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About Crowmium

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    Yorkshire, United Kingdom
  1. Thanks very much for all the responses! I hadn't considered a field flattener for the ZS61, so i'll definitely look into getting one. Speaking of which, are there any other lightweight scopes suitable for astrophotography other than the ZS61? Looking on a budget of max around ~£400 or so. I could use my 80ED, but it weighs about 9kg which would mean I wouldn't be able to take much else as hand luggage (ie laptop, camera etc). Buying a HEQ6 or using my EQ6 over here is a good idea but I forgot to mention that i'm only here for a year or so, so i'd rather not risk or pay for having to transport it over here. Still, good idea! Thanks again, all!
  2. Hi all, I'm currently lucky enough living somewhere in Europe which has incredibly dark and clear skies just a short drive away (most of the time). I want to take advantage of these skies while i'm here, but my main astrophotography rig (NEQ6 + 80ED Refractor + Canon 100D) back in the UK is far too heavy and bulky to get on the plane over. As such, i'm looking into buying and bringing over a portable astrophotography rig that I can use whilst i'm here. Here's my current plan: - Mount: Skywatcher Star Adventurer - Tripod: Star Adventurer Tripod - Imaging Scope: William Optics Zenithstar 61 Refractor - Camera: Canon 100D DSLR (from my main rig) My only real concerns are 1) bringing this over on a plane and 2) making my home rig redundant. My plan for getting this all on a plane would be to carry the mount, camera and scope as hand luggage and then put the tripod/counter-weights/ball head/equatorial wedge with my checked luggage. Would there be any reason why that would be a problem, and does anyone have any recommendations for a soft case / cover for the WO 61? In order to save a bit of money, I was thinking of also using the WO ZS 61 as a guidescope piggy backed onto my 80ED when i'm using my main rig, as I don't yet have an autoguider set up (I would have to buy a guidecamera also). Would this be overkill, because it feels like both scopes are pretty similar in spec? Would the guide camera having a shorter focal length than the imaging scope also be a problem in practice? If anyone has any experience with those bits of kit or has any thoughts please let me know! Cheers, Crowmium
  3. I'm super pleased with it, especially given that I could certainly improve the alignment by using a longer DARV exposure (or the BYEOS method rigradio suggested above). Now I just need to practice getting super precise alignment
  4. Thanks everyone for all your advice - it's revealed things I hadn't even thought about (balancing the scope properly, BYEOS drift alignment, belt mods etc). However, I managed to get out with the gear again tonight and I came to the realisation that i'm a complete idiot. All this time (a year and a half), i've had the RA and Dec axis mixed around - i've been mistaking Dec drift for RA drift and ignoring it. For example, when using the DARV method, i've been slewing Up and Down on the keypad rather than left and Right. Tonight I rotated the camera and drift aligned with the axes the *correct* way around, and I managed to get over 60s subs by spending roughly an hour on alignment. I really can't believe I didn't realise I was doing this all this time, especially as an astronomy student who did well in his observational classes..... I'm super happy that I finally managed to get this sorted, although after about an hour of properly imaging for the first time, my power tank died. I hadn't gotten round to charging it from my last session since I didn't think tonight would be clear - I really have no idea how i've managed to get as far as I have in astronomy Here's an example of an unprocessed 60s image I took tonight. Anyway, I think my polar alignment issue is sorted and i'll look into getting a autoguider some time later in the year. Thank you all again for your replies, they're much appriciated!
  5. Thanks for the advice, does that mean I should make the setup west-heavy when imaging west of the meridian? All this time i've been using BYEOS and never once have I noticed the huge 'Drift Align' button; i'm feeling rather silly now. Many thanks for the guide, i'll be sure to give that a try instead of DARV. Managing to get 180s unguided subs from under 45mins of drift alignment would be amazing!
  6. Thanks for the reply Adam, the only thing that worries me is field rotation. I've heard it can get quite bad if you don't properly polar align and just use an autoguider instead. Hopefully the polar alignment i'm getting will be sufficient - if not i'll look into using something like Alignmaster or pHd2 alignment.
  7. My exposures were 125s total (5 seconds for burning the initial star position in, 1 minute slewing left and then 1 minute slewing back right). I'll certainly try longer exposure times when I next can! Thanks for the balance advice guys, i'll give that a try too. Sadly, it looks like i'm not going to have time (or good enough weather!) to go out imaging for quite some time. Adam, thanks for the advice regarding the gears. If the sorting out the balancing hasn't much effect then i'll look at adjusting the gears or getting a belt mod. Would you recommend getting an autoguider and using something like pHd2 polar alignment instead, or should I wait until I have this sorted first?
  8. Hey guys, following on from my last thread regarding drift alignment issues, I finally (after a year and a half of trying) managed to get what seemed to be precise polar alignment using the drift method. The goal of this is to get long(ish) unguided subs. My setup is a Skywatcher NEQ6, SW 80ED Refractor, Canon 100D DSLR and i'm using BackyardEOS to control the camera. I don't yet have a focal reducer or any form of autoguiding. Here is an image of my altitude alignment (using the D.A.R.V method), using a star at around ±10° dec from the celestial equator, as near to the east horizon as possible. (Apologies for the poor image quality - I had to use my phone camera since print screen didn't seem to want to work on the laptop). And here is my alignment for the azimuth (taken near the meridian at ~0° dec). I spent hours trying to get both as precise as possible - I think more precise alignment would have been next to impossible for me to do. Regardless, after finally feeling like i'd got good alignment, I went to take an image and I was pretty disheartened. A 30 second exposure left me with significant star trails. The longest subs I could get without trails were ~15 seconds. After nearly a year and a half of just trying to get good polar alignment, it feels like a bit of an insult, especially given that people often talk about getting 30-60 second unguided subs. But, i'm determined to eventually get there. So my question is, why is this happening? Could it be that my mount is flawed or damaged from the time I dropped it on my head? Do I just not have enough practice making the small adjustments to the mount required for unguided subs? Could balancing play into this? I've tried to balance my mount as best I can, but the dec axis is still heavily skewed towards the back/camera end of the scope and i'm unable to move the scope any further forward on the dovetail to counter this. Or could this be that i've simply hit the limit of my setup? I was always intending on buying an autoguider once I was familiar with my equipment and able to get good polar alignment, but would it be worth it? I'm a bit worried that if I can't get better alignment, an autoguider really isn't going to make much difference (and at best give me bad field rotation). Alternatively, are there any other methods of polar alignment I could use? I don't really want to use the polar scope method, and would prefer drift alignment if possible. I'm aware that pHd has a drift alignment procedure, and i'm tempted to try it if I do end up getting an auto guider. Any help or discussion is much appreciated! Cheers, Crowmium.
  9. (Extremely late) update for anyone who might still be struggling with this: So after being unable to get back out with my scope due to real life and weather, I've finally been able to bag a few clear nights. Most of those nights were spent trying to fix this issue, which I *think* i've now minimised (it's still occuring but not as frequently). I believe main cause for this was that I had my mount setup on wooden decking - this introduced 'wobble' whenever the mount moved slightly and as a result kept causing it to re-settle to different positions every now and again. The second 'fix' was using a slower slew speed during drift alignment exposures. I was previously using speed '2' on my mount controller when I should have been using '1' (the slowest) according to the method i'm following. Both of these things seem to have decreased the frequency of this problem occurring, although it's still there! I'm going to give the mount a tighten up before I go out next, as per Jonk's suggestion above. Once again, thanks for everyone's replies back in December/January . I hope this helps someone in the future!
  10. Hi guys, sorry for taking so long to reply - it's been a pretty hectic xmas/new year. Thanks for all the replies though! Are there any other recommended methods aside from using the polar scope or the method i've been using? I've heard people use pHd2 but I sadly don't have a guidescope/autoguider. Thanks for the replies, and sorry again!
  11. Hi all, Just wondering if anyone could help me out with a bit of weirdness that was happening last night as i was trying to polar align my NEQ6 mount. I'm using the drift alignment method found here with an exposure time of 125 seconds - 5 seconds where the mount is still in order to 'burn in' a starting point, 60 seconds slewing 'left' and then 60 seconds slewing 'right'. Often, the resulting image wouldn't be in straight lines, but rather lines with kinks in them - the image attached should help give a clearer image of what I mean. This happened when i was aligning both the azimuth and altitude axes. Does anyone have any idea what might cause this? Could it be mount damage or am I just not holding down the directional keys on my keypad properly? Many thanks!
  12. Hi all, Following on from advice in my last thread I decided to give NGC 2024 a go with my university's telescope. I wasn't sure whether to post this in the other thread or not - apologies if I should have! 7x 120s RGB subs 7x 300s Ha subs 5x120s Darks 5x300s Darks 20 Bias frames The image didn't turn out as well as i'd have hoped for over an hour of integration time, clearly I still have a lot left to learn! The main thing I'm finding a problem with is getting stars to look right; they're brighter in different filters, so when aligning the colour channels in photoshop stars are 'larger' in some colours than others. Is there a way around this? Another problem i'm having is with DeepSkyStacker. It continually keeps only wanting to stack one frame, despite it picking up >10 stars. It was almost impossible to stack the Ha subs since the stars were so dim- the only channel I could properly stack was the red. Could this be due to light pollution, or am I missing something? Cheers, Crowmium
  13. Great, ill give those 2 nebulae a try. Ill also try using Ha as the red channel and see how it goes. I might even see if I can get a mosaic going, the telescope uses Maxim DL and I'm fairly certain i've seen a mosaic option in there before. Thanks again for all the replies everyone, much appreciated
  14. Sounds like emission nebulae are going to be the best targets for this rig. Would I need to also R subs along with Ha, B and G? - I'm still fairly new to monochrome imaging. Since the scope has a fairly narrow FOV I unfortunately can't try imaging some of the larger nebulae. My current target the next time I get on the scope is NGC 7380 (The wizard nebula).
  15. Ah, didn't know/think about field rotation. Ill try some really long exposures and see what happens. If I'm doing colour images with Ha, do the RGB exposure lengths need to be the same as the Ha exposure lengths?
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