. My primary complaint with this mount has been very poor tracking in lower temperatures (almost worthless once the temp drops below about 20F) and poor DEC autoguiding.
I’m currently going back on forth on the CGEM and the Atlas. I am aware of the issues the CGEM has had (including the DEC cogging issues … has it been fixed?), but I’m unfamiliar with the Atlas interface or any of the quirks that it may have. One of the great successes I’ve had with the CG-5 has been the polar alignment routine. I can run through a 2-star alignment (followed up with 4 calibrations stars) and a computer assisted polar alignment and be close enough to get 5 minute exposers at 1200mm with no star trailing. Simple and effective. The ability to continue this routine is really pushing me toward the CGEM. Does the Atlas have a similar polar alignment routine that is even close to as accurate and easy?
I know … I know … I need to be doing drift alignment. I realize this will be required as I push to 10 and 20 minute subs, but I would like the process to be as easy as possible.
Any comments on either the CGEM or the Atlas would be greatly appreciated. I would especially love to hear whether the CGEM DEC cogging issues has been resolved (the last comment I can find on a pending firmware update was 6 months ago). I’m also completely open to other mount recommendations, but please keep in mind that I need to keep budge in mind.