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About gitchnz

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  1. To close the loop on this, I was able to spot Neptune a couple of nights ago thanks to mjpfc's advice. The secret is to get Sigma Aquari and 58 Aquari in the view, as there are two distinctive fainter stars curving away from Sigma. I just imagined a line perpendicular the the line they formed, and Neptune was easy to find from there. Noticeably blue in colour, and much less of a point than a star. Up to 225x, it didn't really enlarge the disc too much, but that wasn't really the point. The point is... I've seen Neptune
  2. Some great advice here, thanks all. I think I'll wait until after the 14th so the moon will rise late enough to give me time to find some of the neighbouring stars. I think the issue I was having was that the brightest star I could make out easily was around magnitude 4. To get to Sigma Aqr easily to the naked eye, I suspect I'll need the sky to be a little darker. Adapting the eyes to darkness could help, but it's tricky a) with the moon out and when the outside temp on a clear night is close to freezing. If I can remove one of those variables, I suspect I'll be more productive.
  3. Yup, I've got stellarium, although even in 'night mode' (where the screen turns red) I still find it a little bright. Nothing so bright as to stop you seeing dim stars through the eyepiece, mind you, so in theory it shouldn't stop me seeing Neptune. I was wondering if anyone had seen it via star hopping, and could describe the path they took to get to it.
  4. I'm not an early morning observer, so although Neptune has been hanging around the early morning skies for a while, it's only recently that it's getting interesting to me. I went out and braved the cold last night (southern hemisphere here) a couple of times. First time, I spotted the impressive Omega Centauri cluster, and the second time I decided I'd try my luck at spotting Neptune. It was the first time I'd tried to locate a target that's a long way from any bright stars, and without a star atlas, it was too good for me in the end and I had to give up... for now. Has anyone managed to spot
  5. toxic, I assume you mean a lifecam 3000 hd (not quickcam). Your signature says lifecam, and I couldn't find any reference to a camera called a quickcam 3000 hd. I assume you use it without a lens, and that the zoom is fully digital. How big is the sensor on it? Any idea how big the sensor area is when you're zoomed in to 10x? I have to admit, the idea of having a wide view for location of planets is really appealing, then zooming in once I've got it in sight. I just want to get a feel for how large they will be at 640x480 compared to what I'm getting at the moment.
  6. I'm at something of a crossroads at the moment. I've got two cameras, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. First up, the Logitech Quickcam Pro 3000. It's a well-known beast, with a standard 1/4 inch CCD. I've removed the IR filter and subsequently lost it, but that's not going to be a big concern for what I have planned. As is already known, it's very controllable in terms of its settings, even using the driver that ships with Windows 7. Fully configurable shutter speed and gain, and controllable frame rate of video too. Second, one I bought recently on clearance is a noname device wi
  7. Thanks all I'm in the Manawatu area. Relatively new to this hobby and haven't yet had much of a chance to mingle with others. I'm sure that will come, however. Thanks for the comments re focus. I suspect you are right that it is a tad off. I don't have any kind of focusing mechanism beyond the stock focuser on my scope. The scope is a Skywatcher 114/900, and that image was taken through a 2.5x barlow. The camera was a Logitech QuickCam 4000 with the IR filter removed, hence why it's in black and white. Focusing is difficult as the mount is quite flimsy, and adjusting the focus knob tends to mo
  8. Thanks so much. That's absolutely what I need right now. Since writing my last post, I've managed to track down a suitable driver for my new camera that allows for manual control of the exposure setting. Looking at the size of the image sensor on it, compared to my first webcam, it looked smaller. So I did some comparisons between the image size on both cameras using the same lens, and bingo - the smaller sensor on the new camera makes for a larger image. I calculated that planetary images will be 1.75 times larger than what I'm getting at the moment. The beauty of the adapter you mentioned i
  9. This isn't my first image of Saturn, but it's the first one I've uploaded here. Note it's in monochrome, as I've removed the IR cut filter form my camera so colour images don't look correct. Stacked in Autostakkert from several thousand frames. Enhanced in Photoshop (contrast and sharpness).
  10. gitchnz

    Gitch's Album

  11. While I have a Canon EOS camera, I don't think I'll go down that route. There's a few reasons why. Most importantly, the mount with my scope is a little on the wobbly side, so pushing the shutter release button would probably cause too much blur. Also, mine is an old 300D which shoots, in drive mode, about 5 images as a time. Nowhere near enough to use for decent stacking. Also, I imagine that the large sensor size would produce tiny images of planets. I was more interested to know what those with homemade webcam setups without threaded barrels use.
  12. The webcam I had been using to take planetary images is one I've removed the IR blocking filter from. Despite an extensive search, I have no idea where I've put it. So its colours are more than a little messed up. I did something stupid yesterday, and bought a webcam with the sole intention of dismantling it so I could use its IR blocking filter in my existing camera. Little did I know that you can buy IR blocking filters for a little more than what I paid for the webcam. Of course, I discovered this after I'd dismantled and destroyed the original camera (which, in case you're wondering, had l
  13. Thanks to you, I was able to pretty quickly locate both Mars and Saturn last night. Before that, I'd been having some real issues locating planets with my webcam using only a generic finderscope. Sure, pre-focusing the eyepiece is a must, but after that, it's really good to know the target is at least visible through the barlow before you go hunting it down with the webcam.
  14. Thanks for the advice. I would use a 35mm film cannister, and I see that written a lot around the web. The elephant in the room that nobody seems to acknowledge, however, is that most of us haven't taken a photo to film for at least 10 years, so we don't always have that stuff lying around. I'm definitely on the hunt for a piece of plastic of the same dimensions, however. I did something tonight that worked remarkably well. First, I aligned the target using the eyepiece. Then, I adjusted the focus to the same distance that I measured last time I did it (I was lucky and guessed a focus point th
  15. I suspect you're right about the focus being the issue. The moon is coming up later and later, but when I was doing imaging earlier this month, it was in the sky at the same time as Mars and Saturn. I generally always began my sessions by having a look at the moon, hence I would have been focusing on something, making planetary location much easier. That said, if a) the alignment is out, and the target is moving, even a perfectly focused scope will struggle. So I'm trying to control what I can at least. I spent a good 30 minutes or so outside just now (during the day) recalibrating the align
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