I joined the South Florida Amateur Astronomer Association (SFAAA), a local astronomy club. I started asking questions about mounts and was able to buy a well-respected mount, Orion Atlas EQ-G, at a good price. I was overjoyed!
Tip#2: Find and join a local astronomy club. The members are knowledgeable and always happy to help.
I mounted the telescope, purchased a couple of eyepieces and thought that I was on my way. Boy, was I wrong. It was at this point that I discovered that my scope was designed mostly for imaging. Okay, I had a suitable Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) and took pictures of the moon. They were terrible due to two things: 1.) the scope was designed for deep space object (DSO) imaging, not lunar or planetary and 2.) the turbulence in the atmosphere made the pictures blurry.
Luckily, I discovered something called “lucky imaging” whereby you take a video of the moon or planet, choose the best frames, and combine them. My DSLR was able to do this, somewhat. I also discovered that, because of the design on the SN8, I needed to increase the magnification of the telescope beyond it’s capabilities, in order to image other planets.
Okay, my camera can be programmed to take the long exposures necessary for DSO’s (galaxies, nebulae, etc.). I added a 50mm guide scope with an Orion autoguider (SSAG). The weight capacity of the EQ-G is 40# to 45#. My whole set up weighed in at 38# so I thought I was good to go…WRONG! I didn’t know it at the time, for long exposure imaging, the weight of your set up shouldn’t be more than 50%-60% of the mount capacity. Back to the drawing board.
Tip #3: Decide what kind of imaging you want to do. Build your set up based on that decision.