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Showing content with the highest reputation since 09/10/19 in Posts

  1. 32 points
    Another one from an enjoyable fortnight with our guest Paul Kummer, though this uses a previous dataset as well. The increase in data does allow some little advantages to be teased out even though the first set was pretty good. Here we have around 7 hours of luminance and three hours per colour. There's no NB in this. It's full size here with the 0.9"PP of the TEC/Atik 460 used for luminance and cropped heavily. Dual TEC140, Mesu 200, Atik 460, Moravian 8300. Rig co-owned by myself, Tom O'Donoghue and Mr and Mrs Gnomus. Olly
  2. 15 points
    The new Ikarus Imaging website is built and populated The paint is still a little wet in places but the products and brands from Ian King Imaging have been moved to the new website and the man himself is sat by his phone taking calls and responding to emails, just like always. Email. info@ikarusimaging.com Tel. 01392 791001‬ Why have we (Ian and I) done this? A few have asked us this question and a number of rumours are circulating so I want to take this opportunity to explain: Ian and I have known each other for over a decade. We have of course routinely discussed business and astro retail. In particular we recognised and understood the difference between our two companies, FLO and IKI, and the customers they serve. FLO focuses on a mix of products for astronomy (visual and imaging) and communicates via email and SGL. At Ian King Imaging, Ian focused exclusively on high-end equipment for astrophotography, communicated largely by phone and attended events. Over the years we, both of us, worked to maintain this difference. We believe doing so has contributed to our individual business success. FLO grew to become the UK's largest astronomy retailer and Ian King Imaging the most trusted source for high end equipment for astrophotography. Then, about three years ago, Ian mentioned how he missed being part of a team (prior to FLO & IKI he worked at Telescope House). Running a business single-handed is especially challenging. It can be a lonely experience! Needless to say I offered him a place at FLO whenever he wanted it. Earlier this year he accepted and we began making plans. The challenge, we agreed, was how to integrate Ian's business with FLO's without it adversely affecting the customers we individually serve. I was confident FLO's customers would welcome the change but was concerned some of Ian's might not. They might, I feared, think we would dilute Ian's high-end product range and make it difficult for them to speak with him via phone. After several conversations (always at Ian's favourite curry house!) we concluded we would build a new website (Ian King Imaging was due an update anyway) fill it with the same high-end astrophotography products and change as little as possible. So here we are... Like Ian King Imaging, Ikarus Imaging focuses entirely on astrophotography. It has a layout similar to FLO's because it is plugged into FLO's inventory system (FLO handles IT & logistics). Otherwise it is a standalone website managed by Ian King. From Ian and I, a huge thank-you to all the IKI customers who have already made the move to Ikarus Imaging and trusted us with their orders. Thank-you also to our manufacturers and suppliers who, without exception, welcomed this change and have worked with us to ensure continuity of supply. Best wishes, Annette, Grant, Ian, James, Katie, Lisa, Martin, Rob & Steve
  3. 12 points
    PST prominences Oct. 8. Clear skies !
  4. 10 points
    TS130 f6.6 G3-16300 Riccardi APO Reducer und Korrektor 0,75x SkyEye Observatory 70x300 L 40x300 R 40x300 G 40x300 B
  5. 10 points
    Due to one thing and another I’ve not had time to do more than unpack the packages that this kit came in from First Light Optics and this evening bolt a few bits together. Lots of boxes = lots of FLO’s “May Contain Clouds” stickers and, my gosh, that has proved to be the case so I’ve not been able to actually use this handsome new mount, yet. I must emphasise that the mount that I have been sent is a pre-production unit. The final item may vary in some details from the one that I picture and describe here and in my other reports. My very early impressions of the pre-production AZ100 are: - The AZ100 is significantly larger than both the Skytee II and the Giro Ercole. The pictures don’t really show how much difference there is but the whole mount is much more massive in all respects. - A quick and crude weigh in using a spring balance showed the AZ100 at 8.5 kg with saddles and slow motion controls installed. My Skytee II was at 5.2 kg and the Giro Ercole at 4 kg. - The fit and finish of the AZ100 is excellent. Everything fits together precisely and is machined to a really high standard. Both axes move very smoothly and are consistent in their feel. No sloppiness or jerkiness, just smooth progression around the axis. There are tension knobs on both axes which apply gradual and finely controllable tension. At full tension an axis is firmly locked but a quick twist of the knob and you have movement again. - The slow motion movement is likewise very smooth indeed. I could not detact any obvious backlash when I reversed the direction of travel but I was not looking though the scope at high power of course ! The slow motion control cables and knobs are high quality units and fasten to the worm shaft with 2 grub screws. On this pre-production version of the mount the end of the worm housing opposite the slow motion cable is open but I wonder if a rubber or plastic cover (removable for adjustment) might be a good idea on the final version of the mount ? - The Losmandy-type dovetail clamps incorporate 2 individually tensioned clamps on one side of the jaw with chamfered tips so that the dovetail bar is pressed back against the plate assembly as well as down into the fixed groove on the other side of the clamp jaw. Very secure, that seemed to me. - The knobs on the dovetail clamps and those that control the axis tension are excellent quality with a 5 star shape to give grip. I do wonder if they might benefit from being a little larger though, to help positive operation with gloved hands ? - I have unpacked the counterweight shaft and 5.2 kg counterweight and include a photo of those but I’ve not fitted them to the mount yet. The current design requires that one of the dovetail clamps is removed and the dovetail bar bolted on (4 bolts) in it’s place. The dovetail bar is 25mm in diameter, 28cm in length and it and the stainless steel counterweight are finished to the same high standard as the rest of the AZ100 mount. - My 130mm F/9.2 triplet refractor fitted onto the AZ100 easily and seemed to be very securely held in place. This telescope is 1.35 metres in length and weighs 9.9kg including the tube rings, dovetail bar, diagonal and finder. The true test of the mount will be it’s ability to hold this scope steadily at high magnifications when viewing the night sky ! - First Light Optics have also supplied me with a Nexus DSC Digital Setting Circle unit and a suitable power pack but I’ve yet to fit that to the mount. The encoders for this are already installed in the mount body. - Both the tripods pictured are the Berlebach Uni 28. Mine is the slightly darker coloured one with single leg clamps and an HEQ5 fitting. First Light Optics have provided an EQ6 compatible version of the tripod which is fitted with double clamps on each leg. The AZ100 mount fitted snugly and securely straight onto the EQ6 hub. - The combined weight of the Berlebach Uni 28 tripod and the AZ100 mount head is around 18kg. It is a well balanced combination though so I can move the mount and tripod setup around without too much trouble. With the 130mm refractor on board, it becomes somewhat more of a challenge but I think moving the whole setup short, level distances (ie: a couple of metres) is likely to be feasible with care. I apologise for the rather hastily taken photos that follow, taken in the rather messy setting of a dining room which is currently being re-wired and re-decorated completely. I’ve included the Skytee II and Ercole Giro in a couple of the photos to give an idea of the comparative sizes of these mount heads. More to come in due course including experience under the stars, hopefully in the not too distant future ! Many thanks to the folks at First Light Optics and Rowan Astronomy for allowing me to try this pre-production version of the AZ100. It seems to be a very impressive piece of kit with excellent attention to detail and a very high standard of fit and finish. Meanwhile outside, the rain pours down tonight so have a look at some pictures
  6. 9 points
    Three hours of Ha (3nm) and one hour each of RGB. All Astrodon filters HaRGB with 1x1 binning. Samyang 135mm lens with G2-8300 camera, guided. Everything five minute exposures. Processed with Pixinmsght to the RGB and Ha Masters and then Photoshop. Blended Ha and RGB with tone mapping RGB Ha (3nm)
  7. 9 points
    Hi here (as the title suggests) is my first attempt at an lrgb version of one of my favourite dso’s Its a compilation of a few short exposures with a mono Atik460 through my rev Astro ed100. About 8 x 4min per channel, stacked in dss and tweaked in ps and ps express on my phone after! Cheers Bryan
  8. 7 points
    None of mine are serious - its a hobby for me and I do it for fun So Peter is probably right in that respect - it depends on the approach and attitude of the owner rather than the scope. When a look back at all the years of observing that I've done though, it's when I've been using my larger aperture scopes that I've been able to go deeper, look futher and see things that I otherwise would have found harder or not been able to see at all. So I guess currently my 12 inch dob is the nearest I have to a "serious" scope despite my lovely (and somewhat more expensive !) refractors.
  9. 6 points
    Swan Nebula (M17) in bi-colour HOO. I took this in the summer, but it's taken me a while to process it - various other hobbies and a nasty bout of flu got in the way ! Please click through for hi-res And an upsampled detail in Ha monochrome: 17 each x 10min Ha and OIII, darks, flats and bias, equipment as per sig, processed in Pixinsight, taken in a dark sky sight in Spain. The Swan Nebula, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Horseshoe Nebula (M17) is an H II region in the constellation Sagittarius. It is located in the rich starfields of the Sagittarius area of the Milky Way. The Swan Nebula is between 5,000 and 6,000 light-years from Earth and it spans some 15 light-years in diameter. The cloud of interstellar matter of which this nebula is a part is roughly 40 light-years in diameter and has a mass of 30,000 solar masses. The total mass of the Swan Nebula is an estimated 800 solar masses. It is considered one of the brightest and most massive star-forming regions of our galaxy. Its local geometry is similar to the Orion Nebula except that it is viewed edge-on rather than face-on. The open cluster NGC 6618 lies embedded in the nebulosity and causes the gases of the nebula to shine due to radiation from these hot, young stars. It is also one of the youngest clusters known, with an age of just 1 million years. For comparison, here's my previous attempt, taken with a modded DSLR: Hope you like it, comments and CC welcome ! Stuart
  10. 6 points
    Hi all, This is my third Uranus capture this season. I am much happier with this result. The seeing helped a lot and the sky quality was favorable. This image is the result of 5 de-rotated videos on Winjupos, all captured with IR742 filter. The result was used as luminance in the composition. RGB came from a normal color capture. Following the images of other friends, we can notice the atmospheric activity on the planet. It seems to be changing every week. Many changes can still happen until the opposition. Lucas Magalhaes
  11. 6 points
    This, without doubt. However, I know what John means, below, ... but I've always taken my pleasures seriously. (Why give precedence to your woes???) When the great cyclist Ray Booty's 'straight out hundred' record was under attack for the first time in over thirty years he was asked if he could remember much about the bike he used for his record. He said something like, 'Yes, quite a lot, I rode to work on it this morning.' That's a serious bike! Olly
  12. 5 points
    Hi, A short announcement for those using SGP and wishes to more closely follow/analyse the autofocus routine after a nights worth of imaging. Since a few months I've been publishing a Autofocus Logviewer that opens SGP logfiles and presents graphics of the AF runs logged in the file. The program can also extract temperature shifts of the focus position from the logfile. If you are interested, here is the SGP forum thread: http://forum.mainsequencesoftware.com/t/sgp-autofocus-logviewer/ The latest software version can be found here: https://sourceforge.net/projects/sgp-autofocus-logviewer/ Having read and learned a lot from this forum during the years, I hope to make a small contribution. Cheers, Mikael
  13. 5 points
    Yes, yes, yes a Baader Steeltrack refractor focuser does fit. I borrowed the Baader Steeltrack from Big Red and test fitted it. With the stock focuser using the 2” spacer is recommended but as the Steeltrack has nearly twice the focus travel only the 1” spacer would be needed. The Baader refractor adapter has the same 90mm x 0.1 thread so was a straight screw on. Without the spacer the drawtube was just a few mm too long. The stock focuser is certainly adequate but doesn’t compare with the Steeltrack. Think I will be looking round for a second hand.Steeltrack. Don’t you wish a refractor focuser would fit you mak or sct.
  14. 4 points
    I just received a new focuser for my APM 80 mm triplet, to replace the standard Crayford. The Crayford was OK, but a bit too long to let my cameras come to focus with the 0.6x focal reducer. The new one can handle a much larger load (5 kg), and is 25 mm shorter. It really feels better made than the old one. It also allows easy attachment of a motor focus unit. My filter-switch diagonal should now also reach focus with the new set-up. I will now see if I can adapt the old one to the ST80. As expected, clouds, wind, and rain accompany the arrival of the focuser.
  15. 4 points
    I bought the ZWO 1600MM Pro with 1.25" Filter-wheel, LRGB filters, and Narrowband filters now.. Please dont tell my girlfriend. As a bandage on the wound: My friend is 3D-printing a Bahtinov-mask for free ($1800 used - $20 saved :)
  16. 4 points
    I'm likely most relaxed with my 4" Tak. Does that count as a serious scope? I don't know, seriously enjoyable I guess. Any scope with good optical quality is a serious scope as far as I'm concerned. I had just as much fun with my 72mm apo as with my 350mm dob when down in Wales and felt the observations were of equal value, giving different perspectives of the same objects.
  17. 4 points
    Yep the ALPY guiding module is a must but the calibration module is a nice to have. The spectrograph is very stable so you can calibrate using known lines in a reference star, even the sun using the daylight sky and halogen lamp waved in front of the telescope is good enough for a spectroscopic flat. More on the development of the UVEX here. http://www.spectro-aras.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=45 Deigned by world leading amateur spectroscopist Christian Buil, it was principally designed to extend the range of amateurs spectroscopy into the UV but the the performance has proved to be impressive across the full visible spectrum. It is not quite fully developed yet (I think it is awaiting finalisation of the guider/calibration module, otherwise you need to use the one from the ALPY) and alignment is critical and tricky. I can see this being a commercially produced instrument at some stage though. The lowspec is a very conventional design and might be more straightforward for someone new to spectroscopy. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2455390 Cheers Robin
  18. 3 points
  19. 3 points
    Haha. Not sure of the obby name yet, I am expected to form an astronomy club and need to be careful not to upset my neighbours... When ordered, the difference between the Pulsar and Scopedome was around a thousand pounds, but it all depends on the exchange rate. Plus, being in Europe already, carriage costs were better - it really hurts costs to cover the channel crossing so my advantage would become a disadvantage in the UK... I also get torrential rain here and not a single drop of water gets into the dome, so happy with the weather proofing. I have no axe to grind with the Pulsar, it was actually a close call between the two but the shutter width was the winning feature for me. Having purchased the Scopedomes, for sure, they are very well engineered and pre-assembly in the factory before shipping makes sure they will fit together quickly and easily on site. The only thing to be aware of is the flat and level base requirement. Less than 1mm on flatness and 0.5 degrees on level. The brick construction was done slowly and levelled carefully as we go and the occasional use of a grinder to take out any high spots made assembly easy. I am sure the same care and attention applied to a Pulsar would also pay dividends. (Please don't hate me, Pulsar owners !!) Gordon.
  20. 3 points
    More tree pruning today by next door neighbour, southern horizon looking better, having spent the last few months trying to catch Jupiter and Saturn between gaps in the trees. Dave
  21. 3 points
    I managed to see Triton last night with Neptune just a few degrees away from the nearly full moon. I hadn't really set out to see it, I was mainly observing Jupiter and Saturn, but as they were disappearing behind the trees to the west Neptune was clearing the tree tops above my head so I thought I'd have a look. I used the Baader zoom to centre Neptune in the EP and then put in my new TV 3-6mm zoom. First on 6mm (250x) with no sign of Triton I took it right up to 3mm (500x) and there it was! Very, very faint, almost at the limit of my 12 inch SW Dob, but very definitely there just at 2o'clock to the grey/green planet and mostly with averted vision. Amazing really, as there was considerable glare from the adjacent moon, I think in a dark sky I could aee it fairly easily on a good night. Go away Moon!
  22. 3 points
    There's an almost endless banquet of telescopes available to the amateur today, and this may at times create some confusion for a newcomer to the hobby. So without going into all the intricate differences in designs and capabilities of every telescope, I was wondering what you would consider to be a "serious telescope"? For me, I've have some amazing times at the eyepiece of a 3" refractor and a 4.5" reflector, so on a personal level, I could play quite merrily with scopes of this aperture and not get fed up. Where does your heart lie and why?
  23. 3 points
    Keep the scope and learn to do everything manually. Its worth the effort. Rob
  24. 3 points
    I can now reveal Star B is 2MASS J19095965+0437597, a previously unknown variable, co-discovered with Adam Nowak https://www.aavso.org/vsx/index.php?view=detail.top&oid=1498835 Note the brightness of this star at ~mag 19 g which would make it by far the faintest object recorded spectroscopically using amateur equipment. This is a bit of a cheat though as my spectrum mainly covers the R and I bands where the star is significantly brighter (This is an M6 star, further reddened significantly by the interstellar medium, which explains its presence in the 2MASS catalogue of objects detectable in the IR at 2 microns. Cheers Robin
  25. 3 points
    You are very welcome to come back anytime, just remember to bring your work clothes too !!! (haha) But a serious thank you for coming over to help. Marvin brought his petrol driven auger to cut the holes for the fence posts.. Didn't touch the hard clay and stones that counts for "soil" here. Luckily he also brought his big concrete breaker and every hole was dug out the hard way. Should have only needed one day, but took two. Since then, I have filled in the perimeter with more gravel, around a tonne down and still a lot more to do.... My two sons are visiting next week and if all goes well, hoping for first light if the clouds (and moon) don't mess everything up... Gordon.
  26. 3 points
    Thank-you Also, we have learned the encoders will be made available separately so those who purchase an AZ100 mount-only (without encoders) can later add encoders. However, at this stage Rowan recommend they are fitted by Rob in our workshop or by themselves at theirs to ensure they are properly fitted and working 100%. We will post details at our website soon.
  27. 3 points
    I have a triple pulley block hoist to lift my 7" refractor onto its mounting. Does that count?
  28. 3 points
    AG Optical Convergent FA14 Moravian G3-16200 Mount:10 Micron GM2000 HPS II Astrodon B 50mm: 10x600" bin 1x1 Astrodon G 50mm: 10x600" bin 1x1 Astrodon L 50mm: 39x600" bin 1x1 Astrodon R 50mm: 10x600" bin 1x1 SkyEye Obsevatory
  29. 3 points
    The reason it works is based on 3D geometry. If you platesolve images which are separated by a move of the mount's RA axis only (i.e. no move in Dec between images), you can work out exactly where on the celestial sphere your RA axis is pointing, because it is the centre of rotation between the platesolved images. It works best if you take 3 images because this gives three points to work with and any 3 non-colinear points in space define the circumference of a circle. The centre of that circle gives the pointing coordinates of the mount's RA axis. It can also work with 2 images, because it's a reasonable approximation to use the midpoint of the 2 images as the third point for calculating the circle. I have used this method myself using an Excel spreadsheet to calculate the PAE, and then using APT's GOTO++ function to point to a position offset from a suitable alignment star by the amount of Polar Alignment Error. It is then a matter of adjusting Alt-Az bolts to centre the alignment star. On my last test, this gave me a calculated PAE (using my spreadsheet) of <2 arcminutes. This was confirmed by running the Guiding Assistant in PHD2, which also reported <2 arcminutes error. My reason for developing the spreadsheet for this approach is that I use an OAG on my Edge HD8, and I image with a DSLR. Sharpcap's polar alignment tool needs a larger FOV than I get on my guide camera, and it doesn't work with DSLR live view. I'd be happy to share my spreadsheet if it's of interest to anyone. Graeme
  30. 3 points
    A serious scope? I have never met a serious or otherwise telescope to date In a serious (get it) note. A scope that you are happy to use on a mount you are happy to use, is a serious scope. Be it a 60/80mm or an 8", it does not matter. And as @Peter Drew noted, the astronomer provides the seriousness or not.
  31. 3 points
    Another in the "where is this feature" series. Periodically I post a crop of an image I have taken with a challenge of identifying the DSO. many times the feature appears like an animal. this giraffe caught me by surprise. I have seen it a number of times and each time I can't quite decide what it looks like. Now it seems quite clear to me. Another member of the heavenly zoo. Pardon the deficits of the image--this is a monster crop (TOA 130 and ASI 1600) Olly--this is a good example of the forum displaying a crop at a much larger than scale than in the original image.. Rodd
  32. 3 points
    Yes it is very important that the calibration passes through zero at the zero order otherwise you cannot use it to calibrate other stars where the wavelength of the lines will not generally be known. This may be at the expense of precise alignment of other lines but this is less important Cheers Robin
  33. 3 points
    Captured in late August / early September. Should be viewed in full resolution. :) Gear used: AA Hypercam 1600m on a SW 80 ED Pro with matching .85 reduccer and upgraded SW focuser. Baader 7nm H-alpha and Baader 8.5nm Oiii filters. EQ6 Pro with rail upgrade. ZWO 60mm Guide scope with AA Hypercam 183m V2 camera. Software used: N.I.N.A. for planning, control and acquisition. PHD2 Guiding, Sharpcap polar alignment. Astro Pixel Processor for Calibration and stacking, PixInsight for post processing and Photoshop for watermark. Post processing workflow: Both master aligned in PI and Cropped for same FOV. Ha-master: DBE for removal of LP gradients. Deconvolution with starmarsk Linear noise reduction using various masks and TGVDenoise + MMT. Oiii-master: DBE for removal of LP gradients. Stars removed using Starnet++ and Clonestamp. Heavy noise reduction with MMT Blur with convolution Combination and non-linear: LinearFit Oiii master to Ha-master Linear combination of masters using SHO-AIP script to create RGB-master for tonemapping. Created "super lum" with 80/20 split of Ha and Oiii masters. Combination of curves and Histogram transformation for stretching both masters. Many uses of curves to get colors i like, saturation, etc on RGB-master. SCNR to remove excess green in RGB-master. LHE and Curves on super lum for better contrast. Extract luminance from RGB-master and LinearFit to super lum. Combine RGB-master with super lum using LRGB combination for a LRGB-master. A round of curves for better contrast and colors on final LRGB-master. Final round of noise reduction on LRGB-master using TGVDenoise. Save as JPG and create watermark in Photoshop.
  34. 3 points
  35. 3 points
    thanks Dave, darn moon eh, theres no comets round here mate thay got brought out by PC world . charl.
  36. 2 points
    You honestly dont need anything more than the 50mm mate, all you will do is make it heavy and if you can keep the weight down you will have no reason to need to upgrade the heq5.
  37. 2 points
    First time my Dad lifted me up to look at the Moon. This must have been about 1970 and using his treasured 8x40 binoculars. Wonderful moment with a wonderful Dad. (RIP Dad xx). That set me off on a lifetime journey of looking up. He must have intended to keep me away from drink and drugs!
  38. 2 points
    Just over a year in and the Iroko wood has darkened alot.. almost hoped it would stay lighter than this.. but hey ho.. the grain running through, gives a fantastic contrast! Amazing how it's aged, much better than me that's for sure!
  39. 2 points
    Looks like I might have a name for the observatory now... Mind if I use the name?
  40. 2 points
    LOL, yeah. They'd have to be with me in charge! But TBH, without the wide dovetail plate, aluminium box section and OAG, it's just like any other mass produced Chinese stuff. Out of the box with a guidescope, I doubt you'd get stars like that. Cheers and clear skies
  41. 2 points
    A good 4" apo is just such a useable and enjoyable scope which does most things well. White light solar with a wedge can be amazing when skies are steady. Double stars are beautiful and clean to view, I prefer the views over the slightly fuzzy stars you tend to get with a mak. You may lose a little resolution for lunar and a bit of reach for deep sky eg clusters would open up a little better in the mak perhaps. I've tried a few maks and keep coming back to my 4".
  42. 2 points
    I've seen a few threads where people are struggling to setup the platesolving routine in Astrophotography Tool. Though people do try to offer advice on the forum, if your not IT savvy then it can be a struggle. I'm no computer guru but I'm comfortable enough to be able to navigate my way around Windows. I've recently invested in a new laptop and have installed all my astro imaging stuff onto that so while its still fresh on my mind, I've decided to do a tutorial with step by step instructions of how to setup platesolving in APT. This is quite a long post but I've added lots of screenshots to try and make it easy for the user to follow. Astrophotography Tool is a brilliant free program that can control your entire imaging session. It can control your camera, image plans, control the mount, control focus, filterwheels etc. More information and downloads can be found here: https://ideiki.com/astro/Default.aspx For this tutorial I have uninstalled all the previous software and files I've used in the past so its a fresh install from scratch again. Step 1. Open APT. On the right hand side, go to the tools tab. In here we will find the object calculator below the camera tab. In here we are going to setup the profile of your scope. Basically, you need to enter the focal length of your scope. When APT connects to your camera, it will auto detect the pixel size and sensor size and use this information along with your scope focal length to determine the field of view of the image you are trying to platesolve. Click on the button with 3 dots and select the Profile tab. Add a new Profile. Name it whatever you want. For me, I use the name of my scope, a William Optics GT71 and I input its focal length of 420mm. This is the scopes native focal length. If you are using a flattener/reducer, then you would need to put in the equivalent focal length if using a reducer. Example, I own two flatteners. One is the Hotech SCA flattener. This doesnt reduce the focal length so my first profile with the native focal length is ok. If I am using my WO Flat6A II flattener, this reduces the focal length by 0.8 effectively makng the focal length 336mm and increasing the field of view(FOV). So I add both profiles. You may only work with one focal length or you may have an array of scopes, flatteners and focal lenghts. Now is the time to put them into their relevant profiles. Step 2. With the correct focal lengths saved in their profiles, now we are going to download the add-ons and catalogues needed for platesolving. Highlight the Gear tab. Click on Point Craft. You could also take a moment to read the short summary by hovering the cursor over the Point Craft button. At the bottom of the Point Craft box is the setting tab. Clicking Setting opens up the box where we need to enter the directory paths to the add-ons. Simply put, APT doesnt platesolve the the image itself, it 'asks' another program to do this. The add-on programs in question are Plate Solve 2 (PS2) and All Sky Plate Solver (ASPS). In the settings box are the links to the software, also free, and the catalogues they use to platesolve your image. Internet connection is required for the next part. If your PC or laptop lives in an observatory with no access to the internet, or you simply refuse to let it connect to the internet for fear of windows updates, you could use another PC to download onto a USB stick and then transfer to your imaging PC. Lets start with Plate Solve 2. Click on the Download PlateSolve 2 button. This will open your browser and direct you to the Planewave website where we will download PS2 and the catalogues. Scroll down the page to PS2 and download PS2, APM catalogue and the UCAC3 catalogue. Save the files to a memorable location. If, like me you use Firefox, downloads are saved to the Downloads folder. We now need to put the catalogues somewhere where they will be easy to find later. I actually choose to put all the platesolving software and catalogues into the same folder where APT stores its images. So I create a new folder and call it PlateSolve 2.28 in the APT_Images folder on my C drive. You can of course save to anywhere but the key is to remember where! Your UCACS3 catalogue will be in a zipped folder. You will need to extract the files. Right click, and extract to your chosen folder. In my case, the new PlateSolve 2.28 folder in APT_Images. This should create a new subfolder populated with UC3 files as below. This is the main directory I use with PS2 so you could skip the APM catalogue, though I personally choose to install it anyway. Navigate back to your downloads location and open the APM Catalogue installer. Follow the intial prompts and when you get to the Select Destination Location window, you could let it install at its own location, or like me, you could save to the same folder as the UCACS3 directory. The choice is yours, just remember all these locations! If you've followed my example, your single platesolving folder should have 2 directories now installed. For the rest of the tutorial, I'm going to assume you've followed my lead and installed everything to the one folder. Now, go back to your downloads location, right click the PlateSolve2.28 zipped file and extract it to the platesolving folder. In hindsight, I've possibly made a confusing error here as I've called my platesolving folder the same as the new sub folder containing PS2! No matter, as it will still work! Step3. Configuring the Plate Solve 2 add-on. Open the subfolder we have just extracted containing the PS2 application and double click on the icon. Click on File and then Configure Catalogue Directories. The next window will show the status for both directories as not found. Click on each of these and navigate to the platesolving folder and select the relevant directory folder for each. The status for both should now read OK. Now go to edit parameters. Make sure the UCACS3 directory is selected. The rest of the default settings can work ok but I have had issues with these. I found a tip on another forum somewhere and it was recommended to change the minimum and maximum star sizes. I double each value. 12 for max star size and 6 for minimum star size. The rest of the settings dont need altering. You can enter your location settings at the bottom but i dont think this matters. Now, lets see if it works! As you can see from above, I had already tried to solve an image of the Iris Nebula i took last year. It failed initially so I had to adjust the settings. It failed because the FOV is set too wide. For the Iris Nebula, I used a 600D on a 200p scope at 1000mm focal length. We change these to 1.28° x 0.85° and voila! You dont need to worry about testing it like I have above. I only done it to make sure it was working. You also dont need to worry about inputing the FOV as APT will use the profiles we have set up in Step 1 and provide PS2 with the correct FOV information. Close the application and navigate back to the Point Craft settings in APT. Click on the tab beside the PlateSolve2 path and navigate to your platesolve folder with both APM and UCACS3 directories and also the PS2 application folder. See the mistake I made by calling the platesolve folder the same as the PS2 folder. Apologies if this is confusing! Make sure you click on the actual PS2 application folder. Your directory path for PS2 is now set. Step 4. Setting up the All Sky Plate Solver. Click on the tab that says Download ASPS. This will open up your browser again and take you to the ASPS webpage. Scroll down the page to the download link and run the installer. Before you start installing ASPS, close APT as it will fail to install if its open. As with PS2, it asks to select the destination folder. Again, I choose my single confusingly named platesolve folder! Finish the installation and launch the ASPS application at the end. Go and make a cup of tea or coffee while ASPS installs the Astrometry library. When its finished downloading the below window pops up. Click Yes. The next bit is similar to the profiles section in APT except you need to know your cameras pixel size and sensor width. Start with your shortest focal length and input your camera pixel size and also the sensor width, in either number of pixels or physical dimension of the sensor. Use an internet search to find this information if you need to. Once you enter the information the application will highlight what indexes it needs to install based upon your FOV. Install the highlighted indexes. If you have only one scope or FOV then you would be done. If like me you work with another focal length, then enter this into the box and another index or indexes may become highlighted. Install these also. If you have different cameras with different pixel and chip sizes, you would need to do the same for these. For all your optical and camera configurations, install all the highlighted indexes. Click Done when finsished. Now lets do a test. I loaded an image i took a few weeks ago of M81. The application read the FITS header and asked to confirm my focal length. 30 odd seconds later and we have a result! Close the application and open up APT again. As we did with PS2, navigate back to the Point Craft settings window, click the button beside the ASPS path and navigate to the platesolve folder where the ASPS application is saved. ***If for some reason the PS2 path is empty, repeat the above for this and navigate back to where the application is saved. Click OK and we should now be all set for some testing in APT! Step 5. Hoping it all works! Lets start with loading up an image in APT from the Img tab. I'm doing this during the day or if you are actually imaging at the moment you could use a picture you have just taken. Make sure you have selected the correct focal length profile in the Tools tab. Go to Gear and press Point Craft. In the top section there are 2 options we are going to look at. Solve and Blind. Both produce the same result but they have a different method of working. Lets start with Solve. This uses PS2 to platesolve. It is typically faster than Blind but it does require you to input the approximate position of the image. In my example, I know its of the M81/M82 area. Click Objects at the top and scroll or search for M81. Or perhaps your looking for a star, so look under the stars tab. When you select your target it will populate the top boxes with the approximate position of the target we are looking for. Now click Solve with fingers crossed... Success! It solved in 7 seconds! The image centre is displayed in the centre of the window. Now, the clever bit and the real reason we want to plate solve. Lets say you had set your mount up in the home position and polar aligned. You connect to the mount via Cartes du Ciel (EQMod) and issue a command to slew to M81. Make sure you also connect to the mount in APT by selecting Connect Scope. You take a short image but in all likelyhood the result doesnt show M81 in the FOV. Well, no problem! Follow the above procedure, select M81 in the objects tab to populate the approx position and hit Solve. When the result comes in, hit Sync and if you watch the EQMod box the scope coords should change to match the same coords of the image you have just solved! Magic! Just issue another command to slew to M81 and the next image should have it in the FOV! If not repeat the process until you are happy with the pointing of your scope. Before we finish, lets not forget about the Blind function. This uses the ASPS application. Unlike Solve above, Blind doesnt need you to input the approximate position of the image prior to solving. Just load or take an image and hit Blind. It does take a little bit longer but usually gets a result withing a minute or so. If using it in the field, repeat the above, Blind, Sync, and repeat until you are happy you are on target. Just to point out, you need to start EQMod with the scope in the home position. If you manually move the mount to somewhere near your target and then start EQMod, platesolving will still work on the image but EQMod wont Sync the results if they are too far away from where it thinks the scope is pointing. Always start EQMod/Cartes du Ciel first and then issue a Goto command to your prefered target. As long as your in the viscinity with your solved image, it should Sync the mount. No more star alignments! I hope people will find this tutorial useful. Hopefully the length of this post doesnt put people off, its really a lot quicker to set up than it has took me to compile this! If you spot any mistakes, anything left out or a better way of doing things then let me know! David
  43. 2 points
    If you buy a sky atlas (Sky and Telescope do an excellent one, under £20 for the jumbo one I believe), a decent quick finder like a telrad (£40) and a free phone app like sky safari, stellarium or skyview, you can learn your way around fairly quickly without goto. Goto is good for the harder to find, smaller objects not located near any easily identifiable stars. I have goto on one scope, it's fun, fast and at times handy, but don't need it. If you have terrible light pollution, it helps I suppose. I've not been observing that long, less than a year. It's fun to navigate to objects without goto as well, though can be a little frustrating. The biggest advantage of goto if you are married is that you see more objects before your wife rings demanding you come home.
  44. 2 points
    Thanks Mick--don't sell yourself short. Many docents at museums can't paint or draw if their life depended on it--but they make excellent reviewers. Just because someone can't do a better job at whatever they are critiquing does not invalidate their critique. Music is a good example. Someone might not be able to play an instrument, but they can tell when a musician makes a mistake. Rodd
  45. 2 points
    A focal reducer would widen your field of view and reduce your pixel scale. More sky will land on each pixel. In a perfect world this would reduce the level of detail in your image but in the real world your image scale in a C9.25 is almost certain to be unreachable because tracking errors and atmospheric seeing will be the factors which limit your real captured detail. The reducer will be a big help. Many will assert that the reducer would also reduce exposure times but this is not as simple as it seems. Beware of the Hyperstar website which is misleading. 'Exposures that take an hour at F10 take mere seconds with the Hyperstar lens.' In my opinion this sentence implies that they are the same exposures - that is exposures of the same target - but they are not because a galaxy which fills the frame at F10 will be a tiny thing surrounded by stars and sky with the Hyperstar. If that's what you want, fine, but there is no free lunch. The F6.2 reducers are widely available second hand. And the idea that an F2 system can ever be 'easy' will find few takers in imaging circles. I'm agonizing over whether or not to say this but... you are about to devote a fair amount of cash to set up the C9.25 for deep sky imaging. If you later regretted this you wouldn't be the first and I've had the same regrets over a similar SCT. Modern cameras are getting smaller and smaller pixels which means that longer focal lengths are becoming unnecessary and even counter-productive in some cases. And they do make life difficult. Olly PS The reducer does not work with the Hyperstar. They are alternatives.
  46. 2 points
    Data now coming in from inside the telescope box. Humidity seems fairly stable between 65 and 70% which is a lot lower than outside the shed which ranges from 80 to 98%. I can also see when the temperature rises fastest so I plan to check the main mirror does not dew during that phase. Quite interesting actually
  47. 2 points
    Looks great John and I’m sure it’s going to be a very good scope - but I have to question that review - he/she must have been using some bad scopes when Jupiter was very high in the sky.
  48. 2 points
    Yes, but be very, very careful how you install it, taking great care to line up the rigid motor coupling with the fine focuser shaft. It can be tricky. This is the downside of a non-flexible connection.
  49. 2 points
  50. 2 points
    If you ever get the chance to visit the Natural History Museum in Vienna, it has (I believe) the world's largest collection of meteorites. I was fortunate enough to be passing through a few weeks back and came across it by chance. I don't recall whether it had samples of Sikhote Alin but it wouldn't surprise me. (The museum also has an amazing collection of rocks/minerals which is what drew me to it in the first place.)
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