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About Benno

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    Photography (wildlife and Macro are my favourite subjects) and Image processing. Oh yes, my new hobby is astronomy / astro imaging.
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  1. Good evening, I have been humming and harring for a while now as to whether or not to plunge into buying the Celestron Starsense autoalign system. I have read many reviews on this and other forums and although the general opinion swung in favour of the positive I couldn't help the slight doubt when reading about some issues with regards to firmware updates etc. Anyway, it was my birthday this month and my wife asked me if I wanted to go for the starsense as she would like to buy it for me. After very little discussion I very appreciatively said yes I would very much like it. Well this week my starsense arrived and I set too checking and updating the firmware. I already had the CFM installed on a laptop running Windows 7. As it turns out the version I received is the new version which has the mini USB connector on the HC and not the usual RS-232 jack which connects via a USB to serial convertor. (although when using the mini USB the serial driver is still required as the USB converts to a serial configuration within the HC). I connected the HC to the mount (AVX), and connected both the starsense camera and the HC to the laptop using the standard to mini USB cables (these are the same cable used for connecting most digital cameras to a computer), I then opened CFM. Within seconds CFM had recognised the mount, the starsense HC and the starsense camera. I clicked on update and the process started and completed without a hitch. All I needed now was a clear spell to test the system. Well tonight the forecast indicated that I had about an hour window of relatively clear sky and no rain, so out I went and set up the gear. Normally if I was only going to get an hours clear sky it just wouldn't be worth me going out as it would take that long to get the gear out, set up and do the usual 2 or 3 star alignment for the goto. Well this time I fired up the mount and the HC went through the usual verification and set up the camera (about 20 seconds). As it was the first time in operation the HC offered to load or save an number of profiles (this is presumably so that the camera can be set up with more than 1 telescope), however I declined this for the time being and continued with the start up process. After setting up my coordinates and the date and time I pressed align and was offered a number of alignment options, I opted for the Auto align. The scope immediately started to slew and paused at intervals for the camera to acquire images assess the number of stars and plate solve. It did this about 3 or four times then stopped and the HC reported that alignment had completed. I thought what after about 3 minutes!!!! you must be joking. I entered a known star and slewed to it to complete the telescope field of view centring as per the instruction manual (I have read reviews whereby a couple of people indicated that some of the instructions for this stage of the operation were wrong, however I followed the instructions as written and it all worked perfectly). So after approximately 4 to 5 minutes the system was , in theory, aligned. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so next was to put it to the test. I didn't have very long as I noticed that the cloud was starting to move back in so I quickly decided to look at some favourites. I started with Bodes galaxy - and bang dead centre of the eyepiece. Next Andromeda and again bang in the centre. I then thought I would slew right over and selected Orion and once again it was bang on the money. I finished with Pleiades before having to give in to nature as she drew the curtains on my sky window. To sum up, I found the Celestron starsense autoalign camera to be very well made, the new HC has a number of new functions which I have yet to explore, but what I am totally made up with is the ease of use and the accuracy the system achieved in such a short time. I know some users have reported issues with instructions and updating firmware but I can honestly say that I had no issues what so ever and I am amazed at the amount of time that the system saved me during set up. From my point of view its highly recommended. All I need now are a few more hours of clear sky so that I can set up, in a fraction of the usual time, for a bit of imaging. Best regards, Benno.
  2. Good afternoon, hope everyone is doing well. I have amassed lots of brownie points and so the keeper of the purse strings allowed me to indulge in a couple of purchases. One being the QHYCCD Polemaster (splendid piece of kit, no more wet knees / neck creeks or poking myself in the head with Dec screw on the bask of the mount). The other being the Atik Infinity (another splendid piece of kit and software). Well last night both items received first light. Polar alignment was a doddle and took a couple of minuets to complete, and then came the imaging with the Infinity. I usually use my DSLR's for imaging, so this type of deep space video imaging was quite new to me. However the results (straight out of the infinity software), are quite good. In the end I managed to get Andromeda, Bode's and the Triangulum galaxies. So here they are, three shots from last night, not perfect but considering the relatively short exposure times I think they are not too bad. The only hiccup I had was attaching the Infinity to my ED80, I connected the camera via an adapter with what I though was more than enough back focus however I could not achieve focus. So in the end I quickly popped on the diagonal then all was well. I will need to look at the distance required when connecting straight to the ED80 focus draw tube. Best regards, Benno.
  3. I've just purchased the QHY Polemaster and really looking forward to testing its alignment capabilities. I've had it for 3 days now and for three days I have had the pleasure of gazing at a carpet of cloud. Still the evenings have been quite warm so at least I have had three days of enjoying my garden in the dark. I find it interesting how hit and miss the weather condition forecast is, sometimes its spot on other times it seems like a stab in dark. It just shows, I suppose how complex the weather systems are and how quickly slight changes can alter the expected outcome. But still we perceiver (no choice really with our hobby), and the Polemaster will be used................at some point..................weather permitting. Regards, Benno.
  4. Wow, great images and great detail.
  5. Great shots. I also use a celestron 8" SCT and I think its a great scope.
  6. This is a great tool, its very light and portable. great for wide field using DSLR
  7. Benno

    Cloudy Sun

    Well I have not been having much luck regarding the nemesis of the stargazer (Cloud). So today I thought I would catch a few images of the Sun. And what happens?............. The cloud rolls in. So never the less I have decided to post my image of a cloud covered Sun.
  8. Hi, thank you for your swift reply's I agree that for visual use, the standard focuser is fine, but as a few of yor reply's have mentioned, it is for my imaging that I would like a little more control. My main issues are mirror flop and the lack of fine adjustment. Having looked at the recommendations I think the unit that replaces the visual back would suit my needs best. Would I be right in assuming that this type of focus unit would also fit onto the back of a focal reducer ( I sometimes image with the Celestron f/ 6.3 focal reducer in place of the standard visual back). Best regards, Steve.
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