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About lukebl

  • Rank
    Red Dwarf
  • Birthday 25/08/59

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Interests
    Norfolk Astronomer, bread-maker, bug and wine enthusiast. Come to Attleborough. At least it's not Watton.
  • Location
    Central Norfolk-ish somewhere, UK, 52°N 1°E ish
  1. Thanks Alien. Looks like just the job!
  2. Hi folks, I'm after a lightweight external 19v battery pack to provide additional power for my old Dell Inspiron 1545. I'm planning to be atop a hill in Wyoming for the total eclipse and will have no mains or vehicle power supply nearby. I'm intending to capture a whole sequence of images from first to last contact, a period of nearly 3 hours. Unfortunately, the battery on the laptop will probably only last a couple of hours. I could take a spare charged-up battery, but of course I'd have to shut down the laptop to change them over, which won't do. Can anyone suggest a suitable additional power source? Something lightweight I can take on the plane.
  3. Here it is. Screen grab from Sky Safari.
  4. Strange that they would choose such an insignicant star, only visible through a telescope, and a long way from the Big Dipper, to represent an entire state! I wonder if it's some kind of ironic joke.
  5. Hi folks, I'm currently preparing for my trip to the US to view the total eclipse and am running through my equipment requirements. I will be capturing using a Canon 700d and 300mm telephoto. I'm always reading that you should always capture images in RAW format to get the best quality, and I certainly do that when capturing DSO images with my DSLR for stacking in Deep Sky Stacker. DSS can handle RAW (CR2) files fine, but unfortunately I can't open the individual RAW files in my ancient version of Photoshop (CS2). Is there any way of opening and editing RAW files without having to buy a new version of PS? One source suggested that I should convert the files to DNG format, using Adobe DNG Converter, and then open them. However, I did that and the resultant image was way worse than a JPEG as shown below. More noise, less detail, excessive contrast and saturation. Any ideas? If not, then I think I'll just save the files as JPEGs in the camera.
  6. Cant wait. Been running through my automated imaging programme, ready for my trip to Wyoming. With a bit of luck, I should be able to relax and enjoy the show, whilst the camera/mount/laptop combo do all the work. Assuming they let me take the equipment on the plane, of course. I know it's weeks away, but I'm getting twitchy!
  7. Very peculiar indeed. I have uploaded the latest firmware and it definitely doesn't offer the sun as an alignment object. It even offers Mars (mag +1.3) for alignment. Completely useless for daylime alignment!
  8. Can I be the first to say it!
  9. Thanks all for the input. I've updated the handset with the latest firmware and I notice that there are a few additional features, including Daytime Alignment. I thought 'Brilliant. Just what I need!' However, it is completely useless! It just gives you the option to align on 5 selected bright objects: Jupiter, Mars, Capella, Aldebaran or Vega. True, if you know EXACTLY where they are you might be able to pick them up with binos. BUT. The whole point is that you can't see them BECAUSE ITS DAYTIME! Also tried the 'Solar tracking mode', but it didn't track the sun at all. Can't see how it could if you haven't managed to align it.
  10. Hi foilks. OK, this isn't going to win any awards, but it was captured in challenging conditions! I was gutted to miss the recent double shadow transits due to bad weather, but I noticed that there was a shadow transit of Io this evening in broad daylight. Here's a hour's worth of captures at 5 minute intervals, starting at 7pm BST, 2 hours before sunset. There was a lot of variable high cloud and the sun was at an altitude of 16 degrees and baking the telescope. Despite everyting, it's amazing what detail you can make out in broad daylight. That's Ganymede emerging at lower laft. IMG132e cam, 1000 exposures at 25 fps, 250mm f/4.8 Newtonian, 2x TAL Barlow.
  11. Yes, I am dreading the experience. I anticipate utter chaos! However, I'm staying on a ranch which is only providing space for about 20 RVs. Some folks are trying to charge thousands of dollars for accommodation!
  12. Mine already has a solar tracking mode. Are you thinking of the EQ/AZ mount? Mine's just the basic AZ GOTO. This one: Anyway, I can't upgrade the firmware as none of my computers can recognise the handset, despite all my efforts. They recognise my NEQ6 handset, but not my AZ one.
  13. I know that using a compass for North is not at all accurate, but my point was that this method seems to give sufficient accuracy to guide for 20-30 minutes without attention. I am booked into a site in Wyoming two days before the event, so will have time to settle in and perfect my technique!
  14. I'm planning to go to the total eclipse in August, and have been testing my Skywatcher AZ goto which I intend using to track my camera. The obvious problem is how to align an AZ mount during the daytime, so that you can track the sun, when no alignment stars are visible. So I've come up with this rough-and-ready way of alignment using the approximate location of Polaris, which seems to work. 1. Level the mount 2. Plug in the power and go to 2-star alignment. 3. Select Polaris as your first alignment star 3. Point the camera/scope due north (I used a compass) and at an angle equal to your latitude (using the 0-90 degree altitude scale on the side of the mount). i.e. roughly pointing at Polaris. 4. Click OK 5. Select a second alignment star (for convenience I chose one near the sun). Allow it to finish automatically slewing to the (invisible) star, and press enter when it's done. 6. Check the tracking speed (i.e solar etc), and slew to the sun. Obviously it's not wildly accurate, but it seems good enough to guide on the sun for a reasonable amount of time. This morning the sun remained roughly central in the field of view for at least 30 minutes. So, with software to automate the captures, I should be able to leave it get on with the job whilst I enjoy the spectacle. If anyone knows a simpler or more accurate method of alignment, please let me know! Here's a quick capture from this morning using my PST and QHY5 cam. Some nice prominences at the moment.
  15. I'll be staying at Casper, Wyoming, for the eclipse and will probably get one of those 500mm Mirror lenses. I found this awesome bit of free camera control software which I'll be using wiith my Canon plugged into the laptop: SETnC It automates the whole imaging session, taking a series of bracketed exposures throughout each stage of the eclipse, doing a continuous loop at various exposures throughout totality. That way you can enjoy more of the experience, rather than faffing around with the camera. It even shouts at you to take off and replace the solar filter at second and third contact, and selects the appropriate exposure at each stage. These screenshots look a bit complicated, but it's actually really simple.