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George Gearless

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  1. George Gearless

    Full moon M42

    Jeeezus heich Krajst! Now I have something to shoot for. The processed one is ready for National Geographic. I doubt it can be improved upon. I certainly can't. Love it.
  2. Those of you, who are old enough, will remember that anticlimactic feeling when finally receiving your developed holiday pictures from the photo shop. That magnificent vista that took your breath away seemed ordinary and flat. The pictures from the beach showed a couple of empty beer bottles, a random piece of plastic and a fat man with a beer belly dominates the background in his speedos. Back then, how often did we wish we could remove those annoying little details? Or perhaps even embellish upon them a little bit? However, the pictures faithfully depicted what you did see. Not what you remember seeing. Fast forward 20 years or so. Now we can remove the fat man from the picture. We can make the sea look blue’er than it really was. We can even add a few details that our mind remembers, although they were never there in reality. By now you’ve probably already figured out where this is going. I recently took my very first picture of a nebula (the Orion nebula). The first single photo (no stacking, no nothing) looked unmistakably like the Orion nebula. It didn’t remotely have the luster and colorfulness that we have become so accustomed to seeing in glossy astronomy books and the internet. But it was there. Then I started the process of grinding my pictures through DeepskyStacker and fiddled with the various settings. And lo and behold; soon a beautiful pink and blue picture of a vast cloud emerged on my computer screen. I fiddled a bit more with the settings in an attempt to approximate my picture to what I remembered from ‘the astronomy books’. Then, a couple of days later it hit me; was I cheating? Did I ‘make’ something that wasn’t there? Did I retouch my beach picture and removed the fat man in speedos? And what if I did? I guess the question I’m asking is; where do you draw the line? If I was proficient in Photoshop, I could turn the Orion nebula into a nice green hue. Or purple with yellow polkadots. Pretty as that might be, it would not represent ‘the truth’. Too little processing, and my picture may turn out unrecognizable. Too much, and I might as well have made the picture in Photoshop without bringing out my mount and my telescope. I find myself balancing a knifes edge. When is it ok? And when has the line been crossed? I suppose it’s a matter of personal morals. Why am I even writing this? Well, I don’t think I’m the first or the only person to have had these moral quandaries. It is futile to set up black and white rules of what is right and what is wrong. Astrophotography is simply too complicated for a rigid ‘rulebook’. So I’m not even going to make the attempt (or ask someone else to). But I would be interested to learn what others think about this. Are you a purist or are you a no-holds-bared kind of guy? Or something in between? If you are reading this and think “What on earth is this guy on about. There is no problem I can see”, then good for you. If you think you can contribute with your own views on the matter, then I look very much forward to reading them. Maybe I just gave you some food for thought. In which case, I wish you bon appetít.
  3. George Gearless

    First attempt at M42 with AZ goto, mak127

    I was very aware of the temperature issue. Which was why I put the camera outside to approximate the same temperature it had when I took the lights. Granted, following your procedure of doing it just before, just after, or half and half, will surely give a more accurate temperature. My 'post session' recording of the darks was just a vain attempt to improve on the picture. It did improve it, and it goes to show that the issue of darks shouldn't be taken lightly (pun intended). I have at least a week of downtime, judging by the weather reports. I'll most likely use the time to peruse "Every photon counts" that both you and Happykat have recommended independently of each other.
  4. George Gearless

    Full moon M42

    Now THAT'S what I'm talking about. Stunning red colors. "Work in progress"? Man, you're done! Please re-post when you're done. This should be good.
  5. George Gearless

    First attempt at M42 with AZ goto, mak127

    25 secs is my usual limit. But I have on occasion pushed it to 30 on particularly still windless nights with decent results. I could possibly have done it last night as well. But I had already taken 6 or 7 pictures with the 25 sec setting, so I continued so as not to mess up my streak. Once I have figured out the do's and don'ts of my newly acquired EQ wedge for the mount, I'm hoping to go beyond 30. We'll see.
  6. George Gearless

    New to astrophotography

    Welcome Walshy. As a new AP'er myself, I've found this forum to be a plethora of useful information. Not to mention some very helpful and experienced members.
  7. You can't have known how relevant your post is. Yesterday I spent an hour of precious observing time, fiddling about with my newly acquired EQ wedge for my AZ mount. Had to give up in the end, and revert back to my AZ. I was hopelessly unprepared for the session and am still kicking myself for wasting all that viewing time. I thought I was prepared, having watched a ton of youtube videos and read up on polar alignment and so on. In my mind, I had everything lined up and ready to go. But as they say; "No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy". I can only concur with your advice to spend the downtime with some proper hands-on equipment testing.
  8. George Gearless

    First attempt at M42 with AZ goto, mak127

    Thankyou for the encouraging remarks. @ Demonperformer: I have, since my post, reproduced some darks by leaving the camera outside and took 10 darks with the same exposure time and ISO. Added them to Deepskystacker and did the post-production once again. I've amended my OP with the new picture. Cropped a bit differently, but essentially the same picture. Lesson learned. One of many, I suspect. @ DougM43: Uncanny how similar our train of thought is. When I saw M43 pop up on my LCD screen I recalled that giddy feeling I got when I first saw Saturn through my very first telescope. Some 20 years ago. Sometimes I think astronomers ought to take some poetry lessons, to properly relay the feeling of observing the night sky. And yes; I foresee some tough budget negotiations with my better half, in the future :). @ SacRiker: Indeed I am happy with the result. Even happier with your comment. I just realized that this thread was probably more appropriate in the beginner's section. Sorry about that. Feel free to move it, Admin.
  9. George Gearless

    M42 - first attempt at a 'serious' shot

    Amazing that you can get such a beautiful result with such little effort (single shot). Very well done.
  10. I'm so excited. My first nebula. Yeah yeah, I know; the colors are off, the background is too bright, there are two specs of dust that I didn't realize were there, and so on and so on. But this is the first time I have captured a recognizable nebula, with MY camera, MY mount and MY time. Nothing you say will detract from my joy of having a 'viewable' result. I am just so thrilled with it that I thought I'd share. No point in listing all the picture data, as is the custom. Suffice it to say, that there are 24 frames of 25 sec. No darks. Stacked in Deepskystacker where my knowledge of the program is limited to "ooh, let's see what this slider does". Enjoy. Or just have a look :). Edit: Shout out goes to Happykat who's guidance has been instrumental in my little achievement. Edit2: Added a second picture that contains darks, for comparison. Cropped a bit differently. But essentially the same picture.
  11. George Gearless

    Skywatcher GTi mount

    Ok, I've had the chance to give it a spin. First off: Skywatcher has made the firmware upgrade so that not only does it operate in EQ mode, but it changes the 'side' of the mount you need to put your telescope. They call it "right arm" mounting. For someone like me, with a fixed dovetail installation, it places the finder at the bottom because I have to install the telescope 'the wrong way round'. This puts my red-dot finder in a very awkward position. I don't know who would benefit from this "right arm" mounting. But it certainly isn't users with a Skywatcher fixed dovetail telescope. If your telescope is mounted in rings that you can rotate the telescope within, then you're fine. I am not proficient in the realm of polar alignment. But I've read enough and watched enough about it to feel confident to make the attempt. Needless to say, without a polar alignment scope this is a bit tricky and warrants some McGyver thinking :). So, I cannibalized a crosshair finder scope from my very first telescope and fitted it with some clamps on the baseplate of the EQ wedge. And so I managed a pretty close approximation to a complete polar alignment. I used the polar alignment finder in the Skywatcher app. to find the correct orientation. I then installed the AZ mount in its brackets (with the scope and counterweight) and set the scope to track. It seemed to track quite nicely. I ran into problems when I started to 2-star align the telescope. When it started to slew towards the first star, it took the 'long way round', and would have hit the mount/tripod had I not stopped it. I tried flipping things around and reposition the telescope. But no matter my efforts, it always ran into the mount when I tried to go to stars with high elevation. Because time was running out, I decided to dismantle the EQ wedge and revert back to AZ mode so I could get some viewing in. Clears skies is a rarity at my location, and I had to make the most of it. So I simply gave up with the EQ. For now. I did not have the proper screws to mount my camera directly onto the mount. So I'm afraid I can't give any feedback on that. I am painfully aware that I am a novice. Particularly with the EQ setup. So this setback does not encourage me to throw the EQ wedge in the bin just yet. It just goes to show that this is not a 'plug and play' device that will somehow make you a professional if you weren't already. I don't know if there are some aftermarket polar scopes out there that will work for this mount. If so, I am unaware of them. I'll revisit this thread once I've figured out where I went wrong in causing the telescope to bump into the mount/tripod.
  12. George Gearless

    Skywatcher GTi mount

    The weather forecast looks promising for the weekend (at least for saturday). So I am hoping to be able to give my 5 cents after that. I'll be testing with camera only as well as with a Mak127. Keeping my fingers crossed .
  13. George Gearless

    Az-GTI Dec movement reversed in EQ mode

    I think I've stumbled upon it before. And yes. It was very helpful.
  14. George Gearless

    Az-GTI Dec movement reversed in EQ mode

    True. But would that not also be the case if they didn't reverse the Dec motor? I genuinly applaud Skywatcher for making the EQ option. And to be honest, I'm quite excited about it. Reverse motor or not. I just found it odd that Skywatcher would make firmware that specificaly inconveniences Skywatcher telescope owners, and not the other way around. But that's all it realy is. An inconvenience. I fear I may have blown this up to be an insurmountable problem. It certainly isn't that.
  15. George Gearless

    Az-GTI Dec movement reversed in EQ mode

    You mean using less equipment than what you can physicaly pile upon the already strained mount?!? What is this herecy? No no... I refuse to listen to this bizar drivel. More is ALWAYS better, as we all know. No, seriously: A good point well made, Happykat. I'm sure some very viewable results will come of using just the camera and a good lense. But, you can't blame a guy for trying to squeeze every 'drop' of light out of the equipment that is already available to me.

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