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  1. I’ve found two apps and a couple of pieces of photo kit that I think could be a big help to other raw beginners like me. But before I get into detail on those, I would just like to mention my experience with my red dot finder. The Sky-Watcher RDF which came with my Sky-Watcher 130M failed on its second outing. As I was reluctant to accept a replacement, FLO kindly gave me a voucher to set against the cost of a Baader 30mm SkySurfer III. I don't have a reticle eyepiece so, to make sure I was setting up the RDF accurately, I first sighted a target about 2 kms away from me using a 25mm eyepiece, getting the target in the centre of the EP as best I could judge (in daylight this is). I then adjusted the RDF until it fell on the target. I then swapped the 25mm EP for an 18mm and found that the target was off-centre slightly, so I re-aligned the scope and made further adjustments to the RDF. Finally, I changed the 18mm EP for an 8mm and did the same again. At the end of this, my RDF was absolutely spot on. OK, moving on to the apps, the first is called PolarAligner, the second is called SkEye. PolarAligner comes in two versions, free and paid for. The ‘Pro’, paid for version (which is cheap enough) has a ‘Daytime Alignment’ setting which I don’t think is available in the free version. Using ‘Daytime Alignment’, you lay your phone down on its back, on your mount, and parallel with the axis of the mount. You then adjust the azimuth and altitude positions of the mount with the aim of centring a white cross against a red target. Et voila! When you’ve done that, your mount is pretty much polar aligned! And in daylight! I lay my phone along my EQ2 mount axis by resting each end of the phone on the bottom of the two tube rings, holding it there with an elasticated hair band, kindly donated by my partner. See the image below taken in my home at around midday today. SkEye is a free app which is similar to other sky map apps, except that it allows you to enter a target object and then shows you in which direction to move your phone in order to find that target. After you’ve selected your target, the app creates a circle with an arrow projecting from it, the arrow pointing in the direction in which you have to move the phone. When you have located the target, the circle brightens and expands, the arrow disappears, and the target is shown inside the circle. To put the two apps into use, I swapped the tube rings on my mount, placing the one carrying the ¼” tripod screw at the front. After daytime aligning my mount with PolarAligner Pro, I fully tightened the azimuth and altitude settings on my scope and then fixed the OTA in place. In my case a Sky-Watcher Explorer 130. The two pieces of photo kit I happened to have in my collection of bits and pieces were a spring-loaded smartphone holder with a ¼” tripod bush, and a dual camera photo bracket. The latter is about 25 cms long, and has a ¼” tripod bush at the centre with two 1/4" tripod screws on either side, each adjustable along a length of about 7 cms. I fixed the dual camera adapter to the front tube ring and then attached the phone holder to the right side of the adapter, as per the pics below. Then it was simply a case of putting my phone in the holder and making sure that it was exactly perpendicular to the OTA in both planes. When I fired up SkEye and searched for Polaris... bingo!... I saw Polaris located in the circle as you can see in the photo below... so 10/10 for PolarAligner. Using SkEye in a phone properly fixed to the OTA like this, you have yourself a brilliant ‘PUSH-TO’ facility. You can then obviously refine your target fix with your properly aligned RDF. PolarAligner cost me £2.49, SkEye was free, and, as I said, the two bits of kit I already had. But you can get a tripod-bushed phone holder from £7 upwards, and the dual camera bracket is available on Amazon for £9. So, say £20 in total. And for that you get a brilliant polar aligning aid together with a Push-To sky map screen which makes operating your scope so much easier, especially if it’s an EQ2 mount like mine. I hope this is of help to all absolute newbies like me
  2. Hi there, Recenly I have finally figured out how to attach my Prestigio webcam to a telescope properly and tried my very first planetary imaging. For the following set of images, I used my 12" dobsonian, because my 4.5" can't collect enough light for me insensitive webcam, so tracking was a no-no. What do you think?
  3. Hi guys, It has been a while since I last visited this forum and thought it is a great shame. A while ago, I figured how to properly attach my Prestigio webcam to a telescope using spare part from Hyperion Zoom and got around to get myself some motor drive for my 4.5" newtonian on a EQ2 mount. With somehwat limited tracking capabilities, I was finally able to get down to some wannabe serious imaging, and my first stop was the Moon last night, although the seeing was terrible. I just wanted to share my results with you, recieve some feedback and tips from you in the community. Setup and imaging details: 114/900 on EQ2, basic motor drive (focusing was a nightmare) Prestigio PWC2, most basic 2x Barlow Registax, ACDSee 6 Pro Range of resolutions/fps/exposures So, what do you think?
  4. Perhaps DIYers will be interested in a low cost guiding setup for EQ2 mounts. I'm not sure if this approach has been tried before, but it's relatively straightforward to implement and is certainly low cost. In early 2016 I purchased a Meade Polaris 130 scope, complete with EQ2 mount and Economy RA (clockwork) motor drive with the intention of trying out astrophotography at a low entry cost. Very quickly the prime focus problem arose - so the scope was shortened by 40mm. With this mod 30 second exposures very not too difficult, with 60 seconds sometimes successful. Of course the problem was tracking. Rather than spend time taking lots of 30 second exposures and knowing that longer exposures were really the way forward, I decided to investigate the Economy RA Motor to see if it could be modified in some way for guiding. The answer soon became apparent - yes it could (with very simple mods) but I had no idea how well it would work. Next steps were to look for a way to guide the motor - an Orion mini guide scope and Microsoft Cinema webcam (modified of course) plus a Raspberry PI with Lin_guider were relatively painless to get going and the results were good. However, DEC drift could still cause star trails, so a bit of thought came up with the idea of using an Economy RA Motor as a DEC motor, again to be controlled by the Raspberry PI. This evening the setup was given its for test for dual axis guiding (5 min RA guiding had been successful previously). Not the best sky - very bright due to the moon and clouds appearing. Still, taking no time for polar alignment other than to point the scope slightly to one side of the pole star, a guide star was found, guiding started, guiding gain etc adjusted and a couple of images taken before the clouds got in the way. Results - no doubt as seasoned astrophotographers would expect, DEC guiding just needs a bit of correcting from time to time - the gain of Lin_guider had to be brought down to stop oscillation. RA guiding takes much more frequent corrections, again with a low gain for my setup. My aim with the mods was to see if such a low cost and basic setup could be made to guide - also at a low cost and with simple equipment/mods. On the face of things it is not too involved and I hope that it will be useful to those who don't want to jump into the expense of more mainstream equipment. It could also be a low cost learning curve into guided astrophotography for those who have already purchased a scope with EQ2 mount. Next steps for me is to find (hopefully!) some clear skies for a chance at decent imaging. Weight hasn't been added to the mount as yet - this should improve stability although the short 650mm focal length is a help when it comes to stability and guiding errors. Below is a 5 minute (bright) single image taken this evening with dual axis guiding (at 100 ASA due to the moon). The central star seems reasonably round, though coma affects other stars towards the edge of the image. I've also attached diagrams of the setup and another earlier 5 minute single image taken with RA only guiding.
  5. Hi guys, I have a chance to buy Lidl style Bresser refractor on this particular EQ mount. Does anybody here know exactly what mount it is? Do any of you any experience attaching a simple EQ2 motor drive to it? See below. It seems very sturdy compared to EQ2 so I'm tempted. I know there are probably not the same mounting holes on the Bresser EQ as there are on EQ2, but my hope is that the R/A gear and worm might be of similar size (and ratio) to EQ2, so that the speed of EQ2 motor drive rotation could accomodate it. If so, a little bit of DIYing might be enough. Any thoughts? Thank you very much.
  6. This is a thread for those whose subs rarely if ever exceed 2 minutes long, often shorter, with relatively low total exposure time to discuss tips and techniques for image processing. Whether your an Alt-Az imager battling field rotation, you have issues with polar alignment or you have a relatively small, unguided mount you will often be faced with the challenge of getting the most out of relatively sparse data. The No-EQ Challenge thread has shown that even twenty minutes of sub-minute exposures can give good results. I think some of the things we could discuss are: We can't get rid of noise, but how can we keep its effects under control What are the best tools for short exposure images and what settings are best? Different types of software and their pros and cons What percentage of subs should we stack? (e.g. can we use a greater proportion of subs to reduce noise while letting sigma delta keep our stars round?) Ways of boosting faint background detail What sort of standard should we be aiming for And anything else
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