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Everything posted by Bloom

  1. As promised yesterday, I stayed till late and imaged Mars. Seeing conditions were good, but were a bit worse than yesterday. Well, the planet is never easy - it is just 17 arcsec wide. Only good, at 02:45 the planet was high... Taken with a 6 inch f/5 GSO Newtonian and a barlow lens x2,5. Programs used: Sharpcap, Autostakkert, IRIS, Astroart. I took 5 minute frames at 160 fps, and stacked the best 50%. Then, I split the stack into R, G, and B components, and I recreated a new stack, using the red channel as luminance.
  2. I hadn't noticed the green colour! I used all the automatic Colour Balance functions of IRIS and Astroart, and I did not pay attention. I' ll fix it in ImagesPlus; thanks.
  3. After more than 14 years in the hobby, and after a two year hiatus, this is the first time I manage to get decent images of the gas giants. I think it was back in 2008 when I was trying to force an unmodified Toucam Pro in creating anything close to satisfactory - I don't know what others have achieved with such meagre equipment, but my verdict has been that these webcams, along with all the hype about them, were just inadequate, and I lost many nights trying for the impossible. Anyway, technology has advanced, and it has done it in an impressive way. I cannot stress how absolutely fantastic the ASI camera is. I almost did not read the instructions, yet I managed to surpass all my previous webcam efforts by a huge margin. I can't wait for tonight to get my hand on Mars. The images were taken with a 6 inch f/5 GSO Newtonian and a barlow lens x2,5, sitting on top of my old, rusty, but still in (almost) proper working order CG5. The quality of the videos was such, that I rescaled some of the stacks, and worked from there, as if I had a x5 barlow lens. Programs used: Sharpcap, Autostakkert, IRIS, Astroart.
  4. Two days ago, I used an improper power supply on my 12 years old CG-5. So, whenever I turn on the mount, enter time, date, and then press for alignment, the mount immediately starts slewing in RA in its greatest of speeds. Theory says most probably the mount control board got damaged; and you cannot buy a spare one from Celestron, since they have been discontinued. Yesterday, I decided to at least check what would happen with the correct power supply, and by pure chance I discovered a quick fix. Here it goes: When you turn on your mount, before anything else, before aligning, or entering any sort of time and date data, before anything, you adjust the slew speed to "8" or "9", and then you press the RA motion button just once, as much as is necessary to create motion. Then, you perform a "quick align" (to be honest, I rarely use anything other than quick align), and the mount works! Well, not everything goes smoothly after that; for example, I ordered the mount to slew to Vega, and it started searching it in the opposite direction, to the west. But until I decide if it is worth to spend money on a repair effort, or buy a new mount, I can keep on doing basic work. Hope this will help others with similar issues.
  5. Well, maybe guys your monitors are calibrated differently. There is a vertical line, which seperates the image in two areas: on the left side the image has a bluish tint, while on the right side it is greenish. If you look closely, there are a few more bands, less pronounced. The sepatration, when it happens, it is always in the same position (the NGC6946 image is cropped). I am posting the M81 image again, a bit overexposed, so that you can see.
  6. For a couple of years, my Atik 450C gets this defect (I won't describe it; it is obvious enough in the attached images). When I manage to gather enough signal, the problem is not that obvious. Does anybody know what is going on? Note: both galaxy images have been processed in an effort to eliminate the problem (which means that in the initial stack it was even more profound). The third (M16) and fourth (M35) images are somewhat recent, and they seem to be OK. Whatever goes wrong, it does not happen all the time.
  7. Don't know if anybody has already mentioned it: Being an owner of both a dSLR and an OSC CCD camera, I know from experience that in general dSLR cameras cannot compete with cooled dedicated astro cameras. Still, dSLR cameras do keep a couple of advantages. First, they have big chips in a very attractive price - CCD cameras cannot compete in this. Second, there is a multitude of brilliant photographic lenses suitable for wide field imaging, and dSLR cameras are the best solution for these lenses. Third, and I think nobody has mentioned it, is that (unmodified) dSLR cameras are much better in white balancing. They almost always get the colour balance correct and beautiful right from the first stack. This is often not the case with dedicated astro cameras, either OSC or Mono. These are a few details which imho keep the dSLR cameras still in the game. So, should a beginner start with a dSLR?Well, I am not sure! Given modern technology, one can start with dedicated astro cameras and I guess it is not that difficult to find one's way around with using telephoto and wide angle lenses with all sorts of weird adaptors. I myself started imaging with a Canon 400d. If I were to start the hobby all over again, I would buy a midrange dSLR, not any sort of CCD. But I am also an amateur photographer (among my many hobbies), so maybe my opinion shouldn't count. P.S.: I think we all mean APS-C sized dSLRs. Full frame cameras are much better in all aspects than their APS-C counterparts, but they are too expensive, and for the benefit of less noise and extra sensitivity, they reach a price which compares with the best of dedicated cameras - comparing to them, they are inferior. In the past couple of years, I did consider getting a used full frame camera, but I shied away because of another two reasons: the 35mm format reveals even the slightest inaccuracies of even the best optics, and these cameras also put a heavy burden on the focusers, since they are not the lightest piece of equipment.
  8. The NEQ6 is portable! When unassembled, it has the same amount of parts as the CG5, which is the definition of a portable, yet efficient GOTO mount. The only difference is that the NEQ6 has a significantly heavier head (if I remember correctly, it weighs 18 kilograms - 40 lbs, which is the weight of the entire CG5, along with its counterweights). But if one does not have any back pain issues, 40 lbs is not something difficult. So, when I go stargazing out in the mountains, I take the NEQ6. It is a far better mount than the CG5.
  9. This is my last week's effort; two hours (39 frames, 4 minutes each), with an Atik450 OSC on a 6 inch, f/5 newtonian. It is an ongoing project, and I plan on reaching 6 hours.
  10. This one is from last August. Taken through three successive nights . Well, remote galaxies are never easy, especially with modest equipment; but I guess it turned out nice. I almost reached ten hours 148x4min, GSO 6'' f/5 newtonian, NEQ6, Atik450L OSC camera, Baader MPCC coma corrector, Baader UV/IR filter. Guiding: Starlight Xpress Lodestar with Stellarvue FV50 9x50 finderscope, and PHD. Image scale is 0.95 arcsec/pixel. Image processing was done with IRIS, Astroart 5, Imagesplus, and Paint Shop Pro X5
  11. This is 4 hours of data, from September 7, with an unmodded Canon 40d. 62x4min,Skywatcher Equinox 80/Televue field flattener TRF 2008 (F=400mm, f/5), NEQ6, Canon EOS 40d (unmodded). Guiding: Starlight Xpress Lodestar with Stellarvue FV50 9x50 finderscope, and PHD. Image scale is 2.94 arcsec/pixel. Image processing was done with Imagesplus, IRIS, and Paint Shop Pro X2.
  12. Great image. Congratulations.
  13. For the last two months I' ve been quite busy; so I only started processing any frames I captured in September last week... What is new in my astroimaging efforts is that I have increased the imaging times, aiming at 4 hours minimum. So here is NGC 7331 from September 8. 101x4min, GSO 6'' f/5 newtonian, NEQ6, Atik450L OSC camera, Baader MPCC coma corrector, Baader UV/IR filter. Guiding: Starlight Xpress Lodestar with Stellarvue FV50 9x50 finderscope, and PHD. Image scale is 0.95 arcsec/pixel. Image processing was done with IRIS, Artemis RGB, Astroart 5, Imagesplus, and Paint Shop Pro X2).
  14. Well, it is much better than anything I ever accomplished on Jupiter...
  15. You don't need spacers with the TRF-2008 and a Canon dSLR. You need a 48mm spacer for an ATIK CCD camera, but you do not need any for a Canon.
  16. The area around the Crescent nebula is full of emission nebulosity - in fact, there is not one single square arcsecond of sky of empty dark space. So the colours are perfectly normal. Check for example an older image of mine (the Crescent nebula is on the lower right of the image): http://www.astrovox.gr/forum/album_pic.php?pic_id=9365
  17. IC 405 is faint (its surface brightness is low, 17,7 mag per square arcsec, when for example M101, a notoriously faint target, has 14,9). With ISO800 I guess 9 (nine) hours would be a good start. I once imaged it with an unmodded Canon 40d on an f/5 newtonian for two hours, binned the stack, and still your image looks better. So, try to gather more signal and you will get nice results.
  18. Since all CCD cameras are sensitive in the IR, an IR-cut filter like the one you have is necessary. Else, your stars are going to be a bit (to put it politely) blurry (because when you focus, you do it for the optical part of the spectrum - the IR portion stays unfocused and blurry). Without a filter you are also going to be recording IR signal; this will be registered as "red", though it is not red. It will just ruin your colour balance. These are the two reasons why you must use a filter. The one you already have is ideal.
  19. I saw NGC7000 last night, from a dark remote site in central Greece. After more than 20 years in the hobby, this was the first time I ever saw the nebula. All these years I was struggling with bad quality binoculars. I have tried and failed with a 6" fast newtonian, and a Skywatcer Equinox 80, but did it under slightly light polluted skies. Last nightthough, I had my new Nikon 10x50 binoculars, a gift from my wife. The sky was just perfect; clear atmosphere and steady seeing, I glimpsed M101 low on the horizon, while M31's sattelite galaxies were readily visible. When I turned my binoculars towards Cygnus, I immediately saw North America nebula, with its exact shape as one sees it in astroimages, only it was grey. I kept looking at it for a few minutes. It was not my idea; it was there indeed! I also saw the western part of the Veil nebula, resolved open cluster NGC457, was mesmerised by the sight of the Double Cluster, and immersed myself into the dense starfields of the Milky Way. There is no substitute to dark skies and fine optics.
  20. This was my first serious effort with the Atik450 on an emission nebula. With just 90 minutes, I think it is fine. 45x2min, Skywatcher Equinox 80/Skywatcher field flattener (F=500mm), NEQ6, Atik450L OSC camera. Guiding: Starlight Xpress Lodestar with Stellarvue FV50 9x50 finderscope, and PHD. Image scale is 1.42 arcsec/pixel. Image processing was done with IRIS, Artemis RGB, Astroart 5, Imagesplus, and Paint Shop Pro X2.
  21. One more vote for the Lodestar. It never presented any problems with PHD. It is very sensitive - in fact, I stopped using all those things like guiding rings and a small refractor for a guidescope; I saved 4 kg (9 lbs). I guide through a 50mm 9x50 guidescope (a Stellarvue FV50). The camera is so sensitive that not only I can guide on stars fainter than visual magnitude 12 (so there is always a star available), but I also use it as a sort of electronic finderscope, since most NGC objects are clearly visible on the PHD screen with frame times of just 1 sec. Framing my subject takes only a few seconds. I do not believe the QHY5 can be as good as that.
  22. Well, when I was using my CG5 with its "Polar Alignment" routine, I was always getting field rotation, especially when in high declination. I own a NEQ6 but I never aligned through the polar alignment scope - as soon as I bought it, I started performing drift alignment. So, if you fellows say that polar alignment with the polar scope is adequate, that's fine, and it settles it, I guess...
  23. Yes, it is! Else, if the individual frames last more than about two minutes you will get field rotation. If you use PHD for drift alignment, it is really easy, and won't take you more than 15 minutes.
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