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Newbie Observer with Some Early Success and Hangups


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Hello All,

This is my first time post here, and newbie in the telescope relm, so please have patience with me!

I recently bought some used equipment to get myself started in observational astronomy and hopefully astrophotography

My inventory includes:

Lunt 102 ED doublet refractor and finder scope

NEQ6 Pro mount

Orion Starshoot Pro 6.1MPixel CCD Camera and Televue field flattener

I have since bought:

An few eye pieces and accessories

Celestron NexImage 5 Solar System CCD

Orion Autoguider

And I have an EQDirect-USB cable for the EQ6 on the way.

I am extremely happy that I have successfully set up and used my EQ6 and Lunt for visual observing and I am excited to do more. - HOOKED

A bit of a disclaimer about myself, I am a bit of a technology for technology's sake kind of person, just one of my many personality flaws that makes me the engineer I am today.

My ultimate goal is to be able to control the mount, autoguide and take deep sky images from my mac computer, so I'm guessing that I am speaking with a very few of you here! As a fallback I can use a virtual machine but I would prefer to avoid that.

Is there anyone here who can give advice to a techno minded astro-newbie on the integration of the aboveformentioned stuff into a mac environment?

Cheers, (especially on Friday nights with clear skies)

Sean

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Hi Sean, welcome to SGL from the UK.

Unfortunately I'm a keep-it-simple visual observer :laugh: so will leave it to others to give technical advice.

If it were me, I'd use the eyepieces you have to get a bit of a grounding into astronomy, then get into imaging (you have jumped into the deep end :grin: )

Regards, Ed.

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I agree that spending time under the stars is the best thing. Personally I observe only visually, but I also understand your desire to get technical. I have the same tendency, but I don't mix it with astronomy (at least not yet). I think there should be plenty of opportunity for you to geek-out with a Mac and a scope. First of all, here's a list of astronomy software for Macs: http://zerobyzero.ca/Starstruck/?page_id=248 I reckon you should be able to get most things working on a Mac.

Second of all, and apologies if this isn't what you're after, you could get down and dirty with some DIY. Do you program? If the auto-guider requires a PC and there isn't existing Mac software then it can't be too hard to roll your own. There are nice, fast, sub-pixel image registration algorithms (I can send links if you're interested) which you could leverage. You'd need to do is figure out how to convert pixel displacements in X and Y into the correct motions in RA and DEC. Possibly it's more complicated than that and you'd need to make a predictive model of the errors (e.g. if they're periodic). But you'd figure that out by seeing what the errors look like. Also, there are mods you could make with microcontrollers and motorised telescopes: maybe even just making an intelligent dew-heater.

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Thanks for all the responses, good to see such an enthusiastic engaged community. I was out last weekend, even with poor atmospheric conditions still set up and did some visual observing. I was covered in a thick layer of dew and all my optics are desparately in need of cleaning~ The NexImage 5 had its first use and while it worked well in a VM the the image quality was greatly hampered by the atmosphere. Still, it was a successful night. Baby steps!

Thanks again!

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Thanks Ron for the book advice, another personality flaw is that I rashly order too many books (at least thats how my wife would put it). I wish the book was available in North America, but I will just have to be patient.

Sean

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I have not yet ordered the book, though I have a day off and will do it today, thanks for the link.

Quick update, the EQDirect arrived, I bought both the BT and USB versions.

BT paired with little effort, then I downloaded EQMac and gave that a try. I was expecting the configuration to be a lot more difficult but getting it to recognize the BT module was seamless and I had immediate control.

Technology for technology sake had me try out SkySafari Plus, by setting the software to look to the localhost, port 4030 as in the EQMac instructions I was able to control my scope as a Mead LX200. Excitement is building!

Alberta Starparty is 6 to 8 September, I will be trying my first pictures then. Wish me luck.

Clear Skies,

Sean

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