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  1. Mars is getting further away from us and will look small even in a large telescope. Being in or near opposition makes a HUGE difference when observing Mars. Here's an example for you. The first image was taken before opposition in August 2020 with a Celestron C11 telescope that has a 280mm primary mirror and 2800mm focal length. Mars is quite small and you can only see some details. The view visually was very much like it is in this image. Here's an image I took in October, a few days after opposition, with a much smaller Celestron C8. The difference in the level of detail is quite remarkable. You can see Valles Marineris and even the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. Visually, I could see a lot of detail with my C8 telescope during the opposition. However, the last time I looked at the red planet was in January, and I was barely able to see the polar ice cap and some dark features. Mars was very small even in my C8 telescope. My point is that this is just how the solar system works. Luckily there is a lot to see in the night sky and Mars will eventually be back again.
  2. "What REALLY matters when hand held?" - Image stabilization. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Seriously speaking though, having IS in binoculars was a real game changer for me. Yes, it is an expensive feature, but with it you can just forget worrying about how to mount your binoculars. No need to carry extra stuff out in the field. I have a relatively small pair of binos, Canon 10x30s, yet somehow they show a lot more that my hand held 10x50 ever could. Under dark skies, plenty of deep sky objects are available, even with the small aperture. However, my favorite object is the Moon. So much fine details can be seen when the image isn't shaking all the time. IS might not be for everyone, but if you ever happen to get a chance to try out a pair, give it a shot!
  3. Hi! I live in Finland, so I can relate. You’re probably going to need at least a spare battery or a “dummy battery” for your DSLR. In general, it is always important to have a good ( =reliable) power supply while imaging in low temperatures. A dew geater band for your camera lens/telescope is also essential. Otherwise the lens will freeze. If you want to image at, let’s say below -10°C, it would be smart to change the stock grease of your tracking mount to something of higher quality. I know people who use aerospace-grade grease on their mounts. Pay attention to the focus, as the temperature drops, sometimes quite drastically, you might need to refocus during your session. It’s worth noting that the screen on most GoTo mounts will stop working when the temperature drops below around -10°C. The hand controllers were unfortunately designed for the conditions of California, not Scandinavia. The controller itself does work, but you can’t read anything on the display. You can build a heater or try using a dew heater band on the screen. There are some upsides, though. Your DSLR sensor will be cooled down and image noise will be reduced! Also, the nights are very long, so there is a lot of time to take images. Oh, and don’t forget to shoot the auroras! I had a great night imaging them last Saturday. I’ve done visual Lunar observing at -30°C, but only once. The weakest part of my observing kit was the observer itself, since I was the first to give up... Moral of the story: remember to keep yourself warm!
  4. Fantastic image @mAnKiNd ! I really like the image scale you've achieved with your ZWO, you've been able to dive a lot deeper into space than I can with my DSLR. Here's my recent shot of the belt and sword of Orion taken with my astro-modified 60D.
  5. My side hobby is to buy cheap DSLRs, astro-modify them and sell them to make a small profit. During the last 2 years or so I've had (several) lower-end Canon cameras and in my experience, 550D is the best for the money. You can occasionally find them used for around €100 (likely within the same price range in the UK). The 550D has a pretty good sensor, the same as in 7D, it's not too painful to astro-modify, and it also supports video crop mode, a huge benefit for planetary astrophotography!
  6. Another vote for Samyang/Rokinon 135mm ! It's a very sharp, portable and fast (!) lens, yet the focal length is still quite forgiving (in terms of tracking accuracy). The field of view is so wide that objects in the night sky are generally quite easy to find. Here's my recent shot of the California Nebula with just 1hr 15min of exposure. Bortle 5. I'm also using the Star Adventurer. https://www.astrobin.com/full/a2i42a/0/
  7. This lens is the best astrophotography purchase I've ever made. Pictures taken with Samyang 135mm, a modified Canon 60D and SW Star Adventurer.
  8. Glad I'm not the only one who sees it! You're right, it is quite difficult to see visually, I've never seen it either. Not sure if it's even possible with an 8 inch scope? Perhaps under the most perfect seeing conditions...?
  9. Thank you David! I have to admit that the field rotation caused by my alt-az mount did give me a little headache. Luckily the number of frames used for the video was not too high so I was able to just manually derotate them.
  10. Hi everyone, Thought it would be nice to share an animation of Mars I made after last night's imaging session. The video was captured during a 4 hour time period. From my location (61 degrees North), the max altitude of Mars is around 33 degrees. The temperature was around -1 Celsius and the seeing conditions were, surprisingly, pretty good. In the beginning you can see Valles Marineris moving to the shadow and if you pay attention, Olympus Mons should also be visible near the end of the video. The scope used was Celestron CPC 800 and the camera ZWO ASI 120 MC-S. Initially I tried imaging with a Barlow but found that the native 2000mm focal length gave the "cleanest" results. Clear Skies, Tomi
  11. Hi Jake! I had a similar problem with my Celestron C8. The whole secondary assembly was loose. The problem was solved by replacing the original paper-like gasget (located between the corrector plate and the secondary mirror assembly) with a new improved one from Starizona. Although I can’t be 100% sure, I don’t think that the Meade SCT design is that much different from Celestron, so perhaps this might work for you too. The fix does require removing the corrector plate and the secondary mirror. I did the repair myself and did not find it too difficult. Here’s the gasget I used. Not sure if it is Meade-compatible, though. https://starizona.com/store/manufacturers/starizona/hyperstar-conversion-kit-c8-gasket I hope this helps, clear skies! Tomi
  12. To my understanding they used to be imperial when Celestron still manufactured their telescopes in the U.S. When production shifted to China they began to use metric parts.
  13. Hi everyone, I’ve astro-modified my Canon EOS 60D by removing the rear filter and leaving the front low pass filter (this one) in place. Which light pollution filter do I need, CLS or CLS-CCD? Clear Skies, Tomi
  14. Hi Dave, Try another power cable. I used to have a bit similar issues with my Celestron CPC. Turned out it was all down to a faulty cable that was supplied with the telescope. Another thing worth asking, just to make sure, have you set your date in mm/dd/yyyy format?
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