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George Gearless

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Everything posted by George Gearless

  1. I've only every used my Mak 180 for observing. And I'm actualy quite pleased with it. I've done a few test runs for imaging, but I've found focusing to be very difficult. I already own a ZWO EAF which I use for my Skywatcher Evostar 80, and also very pleased with that. So, how to get those two to work together? I can't seem to find anything that is specifically designed for my Mak, but I found these brackets at FLO that were designed for Celestron C8/9 SCT's. They look like they're what I need, but I'm obviously worried about too much DIY to make it fit. I then found this video on youtube (Astrogadge) where the guy uses a Crayford focuser. But without the EAF. It made me wonder if I could get a Crayford focuser where my current brackets would fit on, and so circumvent the DIY on the Celestron brackets. Obviously, it would mean additional cost of the Crayford focuser. But according to Astrogadge, it's almost a must anyways. Any ideas or perhaps 'hands on experience' with this issue? George.
  2. Ok, so I've checked up on the recommended stacking settings for ST and tried to do a re-run. Pretty big difference, I have to say. How to attain the pitch black bacground of space, still eludes me. I did try and crop, vigerously, to try and get the wipe function to work, and you were absolutely correct. Once I cropped out a significant amount of the picture, the wipe function did not mess things up as bad as previously. But still, I haven't quite gotten the hang of the function and need to work more on it. I'm convinced that this is key to getting the proper light. Incidently, I gave the glas plate in front of the camera a quick dust-off with a photography equipment brush, and it's all gone now. Was starting to bug the heck out of me. I'm perfectly aware that I still have a long way to go. But because of the help I've recieved here, the journey doesn't seem so long and daunting as it might otherwise have. So thankyou to everyone for the help and very helpful advice. While I don't consider this picture the 'final, end all, be all' result because there's still so much to learn, I'm sure you'd agree that a prettier picture of the Andromeda galaxy has never been taken .
  3. You have very much achieved what prompted me to ask in the first place. Namely to get a darker background. I suspect the key to this is the 'wipe' function in Startools. A function that completely obliterates my pictures with strange lighting shapes. And by 'obliterates' I mean that you can hardly make out what the picture is supposed to be. I'll see if I can post a picture of it, so you can see what I mean. I am wondering why I am having this issue, when you are clearly not. A question probably more suited for an actual Startools forum. As Lee suggested above, I've tried fiddling around with my stacking settings. Specifically Kappa Sigma clipping. And it did indeed remove the satellite trail precisely as he predicted. But on top of that, I've found the stars to be, not only a bit tighter, but remarkably so. I'm at work at the moment, but will post a new picture when I get back home tonight. Thankyou very much for taking the time to work a bit with the picture. And also for your advice that is helping me pinpoint, at least some of, the problems.
  4. Well, spank my bottom and call me Susan! There it is. The dark canvas of space on which Andromeda is painted. This is very encouraging. Although I still have a lot to learn about AP, I have even more to learn about processing. It is admittedly one of my (many) shortcommings. What you have achieved by "a little play with" I could not achieve in days of frustration. It confirms with remarkable clarity what so many have said, that data is king in this 'business'. I can only imagine what can be achieved with longer integration. Weather permitting, I won't have to imagine much longer. I was unaware that there was a ST forum. And for some reason I didn't think to search for one. I've only ever watched some how-to videos on Youtube. So thanks for pointing me in that direction. Thankyou ever so much for taking the time with this. I feel very encouraged by it! George
  5. I have gotten simillar results as yours with Startools, although I spent much longer time than you to achieve it. I am however content with your result because it confirms that I'm not doing something fundamentaly wrong in my processing in Startools. Although I cannot entirely discount that the image is slightly out of focus, I think it more likely that I've messed something up in settings of DSS. I use an EAF and feel confident that Ekos' focusing module has done its job . Thinking back, I did change some settings when I stacked my second target (IC405) and they don't seem to have the same saturn-like rings on them. I think it was the settings involving cleaning cold/hot pixels? Easily found out. I'll just do a restack and see whats what. Here's IC405 from that same night, same focus, but 15x5min subs. Fiarly round stars I'd say. But I have a suspicion that I changed the hot/cold picxel repair in DSS for this stack: As for the dustbunny and sattelite trail, those have obvious solutions that I was just to lazy to do anything about for the purpose of the 'dark background' issue I was struggling with. Remove the bunny physicallly, and identify and leave out the satelite pic in the next stack. And yes, I too can see the dark square box that seems to frame the center of this picture. No idea how that came about. But let's leave that for another thread :). Thankyou so much for your helpful feedback. From this short thread I've learned more than I could study my way to in days. Also thankyou for taking the time to have a crack at it. Even if it was only for 5 mins. George
  6. I'd be delighted for you to have a crack at it. But please, don't feel obligated, if you somewhere in your process decide it'll take too much of your time. But I would love, if nothing else, to see if you can somehow get that smooth dark black background that I feel is missing above all else in this picture. That would indicate that the data is not flawed beond repair, but that my expertise in Startools is. The latter, is something I can adress. The former, something I can revisit the next time the weatherman allows me to go outside and play again. Edit: As you'll no doubt discover, there's a giant dustbunny near the top right corner. Flats do diminish it substantialy but not entirely. Just looks like a big bulging watermark after processing. The attached .FTS has only lights and darks. Added a 16 bit TIF as well. Not sure what you're used to working with. AndromedaStacked.FTS andromedastacked.TIF
  7. Thanks Lee. That was most helpful. Maybe I've just been too ambitious for my 25x2 min subs.
  8. The wipe module in Startools wreaks absolute havoc on my pictures. I have tried the different presettings. All of them completely messes up the picture and creates strange geometrical lightshapes over the picture. I'll admit, I have probably not investigated the manual tweaking enough. This is mainly due to my lack of knowledge of the program. I've only ever used the 'quick fix' preloaded options of the program. I'll look more into it after your post. I'm not sure where on the bortle scale I'm at. But there is an annoying street lamp very close to my backyard where I set up (it's a white light). If at all possible (as it was in this case) I try to avoid pointing the telescope in that direction. If I were to guess, I'm probably around 6 or 5 on the Bortle scale. Some setup and picture info (for this picture): 25 x 2 min exposure lights, 15 darks Gain 500 Binning 1x1 Camera, Omegon Vetec 533 C (cooled to -10) Skywatcher ED80 Guided Stacked in DSS I use Stellarmate/Ekos for all my photographing sessions.
  9. I was probably going to get a filter eventualy anyway. The example I posted here was just one I had readily available for uploading. I'm not partial to any DSO types as such. So thankyou for your advice. George
  10. Hey guys. I've recently purchased a new camera. And a couple of days ago I had the fortune to give it a whirl on, amongst others, Andromeda. But I'm getting very light background. Almost to the point of being gray. There's only so much I can do about it in StarTools. I can stretch it beond recognition so I get a fairly decent black/dark background. But then Andromeda looks like an Andy Warhole painting with vicious colours of magenta, yellow and red. But before I go out and buy myself a filter to combat the artificial lights in my suburban neighbourhood, I'd like to confirm that this is indeed ligth polution. The picture below is from Startools autodevelop mode and added scientific colours so as not to make it too offensive to look at. But other than that, it has not been pulled through the wringer. Yes, I know. It's wrong side up, not sharpened, not contrasted, not anything. My purpose here is simply to establish if an artificial lightfilter would help the situation here. Addendum: If it is indeed light polution that's causing this, would you have any recommendations? Filter wise, I mean. George.
  11. Hi, and welcome. I have the EQM-35 mount and I can attest that it's a good piece of kit. Not only for your current level (beginner) but also further levels ((intermediate and experienced) should you get properly hooked. I completely understand your choice of mount. I probably had the same deliberations as you, when I started out myself. On the one hand an equatorial go-to mount is pretty much essential if you want to venture into astro photography. On the other hand you can buy mounts that cost as much as a house, and you're not quite ready for that kind of commitment. EQM seems like a very good choice for you. As it was for me. I am however looking to upgrade to an EQ6. Not because the EQM isn't a good mount, but simply because I've been piling more and heavier equipment on it that puts an unreasonable strain on its 10kg load capacity. Somewhere down the line, if you continue your interest in astrophotography, you might find yourself in the same position. Astro photography is as fulfilling a hobby as it is expensive. You can buy specialized cameras that cost more than your mount. I speak from personal experience :). But hey, don't let me discourage you with financial troubles. I'm sometimes amazed at what dedicated astro photographers can achieve with much less (and cheaper) equipment than me. And I'm guessing they're having just as much fun as I am.
  12. Excellent. Thanks. Will probably watch it later tonight. I might as well, 'cause I'm not going to be setting up my camera anytime soon, according to the weather-man.
  13. I've just bought my first cooled camera (Omegon vTec 533 Colour). I haven't had the chance to use it just yet because of the weather. But I have fiddled around with the settings in Stellarmate, and once I updated the OS, everything seems to be in working order. I run a temporary setup in the garden and have to assemble/dismantle everything at each session. So far I've left the telescope and mount outside while taking darks, in order to maintain the same temperature. Since I can now precisely control the temperature on the camera, I was thinking that the time I've used before on taking darks outside, can now be used to gather data instead. Because now I can move inside and just set the same temperature and let Stellarmate take the dark sequence(s) while I'm heading off to bed. Because it's colder outside than inside, I can achieve a much lower temperature than I can inside (-/+ 40c). Is my plan of convenience doomed to fail (or at least inadvisable), because I should always run at as low a temperature as I can possibly achieve? Or is the difference in quality between, say, -15 and -30 negligible? Apart from the question above, maybe you also have some tips or do's and don'ts when it comes to running a cooled colour camera. I'd greatly appreciate a few pointers if you have them. George
  14. Success! In 'Stacking Parameters', the tab named 'Cosmetic' I unchecked both boxes that say 'Detect and clean hot/cold pixels'. I've got nice circular stars now after stacking. This is just a jpg from Fits Liberator. Didn't even run it through Star Tools. Just wanted to post that the problem was solved. And yes, I've noticed the satelite track (how can you even miss that). I'll identify the picture later and leave it out of the stack. Point of interest here is the stars and their missing rings. Not the picture as such. Thank you to everyone who participated in the search (especially wimvb and happykat). Now for the long arduous task of running it through Star Tools properly and see how good an image I'll be able to glean from the data.
  15. As requested by adyj1 , here is first the stacked result after having been run through DSS. It's as is. Only stacked, nothing else ( but with 35flats, 100bias, and 25 darks). 24,3 MB. Keep in mind that I have used default settings for DSS. I don't know what half of it means :). The rings are clearly visible on the final stacked image. Autosave.fits Secondly, one of the frames from the 50 piece photo session. 0 Gain, 120s exposure, guided. 4,1 MB. You'll notice the absence of rings. M_33_Light_055.fits A bit of data, in case it's usefull: AP 80/600 EvoStar ED ZWO 385MC camera ZWO Electronic Auto focuser Stellarmate/Ekos Edit: Just wanted to add that I intend to spend the evening fiddling around with different settings on DSS to try and get a different result. I was a bit desolated initially when told that they're out of focus. Because that sounded like a believeable theory. But I've checked most of the pictures and none of the single pictures contains rings. It's only after stacking that the rings appear. So I'm cautiously hopeful that I during the course of this evening will have figured out what causes it. I'll report back if I find anything. If anyone has any suggestions apart from those already given, I'd sure appreciate a hint or two and hopefully cut off an hour or two of setting trial and error.
  16. Absolutely. At work at the moment, but will do so when I get back home (about 5 hours from now).
  17. Ugh, I was hoping you wouldn't say that :(. I use an electric autofocuser and the autofocus function in Ekos/Stellarmate. So at least initially I believe the focus was spot on. 'Initially' being the key word here. I have to admit that I did not refocus over the course of the photographing session. It just didn't occur to me that focus could be lost. The silly thing is, that you can set Stellarmate to check focus between one or several images. As it turns out, that function is there for a good reason. So I'm realy kicking myself here. I've just realized that the pictures I checked, were the first 2 or 3 of overall 50. And they looked fine. Which was why I thought some wrongdoing in the stacking process. But when I get home from work, I'll check the last ones. I suspect they'll prove you right. This is a lesson I'd rather have learned without wasting a whole evening/night. Oh well :). Thanks for your reply. Even if you were the bearer of bad news.
  18. Hey guys. After a long hiatus, I was out last night to have a go at the Triangle Galaxy. After stacking in DSS, many of the single stars have a distinct halo/ring around them. At first I thought it was because all my images were equally out of focus. But upon inspection of the single photos, that wasn't the case. So It's got to be somewhere in the stacking process. But I have no idea where to look or check. Has anyone encountered this problem themselves, and what did you do about it? Would really appreciate any help. PS: I've only made a quick 'wipe' in Startools just to make the picture recognizable.
  19. Well apart from the milky way being an absolutely stunning view , you can clearly see Andromeda with the naked eye. I'm not quite certain, but occasionally I think I can see the Orion nebula too. But it might be my mind tricking me into seeing something that I know should be there. You simply can't look anywhere in the sky and not see a twinkling star. This is on moonless nights, ofcourse. When there is a moon present, even just a quarter of it, you don't need a flashlight to go down to the beach. The moon light is usually enough. It is quite an experience to see your surroundings entirely lit by undiluted moonlight, unsullied by modern electricity. Looking at the full moon directly will cause you to involuntarily squint if you've let your eyes completely settle on the darkness around you. I've only been photographing with my setup over the past 1½ year or so. Both my skills and my kit are probably subpar to show any significant advantage over pictures you're likely to have seen already. But to be perfectly honest, you can do so many things with technology these days (filters, photoshop and what not) that I'm not sure I'll ever gain an advantage in the AP department. It's the overall experience of being on a dark site that appeals to me. Dare I say that it is an almost primal experience. Before my AP days, I've spent many hours sitting in a declining lawn-chair, just staring up into the sky and wonder at the marvel of it all. Then occasionally walk over the the telescope when I found something on the night sky that warranted a closer inspection. Very therapeutic. I sometimes wonder, when I'm frustrated by ISO values, guidescope malfunctions and over processed images, if I'm missing the point.
  20. I've got 2 hours to an almost completely dark site (1hour drive, 1 hour ferry). My parents have a summerhouse on a small island with no public lighting. It's so dark, that on humid nights, I can see upstreaming lights from the nearest town 11 km away over the sea. Since I don't have a permanent setup, I pretty much pack everything I have. It's quite a luxury to have mains access on such a dark site so I don't have to leave stuff behind on account of power requirements. I mostly go there in the winter (ofcourse) and the other nearby houses rarely have any occupants that time of year. I'd say I go there 2-3 times a year. It's only when the weather forecast is particularly good for several days that I go there. And ofcourse it has to coincide with my days off from work. This year I've been quite unlucky, since we've had a long stint of overcast weather here in Denmark. The few days that were not, unfortunately did not coincide with days off from work.
  21. Matt Damon not only did a pretty good job. He did a fantastic job. My caveat was only because I wasn't sure how much the very enjoyable read I had with the book, rubbed off in my assessment of the film. On a side note; Enders Game was an absolutely gripping read. I swallowed it down in record time and just couldn't put it down once I got started. Then I found out there was a movie too. It had Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley on the role list, so I thought 'this gon'be gooooood'. Yikes! What an embarrassment of a movie. An absolutely toe-curling experience. The book, however, I highly recommend.
  22. I see a lot of movies in common on my list: The fifth element Equilibrium (a very overlooked and underrated movie. Not just Sci-Fi wise) 12 monkeys (not sure if this is Sci-Fi or just post apocalyptic) Logans Run The matrix Contact The martian (although I'm not sure it would be on my list if I hadn't read the book first. The book, as almost always, is way better than the film) Star Wars, A new hope or Empire strikes back Bladerunner District 9 As I wrote this, I probably re-arranged the order 4 times. Still not sure :).
  23. I think there is a good chance that you are in fact not looking at Mars. Even though you may not be able to see many features of the surface with your telescope you should at least be seeing it as a disk. Not a point (a star) as you describe. I use the free app, Star Tracker to find my way around the night sky. Especially when there's a planet to be found. It's on google play.
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