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Everything posted by Euan

  1. A good read for people as well, the latest newsletter http://www.itelescope.net/itelescopenet-newsletter Showcasing the 0.7m monster that is due for SSO
  2. Oh no, someone noticed I'm in the process of selling a lot of expensive kit, which will fund this for a few years, but aye if you want to get serious it can be expensive. I got the maximum plan in February as they ran a double points promotion due to SSO being closed during the recent bush fires in Australia. I'm dropping to Plan 290 after this. The points roll over but my rate per scope will drop unfortunately. I'm not convinced I could actually deal with 1000 points per month, it's just too much data to process!!
  3. I'm really impressed with the positivity in this thread since the last time I posted about this subject, are the UK conditions finally getting to people? Here is a list of major plus points for me so far if anyone is on the fence..... Use kit you could never afford in a place you might never visit (great point mentioned above) Image almost any part of the sky - I've learned loads about Southern objects the past few weeks Have access to any filter on a huge range of fields of view, the possibilities are endless Image 12 months a year! No more 6 months of downtime in Scotland and further north Stop yourself getting bogged down with technical issues and concentrate on learning about the night sky Separate imaging from observing, at least you don't sit under a clear sky looking at a laptop Spend more time learning about image processing Join a community that includes some world class imagers (Damien Peach, etc) Sleep. If you have a busy life / job you will notice a huge difference with this, beneficial to your health overall. Schedule you time, again helps with a busy life Social life. Spend the afternoon imaging, then go out and enjoy yourself! This pointed nailed it for me, there has been so many times I can't image because of commitments
  4. That depends on how deep you want to go and what type of image you take. To give you an example though, I'm pretty sure the Ha Carina I did there was on the starter trial points.
  5. How it works Here is a snapshot of the iTelescope dashboard at the moment, you see this when you log in. This allows you to see the status of each of the sites and go into each of the scopes. You can either reserve a time on a scope or just dive in if something is available, you can see here I've started on T12 as it is free for half an hour between bookings. This also displays any warning messages if a system goes offline because of a fault (T9 in this case) You can see here New Mexico has just gone offline, Spain is also asleep but Oz is off and running. You can have access to scopes 24/7 if the weather is good at all the sites. When you go into one of the scopes you are then onto using ACP on the PC connected to it. From here you can build imaging plans, make reservations or launch previously saved plans. Here is what I'm doing at the moment, you see lots of feedback of what is going on At the end of your plan, you are emailed a quite detailed receipt showing how much points you used, snapshots of all the weather conditions, JPEG previews of your subs, and you are given FTP access to your data. This comes in the form of un-calibrated and calibrated FIT files. You get access to all the calibration files and you can do this yourself, but I've found the calibrated files to be really good. How much does it cost? You have to be on a subscription plan to use it, these vary from $19.95 AUS (£13.74) to $999.00 AUS (£687.96) per 28 days. There are a range of these plans, giving different numbers of points to spend. Each scope has a different "points-per-hour" rating, this also changes dynamically depending on what plan you are on and what the current illumination and position of the moon is. The higher the plan you are on, the cheaper in points each scope is. The brightness of the moon in the FOV can get you an up to 50% discount of the scope rates, great for narrowband. You can try it for free, but this only gives you access to the one shot colour CCDs at each site, I would highly recommend the starter-trial at $19.95. You can top this up just by buying more points as well rather than going to a bigger plan. You can cancel at any point as well. It's worth signing up and just watching what people are doing on each of the scopes as you can see everything they see, including previews of images taken. Other points One of the hardest things I've found, especially with navigating the southern sky, is knowing what is where and when. This is when you need a really good planetarium program. I've bought TheSkyX Pro for this, and it's great for planning imaging runs, it can also plate solve images to help with pointing. Also, TheSkyX is great for keeping track of timezones. You can have a serious brain malfunction trying to work out imaging times and booking slots relative to the time in the UK! If you are even remotely interested (no pun intended), give it a go as for less than £15 you have nothing to lose. Just remember to cancel your plan if you decide it's not for you http://www.itelescope.net
  6. At last! Someone who gets it I'm on my phone just now but will post up a wee guide later...
  7. I've spent the past month packing up and selling all my imaging gear, and I thought I would post an update for those it might interest. I know for a lot of people, having your own gear and doing your own thing is irreplaceable, but there are so many people on the fringes of serious imaging that have the money to put into it but not necessarily the time or the technical knowledge. It's also perfect to cure those UK weather blues or summertime frustrations. This is all done on iTelescope.net (formally GRAS), a network of scopes on three sites (New Mexico, Spain & Australia) with two news sites in Greece and California in the works. It all hangs together using ACP, which is a great interface for imaging. You subscribe to month plans which give you points you can spend on the different scopes, usually the higher performance the more points it costs. Its hard to describe just how bizarre and satisfying it was on Sunday afternoon past to sit down to do some imaging looking a completely clear Australian skies and start to pull an image together as the subs rolled in. I've just spent my first 100 points, which at the moment equates to $100 Australian Dollars, so around £70. I've spent most of my time on the Carina Nebula from Siding Springs Observatory in Australia, as it's just too fascinating an object not too. What you see below is the result of that and also some test single subs I've taken of other objects. Keep in mind the shortness of the exposure numbers and lengths is only really possible due to awesome kit in an awesome location. So here we begin, NGC 3372 The Carina Nebula in RGB (4 x 5 mins per colour) Taken on T12: http://www.itelescop.../telescope-t12/ Next, the same again in Narrowband (Hubble Palette, 4 x 5mins per colour) Same again, Ha only (4 x 5 mins). There is a slight gradient in this I had to get back too.... Next, some single 5 min sub test shots on T12 again in Ha, prizes for recognising them.... Last but not least, a 5 min Ha test sub on T11, which is a 20" Planewave CDK absolute beast of a scope. This is stunning considering a full moon was nearby.... http://www.itelescop.../telescope-t11/
  8. Going to go back and get OIII and SII, it will be interesting to see what signal level I can get out of 5 min subs
  9. Edited to take the slight gradient out, bit better this time
  10. Managed to do a full session on the cone for the first time and forgot to focus! It makes it a bit soft and stars bloated. Oh well, live and learn. Added the core to an earlier M42 image, but I'm struggling with the processing, and it seems to have added to the overall noise compared to the original Here are the details: Camera: Atik 383L+ Mono with Astrodon 5nm Ha Scope: Borg 101EDII with 0.7x Reducer @ F4.4 Mount: EQ6 with EQMOD Guiding: OAG with QHY5 Capture Software: CCD Commander, Maxim DL Processing Software: Deep Sky Stacker, PixInsight Exposure: Cone - 12 x 15 mins, M42 - 6 x 15 mins, 12 x 60 secs, 12 x 30 secs, 12 x 10 secs (HDR) Calibration: No Bias, 25 x Darks, 25 x Flats
  11. I've always been tempted by the whole remote imaging thing, so I took the plunge and got a starter trial for iTelescope (www.itelescope.net) This is 5 x 5mins (25 mins) on the Carina Nebula I took just about an hour ago (it's 3pm here in the UK). A very quick process as well, but the data is so good it really doesn't need much. I will get a bigger review up when I have more time, but this gives you an idea of what is possible. Here is T12, being a widefield fan it's pretty much what I would buy if I won the lottery. It's not even the fast FSQ this is only F5! Here is a small and the "actual size" version for some scrolling madness....
  12. Wow, that's a bit special Have you got a bigger version uploaded? OIII and SII? Yes please!
  13. I've been imaging a lot recently, which is unusual for me, it's about time I got my finger out! Got some EQ6 problems, and also had to switch back to the good old guide scope from an OAG as it wasn't working for me, so these aren't as sharp as they could be. It's getting stripped down again next week. These are the captures over the past few weeks, here are the overall details: Camera: Atik 383L+ Mono with Astrodon 5nm Ha Scope: Borg 101EDII with 0.7x Reducer @ F4.4 Mount: EQ6 with EQMOD Guiding: OAG with QHY5 Capture Software: CCD Commander, Maxim DL Processing Software: Deep Sky Stacker, PixInsight Calibration: No Bias, 25 x Darks, 25 x Flats Veil Nebula (12 x 15mins) Heart Nebula (8 x 15min) Horsehead (8 x 15mins) M42, forgot to take short subs for the core will have the do this later (6 x 15min subs) Here is even a little bonus Moon shot from my new DSLR, using a 300m lens
  14. This is cracking Mike, was it from the Friday night? Did you use an EQ type mount or an Astrotrac?
  15. Thanks everyone I'm down to one filter now, I'm going to slowly build a full RGB & NB Astrodon set. I'm getting the 3nm OIII next but I'm trying to pace myself as they are really expensive
  16. I've been plugging away at the new Observatory and setup for 5 months now, and it's finally coming together. Changes to the imaging gear since last season: Borg reducer now 0.7x from 0.85x. Now at F4.4 Moved from guidescope to OAG (Telescope Service, QHY5) Baader RGB/NB sold, moved to one 5nm 36mm unmounted Astrodon Ha EQ6 RA worm & ring gear upgraded to one from Aeroquest Machining (http://www.aeroquest-machining.com) EQ6 RA belt drive mod I still have a few issues to sort out, the OAG is too far in and causing a shadow on my images, top right on this picture. Also I lost about 15% of the outside of this after stacking due to a plate solve problem. I have a little chip on the corner of the OAG which (I think) is causing this weird effect on the guide stars, although they still guide not bad and they focus fine using a mask I'm quite chuffed with this image considering the conditions last night. There was loads of high cloud (shown by the bumpy red line between the two spikes here) that was lit up by the full moon. I had a test image from a few nights ago that was much darker and had better contrast. I've no doubt the Astrodon helped here Image details: Camera: Atik 383L+ Mono with Astrodon 5nm Ha Scope: Borg 101EDII with 0.7x Reducer @ F4.4 Mount: EQ6 with EQMOD Guiding: OAG with QHY5 Capture Software: CCD Commander, Maxim DL Processing Software: Deep Sky Stacker, PixInsight Exposures: 8 x 15 mins Calibration: 50 x Bias, 25 x Darks, no flats
  17. Dave, have you got the full size versions of these posted anywhere? Really interested in this lens...
  18. These are great Dave, the Friday night was fantastic, seen some amazing objects I've never seen before We were trying to figure out what that LP was on the night, it looked brighter on that horizon. I take it that is Newcastle?
  19. Yes, you will see around +10-20c jump in any cloud. This varies obviously depending on season, in the winter I think the sky temperature was around -20c, with the sky around 0c. Glad you pointed this out, I forgot to mention it. The rain sensor itself is heated. This gives two advantages. Firstly, it evaporates rain droplets quite quickly. This means the rain level you see from it is a better reading of actual rainfall, rather than just how wet the sensor is. Secondly, it melts snowflakes really quickly, although they should trigger the rain sensor anyway, this gives an added reassurance that it will catch it. I've never actually timed how long it takes to trigger during snowfall, but the sensor does pick up very small water droplets, depending on the severity of the oncoming rain it should trigger before any real damage is done to optics. A good test I found was to wet a toothbrush and hold it just away from the sensor, then brush your finger along the wet brushes, this will produce a really fine mist of water droplets. Just a few of these on the sensor is enough to make a difference, it's fairly sensitive. The heating of the rain sensor does skew the ambient temperature reading as this this is taken from the chassis of the IR sensor (in the picture above it reads 22c when in fact it's about 15c), but this is the least relevant bit of information, and is only really shown as it's part of the IR sensor anyway. If you want real temperature recording you would need a separate unit. I bought a little USB temperature sensor from eBay that is quite cheap, it can be put anywhere in the obs on a long USB lead.
  20. Funny you ask this, I've just posted about mine: http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/152967-review-aurora-cloud-sensor/
  21. I've had this for around a year now so I've had a long time to get to know it. I was holding back on posting up a review as I've been waiting on a new release of software which is still to materialize. So, I will add a note for the things that I believe are about to get fixed.. Introduction If you have ever tried to catch a clear spell or ran an imaging session unattended, you will know how critical it is to have good info on two things: cloud cover and rain detection. There are many ways to do this, ranging from the very cheap DIY / Arduino projects right up to the Boltwood Cloud Sensor stretching up to the thousands of pounds. The Aurora, at £173, sits at a price point that is still within the reach of a lot of observers / imagers, but is it any good? Hardware The Aurora splits into two sections, a bottom piece that allows it to be mounted, then a removable top section containing the electronics. The external sensors are nicely mounted in a PCB. The top section with the sensors holds a light sensor, rain sensor and sky / ambient temperature sensor. A great little feature of the detachable top is that I was able to buy a second box and phoenix connector for quite cheap. This means I can detach the electronics part, replace it with a blank top, and use the leftover base part to make it into a portable sensor that can be taken to star parties. They should really mention this as a feature and offer secondary kits as this is extremely useful. One of the reasons I never went down the DIY route was to avoid the complications that can arise with mounting electronics to the exterior of an IP rated box. One year down the line, and having taken a barrage of abuse from the weather, everything is still happy inside and outside the Aurora. Software The Aurora connects to a PC via RS232. There is a fairly generous 10m cable with it, but this is easily extended and you should get 30m fairly easily as it runs at quite a low baud rate. Wrapped up in the cable is the power that goes to a DC power supply, and a relay output that can be wired to something to cause an alarm on certain conditions. The software is really easy to use, it gives a few different tabs. The main one is a quick-look colour coded representation of what the conditions are. The second is a setup page that lets you tweak the values for all the different states. The third is a real-time graph of the data, select-able in 1, 2, 24, and 48 hour graphs. My data seems to drop away at 24 hours, even though it's all recorded in a text file, something I was hoping to see fixed in the new software. Note: There are a few spikes now and again in my data, this is a bit of an irregularity that is supposedly getting fixed in the new version of software. One thing I should mention that isn't obvious when you start to get into cloud sensing is just how good it is. You can see in the graph above there is a clear patch around 2-4am. This shows as a flat line a -10c. The IR sensor can actually detect slight fluctuations in temperature that caused by really thin cloud, even when you could be standing outside and it looks completely clear. This is great for monitoring how good the conditions are, and you can see it reflected in subs. It's great for selecting data when stacking. I was able to split off the RS232 and also feed it to an AMX system, this means I can get a nice graphical representation using Mobai through the iPad. This also gives me the ability to use the Aurora without the PC and have alerts & alarms still work even if the PC fails, a great reliability feature. Summary For the money, I think the Aurora is a fantastic product. I fail to see what extras you could get from one of the more expensive products. It's really easy to use the incoming data from the Aurora to manipulate a Boltwood text file, this allows it to mimic it's use and be compatible with all the usual automation programs, I use it with CCD Commander. As an observer looking for the odd clear spell, or as an imager wanting to keep an eye on conditions, you will see huge benefits from buying one of these units.
  22. It's just built using sawn timber, with the edges that meet with the outside all treated with wood stain. The rails underneath the moving section are pretty heavy duty rollers on v-grooves meant for big automated gates, so they can take a lot of weight and are quite smooth. The whole front section rolls forward being pushed and pulled by a garage door opener. There are two wheels per side on the rail and a front pair of wheels that lifts if off the ground enough to keep it level as it rolls back and forward. When it's fully extended, it's only the back set of roller wheels that are still on the v-groove. The whole thing makes a nice cat shelter! I needed a pretty decent way of securing with pillar without having a full concrete pier, so I stuck together two 15Kg high-density concrete blocks for each leg of the pillar and fixed it down with M10 rods using chemical fixings. The garage door opener does the hard part of moving the top section, but there are quite a few sensors in place to make sure the scope is parked and the roof can close. This is all triggered by cloud / rain alerts using a Aurora Cloud Sensor, an AMX control system and CCD Commander. The interface is all here, I'm still working on it: http://stargazerslou...tion-interface/
  23. Although you could get a big scope for that price, if you get results like that then why would you bother?
  24. That's razor sharp and loads of depth What camera lens was it?
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