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Found 28 results

  1. I wasn't sure where to post this tip....it is probably of most use here.... Many of us with observatories or indoor Mission Control use Windows 10 Pro Remote Desktop to control a scope side computer running camera and scope control software from a second computer indoors. This works superbly at 1080p resolution. However, I have struggled for a year trying to perfect a wireless solution that works with 4K UHD cameras terminating in a 4K UHD display. Until now, whilst cat 6 cable does work fine, wireless even at 5Ghz 802.11ac has struggled with some lag and poor performance. I have spent a fortune upgrading wireless adapters and range extenders, but this isn't the issue! Here is a solution; 1. Seperate your dual band network into distinct 5Ghz and 2.4 Ghz channels. This is easy with (say) a BT Home Hub. If you don't do this, it can be a bit hit or miss whether your 5 Ghz wireless adapters connect to the right channel. You will now see TWO channels, one at 2.4 Ghz with a suffix like <hub name> and another at 5 Ghz named <hub name -5>. Connect your 5Ghz adapters to the latter. If your internal adapters are merely 2.4Ghz, you can disable them via Device Manager and plug in a USB version costing around £5. Note that at 5 Ghz wireless range might drop. If so, a Netgear EX8000 wireless extender is recommended as it employs 'mesh' technology. 2. ONLY if you have a fast network, and powerful CPUs and quality graphics card, try DISABLE 'RemoteFX compression' in RDP. This allows uncompressed screen data to flow across RDP. I have found this improves performance whether using 802.11ac wireless or cat 6 cable. What RemoteFX compression appears to do is limit effective RDP speeds to under 10Mbps (due to translation times). That is crazy if you have 433 Mbps adapters, and an 802.11ac network (or catv6 cable). Unleash the beast! Send across uncompressed data! The issue is not with speed or bandwidth, it is an artificially imposed limit in RDP. To do this type 'Edit Group Policy' in the Windows 10 Pro search box (doesn't work in Win 10 Home). You need to drill down through about five levels of Windows Configeration Folders, and Administration Templates and Remote Desktop Services/Host folders to find a utility named <Edit RemoteFX Compression>. In that, your options are <disable> compression or <enable> a compromise mode. If you don't know how to do this try Googling 'Disabling RemoteFX Compression' to find a lengthy Microsoft tutorial. Or visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/administration/performance-tuning/role/remote-desktop/session-hosts . I deliberately don't here state the quick route sequence to access this deeply embedded network utility command because you are delving deep into developer/administrator territory and do need to understand what you are doing and how to revert to your original RDP settings if your network can't handle these levels of uncompressed screen data. We don't want any novice attempting this on a cheap Compute Stick on an inadequate network! 3. When employing RDP from your computer indoors, select <WAN 10 Mbps> or <LAN 10 Mbps> as appropriate via <Options><Experience>. The default <auto-select my connectivity> often selects too low an option. The irony here is you can select this and still not enjoy faster speeds unless you have edited/disabled RemoteFX compression. I now have Atik Infinity plus CPWI software running in an end to end 4K UHD system terminating in a 4K UHD monitor. Over 802.11ac wireless it is now rock steady. Over cat 6 cable my system is now turbo powered. If you don't need RemoteFX Compression, don't let it restrict your network performance. It is evidently set to ensure it works on lowest common denominator networks. If you have a fast network/CPU, disable RemoteFX compression and finally release the beast of 4k UHD over RDP.
  2. After a fistful of stars from the other night here's a few stars more from last night . Transparency was poor, though and I had to give up in the end. As well as fitting the Lightwave 0.8x to my 80 mm F6, I've also transferred the scope to the Heq5. Although I think Sharpcap is great for live stacking it won't always detect enough stars to auto align which means I have to use guiding. I can see plenty of stars on the screen but Sharpcap refuses to share my view! I've tried noise reduction and boosted digital gain etc. I think I'll try the v3.2 beta. I might try without the uhc in future as it probably cuts out too much light when combined with the IDAS D1. All live stacked with darks and flats. Some were guided. M35 - 20 x 30s with IDAS D1 and UHC: NGC 2420 aka the Twinkling Comet Cluster, 30x30s: Jellyfish Neb, 40x30s: You can just see the edge of it with some stretching! More apparent with overstretch but - yuk! Louise
  3. I'm new to astronomy, I got my first telescope in November (StarMax 90mm f/13), I was really happy with the view of the moon and double stars, but disappointed I could see but barely make out nebula (initially the ring nebula). I also tried to take a photo of the moon with my phone but trying to get a stable shot was too difficult, even with a basic smartphone adapter. I did a bit of research, found about about Video Astronomy/Electronically Assisted Astronomy (EAA) and decided I needed a better mount and took the opportunity to get a faster telescope (StarTravel 102 f5/). I really like the Sky-Watcher -102 AZ GTe with the ZWO ASI 224MC. I've only used it for 4 nights as there is so much cloud about but it's allowed me to take images of things my eyeball wouldn't see. Although my setup is below the minimum specification most would consider for imaging and entry level for visual observations I think I've found a setup that seems to work for me. I like that with SharpCap I can get instant results and the day after when it's back to cloudy I can get a bit more out of the images with Deep Sky Stacker and Gimp. I have tried looking through the eyepiece at the Pleiades, that was a pleasure as well. I can see how observing with a big Dobsonian and amazing eyepieces would be great, but many objects seem better with a camera than eyeballs. The Horsehead nebula wasn't found until astrophotography came into being. The photo above was taken on my first night with the setup. The January 2019 issue of Sky at Night Magazine has a review of the Sky-Watcher StarTravel-102 AZ GTe and they give it 4.5 / 5. Combining it with an Explore Scientific UHC filter seems to reduce most of the chromatic aberration and increases contrast relative to the stars, and light pollution. Video Astronomy/EAA seems to offer a great window into both the visual and imaging worlds of astronomy. As First Light Optics say "Your first telescope is arguably the most important because if the views do not amaze and delight, your interest in astronomy will crash and burn on the runway!" I understand cost could be an issue, but if the beginner had a suitable camera Video Astronomy could be as accessible as a Go-To visual setup, and seems more likely to amaze (especially in the skies of a typical house). My question is why is video astronomy not the first suggestion for beginners interested in both visual and imaging?
  4. Does anyone have any experience of using a ZWO Asi174mc for Va/Eaa or any other uses that they would care to share with me?
  5. Hi I've published a video of my viewing session as broadcast on Video Astronomy Live on the 17th March 2016 speeded up by x16 so you get a whole evening in 12 minutes! This shows what can be achieved despite living in a Red Zone (Bortle 6-7) with local light pollution too. Equipment: C8 on HEQ5 with F3.3 reducer Lodestar-C Starlight Live EQMAC Sky Safari Plus V1.8 Enjoy Paul
  6. Great night out at a local Lake. By the time I'd "observed" a bunch of stuff and looked up the objects info etc I realised I didn't have much time left on the laptop battery, so this is the last 30 minutes during which I slewed to a bunch of target very quickly. Watch in the highest HD setting in wide screen and preferably on your HD widescreen TV. Pretty sweet images. BTW first 6 minutes are details about the kit used, the site and its LP rating, etc. So you may want to speed up through that bit before the slewing and images start rolling in. Also, about 8 minutes in, there's this .... sound .... rather embarrasing it is LOL but its the push plunger on the insect repellant bottle cos the Lake is absolutely riddled with mosquitoes in the Aussie Summer. Least thats what I reckon it was ... LOL
  7. The Canon 700D wouldn't come to focus in my XX12GT dob, so I did the usual thing and shortened the struts. Well, actually the struts are still the same length, but I found the connection plate had enough surface area to allow me to drill a second set of attachment holes 35mm lower on the plate thus effectively shortened the focal length when I used those new holes. Worked a treat and out the backyard in my Brisbane Australia home, I was treated to the best live video feed I've seen from my scope. My other OTA, my old faithful 200p newtonian, has an eFocuser but just hasn't got the fine ratio like the XX12 OTA's dual speed. I need to invest in a new two speed focuser for the 200p. Anyway, live HD desktop video link below ... as per another post with video link, I waffle a bit so use the Youtube settings cog to set (a) twice normal speed so the video is only 8mins instead of 16; (b) set 720p HD; and (c) go full screen. I was very happy I took the trouble to do the mod to enable the Canon to reach focus and thus do liveview. Can't wait to do a bit of outreach at my clubs next astro night. Hope you enjoy the about 320x mag view. Cheers https://youtu.be/LQJ9WyE2nmA
  8. So conditions around mid night last night were excellent (or rather as good as it gets here... NELM 4 -4.25 at zenith), low humidity. So decided to give my Quasar hunt one more try. Managed to get down to mag 21.7 using short exposures 10x25s (average stack) using the Ultrastar mono x2 binned. This was using the C8 at F5. No LP filter. The NGC4666 (Superwind field is littered with Quasars as per Martin's deep maps). I identified and marked 3 but there are more in the image if anyone wants to give it a go. The most distant one in the image that I marked is barely visible and required an aggressive stretch. It has a magnitude of 21.7 and a redshift of 2.25 which puts it at 11.6 Bly. Note the dark circle you see in the center is not technically vignetting that you see at high focal reduction. It is actually a reflection I am getting off the optical system. I suspect it is due to the clear filter I use to keep dust off the sensor. I will take flats next time which should fix this. Enjoy...
  9. Had a productive observing session couple of nights back. It was clear with low humidity which always helps with transparency. Unfortunately the light pollution is pretty heavy here (white/red zone) hence it is hard to get a dark background or a smooth image as a high contrast stretch is usually required (I don't use LP filters). First up is the Coma (Abell 1656) and Leo (Abell 1367) clusters of galaxies which are part of the Coma supercluster and are ~300-330Mly from Earth. The Coma supercluster is the nearest supercluster outside the Virgo supercluster (which we are part of). Wrt the large scale structure of the universe this cluster is part of the Great Wall which is one of the largest structure known to us. The Great Wall also includes the Hercules superclusters. The Coma Cluster has 2 supergiant elliptical galaxies at it's center. NGC4884 (4889) and NGC4874. Some more galaxies from the night. M61, M88, M99 and M100 all yielded some excellent detail in the spiral arms. M61 is classified as a barred spiral but what is unique is the elbow shape in the main spiral arm.
  10. I managed to make a 10 x 1 minute capture of 41P last night. Quattro 8-CF, HEQ5-Pro guided, Ultrastar. Here's a GIF movie. I've done nothing except stretching and checking the star alignment. I've not tried this before (in fact, this is my first imaged comet) so a moderately pleasing result. AK
  11. Let's face it, one of the nice things about EAA is that you don't have to go through hours and hours of data processing afterwards: you already have some really nice screenshots safely saved. However, on those rare (ahem) cloudy nights, you might as well review the data you collected and see if there's more to be teased out. I had a good evening of EAA on 2017-04-02, bagging (with Quattro 8 CF, HEQ-5 Pro, and Ultrastar, as usual, until the Hyperstar materialises): M101 (again) 22 x 1m NGC4631 The Whale (again) 20 x 1m Comet 41P (timelapse on a separate thread) 10 x 1m M3, 10 x 1m Two-thirds of the Leo Triplet (FOV not big enough!) 9 x 1m M104 Sombrero, 15 x 1m plus a tiny bit of the Elephant's Trunk nebula, 5 x 1m (too poor to show) So I've done my best with reprocessing the FITS files, saved by Starlight Live, and done a bit of gentle processing (stretches, backgound levels, contrast enhancement, nothing fancy really) to see how the results might compare with the original screen captures. I'm certainly no processing expert. Some side-by-side comparisons below for your interest (hopefully.) I think that in all cases the results are a tiny bit better, but really it goes to show just how amazing all the work that goes on behind the scenes in Starlight Live really is! AK M101 NGC4631 M3 LEO 2/3 M104
  12. OK, so its been raining horrifically here for what seems like months, but really only a couple of months. Very unusual for here. An Idle Mind is the Devils Workshop. I grabbed onto TekkyDaves focuser and that went very well indeed after a little help from Dave. I had a working remote controllable focuser added to my telescope. Joy! Another friend mentioned to me how he was looking into Mini Computers as a means to go wireless to his pier outside. I took the lead and ran with it. I'm a Windows 10 user, and have used Windows as my operating system all along. Other OS's I've tried didn't quite work out for me. But there is absolutely no reason that Linux, or Apple users couldn't do this as well. And/or a Raspberry Pi So I acquired one of these little Intel Mini Stick Computers and set to work to make my mount wireless. Or in my case wires less. Or Less wires. If you will Please excuse my laziness, I'd like to paste from another of my posts... "EAA - Electronically Assisted Astronomy. My rainy dayz project. The direction I headed when getting into this maddening sport. Often I said, "All I want is the Hubble." Plain and Simple, can't. But I'm a function sort of guy. I like taking a pigs ear, and trying to make a silk purse from it. Getting the most I can from whatever it is I'm doing. A mutual friend of ours mentioned a new method to me. I took the ball and ran with it. Especially once the CFO here told me to go ahead. I've finally arrived at being ready for the weather to give us a damned break so we can go back out and shoot some stars. Electronically controlled focusing and Stick Computers. My next natural steps towards mount independence. Or going wireless, or in my case wires less. Because after all, things need power. So I do have 2 - 12 volt circuits from my big battery, and a 5 volt, 3 amp circuit feeding up the mount. But the Stick Computer running Windows 10 is alive and wirelessly in control perched up on top of my telescope tube Velcro mounted. (It's not just for shoes anymore. ) The focuser is an Arduino project where an electronic programmable logic controller (USB2), controls a motor driver circuit board and a small geared stepper motor to adjust the focuser in or out to adjust my telescopes focuser. In a nutshell... The Focuser Project came from here. The stick computer is essentially a Mini, fully functioning, Windows 10 OS computer. Its intention is to plug into an HDMI port in a big screen TV display, and turn it into a functioning Windows 10 computer, and to (once set-up) Bluetooth connect to a wireless keyboard and touch pad or mouse. (It requires a USB keyboard (wired) for initial start-up. $10 at Walmart) But we are in dark waters here and following paths of those who have ventured before us. The Stick has WiFi, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. I went low buck, but there are pricier versions and more power and RAM memory available. I've also put one of my mini SD cards (64Gb) in my stick and programmed it to store everything there. (It can use up to a 128Gb mini SD card.) (My point there was to keep the Sticks hard drive light and unburdened) With a hub (I used a powered hub) connected to the USB2 port (works for my 2.4 MHz router), it connects through a WiFi extender to my router. And that let's me log into it with Tight Vnc giving me the Sticks desktop and full function wirelessly of the Stick computer. It has a noticeable lag in function, but it works. And I'm in day 4 of long run testing of function (12 to 16 hours a day). I have my typical programs open and working as much as they can without actually guiding and imaging objects. But my cameras are running and imaging capped scopes, the mount, Stellarium, and PHD2 are running, and all appears well. I had my USB3 hub plugged into the Stick's USB3 port at first. But a guy recommended I connect via the USB2 port and that cured all my problems. USB3 works better over the new C type connections and 5 MHz WiFi. Which this church mouse doesn't have. I have a 2.4 MHz G type wireless router. (Hot item in its day) Set-up, or tear down consists of 4 plugs (Cables) to free the telescope of the mount, or to mount it. (12 V, 5 V, 1 USB, and 1 RJ-11) Hense, why I say Wire Less. Or Less wires. The 1 USB (white), and RJ-11 (Guider) simply jump down to the AVX. So only the 12V (2 wires) and 5V (1 wire) actually exit the mount. Some folks are doing a portable router for remote locations set up. Sitting in their warm car, running their mount outside, wirelessly. (I don't see me doing that, I like being home.) So... this to get rid of what? USB cables for one. And to free up my laptop and dragging it out and back every night. But there is a caveat here, I can connect my desktop, and I can connect my laptop, and recently discovered I can even connect my phone... all at the same time. And any of the 3 can be used to run the equipment wirelessly through my (antiquated) wireless network. (Password protected, of course) Something that held me back was, to go wireless at the mount would eliminate the visual the laptop afforded. Now, a laptop can log on to my network, connect through Vnc, and there is the mounts computers desktop. Folks are sitting in their recliners in their living rooms, and running their mounts wirelessly. It sounded appealing to me. Fine adjusting the focus, and doing anything I used to sitting out in my yard I will be able to do now (except filter wheel changes, and the manual adjustments of an All Star Polar Alignment) from my wireless devices. I've already been doing wireless alignments, just for fun and to experiment. OK, so no pictures = didn't happen. The hardware: (The out-of-place looking white USB cable is connected to the NexStar handset of my AVX. It has to do with Celestron's NexRemote, which replicates the hand control onto the computers display)"
  13. Hi there folks, at the moment I'm primarily a traditional, through the eyepiece observer, however I'm putting together a list of components/software that I will need going forward as I venture into the realm of EAA. Primary consideration for my EAA platform is that it be easily transportable with as small an on-site footprint as possible. My thought is that I want to be able to control everything remotely over WiFi, I have an abhorrence for spaghetti cabling, so want to be able to keep this situation down to a minimum. To this end I have put together a list of components which I think will facilitate the sort of observing platform that I am aiming for: Item 1 - Polemaster from QHY and associated control software. I have both Alt-Az and Equatorial setups, however I see the equatorial as being the primary mount for EAA, hence the investment in Polemaster. The EQ is a Vixen SXW and the Alt-Az and Altair Astro Sabre. Item 2 - Small footprint CCD/CMOS Astro-Camera (I'm thinking along the lines of the SX Ultrastar), and associate control software. Item 3 - Guide camera (Although this may not be an immediate requirement bearing in mind my primary goal is near real-time observing rather than traditional CCD astro-photography). Thinking perhaps the Altair Astro GPCAM, or perhaps an older SX Lodestar. Associated software perhaps PHD2, what alternatives are there? Item 4 - Computer stick or very small footprint PC capable of being fixed to either the mount or OTA, without seriously adverse weight impact. The device needs to have integrated WiFi capability and the ability to interface to guide camera, primary camera and Polemaster. Needs to be run from 12V DC supply. Item 5 - Apple iPad (already acquired). Item 4 poses the question, does such a device exists that will enable simultaneous connectivity to all three devices? Immediately people may think of alternatives such as the Mallincam line of products, Revolution Imager etc... however I want to try and steer clear of the older analogue technology. Is the suggested approach realistic, in getting me to where I want to be, if not, are there alternative ways of achieving the same goal? Would appreciate the forum’s thoughts, and in particular any insight from fellow forum members who may have taken a similar approach. Kind Regards Paul J.
  14. Hello everyone, I was able to get out again recently and run a few sessions with students. The images below are labelled, and are from our less-than-perfect suburban site on campus using both a Celestron CPC 800 (8" SCT) at f6 and various Borg refractors (in this case, primarily a 77mm Borg EDii) at f4 with a SX Trius 694 monochrome CCD camera. All shot with an alt-az mount using SLL software for capture/stacking. No post processing other than the usual on-the-fly adjustments. I'm using the Trius 694 in 2x2 bin mode, mainly because SLL doesn't seem to want to work with it using any other binning mode. Luckily, it seems to work fine in 2x2 and I'm generally happy with the results, though I find with the fork mounted CPC that the need to use a diagonal makes spacing of the reducer/camera tricky, and I'm not getting as well corrected or reduced a field as I'd like (I'm using an Antares 0.5x reducer, but I'm only getting f6 out of it and still see artifacts at the edges). Any suggestions are welcome! Cheers, Greg A
  15. Hi there, Happy New Year everybody. My primary astro goal for 2018, will be to put in place a mobile EAA platform to work with my Vixen Sphinx SXW and C8 EdgeHD. I want to utilise modern digital USB, wireless interface wherever possible so all analog-based solutions such as the Mallincam range of cameras or Revolution Imager would not be suitable. My preference would be for a camera with a relatively small circular cross-section with possible long-term use with Fastar in mind. I am currently looking at two possible cameras: Altair Astro Hypercam 183c SX Ultrastar C Although happy to take on board alternative recommendations from this ‘August forum’ Fundamental to the platform is the ability to control everything from an iOS device via remote control software, so the integration of the control and imaging/guiding software is as important as the camera itself. My primary interest is real/near real-time viewing as opposed to traditional AP. Elements in the proposed platform are as follows: iPad Air - Already in place Compute Stick/ Mini computer - Yet to be obtained - Needs to be small enough to attach to the telescope dovetail bar without seriously compromising telescope balance but powerful enough to run all the necessary control and imaging software. The aim of this approach is to keep all necessary cabling lengths as short as possible and have as much of the cabling as possible integrated with the scope movement as opposed to trailing from a stationary point around the mount/tripod. I am very much a Windows guy so recommendations should be restricted to that OS for this aspect of the platform. Note my comments in this section of the post are based on the assumption alongside whatever research I have done, that there are no solutions that would enable everything to be controlled natively from iOS which of course from a simplicity perspective would have been my preference. Guide Camera - Yet to be obtained - Suitable suggestions for this aspect of the platform would be most welcome although I am thinking along the lines of the Altair Astro GPCAM2. Guidescope - I currently have an 80mm Altair Astro Maxi finder which I intend to press into service for this aspect of the platform. I am hoping that this may also function as a wide field imaging platform as well. May look to upgrade this to something with better quality optics in the future. Guidescope control - Sphinx GEM - has integrated ST4 guiding interface. Use of PHD2. My understanding is that ASCOM has a much richer set of feedback features to the user however I’m thinking that from a simplicity perspective considering the iOS primary interface I would be better to go with ST4. Primary Imaging Camera - Yet to be obtained Primary Imaging scope - Already in place - C8 EdgeHD Mount - Already in place - Vixen Sphinx SXW Mount Control - Already in place - SkySafari Pro Communications - Over WiFi - Currently scope control is from my iPad and SkySafari via a small TPLink router and thence to a cabled ethernet connection to the GEM (actually the Starbook controller). I am thinking that this may need changing to some sort of powered USB hub with integrated WiFi capability. The completed platform should permit switching in real-time between different scope control, guiding and imaging aspects of the system via the iPad to Windows remote control software. Regarding imaging software I have read on the various forums favourable comments regarding the Starlight Live software that comes with the Ultrastar, and this was one of the reasons why the Ultrastar was first on my shortlist. However I have also recently read favourable accounts of SharpCap which would be used with the HyperCam, not least of which is the integrated polar alignment routine that comes with this software. I’d be interested in any feedback from members with firsthand experience of these different software solutions. Does anybody know if there is a ‘blow by blow’ comparison between Starlight Live and SharpCap? Although I have done quite a bit of research on the topic prior to this post, still obviously very much a novice in this arena so happy to take on board recommendations and/ or alternative suggestions from SGL members to help me get up and running. Wishing you all Clear Skies for the new year Paul.
  16. Date: Saturday, January 30, 2016 I’m woefully late getting this out, but better late than never. Location: Catalina State Park, Catalina, AZ Weather: mid-70s at Noon, Low 60s at sunset, 50s when we quit near 10:00 PM. Some clouds forming during the day, thinning at sunset, open sky when we began serious observing. Seeing and Transparency: OK, not great due to the moisture pumping in off the west coast. Equipment: 10" Meade SCT on Atlas EQ-G mount Mallincam Xterminator video system, 19" QFX LCD monitor. This was the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association’s winter star party supporting Catalina State Park. This was an unusual event in that we had no moon or planets to get an early start on, so we and our eventual 250 or more visitors waited for astronomical twilight to set in so we could enjoy some viewing. We had 10 astronomers to support the event, and we were all pretty busy. After dark, for most of the event, I had about 35 people rotating through my video display all night. As the darkness was settling in, I invited any interested visitors to a side area for a laser sky tour. We covered ecliptic, the relation to the zodiac, all of the visible constellations, and many myths from multiple cultures associated with the constellations and asterisms, comparing the Pleiades, Orion, Scorpius (not visible, but part of a similar separation legend in Navajo to the Greek), Cassiopeia, and the Big Dipper and how they are interpreted among Greek and Navajo cultures. We also discussed the point of view of the creation of the Sun, Moon, and night sky as taught by Tohono O'odham and Navajo, and the nature of the night sky as understood by Cherokee, Seminole, Navajo, and other cultures. It was quite a nice experience with the visitors. Back to the scope, I aligned on Rigel and we enjoyed M42, Orion's Nebula for some time, discussing the nature of this stellar nursery and the Trapzium and its generation of the emission/reflection nebula on the screen. I used the flexibility of the imaging time selection to show, at 2.1 seconds, the Trapezium and some of the nebulosity around the four main stars, then upping the integration time to seven seconds for the glory of the colorful hydrogen emission and the reflections around the nebula. Increasing the integration to 15 seconds brought out M43, the emission nebula adjacent to M42, and marveled at Charles Messier’s ability to pick this item out 235 years ago with a small telescope and the wood and coal smoke pollution. Then we went over to Cassiopeia, and after aligning on Schedar, spent time with The Owl Cluster, which filled the monitor. Rotating the camera allowed it to appear upside down as the Bat, as well as ET and Johnny 5 and other cultures’ name as the Kachina Doll. We then went up to the Andromeda constellation for the beautiful planetary nebula, NGC7662, the Blue Snowball. It was a blue disk over ¼” in diameter, all alone in the view. We talked about stellar evolution and the source of the oxygen glow due to the white dwarf at the core. By now, it was time to close up shop as the visitors left happy, and educated, to the environment that is part of their home. Once again, the Mallinccam live video system enabled showing natural wonders and performing education for a large group of visitors. We’ll be back again next quarter!
  17. Don't post much on here, but enjoy the reads! Thought I'd make you all envious of Aussie country skies! Live in suburban Brisbane which is red zone, but a couple of months ago I was at a townhouse complex in a "dark green" LP zoned township. Green zzone but surrounding areas were pitch black being in central queensland australia. Amazing what you can do with your scope pointing at dark skies. The link below is to a 16 minute live HD desktop capture so use the YouTube settings cog to (a) speed up to 2x normal speed so its only 8 minutes long; (b) set the highest quality setting of 720p; (c) watch in full screen mode. All were a single frame iso800 sixty second shot on each galaxy. Zero stacking. Zero post processing ... it's a live desktop capture of the laptops screen. The 16 minutes includes me selecting targets, putting them into the hand control, the mount slewing to those targets, and also the shot time. The red "vignetting" patch is the townhouse complexes security lighting bouncing off the Newts tube (no LP shield) and also cos I used Toasters Expand Grad at 6 where I normally use only 3. But it's EAA not AP so I don't mind those sorts of aberations. Having said its EAA, well normally I shoot an object then spend the next 10 minutes looking up its details on SkySafari and marvelling at its stats and science. You'll glimpse a whole bunch of previous shots in the file list in the video which I'd gone to in the evening. But, I had a few minutes left before packing it in for the evening so grabbed the desktop capture so I could recall those wonderful skies in the future by re-watching the video, so I simply moved from object to object in very quick succession. Makes one want to retire somewhere with dark skies nearby! Used were full spectrum modded Canon 650d, HEQ5 Pro with Rowan belt drive, Skywatcher 200p f/5 Newtonian, bootcamped Macbook Pro (2009 model) running Canon EOS Utilities to control the camera lodging S1 fine Jpegs into Astrotoasters monitor folder. ShareX used to capture the desktop video. Enjoy. https://youtu.be/ICxv8eV_JYk
  18. At last got a clear night after a few weeks. Took advantage to do a 5 hour long observing session. Viewed some galaxies in Leo towards the end. Thought I would share. Details in the images. All images taken live at the scope with no post processing.
  19. hello stargazers, I am getting close to pulling the trigger on a new scope ( i currently have some 25x100 bins and a 125 etx ). I was going for a normal 8 evolution but over the last few weeks the price has seemed to of gone up by nearly £200 so i have decided to save a little more and get better value for money by purchasing one of these other evolution scopes ( well, that's my excuse ) I have researched and researched but seem to get different answers wherever i look, so i will ask the question here. I will be using it for visual and video astronomy, i understand there is no advantage with the edge in video astronomy but visually, there is an improvement. is it big enough to warrant it over the 925 ? i know a focal reducer will cost more for the Edge when i do use it for video astronomy but i also understand that aperture is king and living 12 miles from central London the extra aperture may help a little ( and a beefier tripod on the 925 ), which would you go for ? i am edging ( no pun intended ) towards the 925 but i am just looking for confirmation i am not missing anything as i have no experience looking through either of these scopes and zero experience with video astronomy, any insight or advice will be welcome, thank you.
  20. New everything... observatory, mount, Hyperstar, ... it was also rather novel having a clear sky on the night of August 10, between about 11pm and 1am. On the down side, there was quite a bright moon. Still, you can't have everything. This was a shake-down session with all the new gear, so nothing really adjusted or tweaked to any great extent, and I wasn't expecting anything special. As usual, I just set the exposure to 60 seconds (except for M51 where I got it wrong) and pointed at a few things. Came to an end as the laptop ran out of power (mains power since connected!) Some findings from the session: Observatory: What a joy not to have to set everything up (or break it down again.) Mount: I'd done a rough PA on an earlier night, but checked it again with SharpCap (which says it got me to within ~45") My previous mount (HEQ-5 with belt mod) was OK, but this one (Avalon M-Uno) is spectacular in stability, pointing accuracy, and zero backlash. Didn't bother with guiding Hyperstar: I checked the collimation on Altair, and without any adjustment it looked fine focused with a Bahtinov mask - so easy to get spot on the with Avalon FOCS focuser drive controlled by the mount made no attempt to route the camera cable neatly (something for later) need to improve my fixing of a dew shield (think it led to some vignetting) Here's a few processed images from the night. Not very good - much room for improvement - I think I've remembered to do the left-right flip in each case. When I checked everything in the morning, I was appalled to see how much grime was on the corrector plate (there was a heavy dew by the end of the session - need to investigate options to remove this). All this with an Ultrastar mono camera and no filters (with bad pixel map, bias, but obviously no flats!) M51, 22x 30s. ... because I know what it looks like from previous equipment M101, 11x 60s. ... ditto M13, 5x 60s. ... lots of stars Pelican nebula, 11x 60s ... I had no idea what to expect here: quite pleased with the result. Ha filter next time! Anyway, it's a start. Stars are not great - especially the bright ones - but adjustments yet to be done.
  21. Hi folks, thought I'd post here as more people here seem to be using the Live Stacking feature of SharpCap now. SharpCap - if you haven't encountered it before - is a free Astro-focused capture application for Windows. SharpCap includes support for a wide range of cameras - including QHY, ZWO, Basler, QHY, Webcams, Frame Grabbers, ASCOM and others. Any camera that SharpCap supports can be used in live stacking mode, although to get decent results you will need to be able to set exposure lengths of about 1s or more. Live Stacking includes an alignment option (on by default) that will correct for drift and field rotation in each new frame as it is stacked. Alignment depends on being able to detect at least 3 stars in each frame. Additionally you can filter incoming frames based on a FWHM measurement of the stars detected, allowing frames with better seeing conditions to be stacked and worse frames discarded. There are simple functions allowing the histogram of the stacked image to be stretched for display and the stack can be saved either 'as seen' with the stretch applied in PNG format or in FITS format with no stretch applied for later post-processing. SharpCap also has an embedded scripting language which allows simple programs to be written that will automate a capture session - some users over on Cloudy Nights have been using this facility to automatically stack a target for say 30 minutes then move the mount to point at a new target and start stacking that. SharpCap 2.9 is currently in beta and will contain improvements to the live stacking features including an easier-to-use histogram stretch function, more star detection options for alignment and automatically remembering most stack related options. However, if you prefer to avoid beta software, feel free to use SharpCap 2.8 instead. Just as a taster, here is an M81 I produced in 30 minutes of 4s exposures with the ASI1600MM-Cool. This was really just a test stack - taken on first-light with the camera, testing a new version of SharpCap and with a whole bunch of other things in my setup changed - I'm sure it's possible to do better when hurrying a little less! I'd love to hear any feedback people have on how to improve the live stacking feature - and see any images you capture with it! cheers, Robin PS. For about the first 10 minutes of stacking I had left the mount accidentally on Lunar tracking rate having used the moon earlier to sort out focus and align the finder scope. The alignment feature took care of this quite happily and I didn't even notice until I spotted a little line of hot pixels building up due to the drift.
  22. Guys I am considering moving into EAA, and the SX UltraStar C looks very appealling in combination with Paul's Starlight Live software, however ideally I want to keep hardware other than 'of an optical nature' down to a minimum. My scope is controlled entirely from my iPad or iPhone and ideally I would like to control all other elements of an observing session from a single device including image acquisition, was curious as to whether any thought had been put towards connecting iOS devices to imaging hardware. The most obvious initial hurdle that I can see is the lack of USB connectivity, perhaps Wifi miight be a possibility? Of course camera manufacturers would have to build in the necessary Wifi interface (if they have not already done so). I apologise in advance if what I am suggesting is totally impractical, or naive, I am viewing this from a pure layman's perspective. I suppose this whole topic should ideally be targeted at Apple, however I was curious to see what people think about the concept in general, and how this might be achieved. I suspect as well that apple would come back with a rather flat NO on the grounds that there would be insufficient profit in the concept for them :-) Kind Regards Paul J.
  23. AKB

    EAA with UHC

    Having, briefly, tried EAA with a 7nm Ha filter, I haven't been satisfied with the signal to noise ratio achieved within a reasonable time (say, 5 to 10 minutes) with 60 second subs. I'm sure I"ll go back to this, but in the meantime I have been trying out an Explore Scientific UHC filter (because I happen to have one already.) Another warm night last night, with little moon, was a chance to try this out: Hyperstar, SX Ultrastar, UHC filter, and, because I was also going for some longer stacks, I used guiding (which, I must say, works a treat with my Avalon M-Uno mount.) Three targets (only), all 10 x 1 minute: Cygnus Wall (well, some of it – terrible framing) Eastern Veil Crescent (poor focus here, I think: tried to re-focus without a Bahtinov mask – didn't work!) Once again, sadly, I forgot the L-R flip required to orient the Hyperstar images... Just by way of comparison, here's a post-processed image of the Eastern Veil (31 minutes, just stretching and a bit of star reduction, with L-R flip) which I'm quite liking: I still feel I'm not doing well enough to grapple with colour yet. It was a sort of resolution for this year to try and get things reasonably right in mono first.
  24. Had a great EAA session last night, although the wind was high here, so not the best of conditions, and my attempts at capturing Jupiter with another scope were a disaster. Here are half a dozen galaxies glimpsed gratefully. Although these aren't screenshots, they're all just lightly processed with some stretching and a little TLC (I hope) with the backgrounds. They're quite close to what was on the screen at the time. I'm trialing a 'noise reduction' method that I call ONR for "Olly's Noise Reduction" - a mild flattening of the curve at the bottom end noise threshold, courtesy of @ollypenrice. Not sure I've got it quite right yet. Kit: Quattro 8-CF with Coma Corrector on HEQ-5 Pro with Rowan belt mod. Guided with 60mm guide-scope and PHD2. Camera is a Ultrastar mono. All 1 minute subs. M51 - 20 x 1m M64 - 12 x 1m M94 - 2 x 1m M101 - 40 x 1m NGC4631 The Whale - 4 x 1m M63 The Black Eye - 5 x 1m The longer exposures for M51 and M101 were for when I (a) went in for a cup of coffee, and (2) went in to do the washing up! Happily, still able to watch the tracking and the images building using VNC on an iPad. Thanks for looking. CC welcome, as always.
  25. So here's a thing - it seems to me that astronomy is one of those not very straight forward hobbies. Last night I though it would just be the same as Friday night - set up, look at the moon take some pictures! Simples... Aw but not to be!! I'm good at setting up in the daylight, get my mount bang level (checked with electronic level app on phone...) Get it facing north with my beautiful brass compass and enter coordinates back to Kidderminster from Thame, then you would think just observe... Nah! Moon very wobbly with tinges of green on the edges... Barlowed it and got some superb views of Gassendi and the Hippalus Rilles albeit a bit wobbly... Then the tree came so I thought check out Jupiter the other side of the tree with the camera. Once again folks it appears I have a great deal of Astro luck! Couldn't find Jupes at first, camera in and out of diagonal, EP in and out of diagonal... Shall I just go to bed? Then just before my capitulation - Boom she appears as a large white circle! Mmm something to work on I thought... Messed with the Gain and Exposure, what's Gain mean? Now it's a smaller white ball no moons... Then after another stop and start - Boom!! a ball with bands on... Hello Jupiter my old friend I whisper like a sniper lining up a kill! Brainwave, blue filter! in she goes and Boom again deffo a Jupiter view (although very wobbly) Quick action - click the 'take a picture or million' button... Next quick, take a video or million button. Amazing here I am with a table chair laptop wonderful AVX mount and my Starwave 102 doing EAA.... It's not that clear and it looks like a black spot just above the main band... Er it couldn't be could it? Could it be? Not another transit surely.... Run indoors get the phone check my Jupiter moons app and Bingo is Io, only Io transiting Jupiter... Wonderful how lucky am I? I call my girlfriend down out of bed, look look she's sat at the table looking and and "can you get the image any sharper? Oh that's funny I thought the band's go horizontally".. a quick turn of the camera in the diagonal and she's happy! Flipping heck is it me how can she not be doing the I've just bagged a great target dance?? Amazing, another example for me of when things don't go perfect at the beginning, decide it's better to just give up and then a little while later having a wonderful moment. This hobby never lets me down! So today the result of all that is I have a million pictures (exaggerate a bit there) and not a clue what do so with em apart from maybe trying something I heard of called deep sky stacker... Should be interesting later. What a fun night in the end... never give up hang in there the joys are just a moment away.....
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