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About mikey2000

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    DSLR and mirrorless 'terrestrial' photography, space, telescopes and now astrophotograpy
  • Location
    Leighton Buzzard UK

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  1. Ok, I had a few problems guiding at first. Totally haywire! But a quick recalibration sorted me out. It's still a bit breezy and the occasional cloud blows past but I'll persevere for a while. I'm trying a new workflow using an eyefi card in my camera and it's beaming the photos straight to me, one every 3 minutes, bang on schedule! I'm having a hoot watching telly while DSS live is building up a photo for me. I think a fair few subs will be headed for the bin tonight - the occasional gust is definitely giving me some wobbles. Interestingly, wth they eyefi card and a bit of pre-dusk fiddling, I've totally given up on Go-To and carefully syncing alignpoints. Astro tortilla gets the target centred within just a few minutes. Love it!
  2. As m101 should be reasonably high in the sky for me this evening and a chance of clear skies, I thought I might give it a try. With my newbie guiding experience, I'm managing 3 min subs quite consistently at +/-20 dec. At +54Dec for the pinwheel, maybe I can manage even longer... Will 3min subs be long enough to catch m101? I'll probably end up with enough time to get about 1 hour of total exposure time with my 150PDS, hopefully longer.....
  3. Thanks! I think this nebula (NGC2261) is actually a reflection nebula so not so hard after all. The Ha nebs will remain most elusive until I splash out on an astromodded camera :-)
  4. The coma isn't really that bad. I have a 150mm reflector and shoot with an APS-C camera - stars are definitely 'fan shaped' at the edges, even half way from the centre on my set up. So for me the coma corrector is essential unless I only look at the centre of the image. (is your pic a crop or the full readout?) I'm no expert on mounts, (I'm a newcomer too!) so I had to google your AVX. I think it looks like a bit like an upgrade on my EQ3 so I'm nearly 100% certain you will benefit from a autoguide setup. As for processing, I have a newer version of photoshop and never really managed good results on DSS stacked files. Having seen the first sub, I can't see why DSS wouldn't like it - I've managed to stack much worse than that! Once you get the DSS output, I'd highly recommened taking a look at startools - free to try and cheap to buy (25$AUS if I recall). The free trial doesn't let you save but you can still take screen grabs.... Why spend all that money on a scope and mount then find you can't process the image properly!! ;-) If you like, you can put the subs somewhere like dropbox and I'll have a go at stacking them too.
  5. I was immediately drawn to the subject title - M51 is high on my list of things-to-photograph! Your story is one of Intense Labour! Well done for persisting! From the initial sub example, I can't help wondering what software you used to stretch the image afterwards - I imagine you may have a little more detail hiding in there somewhere :-) I also spot a bit of coma in those stars. DSS was a lot happier with my shots since I got a corrector. I have a funny feeling you might be just a month or so behind me in stumbling into autoguiding!
  6. Here's a result from an my recent attempt at the Cone Nebula. Oops. I missed but accidentally discovered Hubble's Variable Nebula. 180s PHD2 guided exposures - almost no problem except for a massive DEC wobble that hit the crossover between two subs, wrecking them totally (excellent zigzag caterpillars in those ones though...) So, I managed 24mins (8x3min). There was a tiny hint of Cone in the corner but this is cropped away here (the pic below is the centre 1/3 of an APS-C shot). The Cone was pathetic really; With a non-modded camera, I probably need several hours of much-longer subs to see it. Anyway, here is a more colourful pic than my one at the top of this page...
  7. I've been quietly following this thread - it's always a good read. I exactly understand the desire to return to a few easy and rewarding targets :-) ive been so busy trying to get my scope under computer control, I'd almost forgotten the pleasure of observing! I'm such a newb that I hadn't even heard of the Trapezium before. So, I had a quick half hour to have a look. It won't be long before Orion has disappeared until next winter.... there they were! 4 little stars in a trapezium shape, cloaked with faint nebulosity. My best view was with 12mm (on 150PDS) giving a very obvious split and a nice surrounding view. No time for an extended view tonight (annoying as conditions looks quite settled tonight....). I have an early rise tomorrow :-( An idea for a reasonably interesting constellation at the moment might be Auriga (about 35 degrees north of Orion's head). Its chock full of clusters that are relatively easy to find (none of these disappointingly faint galaxies....). Auriga is a bit higher overhead than Orion so should stay visible for a few more weeks. Happy hunting!
  8. Totally clear here tonight! Very calm too. I just had it all setup to go with PHD2 when I accidentally knocked out the power cable and the computer died. Then it said "please wait while we finalise the updates" as Windows took over. Bah! all up and running again, gathering data on what I hope will be the cone nebula.... but, I have an early shift tomorrow so will need to pack it all away in a few minutes. SCope Nights on my phone shows a glimmer of hope for the middle of next week and I have a few days off work then...
  9. I had significantly better guiding results last night. My +/-4" (arcsecond) RA swings are down to +/-2" most of the time now. This makes a big difference! I had to reduce the ASCOM pulse guide factor (from 0.9 to 0.5) and PHD2 RA aggressiveness. Strangely, I found that using 0.5s guide exposures gave much better results than 2s. Isn't that against all conventional wisdom? I quite like the PHD2 'target' graph. With 0.5s, at least 75% of shots fall within the 2" circle. At 2s, the number of 4" outliers is vastly increased. Does an EQ3 Pro mount really need guiding every 0.5 s? It seems so! Anyway, the proof is in the pudding. After fiddling and tuning, I turned on the camera. This is after all the whole point! With the moon shining brightly, I decided on M36 in Auriga. I was pleasantly surprised to produce nearly-round stars at 1min, 2min and 3min exposures with only one obvious failed sub (I think it's when RA PE has a big spike - I still need to work on PEC....) 9/10 at 60s+ is a major major improvment oveer 5/10 at 45s previously! I'm very excited to have a clear moonless night soon..... So here is M36. Very starry and not many colourful stars in that patch. Approx 15mins, no darks, no flats. A mix of 1,2 and 3 mins subs all chucked into DSS together. Nearly the whole frame here (APS-C camera) just cropped a little to shift some horrible stackin artifacts at the edges
  10. I just popped outside to feed our rabbits. The Stars Are Out! (In a hazy kind of way but the full moon looks splendid...) Its amazing - the whole sky has moved! All of Ursa Major is now visible (normally obscured by the roof next door). And where is Orion? Sunk below the treelike! Goodbye winter, hello spring. And a 7am alarm so no real fun tonight :-)
  11. What? Only one app? If you download a few more, it is possible to be disappointed multiple times. but they all disagree, so it can still be a bit of fun comparing the met office to all the other sources...
  12. My time *will* come! It's just so annoying! Apparently I'm due a clear spell at 3am tonight but with school runs tomorrow, I will be fully asleep then. Maybe in 20 years, I can retire and set my own timetable....
  13. Permacloud update... We had a few sunny afternoons recently. I think I even saw the moon one evening through a fuzzy layer of cloud..... My expensive ornament is still nicely ornate in the garage. I have become a compulsive weather app checker!
  14. I use the rs232 cable that came with my eq3pro Synscan. It plugs into the bottom of the handset. The other end connects to my laptop with a cheapo serial/USB adapter. I use eqmod on the on the computer and set the handset in the mount to "PC direct" mode and it seems to work fine 99% of the time. I get the occasional glitch (mount connection appears to timeout maybe once or twice per hour) and very occasional "unstoppable slew" . This is rare - maybe once every 3 hours while fiddling around constantly Left alone, it has never happened . The unstoppable slew can be somewhat alarming and has me reaching for the power switch but eqmod emergency stop always halts it, just not as immediately as I would like. maybe a proper eqdirect cable would be even more reliable. I don't know. movibg on to PHD2, the setup I just described seems to work (with a qhy5L-ii camera) using the eqmod pulse guiding. I'm new to all this guiding business so I need to properly understand how to tune PHD2 but I have been given loads of tips here. I just need a clear night to try these ideas out... to summarise what I had to buy: Step 1) to get laptop control of the mount: USB-serial adapter (cheap)! Download eqmod, Stellarium and Stellarium-scope (all 3 free) Step 2) for guiding: camera and guidescope (not cheap). Download PHD2 (free)
  15. That's quick, Nigel. Could you give me an idea of how well your PHD2 works, maybe in terms of arc seconds (eg peak to peak "normal" deviations)?