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Dom543

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Everything posted by Dom543

  1. Great job Don and great service to the community! --Dom
  2. I have just checked. StarlightLive v.1.0 does recognize and connect to my SX-825 mono camera. --Dom
  3. Tam, I am not Paul but here are a few things to check. 1. Have you installed the SX drivers? What version of the drivers are you using? (I use v1.2.0.1) 2. Is the camera recognized by its drivers? (In Windows you would check this in Device Manager. I don't know how Apple works.) 3. Does StarlightLive connect to your camera? In the lower left corner of the StarlightLive sceen there is a little icon that looks like a USB plug. Does that icon has an X or a check mark on it? If it is an X, then your camera and StarlightLive are not connected. (3.a. Don't expect LodestarLive v.0.12 to recognize an SX-825 and connect to it.) 4. Have you connected the camera to a 12v power source (AC adapter or battery)? The SX-825 does NOT work without an external power source.(The Lodestar does.) There are two power connectors on the SX-825. One for the external fan and one for the camera itself. The camera has to get power, it's not enough, if the external fan is spinning. Please check these things. If it still doesn't work, please let us know what operating system you are using and what you see in Device Manager about the camera. Best, --Dom
  4. Mai-j, You could start right away, without any focal reducers using your f4 Newt, as it is, on brighter nebulas, like the Dumbbell or any of the globulars. If your tracking is good, you could also try the same objects with the SCT and the 6.3 reducer. Just keep in mind that with f6.3 you will need about 3x longer exposures than with f4. As a second step, you may want to acquire a 1.25" reducer like the ones on this page http://agenaastro.com/optical-accessories/correctors-focal-reducers-flatteners.html?ca_opta_size_bucket=146 and trying to combine it with the 6.3 reducer on the SCT or just by itself on the Newt. In both of this cases x0.5 reduction may be too much. Try to place the reducer closer to your sensor, than the recommended spacing. x0.7 would be plenty to achieve in that second stage on the SCT or as a single reducer on the Newt. Many of us use a shortened 1.25" nosepiece to achieve this reduced spacing. In both cases the issue will be, if you can achieve focus. If not, you will have to reduce the reduction ratio. I.e. get the reduction ratio closer to 1 by reducing the distance between the reducer lens and the sensor. Focal reduction is a game of trial and error. As a general advice, don't get expensive pieces of optics for video astronomy. These small sensors are very tolerant of any optics. All they want is fast focal ratios, ideally between f3 and f4. This should get you started. Good luck and clear skies! --Dom
  5. For video, the best of your current scopes is the 12" f4 reflector! Shorter focal length gives you wider field of view. Faster focal ratio gives you brighter image (and hence allows shorter exposure times). To get started in video astronomy you should begin with optics f4 or faster. Your reflector is ready to go. It is suitable for smaller objects. Focus it, aim it at the Dumbbell M27 and watch out that you don't lose your jaw, when it drops. M51 would be another good target except that it is setting rather early now. The Bubble, Caldwell 11 should also fit nicely. Globulars M13, M15 and M22 are also great targets with this setup and also galaxies M81 or M82. You could combine your 6.3 reducer on the SCT with a second 1.25" reducer screwed on a c-thread nosepiece attached to the camera to get the focal ratio down to around f3.5. That would be great for the summer nebulas, like M8, M16, M17, M20, if you have a good view of the Southern horizon. Or, if they are already too low, then for the Crescent (Caldwell 27), the Andromeda Galaxy M31, the Pinwheel galaxy M101 and any of the previously mentioned nebulas. They will be smaller than with the 12" reflector but still nice. The 66mm f7 WO refractor could also use some focal reduction. To get started, try find a way to combine it with your 6.3 reducer. Even better would be to combine it with the 1.25" x0.5 focal reducer that you screw on your nosepiece. The resulting 300-400mm focal length would give you a large enough field of view to see M81 and M82 in one field, again M31 to see how large it is and you might be able to squeeze in the entire Pleiades. Clear Skies and have fun! --Dom
  6. The infinity is priced at $1000 in the US. http://www.highpointscientific.com/atik-infinity-monochrome-video-camera-atk0144 This may get adjusted slightly, when the camera becomes available but by not more than $50. --Dom
  7. I also watched the youtube video. Thank you for posting the link. Atik seems to put quite a bit of effort into explaining what camera assisted observing can offer to people, who are not familiar with this area of astronomy. This is certainly helpful to gain more converts to our branch of the hobby. It also tells me that the main thrust of their marketing strategy is not to convert current users of near-real-time camera assisted observing from other brands of cameras to Atik ones. But rather to pull in people not currently using these tools. Aging visual observers having harder and harder time to climb the ladders to the eyepieces of their Dobs are certainly a promising target group. And those used to spend $600 on a single Ethos would not have difficulty to shell out $1000 for an 825 based camera. The approaching fall - winter - Christmas season will also help such a push. Climbing that ladder in arctic winds is even less appealing... So we may be seeing quite a bit of new company on this forum. SGL may have demonstrated a rather wise foresight, when it made "Video Astronomy" into its own category. Clear Skies! --Dom
  8. I agree with Martin that multi-spectrum offers more than just pretty colorful images with even mere mono cameras. One of its main benefits is that it allows deeper insight into the structure and composition of nebulas. E.g. the Rosette has a fair amount of O-III and H-beta content, they are just overpowered by H-alpha. On the other hand the Jellyfish, which is a supernova remnant, consists only of H-alpha. The blue reflection nebula of the Trifid is much larger than commonly seen. It extends to the entire area that is usually seen as red. It again is only overpowered by the stronger H-alpha radiation. I think that I have posted the pure blue filtered capture of M20 earlier somewhere on this forum. The same applies to the Cocoon. Clear Skies! --Dom
  9. Very nice images Martin! I am still hunting for an object with sufficient S-II signal to show up and make a noticeable difference in real-time. The Southern targets in the Sagittarius-Scutum area are too low from my current location and directly above the bright city lights of downtown. I found that it is not absolutely necessary to suspend stacking for the filter change. The frame during which the change takes place will be out of focus and hence automatically rejected by the stacking algorithm. But with some practice changing filters takes less time than an integration cycle, hence pausing and resuming is faster. I use a TS filter drawer system with several extra drawers. It works for me as I am sitting next to the telescope and it only requires 15mm back focus. A filter wheel is probably a more elegant solution but may require more back focus. When using camera lenses, there is only about 30mm or less space available between the lens and the camera for all adapters and filter stuff. Clear Skies! --Dom
  10. SNR, The histogram is narrow, if the contrast setting is low. If you position the contrast slider to .50 (the middle of the range), then you should get reasonably wide histograms. Red, green and blue added up yields white. So in the areas of the histogram, where the three colors overlap, the histogram will be white. If you see a red tail end of the histogram, that means that in the region there is red light but no green and blue. You can see the red, green and blue histograms separately, if you check the "Display selected" checkbox. Then you can use the red, green or blue radio buttons to select the color channel, whose histogram you want to see. Be careful when you uncheck the "Modify All" checkbox. When that checkbox is unchecked, any brightness or contrast modifications apply only to the color, whose radio button is selected. And those modifications remain in effect even after you re-check the "Modify All" checkbox or click on a different radio button. This can be confusing at the beginning. For that reason I would not recommend making modifications with the "Modify All" box unchecked until the user gains more experience. This is an "Advanced" setting best left for later. Clear Skies! --Dom
  11. To minimize confusion, the new version of LodestarLive, that will also be posted on the SX website is called StarlightLive. The name change is justified by the fact that it now automatically recognizes and works with ALL Starlight Xpress cameras. Clear Skies! --Dom
  12. I particularly like your Bubble with all those nice round stars! It's incredible at f9, full moon and no filters. --Dom
  13. Rob, The illuminator of my 25mm Stellarvue crosshair ep doesn't work. I defocus stars slightly to make them look like cheerios (tiny doughnut shaped cereal). That way I see well, when they cross the crosshair lines and it is easy to place their intersection in the middle of the "bull's-eye". I sometimes use a 50mm ep that doesn't have cross hair. Somehow the eye has the ability to see, if an object is at the center of a circle. Even more with the concentric circles of a doughnut star. --Dom
  14. I always do the alignment with a 25-50mm eyepiece and no filter. With NB filters I don't think I have ever used any optics slower than f4. Depending on the processor of your computer, stacking may take some time. I have an older computer and if there are many stars, stacking would not complete during a 30sec exposure. But if one is patient and is waiting longer, then stacking will take place. Look at the number of Raw Stars on the stacking tab. If there are more than 100 of them, then stacking will be slow. Will work but on my computer, it may take closer to 60 secs. This is one of the reasons I have no real incentive to go for exposures shorter than 60sec. Btw Paul is making some refinements of the stacking routine with particular consideration for scenarios with many tiny stars. Clear Skies! --Dom
  15. I posted a couple of 30-120sec captures taken with the SX-825 with TEC off here http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/144516-astro-video-image-gallery/page-123. I believe that they are representative of what the SX-Ultrastar and the ATIK Infinity will be capable of doing. More images can be found in my gallery http://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/album/3893-sx-825-real-time/. All have been taken with TEC off. I used LodestarLive software that is also available for all SX cameras as StarlightLive. You can compare those 825 captures with the ones in my "Lodestar Widefield" SGL gallery just next to the "SX-825 Real-time" . Different objects but same equipment and same hands with the same skills. Also, based on my personal experience, the 825 cameras seem to be one stop slower that their 829 siblings. But the greater well-depth if the 825 allows more stretching. With more aggressive stretching one can get away with exposure times that are closer to those of the Lodestar. But then, of course, stretching eats away some of the image quality advantages of the more expensive sensor. Nothing comes for free... Clear Skies! --Dom
  16. I have recently received my APU-1 but haven't had the time to try it out as yet. I have ordered it quite some time ago. I agree with shriva. Good as it may sound on paper, the APU-1 may not be an ideal first camera to order. If for no other reason, because there will be a long waiting time. Also, APU stands for Advanced, Peltier-cooled, Unlimited-integration. The word "Advanced" is a clear indication that it is not meant for users just starting out. Too many features can be confusing. There are many other good cameras to start the hobby with. They are both less expensive and easier to use. The AVS DSO-1, the Mallincam Micro are two commercially marketed cameras. Don Rudny, who is an active member on this forum, has recently posted very nice pictures taken with a camera that he bought on ebay. That camera has quite an enthusiastic following on CloudyNights. Good Luck and Clear Skies! --Dom
  17. Veil Close-up with SX-825 mono and LodestarLive Multispectral This is a substantially reduced image. Please click on it to see it in 50% reduced size. The full size and full resolution capture can be seen here http://stargazerslounge.com/uploads/gallery/album_3893/gallery_26379_3893_663204.jpg. This image is noisy and the exposure times are extreme due to the smoke through which it was taken. All stars were gone from the sky by the time I got to this. As said before, atmospheric conditions are very bad here right now and my time is running out. 3x120sec H-alpha + 3x120sec O-III frames mean stacked using LodestarLive's new multispectral capability. Meade 10" SCT at F4.0 and Baader 7nm and 8.5nm H-alpha and O-III parfocal filters. Under normal conditions 60 sec exposures should be sufficient for this object at f4.0. Clear Skies! --Dom
  18. Western Veil with SX-825 mono and LodestarLive Multispectral Please click on the image to see it in full resolution. It makes a difference in the detail visible. 3x60sec H-alpha assigned to the red channel + 3x60sec O-III frames assigned to the green and blue channels. All live mean stacked together using LodestarLive's multispectral capability. Meade 10" f6.3 SCT used with 3.3 focal reducer. This is poor man's hyperstar! Some uneven illumination is noticeable near the center of the image due to the extreme focal reduction combined with the larger sensor.. This image is dim due to the forest fire smoke through which it was taken. Atmospheric conditions are very bad here right now and my time is running out. Here the same object in "Swedish" palette false colors. Again, please click on the image to see it in full resolution. It makes a difference in the detail visible. To get Swedish palette colors, H-alpha is mapped to the red and green channels and O-III is assigned to the blue channel. Clear Skies! --Dom
  19. Don, You are right. The 825 shows advantages only on objects with file detail. I will put up images of the Veil, where you can see this. As far as the compact M27 goes, the Lodestar wins. I use Baader filters and they are parfocal. Refocusing between frames would be possible in LL without losing the live stack. But would be a chore and fun killer. Parfocal filters are very strongly recommended for live filter swapping. If I were not in this time crunch, I would make a Lodestar vs. SX-825/Ultrastar pros and cons post. It would have items in both columns for both cameras. Disregarding prices, it would probably result in a tie for real-time EAA use. Good to see you back! Clear Skies! --Dom
  20. I have had to pleasure to beta test the new multi-spectral feature that Paul is building into LodestarLive. Here are two images made with monochrome cameras and the current test build of LL. First is the Dumbell Nebula M27 from yesterday night taken with a Lodestar x2 monochrome camera. The second one was taken a couple of nights ago with the SX-825 mono. This is a 75% crop of the original capture. Both images are 5x30sec mean stacks. The first three frames were captured with an O-III filter and assigned to the green and blue channels. Then two more H-alpha frames added to the stack assigned to the red channel. The minimum would be two frames stacked, one O-III and one H-alpha. I stack more because I like the resulting nice smooth texture. Exposure times are the same as would be with the same filters without the multispectral feature. Please note that since we are using monochrome cameras, exposure times are shorter than would be with color cameras for two reasons. First, we don't lose light in the micro-filters on the pixels of the color sensor. Second because all pixels of the mono sensor are detecting the light equally. In case of a mono sensor only the yellow and magenta pixels are sensitive to H-alpha light and only the cyan and green pixels to O-III. (Right now Seattle is engulfed in the smoke of the massive forest fires further East. At the time the image was taken yesterday nigh, only the three main stars of the Summer triangle were visible with bare eyes on the entire sky. At 11:15pm even those were gone and I had to call off astronomy for the night. Moisture condences on the smoke particles as seeds and the whole sky becomes uniform opaque white illuminated by the moon. Due to the smoke, exposure times were probably the double of what they would be under normal conditions.) An added benefit is that narrowband imaging is not affected by light pollution or moon glare. The moon was up and past first quarter yesterday night. This new feature of LodestarLive makes it possible to produce genuine multi-color images with NB filters. As far as I know, this multi-spectral, multi-color capability is an absolute first ever in real-live camera assisted amateur astronomy. The new features built into LodestarLive make the multi-spectral approach much more efficient and much easier to use than my first attempts to do similar but inferior things with a color camera this past spring http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/239385-multi-colour-narrowband-in-lodestarlive/. We are grateful to Paul for his continued efforts and devotion to keep us, users of LodestarLive, ahead of everyone else on the world and at the cutting edge of new real-time viewing technology. Clear Skies! --Dom
  21. From the album: SX-825 Real-Time

    Captured with SX-825 monochrome camera using LodestarLive's multispectral capability. 3x30sec H-alpha + 3x30sec O-III frames live mean stacked in LodestarLive. Meade 10" SCT at f4.0 and Baader 7nm and 8.5nm H-alpha and O-III filters. Image has been cropped to 75% of its original size. Creating color images in live with mono cameras is a new capability of the test build of LodestarLive beta-tested here. For more info please see LodestarLive's creator's post here http://stargazerslou...ectrum-preview/ Real-time capture of a live image with no post processing applied.

    © Dom543

  22. From the album: SX-825 Real-Time

    Captured with SX-825 monochrome camera using LodestarLive's multispectral capability. 3x60sec H-alpha + 3x60sec O-III frames live mean stacked in LodestarLive. Meade 10" SCT at f2.0 and Baader 7nm and 8.5nm H-alpha and O-III filters. Uneven illumination in the middle of the image is due to the extreme focal reduction. Creating color images in live with mono cameras is a new capability of the test build of LodestarLive beta-tested here. For more info please see LodestarLive's creator's post here http://stargazerslou...ectrum-preview/ Real-time capture of a live image with no post processing applied.

    © Dom543

  23. From the album: SX-825 Real-Time

    Captured with SX-825 monochrome camera using LodestarLive's multispectral capability. 3x60sec H-alpha + 3x60sec O-III frames live mean stacked in LodestarLive. Yellow is H-alpha, blue is O-III in "Swedish" false color palette. Meade 10" SCT at f2.0 and Baader 7nm and 8.5nm H-alpha and O-III filters. Creating color images in live with mono cameras is a new capability of the test build of LodestarLive beta-tested here. For more info please see LodestarLive's creator's post here http://stargazerslou...ectrum-preview/ Real-time capture of a live image with no post processing applied.

    © Dom543

  24. From the album: SX-825 Real-Time

    Captured with SX-825 monochrome camera using LodestarLive's multispectral capability. 3x120sec red H-alpha + 3x120sec O-III frames live mean stacked in LodestarLive. Yellow is H-alpha, blue is O-III in Swedish-Hubble false color palette. This image was taken when no stars were visible to naked eyes due to thickening smoke of forest fires. Under normal conditions 60 sec exposures were sufficient. Meade 10" SCT at f4.0 and Baader 7nm and 8.5nm H-alpha and O-III filters. Creating color images in live with mono cameras is a new capability of the test build of LodestarLive beta-tested here. For more info please see LodestarLive's creator's post here http://stargazerslou...ectrum-preview/ Real-time capture of a live image with no post processing applied.

    © Dom543

  25. From the album: SX-825 Real-Time

    Captured with SX-825 monochrome camera using LodestarLive's multispectral capability. 3x120sec red H-alpha + 3x120sec O-III frames live mean stacked in LodestarLive. This image was taken when no stars were visible to naked eyes due to thickening smoke of forest fires. Under normal conditions 60 sec exposures were sufficient. Meade 10" SCT at f4.0 and Baader 7nm and 8.5nm H-alpha and O-III filters. Creating color images in live with mono cameras is a new capability of the test build of LodestarLive beta-tested here. For more info please see LodestarLive's creator's post here http://stargazerslou...ectrum-preview/ Real-time capture of a live image with no post processing applied.

    © Dom543

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