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About KevinPSJ

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  • Interests
    Everything except solar imaging at the moment. Trying out DSO imaging.
  • Location
    Near Bath, Somerset
  1. KevinPSJ

    Kevin Hurleys Deep Space Objects

    Long exposure stuff using prime focus DSLR
  2. Hi. I have a skywatcher 150p on EQ3-2 mount and it's great for visual. I'm way way through the great book Turn Left at Orion and really enjoying the chase. I've started dipping my toes in the imaging waters with it too and while its been an uphill struggle with polar alignment and balancing I've got some results using stacked 30s subs that have impressed family and friends enough to spur me on.
  3. Found this website recently - https://telescopius.com/deep-sky/search - which seems to have lots of options for customising the kind of target you can consider. Have yet to use it "in anger" so to speak but its given me some ideas. You select from different categories like globular cluster, planetary nebula, diffuse nebula, galaxy clusters etc. You can also filter by brightness, max altitude, extent .... lots of options. It calculates and presents the possible targets along with a graph showing culmination etc alongside twilight/dark timeline.
  4. Any camera you have is potentially better than none. If you are interested in dipping your toe in the water then I'd see how far you can get with what you have to hand. I have a Nikon D3200 DSLR which no-one in their right mind would really recommend now but it's what I have so it's what I'm using. The key hurdles will be: (a) attaching it at prime focus , (b) getting a focus and (c) long exposures without shaking the mount. To attach, you'll need a T-ring adapter for your camera - which also will depend on the telescope eyepiece holder dimension . Focus is the hardest part to get started with. Figuring out how to get an focus without liveview - I suggest you start in daytime and find a distant object via viewfinder of camera. Adjust telescope focus until the image is sharp - you'll need to take a photograph each time you want to check focus. Once you are happy, make a mark or keep a note of where the focuser is. If you have a parfocal ring then put in an eyepiece which gives roughly equivalent field of view and set the parfocal ring so you can swap camera and eyepiece fairly reliably. Next move to nighttime but again start easyt with something really bright like the moon. Put your telescope back to the same focus you found during the day and now try to get really sharp by incrementally adjusting focuser of the telescope and taking photographs until you are happy - move in and out of focus taking images as you go. The final challenge will be focussing on stars - they will very likely be too dim to see in the viewfinder so you'll have to use finderscope to roughly position and keep focus as set from something like the moon. This is where a parfocal ring can really save your bacon as you can get the image you want centered and framed using the eyepiece, then swap to the camera and take some images at very high iso while adjusting focus to get really sharp. I find a great test for sharp focus is maximum number of stars visible in the field but you can also look for sharpest points. Next comes the challenge of taking long exposure. You'll want a shutter release cable to avoid shaking the mount when you start the imaging. You'll need to have polar aligned your scope (I assume you have a motor drive) and you will just have to experiment to see how long your exposures can go without star trails. You can learn an awful lot about the art of astrophotography by making do with the equipment you have to hand! It will make you appreciate the progress you make even more! Good luck getting to first image - that's a real satisfying experience. Start with the moon - it should not be out of your reach!
  5. As Arthur C Clarke is supposed to have said "any sufficiently advanced civilisation is indistinguishable from magic". Seems like the same is true for image processing software!
  6. You've got some fantastic detail in the 2 galaxies - even if the sky is pretty bright. Well done finding them with the moon so bright this week. I spent half an hour last week looking for M81/M82 and gave up - between waiting for moon to set and sky to get properly dark it was a pretty long night. Switched to M51 (whirlpool galaxy) instead which was high up and easier to find because the moon had set by that stage. Nothing is easy about this hobby I'm like you on post-processing - find it a real challenge and need a check list. I tried out startools and found it quite straightforward. You can try it out for free and there are some good step-by-step guides: https://www.startools.org/modules/introduction/quick-start
  7. Thanks for the encouragment. The ring nebula photo was taken on a moonlit night too - I was camping in the garden with the children so took the opportunity to stay up late. I pushed myself quite hard to find M51 - originally I was looking for M81/M82 but failed to find them that night. Half the fun is the hunt at the moment but it does not leave me so much time for the imaging part. I use an intervalometer to control the camera and generally crack a hand-warmer once I start the actual imaging so going for more images to stack should be easy. I'm going to restrict my imaging now to really moonless nights and plan to stay up past midnight because I'm finding it too frustrating to process the images from bright nights. Roll on winter! Here's one more I took from mid-May: this was a real joy because the view through the eyepiece was pretty underwhelming compared to even a single 20s exposure in the DSLR. I think this is when I really caught the bug. I imaged this 2 nights in a row because the first night the hamburger was almost off the edge of the frame. This is from the second night and represents 19 30s exposures with DSS taking the best 5.
  8. Planet and Lunar imagery
  9. Had my equipment (Skywatcher 150p on EQ3-2 and a Nikon D3200) for quite a while but finally got round to really trying hard with astrophotography in the last month. Just my luck to start in the summer - lots of very late nights waiting for darkness. I have a motor on RA only. I invested in a polarscope for my EQ3-2 and have got the hang of using it now. I usually check my alignment by taking 1 min shots using a rough DARV kind-of procedure (https://www.cloudynights.com/articles/cat/articles/darv-drift-alignment-by-robert-vice-r2760). Generally able to get good enough alignment for 45s to 60s without trails but my imaging is done with 30s subs. I'm stacking using DSS and processing with startools or GIMP and have a steep learning curve. Also still figuring out how to take good flats. Here are some of my best shots so far - I know there's plenty of room for improvement but family and friends have been very plesantly suprised at what I have achieved!
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