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Everything posted by Welrod50

  1. Are you using the latest version of each software? I imagine that the software wont recognise the file extension yet, so your best bet might well be to convert them to Tiffs. Unless someone else has a better idea perhaps? I'm no expert
  2. More data !? Why, this is a brill capture ! Nice one
  3. That's a great image Francis - there really is so much more up there than we can usually see. With my LP even with long exposures, I can't get half that detail !
  4. I'm inclined to agree mallorcasaint . You are wrong and we are all right!
  5. Thought I would post the image just to show what is possible A grand total of three 600 sec subs at iso 800 with unmodded Pentax Kr. Stacked in DSS with master darks, flats and Bias generated previously (tiff files). Guided with the Orion Mini Autoguider package atop the 130 PDS, using the good old EQ3 Pro. The plan is to spend the next few outings capturing nothing but 600 sec subs of M101 and my aim is to process it properly when I've got a few hours worth of data - this is just 30 minutes in total. Guiding is brill, but the coma is evident (still awaiting the Baader MPCC). C & C most welcome
  6. Same here. Even though its lovely here tonight, I've given myself the night off having stayed up until 2am + for the last four nights on the trot and I am now actually knackered. Worth it though, and we will be glad we did when the rain comes back and doesn't give us clear skies for the next month!
  7. Fingers crossed!! If it helps any, I have found the Orion mini autoguider package to work very well indeed, considering the guide scope is a 50mm f160 unit. Cost me a shade over £300 from the IAS and it all works nicely. Good luck
  8. Lovely pic there Scotto. Very good for unguided 2 minute subs. If I can guide my EQ3 imagine what you will do with the EQ6 !
  9. What a stunning image. The time invested has really paid off. Well done
  10. Very good images, well done! That 60Da seems to be doing the biz.
  11. OK, update: Last night I tried altered settings as follows: RA Aggressiveness = 125 RA Hysteresis = 30 Max RA Duration = 350ms Calibration steps = 2000ms Max Dec duration = 350ms Star mass tolerance= 0.50 Noise Reduction = None Dither Scale 1.00 . SSAG exposure set to 0.5 sec. Now I used to use 2.0 secs but having built a dew shield the guide star now becomes saturated after a couple of minutes now. I wonder if the dew shield has cut out some ambient light? Tracked faultlessly last night and I captured four 600 sec subs of M101 before the cloud rolled in and cut me short. I have to say, I am really pleased with the guiding and the only thing letting me down now is the coma (MPCC on the way as we speak). I know that folks cannot believe this level of success, but it does work!! I cannot stress enough the importance of having the mount level and very accurately polar aligned with a fully adjusted and accurate polar scope. The mount is carrying 5.5kg of kit, so is on the limit really, but I do wonder if this is in some way assisting the tracking? With the new settings last night, PHD went from taking 39 calibrations steps N,S,E and West to a grand total of 11 steps in all directions and it went from taking about 8 or 9 minutes to calibrate, to 3 or 4 minutes. 10 minutes consistently good with EQ3! I'm well impressed The trick now is to make these results repeatable, although I cannot see how now this cannot be the case!
  12. All, Having posted a couple of weeks back about my relative success autoguiding my EQ3 pro, I am now looking for some advice to see if I can stretch my 5 minute subs out any further. I always polar align accurately each time and set up the SSAG the same way. I can consistently obtain 300 sec subs, but much more begins to show evidence of trailing - not much admittedly, but it is visible. I will list here my kit and PHD settings and if anyone can suggest any tweaks, I'm eagerly waiting to try them before the rain comes back again Thanks in advance!!! OK, here it all is : SW 130 PDS f650 mounted on EQ3pro (collimated and polar scope centred accurately, mounted ever so slightly East heavy) Mount tracking in Sidereal only at 1.0x rate (I found 0.50x default to give slight trailing) 3 star align and no PEC correction (Orion instructions suggest this is not required) Laptop running Windows XP Pro (SP3) SSAG camera through Orion 50mm autoguide scope (f160 ish) PHD settings: RA Aggressiveness = 85 Dec Guide mode= Auto RA Hysteresis = 10 Dec Algorithm = Resist switching Max RA Duration = 1000ms Dec slope weight = 5.00 Search region pixels= 15 Max Dec duration = 150ms Min motion pixels= 0.15 Star mass tolerance= 0.50 Calibration steps = 750ms Noise Reduction = Off Time lapse = 0ms Camera gain = 95% Force calibration ticked - all else unticked. To be honest, to be able to guide for 5 minutes consistently now is a real achievement, but I am greedy and to be able to capture 10 minutes subs would be the icing on the cake. I cannot fathom how, if it will track spot on for five minutes, why it will not do much more as surely the guider is working and the mount is receiving its corrections? Any and all input gratefully received peeps Scott.
  13. Let us know how you get on, would be most interested to see this! I have toyed with the idea of having a go at adjusting the backlash, but to start tinkering with a £400 + mount when you don't really know what you're doing is a measure I'm not really brave enough to try.
  14. Eyes and wonder beat phone apps hands down every time. However, when I'm being lazy (lots of the time these days) I use Sky safari. iPod is easier to see than a piece of paper and you can make the screen go dimmer and red so it doesn't nail your night vision. Well cool !
  15. Hello and welcome to SGL. Best of luck to you
  16. And hello from me too
  17. Thanks guys. Of note, you can also adjust the backlash settings on the handset, although I haven't played with my settings as it all seems to be pretty smooth so far.
  18. Poor you! Still looks very good to me!!
  19. Hello Nikolaj, I imagine that if you stick with it, there is a promising astro career out there waiting for you in the years to come?! I can only speak the one language, so you're doing very well !! Welcome aboard...
  20. Welrod50

    Hello all

    Hello and welcome along
  21. PART THREE of THREE OK, this is where things hot up.I’ve purchased the EQ3 Pro mount, just upgraded to a smaller and lighter Skywatcher 130 PDS f650 which has a better parabolic mirror and is better for widefield work and I can now prime focus and do away with the limitations of afocal.It’s also ‘faster’ too being an f5 (so it gathers a bit more light than the previous f6.92 tube).I’ve sold some eyepieces that I know I no longer need, and correctly adjusted the polar scope, balanced the imaging rig on the mount and collimated the new scope, andI have learned how to polar align properly.I am now able to take exposures of up to one minute unguided, but mostly stick to 30 seconds so my ‘keep’ rate is 100%.DSS software is my best friend, and although I’ve spent probably the best part of £800 on kit (not taking into account odd bits and EP’s I’ve sold off) I am now taking successful images of the cosmos and making myself feel very pleased indeed. But it’s not enough! My human desire for more and my own personal impatience is rearing it’s head again.I knew the time would come, just not so soon!I needed to autoguide.I was pleased with my efforts and the improvement was evident, but compared to other people’s images here and elsewhere, I was not doing overly well in comparison Now, as I mentioned before I had considered the HEQ5 mount along with a larger scope, but I plumped for the EQ3 for portability and although it would have less future proof value than the HEQ5, it was less expensive, would handle the weight of my rig (I don’t want to go above 130 PDS, again for portability and I’m also too lazy to lift a bigger tube about) and was still capable of autoguiding.I had not realised at the time that it’s motor resolution was half that of the HEQ5, and until last week, I had believed I had perhaps made a mistake, although the cost of the HEQ5 had put me off a little in the first place.I have since autoguided successfully with the EQ3, albeit perhaps down to personal effort, attention to detail and a bit of good fortune rather than good judgement. This is my latest effort.Still not up to the standard of some folks here, but an improvement again and also now getting to where I want to be for a casual astro imager.Over £1000 later (with the cost of the autoguider now) I am taking decent pictures of deep space objects, with 5 minute exposures with a 100% keep rate (so far)! I have learned how PHD guiding software works and taken almost an hour to focus the guide camera to perfection first before I started.This hobby is an investment in time as much as cash, but as before, you get out what you put in and it is worth it! And so here I am.In less than 12 months I have purchased a 5” reflector telescope on a standard EQ mount, sold it, bought another faster 5” scope with a GO TO mount, sold the original one to my next door neighbour, downloaded and learned how to use a shed load of software, bought all sorts of books and bits and bobs, and topped it off with an auto guider.After all these ramblings I can say from my own personal experience that I have, and continue to enjoy the journey, and I make the following observations which, are not law just my own thoughts and advice.Some may disagree, or think otherwise, but this is what I reckon, as an amateur astrophotographer: Buy a good EQ mount. EQ3 Pro works for me, although the majority will say minimum of HEQ5. Who am I to argue, but my EQ3 Pro does the trick with spot-on balance, spot-on adjusted polarscope and spot-on polar alignment each time. Also a good trick is to do three star align and when the first one misses (and it will) manually adjust the scope by unlocking the RA and DEC axes and moving the star into the centre of the eyepiece. With number two and three, use the handset to centre the stars. This works every time (for some reason?!) Buy a good scope and something which will not be too heavy for the mount (or for you). The type is down to what you want to use it for but get a decent make from a reputable seller. Balance everything properly and spend time adjusting the polarscope. Mine only needed a bit of adjusting to centre it properly, but it makes a huge difference. Put the effort into learning how to use everything. The equipment can be technical I agree, but I am no expert and I’ve cracked it! You will need to autoguide for anything longer than perhaps a minute. Some people will manage around 2 minutes unguided. I couldn’t even get close to that. For anything of 3 minutes or above, you will need the ability to track accurately (and a laptop and also not mind having a garden full of cables and wires). Finally, enjoy it! If it becomes a chore or the expense is prohibitive, then it’s possibly a battle already lost. If there’s one thing I’ve come to accept is that the UK weather is terrible and I spend many nights frustrated by it, but when I get out and immerse myself in the night sky, it is always the most profound and awe inspiring spectacle that one can witness and to look up with one’s own eyes is FREE! And so what does the future hold for me as an amateur astro imager?Maybe a HEQ5 mount ( so I can push for 10 minute plus exposures – I’m not convinced the EQ3 will stretch that far).Probably a mid range SCT so I can have a proper go at planetary work. Probably a planetary webcam or similar, as the DSLR will do planets fine, but a dedicated camera will do them better. And most likely a full astro modification to the DSLR (Pentax Kr) so those Hydrogen Alpha emission targets can be imaged. I continue to learn all the time, but the adventure is so worth it. Hopefully, you have read to the end and taken something from this.I feel better for writing it and if it helps or inspires then that’s brill Clear skies. Scott
  22. PART TWO of THREE You only live once! By now you have realised that the hobby is for you and is important. You must adhere to the practicalities of storing a large scope and buying a lot of kit. I am by no means rich. I work hard for my money and spend it wisely, and have purchased mostly useful gear first off. Some less useful stuff I have since sold. It has been a whirlwind over these last months, but for you it doesn’t need to be. Part of the enjoyment is the journey, but I am just plain impatient. You need to get the kit, and as with most worthwhile hobbies, to partake can cost money, to partake in depth can cost a lot and to immerse yourself with expensive gear can be, well, expensive. Buy the best you can first time round and if you have to wait a while – do so. I have wasted a bit of money to be honest, mainly because I didn’t think I would turn to imaging. I am privileged to have storage space in our house, so the kit does not get in the way. I read all the time about ‘footprints’ and ‘where can I keep the dob’ etc etc. Did you find room for the baby, the dog, the mother-in-law?? Of course you did, so find room for the scope. It is there, just move something out that you no longer need/want. You only live once and the hobby is important! Anyway, back to taking photographs and if you are still with me, thanks for reading!! I hope the mods have not deleted this lot and also might think it may prove useful to some. I guess if you’re reading this, the answer is ‘YES’ to all the above 1. The scope and mount need upgrading (already)!! : I decided to turn my attention on the DSO’s and took this image of the Orion Nebula (M42). The telescope is ok is suppose – brilliant for visual and I would recommend it to anyone, but not so good for deep space. It’s not overly ‘fast’ at f6.92 aperture (not to be confused with f900 which is the focal length or ‘reach’ of the scope. Aperture is the amount of light it lets in – a bit like a camera lens). The mirror is not parabolic, so it lacks critical sharpness. I also decide to invest in a laser collimator and after yet more reading up on the subject, decide to collimate the scope. It is slightly off, but not much and the improvement is marginal. Timely to say here that collimation is not a dark art or something to be scared of. Pay attention to what you’re doing, print some instructions off if needs be and just do it. It isn’t that hard, trust me I knew when I started to take pictures that the mount would cause me issues and now it was boldly evident. I needed something which could track the stars, something which could be autoguided at some point, and something which would take the weight of my set-up, be portable and ideally affordable. It was a choice between some form of alt/az GO TO mount, EQ5 SynScan GO TO (or HEQ5 to be more accurate) or the EQ3 PRO SynScan GO TO. I plumped for the EQ3 Pro. Until very recently, the best choice (and still proved to be for me) but I will expand on this later. I did think about an alt/az at first but knew this would limit me again in future, so I decided to go for an EQ variant. If you will be serious about astrophotography, you will need to do the same. This was the first outing with the EQ3 and the SW 130 f900 mounted onto it with afocal Pentax DSLR through the eyepiece again. The difference was immediate and positive. More learning to come though .... Why was accurate polar alignment so important? Why did the polarscope need to be adjusted/collimated? What on earth is Periodic Error? and is Backlash painful? My scope needed to be upgraded also and I had a lot to take in with regards to properly balancing the scope on the mount, polar alignment and star alignment with the mount. How come I could do a three star align and it would still miss the first thing I slewed to?? FINAL PART THREE TO FOLLOW ....
  23. PART ONE of THREE Before I start, I would just like to say that I write this as a bit of a personal diary to get down what I have achieved in the last 9 months and also as a bit of a guide/head’s up to all those thinking of taking the plunge and imaging through their telescope. I am a 37 year old family man, with a full time job, other interests and family responsibilities which take up my time, but also someone who rediscovered a previous passion for the night sky and allowed it to morph and grow into some sort of wonderful affliction in my later years – a hobby which now dominates my clear sky nights and also my wallet to some degree. I have a wife and son who understand this passion and perhaps also encourage it as a way to set aside the pressures of everyday living and to regain some normality after a busy day – a bit like you, the reader Aside from my day job, I am also a semi pro landscape and wedding photographer, so know my way around cameras and to some extent, optics and although a great help at first, I quickly found this made only a modest difference to night sky imaging. The learning curve has been (and continues to be) steep, but worthwhile and the sense of reward which comes with that final image as DSS completes its wizardry is something we can all achieve. There is so much I could speak of, software, computers, cameras, scopes, mounts, books and the list goes on. But I will cover the basics here, as the answers all can be found on this superb website and the wider internet. Here’s how I personally did it. 1. Enthusiasm: required to fend off doubt with all the rubbish weather here in the UK. I decided about 12 months ago that I was going to engage astronomy a bit more and move away from occasional jaunts out with the binoculars at night (usually after a landscape photography session at dusk). There are still enough clear nights here to make it worthwhile, you just need patience. Chin up, stick with it and think of the feeling of awe as you spot Saturn for the first time, or manage to pick out M31 with averted vision. I live in suburban Staffordshire. Unless you are one of the lucky ones, you will have light pollution too. Guess what – you can still see stuff! 2. The first telescope: I decided that my old 40mm Tasco refractor I got down from the loft just wasn’t going to cut the mustard. I quickly resolved to buy a modern scope and did a lot of research before I parted with the cash. In all honesty, taking astro photos was not on my mind at the time, so my choices were made easier. I plumped for a Skywatcher 130 f900 Newtonian reflector with EQ2 mount. It came with standard eyepieces, but that first night out under the stars, looking at the Moon, M42 Orion Nebula and the Pleiades had me mesmerised! Oh dear, it’s all gone poorly for the bank balance since I will point out here that at that time, I had no idea what collimation was, how the equatorial mount worked, what ‘poor seeing’ meant and so on, but that didn’t matter. I joined SGL, did a lot more research and began to learn. I then spent several months getting out when I could, printing off star charts, downloading Stellarium and so on. I quickly learned what the more common Messier objects were, where they were and learned to navigate the sky with the EQ2 mount and a planisphere. Sometimes frustrating, never dull! I genuinely enjoyed observing and began to keep a diary of what I had seen, what the conditions were like, which eyepiece was best and so on. I purchased a TAL x2 barlow lens and a couple of varied eyepieces and settled into the hobby. Then one night, I had this brainwave. What if I could rig up my Pentax DSLR to the scope and take a photo of the moon?? A Skywatcher 8-24mm zoom eyepiece and a Pentax fit M42 x 0.75mm T adapter later and I was off. T adapter into camera, screwed onto eyepiece for afocal photographing and off I went. This was my first effort. Now, it does not look particularly special, but the sense of achievement I had is something I will remember forever. I had learned how to download and use Registax and noted here that I could capture AVI video with the DSLR and process it to make a single image. I had asked many questions here and read up on what to do and this was the end result. I was hooked forever! The next shot of the Moon quickly followed as did a picture of Saturn, although this was very poor and not worth even posting as an early effort. I was only able to have a shot at Saturn once and the atmospherics were awful (poor seeing – see I’m learning). It was about here that I began to realise the limitations of my kit, and where ideally YOU should take note. Many people here will say that you should try to buy what you can afford and ‘future proof’ your kit. This is good advice! If you are thinking of going towards taking photographs of what you can see, DO NOT buy that telescope right now. DO NOT think too much about where you will store what you think you need and DO UNDERSTAND that the mount is GOD when it comes to astro imaging. It is easy to fail or at least disappoint yourself. It can be equally easy to get it right too. If you will be doing visual only, then crack on. If you will be taking photo’s at some point, read on PART TWO TO FOLLOW.
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