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Seanelly

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About Seanelly

  • Rank
    Star Forming

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Interests
    Astronomy (of course), photography, history, reading (anything, as long as it's well-written) classic cars
  • Location
    Ottawa, Ontario
  1. That was quite the slide show, nicely documented. I hope your head healed up, no Frankenstein scar? Would your drive to the hospital be considered distracted driving? (Okay, enough, I'm sure it was nothing to laugh at at the time. Once I was helping a buddy move a bed/couch (I forget what they're called exactly) and the cheap cord we were using to tie it closed snapped and the thing sprung open and caught several of my fingers so bad that I was afraid I'd severed one or all because while we were carefully folding it to get my hand out the blood was pouring out of the glove. Fortunately it was more fright than serious, though I do have a couple of nasty scars.) I will definitely be installing a pier, as much for rigidity as for ground clearance inside; I've kicked my tripod legs one time too many! Sinking it won't be too much of a problem, as my son has installed a number of pilings for decks, etc. Even a flagpole one time! It looks about 2 meters square? After a year plus, are you finding it at all cramped? I was thinking 3x3 but that may be overdoing it, especially as I will only be in there for setup, not observing, and extra width is extra cost. That is an interesting roof design, something I'll keep in mind as I go forward. I'm not very concerned with how it will finish out, as it will be fairly well hidden from view from the house (my wife's concern), and almost entirely from neighbors (my concern), though knowing my son, I'll have to keep a rein on his enthusiasm for aesthetics. As long as it is solid, functional and weather-proofed to a reasonable degree I'll be happy. I think my dog might wonder why his house is so much smaller, though, haha. Thanks a bunch for the ideas. (Just watched the Raptors game. I'm not much into basketball, but that was exciting.)
  2. Hi, folks. I'd like to set up a permanent location about 20 meters off the side of the house to hold my imaging scope. I am quite handy and my son is an experienced contractor so we are confident of handling what needs to be done, but this is something neither of us wishes to jump into without some tech advice. Can anyone provide suggestions or details or preferably schematics for a reasonably priced observatory to enclose an F9 100mm APO that will be mounted on a pier, especially a simple roof design that can be manipulated by one person. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  3. Hello, Michael. If you could indulge me once more (a figure of speech, perhaps I mean once or twice more), I have the results from Tuesday night's imaging session, and results are mixed. I was very conscious of my setup routine, tension, balance, cable placement, etc., but while centering the third star (Vega) of alignment in the DSLR 10x live-view box for B-mask focusing, I noticed it was drifting briefly uncommanded, not out of the box, so the drift was not much, but some drift nonetheless, and I had to recenter a couple of times before it settled down. Then after focusing and re-placing the star in the unmagnified center of the DSLR where it was originally after 3-star align, I selected M51 and after framing this galaxy with a couple of 30s exposures I turned my attention to activating GA, and when I returned to the DSLR (2 minutes?) to check positioning of M51 with another 30s exposure, M51 had drifted up the DSLR live-view screen exactly as it had done before! Not all the way out, but a significant drift considering that the DSLR live-view was unmagnified, and far enough that I had no choice but to re-center it, which I did with a couple of short exposures, and then moved it around a few times to see if it would drift again but it seemed stable this time, so I went back to PHD2 to reset. Here is the last short (30s) exposure taken to frame M51 in the DSLR live-view. Magnified, you can see that the image shows star trails (significantly, in the same direction as all the bad subs in the earlier sessions that started all this trouble) over the 30 second exposure, which I only discovered later when studying the exposures: IMG_5248.CR2 And here is the 30s exposure after activating GA where I discovered that the image had drifted in the DSLR live-view along the lines of the star trails in the image above: IMG_5251.CR2 All that aside, once GA gave me the go-ahead and I set the recommendations it provided, I started 3 minute exposures. I could not find calibration setting in GA and only discovered last night that it lies in the 'brain' section of PHD2. This I will rectify next session, but it remained as-is for the two objects I imaged Tuesday night. Results from 26x3m M51subs were varied. 9 were very good, 10 showed very slight star trails under heavy cropping but adequate for wide-field look, and 7 showed significant trails, not as bad as they were in the previous sessions where all the trouble started, but pretty much useless nonetheless. Following are an example of each. Good 3m M51 sub: IMG_5269.CR2 Mediocre sub: IMG_5275.CR2 Bad sub: IMG_5289.CR2 Keep in mind that even the bad subs show star trails significantly shorter than the trails that first brought all this to mine and your attention a couple of weeks ago, which were perhaps 3 times longer, and I'm wondering if it's possible that the 7/26 bad M51 subs from Tuesday might be attributed to the scope orientation, which was nearly vertical during the 90 or so minutes of exposing? I wonder this because after M51 I switched to M57 and my percentage of bad subs dropped from 7/26 for M51, to 14/69 for M57, though a loss that is still far more than I was getting before all this trouble started. I imaged 69 3m exposures of M57. 42 were good, 13 mediocre, and the 14 bad ones just mentioned. Following are examples of each. Good 3m M57 sub: IMG_5297.CR2 Mediocre sub: IMG_5305.CR2 Bad sub: IMG_5309.CR2 Again keep in mind that these short star trails are nowhere near as bad as the ones that brought all this to our attention in the first place, so something has changed for the better. That said, I remind you that my sub losses before all this were minimal, perhaps 2-3% at most. I thought that maybe all this scrutiny of my subs was making me too critical of their appearance, but I checked a bunch of my subs from six sessions a couple of months ago comprising 17 hours total of 5 minute exposures on M81-M82, and they are near perfect, an example of which follows. Typical 5m sub of M81-M82: IMG_2775.CR2 I'm at a loss as to why even the best subs from Tuesday night can't match the typical M81-M82 sub. They are okay, but looking at my M81-M82's thoroughly shows me they are crisper without a doubt. This is driving me crazy. Finally, I attach the guide log from Tuesday night. PHD2_GuideLog_2019-05-21_215054.txt What on earth, or should I say Heaven, is going on? (A rhetorical question for the most part, but at this stage I'll try any suggestions you might have!) Yours in agony, Sean
  4. Is/has anyone out there using/used this type of scope, be it the 80, 100 or 120mm aperture? I can't find anything in search. I'd like to see some SGL critiques and images, preferably but not necessarily with a DSLR. Online search brings up many 100ED images, but very few more definitive, and besides, the comments associated with the images (in Flickr, etc.) are almost exclusively plain dry facts. I bought the 100 in November of last year after many hours and days of reading reviews and general info on scope manufacturers, focal length, cost, etc., and I must say that so far I have zero regrets where quality, price, and performance are concerned. I read more often than not that buying a shorter focal length scope was the best way for a beginner to get into imaging, as it was more forgiving, but I'm glad I went with my gut on the 900mm, mainly because I have a preference for globs and galaxies rather than nebulae, and from what I gathered I was fairly certain that with experience I could handle any problems a longer focal length scope might bring. I bought the scope as a package deal which included the HEQ5 mount (another relatively quality piece for the price for this cash-starved newby) and Orion guidescope/guide camera, focal reducer-in short, everything I thought I needed (turns out not quite, but that's a whole nuther story) except my Canon T6i, which I picked up for a song (I won it in a karaoke contest, haha, just kidding, sorry if you've heard that one before) from an Ottawa University student who had used it for a semester. She said she took maybe only a few hundred photos before dropping the course, and the camera picture count was 1750/10,000 when I checked, considerably more than she said, but still nearly new, unless she lied and had rolled over the count, but the camera and screen were spotless, and even if so, 11,750 shutter releases was peanuts. My T2i has been used almost every day for five years taking hundreds of daytime photos and is still going strong, though I've worn out a couple of lenses. (My techie brother modded the T6i for $100 (I insisted he get something for his trouble) and it has performed flawlessly, and another welcome bit of savings.) Anyway, plug for Canon out of the way, does anyone have anything to show or say concerning this scope, keeping in mind the relatively low price, etc.? I want the good with the bad, if it comes to that, as if there are any potential problems with it I'd like to have a heads-up. Sean
  5. I will be using the GA for each new object at least for the immediate future, and will see to the backlash setting. I just broke away a few minutes to check the handset backlash settings for the mount and both Dec and Alt are set at 0 value, which is the disable mode (manual). What is your opinion of belt drive conversion for the HEQ5? I've read here only positive results, that it can reduce backlash, etc., and though I'm in no hurry to explain another astro-related purchase to my wife, it surely can't be that expensive, and I'm confident I could do it myself, as I deal with relatively similar stuff-albeit usually on a larger scale-on a daily basis. If it can help improve my images, I would seriously consider it. Sorry to leave you hanging again for the last ten minutes (haha), I just tried to recover the lost files as you suggested and also went deeper for online strategy but they are nowhere to be found. I might be persuaded to believe in a mislabeling issue and they are hanging around somewhere if I were not sure that I did not because of their relevance to my situation, also because mislabeling two files at the same time is a boner I just can't believe I'd make, besides, the date search has revealed nothing. Quite frankly I now feel that if they are so intent on hiding from me they can bloody well stay there, I will know soon enough how my imaging is faring without them. (That said, my preliminary curious look at a couple of the subs of M57 (no star trails!) before the folder mishap were fascinating (great colour!), and I can't wait to get in a solid night imaging this ring nebula.) As for the guidescope issue: I see that the dovetail (I called it a wedge earlier) foot of the guidescope bracket can be viewed as quite inflexible in the main scope base, especially as in my case there is no extra shoe or adapter added that might increase the possibility of unwanted movement, but the guidescope tube in its bracket is less so, as the three alignment screws (you mentioned two) are not steel as I said in error earlier, but nylon. If I were having these drifting issues constantly I might be inclined to see this setup as more of a culprit, but at any rate I will keep an eye on things in this area. I hope you can bear with me a little further come Wednesday (weather permitting, which looks good for Tuesday night) and hopefully celebrate a little on helping a fellow skywatcher get back on track-actually get onto a better track. Cheers, Sean.
  6. The recent Friday session I finally managed to fit in that showed no drift after releasing the directional buttons I think tells me that previously either something was not battened down or my balance was off, but the fact it happened four times in a row while getting progressively worse and now it seems fine, even with the extra caution Friday given to the setup, just has me baffled. If I never see it again I'll be happy, but it will bug me for a long time to come. I will have to check on the settings for backlash hopefully Tuesday night with a bit of lucky clear weather. All these settings (backlash,etc.) are new to me, as well as the Guide Assistant recommendations, which I never noticed after it finished it's routine. I just assumed it would take care of those by itself (pretty sure you knew who you were dealing with here from the start but this is more proof how new I am at to this). As to that silly business of deleting M3 and M57 subs, I never emptied the recycle bin, did not even send the subs there, I just looked there for them but they were not to be found, nor anywhere else. I can't even recall how I lost them. I thought I had separated everything into folders but after checking each sub of M51 I moved on to check M3 and M57 but the folders had vanished. Maybe I should have been a magician! As to that nuke crack, why are you using Chinese Huawei technology after all the [removed word] they've stirred up, both the country and the company? And you can't fool me, any N. Korean missile fired in this direction, if it ever got off the launch pad, would no doubt land closer to Japan than Canada. Re guiding: My experience with noticeably improved guiding Friday night after using Guide Assist was an eye opener. I did not know how necessary it was in my case, and I will use it for each new target in future. Guidescope: You will have noticed the SW scope I am using for imaging. I don't know if you've seen it, but the metal wedge mount for the guidescope is dovetailed to fit the metal Orion guidescope base and secured by a single, strong screw. I went over it thoroughly on Friday during setup and it is very solid. I can't vouch for materials or design used in these two areas in the past which may possibly be the source of the questionable reputation, but I work as an industrial millwright, and while the technical side is not my strong suit (you will have noticed, haha), I really do know a strong, mechanical connection when I see one, so while I don't rule it out entirely as as contributing to my problem, it is the least of my worries. If my drifting had occurred on just one night, or on a couple of separate nights, I might perhaps suspect that the dew heater I use on the guidescope had caught up on something and pulled on the guidscope, but four sessions in a row blows that up. Tuesday night (hopefully) I will follow all the Guide Assist recommendations and briefly test-image several more widely separated objects, and pass on any bad sub examples and the log. I hate to say it for your sake but I hope all my troubles over those four nights were an anomaly that I'll never see again and I've just wasted your time. If that is the case, hopefully the compensation on your part will be that I know a fair bit more about what I'm doing than I did before all this happened, which will no doubt improve my images, and you've shown yourself to be very selfless with your time. But first things first.
  7. So, if you've got time, I've got answers and I've got questions. I can't provide images of the star drift during those four imaging sessions in question because while checking over each sub to potentially go into DSS I deleted all the bad ones. I didn't realize that I might need to reference them, and though I have plenty of room on my portable drives for storage, I didn't see any use in holding onto junk subs. I do have the good subs of M3 that I subsequently stacked, processed and posted in my album, 3+ hours out of about twelve imaged. After centering the third alignment star, then exchanging the eyepiece/diagonal for the DSLR and positioning the star in the DSLR 10x box for focusing, the star continued to drift for a short period of time in the direction it came from after I took my finger off the handset directional control. This was under 10x, don't forget, so the drift was not much, but it was there nonetheless, and on the last disastrous night of the four sessions, after the star drifted and I re-centered it in the DSLR 10x and achieved focus and then slewed to M3 and framed the object, I turned my attention to setting up PHD2, and when I turned back to the DSLR live-view screen a few minutes later, M3 had drifted halfway up the (unmagnified now, so a significant drift) screen of the DSLR. Seeing as how the image had already stopped moving and was still placed as such that my cropping would make it unnecessary to centre the image anyway, I left it that way and started imaging. I lost all subs on that last night. The star trails were not long, but these subs were only two minutes duration, and I've gotten much better results just guiding off the mount alone. All trails are in the same direction, what I believe to be declination, as I was imaging toward the east and the trails were running to the top right of the subs (I hope that is not misleading). Friday night I got my first chance to set up and test since that last disastrous session. I checked over all the gear, making sure everything was as it should be, and took great care in balance and locking everything down securely, etc. There was no drift of the third alignment star in the DSLR 10x live-view screen, so that was already an improvement, and after the mount slewed to M51, I framed it and then went through the Guiding Assistant routine. I asked this question earlier in the thread but got no answer, and I've yet to get into the PHD2 analysis link provided: Is it recommended to use Guide Assist every time you set up, or perhaps only every time you want to image a new object, or just randomly on occasion? This is more relevant to me now because my guiding last night was better than I've ever seen it. There were occasional blips, but generally speaking it was exceptional. I have another question that might be solved from the guide log provided below, but as stated, I have not yet looked at the analysis link so I do not know. While my guiding was very good according to the graph, I noticed that my polar alignment error in the Guide Assist routine ended up at around 8.0, whereas the first log I provided for the bad sessions earlier proved my PA alignment error at only 0.5. If I'm reading and understanding all this correctly and the discrepancy is truly an indication of bad PA, then it may be because while the handset provided Polaris position at 1:30, I just may have set the mount to 1:20 instead. It was just one of those things where after everything is done and you have started imaging, you run over the routine in your head to try and find any flaws, and this PA 1:20/1:30 stuck in my head all evening. There was no way I was going to start all over again, and I figured if PA was bad, it would still be possible to image while taking that into account, and so my question is, if all this be so, would guiding still be as good as it was last night? And now for the results, good, bad, and just plain embarrassing. I imaged about ninety minutes each of M51, M3 and finally 2 hours M57 as a late-night addition, three different locations in the sky for a good overall test, and even got up before dawn to grab darks, flats and bias. But stupidly, in my routine to organize the folders before stacking, I somehow deleted the subs for M3 and M57 (I need to get more sleep, haha). Go ahead, hit me now and get it over with-tell you what, I'll do it myself right now. Ouch. What gets me in all that is I'm usually so careful anyway in my setup, and yet here I was at the most important of imaging sessions fretting over possibly clumsy PA and then dumping valuable images not even in the recycle bin where I could retrieve them and save the day. Anyway, I still had M51. I lost about 10% of the subs to star trails or 'globbing', if I can use that word, but the types of losses were nothing like the consistent one-track trails of the bad M3 subs in question, and I'm hoping that this high loss can be attributed to the fact that while the mount RA was nearly parallel to the ground and so my balance there would have been spot on, the scope itself was nearly vertical for the roughly 90 minutes of imaging, and while my balance there was as good as I could make it, I'm wondering if this vertical attitude had anything to do with the high rate of loss. Sorry for the long-winded explanations. I post here the 1h 4m M51 image, composed of 3m subs and about 50 each of the three other calibration frames in DSS and tweaked in PS, and also the guide log. If the problem has cleared up, which won't really be known until the next session, fine and dandy, but it would still leave me wondering what caused it in the first place for all four of the imaging sessions of a new object. PHD2_GuideLog_2019-05-17_215239.txt
  8. Twenty easy and simple years owning a visual dob spoiled me into thinking that doing the research, getting input from various sources, and springing for a basic imaging rig was as far as the cost would go, but I underestimated by a good deal the cost of all the 'extras' necessary to get another step closer to better photos, or simply to acquire necessary gear that was overlooked in the original research. SGL was a great source of information and encouragement as I sourced my rig, but nobody ever pointed out that once you think you've reached the end of the road and can now order all your stuff and away you go, there is always another, smaller road that continues the journey, and the cost. I don't say this in blame, I am, after all, responsible for everything I do, and of course everyone here wants to support a budding fellow amateur astronomer just as I encourage people following behind me, I just wish I could believe that the next time I tell my wife that this purchase will finally complete my setup, it will actually be true.
  9. Thanks, I'm glad to see that you confirm my PA/guiding is not the problem. As I write this the scope/mount is undergoing it's first imaging session since the problem in question arose about ten days ago, crappy weather hogging the entire interval, and irregardless of the full moon, as it makes no difference for test purposes. I double-checked all connections, mounts, screws, etc., paid close attention to PA and balance and focus, etc., and used PHD2 Guide Assistant before starting on a selection of shortish exposures. I saw no hint of image creep on the third star, so that was an improvement already. I won't have all the data until tomorrow. In a nutshell, for four straight imaging sessions, all on M3 for my first crack at this glob, I was seeing the last stars of the three-star alignments, while I was in the process of centering them in the DSLR 10x live-view screen for focusing, continue moving across the DSLR live-view screen even after I released the directional button, not far the first couple of times, though I lost more than half my subs to short star trails, but by the fourth session M3, after I got my focus and re-centered the image, continued to drift halfway across the unmagnified DSLR live-view screen while I was in the process of getting PHD2 running, and all my subs were lost to short star trails, something I haven't had to deal with since my first days getting things up and running. These four sessions were each set up separately, as I'd been doing successfully leading up to that point. I'll have more to go on tomorrow, but the suspense is killing me.
  10. This galaxy is one of my favorites, and you've done it proud.
  11. This is a wonderful image to see during the week of Ottawa's Tulip Festival!
  12. Hi, thanks for the comments. I've never had reason to slew the mount when my guiding is active, as PHD2 would immediately 'lose' the star, I believe. Either way, activating guiding and then the DSLR remote shutter release are the last things I do before leaving the rig to do it's work. I will be making a thorough (I hope) check of the handset Friday night, if the weather holds as it is forecast, my first chance to run a few tests since this problem began ten days ago. As for the balance, I went through that with my tech just in case and he assures me I am not mistaken in my setup. But I will take extra care Friday. Hopefully I will have good news to report.
  13. I'm with Floater, it sounds like you're having a blast as it is, so go with the ride. I'm not saying take the 20 years it took me to go from observing to imaging, but just think how much money you can save up in 20 years for gear, haha.
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