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mindburner

last nights attempt at M51 with 1100D

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Hi,

Lucky you to have a bit of clear sky, it rained a lot here last night. It's clear now, nice and sunny so off to give my ST-80 a go with the solar filter and try and get a picture of the big sun spot.

I might be lucky for tonight but the camera hasn't arrived yet.

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good luck for tonight. I didn't go to bed until 4.30 so a bit tired tonight, but out with the scope anyway.

Are you going to do the filter mod on the Canon?

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Hi,

Managed to get out and have some views of Saturn through the clouds. The results are better than my last attempt (250 dob and SPC900) but I reckon I should be able to do better.

I hadn't thought about modding the Canon, I think I will see how it goes as standard first, don't want to ruin it.

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Hi, fantastic shot Mindburner, just bought a Canon 600D after not owning any 'proper' dslr before only a Fuji S5500 point click cam.

Any tips you could give me to achieve something half as good, give me your secrets :-)

Do i have to learn about darks / lights etc (i will do but i just want to use so badly just to get going) ?

Well done mate & keep them coming your pics are even encouraging my lads.

clear skies

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Hi, fantastic shot Mindburner, just bought a Canon 600D after not owning any 'proper' dslr before only a Fuji S5500 point click cam.

Any tips you could give me to achieve something half as good, give me your secrets :-)

Do i have to learn about darks / lights etc (i will do but i just want to use so badly just to get going) ?

Well done mate & keep them coming your pics are even encouraging my lads.

clear skies

Hi Ewan

I'm just really starting out with AP, mostly using a 12 inch dob for visual before.

As for tips..

well the biggest thing that helped me was getting a decent EQ mount and guiding. I mean really a NEQ6. I'm not dissing smaller mounts but the NEQ6 is just such a solid, reliable piece of kit. Mine had so many stripped threads and bits missing that it was a labour of love to get it back to something like it's proper state. The NEQ6 seems like the AK47 of mounts:)

The big refractor seems to make AP a bit easier. Although it suffers from blue star halos in AP only

EQmod is marvelous and again for a beginner like me , needed a bit of research. But really it boils down to a laptop and a few leads. The polar align routing is just great. I would be lost without it.

A lot of folks may say leave guiding to later, but I found as a beginner that guiding, although needing a bit of financial outlay and some research, made life a lot easier in the long run. The ST80, QHY5, PHD combo is hard to beat at the price.

I also found that advice from the top imagers on SGL was priceless. Afterall they have been there done it before and can pass on loads of valuable info.

The biggest problem now I think is Light pollution. To get really better images again, darks skies are needed.

The new modded Canon is great, although I don't think I would immeditely mod it as I am mostly shooting galaxies. Modding does have it's own issues IMO and something that can be done at a later date.

Getting good darks, flats and bias frames is important. Although my bias frames are not up to much. I also found removing darks didn't make a huge difference to my images. This is definitely a work in progress.

I supposed to sum up, refractor, good guided mount and dark skies.

Processing: Nebulosity and photoshop. The guide to removing gradients is a must.

best of luck

Alan

Edited by mindburner

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Hi,

Managed to get out and have some views of Saturn through the clouds. The results are better than my last attempt (250 dob and SPC900) but I reckon I should be able to do better.

I hadn't thought about modding the Canon, I think I will see how it goes as standard first, don't want to ruin it.

Hi I just had a look at your Saturn shots, very nice and the Jupiter shots with the 250 are very good too, lots of detail. The refractor and DSLR just can't really do planets that well I find. I would love to get the 300p on the EQ6. It's a bit mad but worth a try

Edited by mindburner

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From my (somewhat limited) experience, I would agree with what the experts say... No one scope can do well at both DSO and planetary. For best results you need one for each.

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Hi,

Thanks for the nice comments about my pictures of the planets. I bought the EQ6 and Quattro for deep sky and then the C11 for higher magnification deep sky but also for the planets. I still think my 250 flex tube was better for the planets and once the tracking was sorted it allowed me to concentrate on the imaging rather than the tracking.

I have seen some very good photos of the planets with refractors and smaller than yours, so it should be possible. A decent camera is probably what does it. I started with an SPC900, then a MS Lifecam and finally a DFK. Of course each jump was an improvement, but the Lifecam worked really well and perhaps the DFK wasn't as big a jump as from an SPC900 to a Lifecam.

I have just gone back to modified webcams with an Xbox camera. I don't know how it performs in comparison to an SPC900 for noise and sensitivity, but resolution and frame rate are higher. The best news is that they are only £5 on auction sites and in my experience work really well.

You might want to give one a try on your dob or even refractor before buying a new scope?

Having seen your photos of DSO's it has really motivated me to have a better go and I still can't believe how good your M51 photos are. I hope/wish/dream of getting something anywhere as good. That was the reason for buying a 600D and I have just bought a Baader steel track focuser to help with fine focus.

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Hi Gina,

I am going to quote you on needing more than one scope next time Mrs Dr..... complains about the amount of kit littering (her words) our summerhouse.

Edited by DrRobin

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Hi Gina,

I am going to quote you on needing more than one scope next time Mrs Dr..... complains about the amount of kit littering (her words) our summerhouse.

Feel free :)

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Hi,

Thanks for the nice comments about my pictures of the planets. I bought the EQ6 and Quattro for deep sky and then the C11 for higher magnification deep sky but also for the planets. I still think my 250 flex tube was better for the planets and once the tracking was sorted it allowed me to concentrate on the imaging rather than the tracking.

I have seen some very good photos of the planets with refractors and smaller than yours, so it should be possible. A decent camera is probably what does it. I started with an SPC900, then a MS Lifecam and finally a DFK. Of course each jump was an improvement, but the Lifecam worked really well and perhaps the DFK wasn't as big a jump as from an SPC900 to a Lifecam.

I have just gone back to modified webcams with an Xbox camera. I don't know how it performs in comparison to an SPC900 for noise and sensitivity, but resolution and frame rate are higher. The best news is that they are only £5 on auction sites and in my experience work really well.

You might want to give one a try on your dob or even refractor before buying a new scope?

Having seen your photos of DSO's it has really motivated me to have a better go and I still can't believe how good your M51 photos are. I hope/wish/dream of getting something anywhere as good. That was the reason for buying a 600D and I have just bought a Baader steel track focuser to help with fine focus.

Hi

I must retry the SPC900 with the refractor. I did get some okish results last year with Jupiter using the dob and even the little ETX90 I had at the time.

I have started using a bahinatov mask for focusing and it really makes it easier. Just line up the diffraction spike in the centre and bob's yer uncle. I find getting good images is as much luck for me as anything else. The weather is such a pain sometimes.

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Hi,

I forgot to ask you, what software do you use for your Canon? I have been looking at APT and it appears that it not only drives the Canon, but controls the scope (EQMod) and also integrates with PHD. I also saw BackyardEOS which looks pretty similar. Do you use either of these by any chance?

It came clear here last night, but didn't last long and I was too tired to have a go. My 600D arrives tomorrow and the T ring is already here so it's going to be cloudy for the next month now, I bet.

I made a mask for my 127 Mak and it was quite usefull, so might make one for the C11/Quattro.

Edited by DrRobin

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Hi,

I forgot to ask you, what software do you use for your Canon? I have been looking at APT and it appears that it not only drives the Canon, but controls the scope (EQMod) and also integrates with PHD. I also saw BackyardEOS which looks pretty similar. Do you use either of these by any chance?

It came clear here last night, but didn't last long and I was too tired to have a go. My 600D arrives tomorrow and the T ring is already here so it's going to be cloudy for the next month now, I bet.

I made a mask for my 127 Mak and it was quite usefull, so might make one for the C11/Quattro.

Hi I use DSLR pro which I got from work. It's pretty good but now specifically designed for astro work.

I tried BYE but it crashed non-stop. There seems to be some issue with it running on higher spec, multi core pc's. I think an update may sort this out though. It's a shame though as the software looks very nice indeed. If this issue is sorted out, I think I would get BYE as it seems t offer best value for money.

Apt looks good, although complex ,but just didn't really spend the time with it. I am sure it would work well.

Edited by mindburner

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Hi,

I got my shiny new 600D home last night and gave it a go with APT. I had a quick read of the tutorial (man style of course) and then connected up the camera and hey presto it worked straight away. No messing around loaded drivers, fiddling with settings, the PC recognised the camera loaded the driver and that was it.

I loaded some of the test shooting plans and it all seemed to work so now all I need is the time to write a few plans and of course some clear sky. Guess what my first target is going to be?

Yes you got it M51. Will post a pic as soon as it is clear.

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Thanks for the advice Alan, i can't reply too quickly as i work a lot all week & evenings then reading my 600D manual as well as doing test shots just to get the feel for all it can do.

I set tonight aside to try & get some images from my C8 / 600d, using the 1.25 adapt + T mount.

I know i can connect my T-Mount to my 2 X Barlow (as it has a threaded top) or is it best to unscrew the lens off the bottom of the barlow & screw it into the 1.25" adapter then attach to the T mount on camera ? this will mean one option will be a fair bit shorter in length than the other effecting focus i imagine ?

I am going to try the HD movie mode with the digital zoom as the manual sais

'When filming Full HD footage with the EOS 600D, Movie Digital Zoom can be used to magnify the centre of the sensor by 3-10x while maintaining Full HD quality' as i want to experiment as much as possible if the clouds decide to go abroad for a change :-)

If i do manage so get an image i will try & post it here for any pointers.

Have a nice weekend you lot

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Hi,

Had a session last night with my Canon on M51. I havent finished my finder guider mount for my C11, so thought I would have a go without PHD. Unfortunately the mist rolled in and I gave up at 1am, having only got 18 frames and 3 darks. I am having difficulty getting DSS to stack more than 4 or 5 frames, yet to me around 11 look the same and and a couple more look reasonable.

I have just changed all of the settings for the nth time and if it gets any better will post the best picture I can. A longer session and more frames required, I think plus finish my finder/guider mount and get PHD working correctly.

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Hi it's good to get out and at least iron out some of the bigger niggles

I do use dss but found that nebulosity gives better results but is more time consuming when processing. Dss is good for an automatic shot at an image I find.

I was out last night and found it was so light until about 12.00. Imaging was great from about 12 until 1.30.

It will be good to see the results of your endeavours result in a nice image. With me I surprise myself in how good an image I take can be then on how awful the nest attemp I try.

Good luck with th finder guider. Again very interesting project and perhaps neater than the st80.

Cheers

Qlqn

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I went out to trial my ED120 Tuesday evening but skies were atrocious and after an hour or so abandoned it. Seemed to be a high haze or its like.

I'm sure all know this but for what its worth :- ISO speeds

Film ISO - the higher the number the faster it is. 800 is twice as fast as 400 which is twice as fast as 200. (Half ISO number is double exposure time). The downside is the higher the number the grainier the image becomes.

Digital ISO is similar. 1600 is fast but 'grainier'. ISO800 is average and ISO400 would be preferred but it doubles the exposure time - and that is the determining factor. For me it is as I have but a maximum 4 hour window due to trees, housing, light pollution and all the other suburban highlights.

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Hi All,

Finally managed to get DSS to stack 10 frames and tweaked an image. I have posted the result below. I know what you are going to say, reduce the ISO, take 5 times as many pictures and use a longer exposure, still it was my first attempt (with my C11 and 600D) and I am in the learning phase for all the software and techniques.

The forecast wasn't good for last night, although it did come clear. Forecast is reasonable for tonight and then I am busy Fri/Sat night so might give it a go tonight. Skies look dark at my house after 11pm, but there as you say don't really get dark until after 12pm and then it is only for 3 hours.

post-23264-133877778866_thumb.jpg

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There is quite a good lot of data in there. If you haven't done so, I suggest you take a couple of dozen darks at the same exposure and temperature. That makes a big difference to the noise. But yes, you are right - reduce the ISO and take more subs. Not necessarily more exposure because that will bring the noise up too. Good luck, you're well on your way :(

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Hi,

Thanks for the suggestions, I am definately going to give more exposures a try at a lower ISO. Only problem is the night is so short and I still need to get a bit of sleep as I have work the next day.

A couple of questions though, my images from the camera are very feint and I read that they are 14 bit but DSS expects 16 bits, so they need to be scaled up by a factor of 4 to compensate. Even so, I still find that the images need to be boosted before stacking and turned up the brightness in DSS to 10 before trying to register and stack.

Is this the best way forwards or do I need to pre-process the RAW files in something else first?

The 600D has an LV noise reduction, which takes a dark frame after a light and subtracts it in the camera. It makes every frame take twice as long but should reduce the noise on every image. Do you think this is worth while?

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Hi,

Thanks for the suggestions, I am definately going to give more exposures a try at a lower ISO. Only problem is the night is so short and I still need to get a bit of sleep as I have work the next day.

Yes, that is a problem at this time of year.
A couple of questions though, my images from the camera are very feint and I read that they are 14 bit but DSS expects 16 bits, so they need to be scaled up by a factor of 4 to compensate. Even so, I still find that the images need to be boosted before stacking and turned up the brightness in DSS to 10 before trying to register and stack.

Is this the best way forwards or do I need to pre-process the RAW files in something else first?

I don't do anything with my images before stacking in DSS. You do want 16bit post stacking software though really. I'm now taking the "picture" immediately after stacking, saving as 16 bit TIFF and then opening in PS for processing. This seems to be better than trying to stretch the image histogram in DSS.
The 600D has an LV noise reduction, which takes a dark frame after a light and subtracts it in the camera. It makes every frame take twice as long but should reduce the noise on every image. Do you think this is worth while?
No, it takes too much time. You don't need as many darks as lights and you can take darks separately after the lights with the cap on the scope. At that point you don't need guiding or tracking or even the scope pointed at the sky. If you have an obsy, you can park the mount, close the roof and set APT (or whatever you use) to take the darks without user intervention. This is what I do. Set the job going, "shut up shop" and go to bed :(

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Hi,

Lucky you with an obs, I have to get everything out of our summerhouse, set it up and then put it all away, still I could do my darks and bias frames whilst I am packing up.

I have been using an Astronomik lpr, but as M51 is straight overhead and less affected by light pollution I might try some shots without as I am sure I loose some light through it and it does give everything a bit of blue tint.

Thanks for all the help, I hope to be able to get some better pictures like yours and Mindburners soon. My M51 is still a lot better than my last attempt at M101 so it's just practise and time I think.

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Hi,

Lucky you with an obs, I have to get everything out of our summerhouse, set it up and then put it all away, still I could do my darks and bias frames whilst I am packing up.

I put the best part of a year's hard work into that obsy so I reckon I earned it :( Wasn't cheap either.
I have been using an Astronomik lpr, but as M51 is straight overhead and less affected by light pollution I might try some shots without as I am sure I loose some light through it and it does give everything a bit of blue tint.
I think you're probably right.
Thanks for all the help, I hope to be able to get some better pictures like yours and Mindburners soon. My M51 is still a lot better than my last attempt at M101 so it's just practise and time I think.
Yes, you're right. Lots of practice and time - my first efforts were hopeless :) M51 is an easier target than M101 - it's brighter. Though it does have a lot of contrast which makes it difficult to get the ends of the spiral arms without burning out the middle.

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Hi Gina,

I have found nothing is cheap in astronomy. I am sure you have earned your obs, if it took a year.

I would like an obs, nagged my partner to let me have one, she has repeatedly said no. Now she says yes, but there are strings attached (expensive bits of string, must be astronomical?) and she won't let me have it right in the middle of the garden (can't imaging why), so it's just not worth me having one.

At present, I have a concrete block under our decking and lift out a trap door, into which my pier fits. It's not as convienient as an obs but works very well and it is straight in front of our summerhouse which I sit whilst imaging.

I do have a potential dark site about 25 miles away where I could obtain permission to put an obs, but then that would mean fully remote control, a new scope and mount and the obs, so serious money, probably less than those expensive bits of string I mentioned earlier.

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