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M31 - First Light with SW 80ED and VX mount


Space Ranger
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It was a case of 4th time lucky for setting up to do some astrophotography with my newly acquired kit. All previous attempts after dark had seen clouds (& in some cases rain!) cause me to stop at various stages of alignment and set-up. Even my fourth attempt was not without incident - clear skies for the few hours of "darkness" were forecast, but just as I had accurately aligned the scope and hooked up the camera I looked up to see the sky filling with cloud. I was determined not to be defeated so 30 minutes and a light shower of rain later saw the skies clear. Game on!

My previous scope required manual pointing at targets, so I was very impressed that the GOTO on this new mount worked a dream and was easy to use. I got a bit carried away initally with new toy syndrome, and like a kid in a sweet shop jumped excitedly from one object to the next taking a quick snap of each before moving on. It was less of a Messier marathon and more like a short Messier sprint! I had great fun seeing how much detail single 30-90s exposures of familiar objects could produce. Several planetary nebula, galaxies, open and globular clusters, a nova and a supernova later, I had reached an old favourite - M31.........

post-23986-0-43935200-1377042354_thumb.j

I could see a great deal more detail in it's dust lanes than I'd ever captured before. This image is a single 90s exposure at ISO3200 - a bit noisy, but pleasing nonetheless [note I converted it to greyscale as I was having problems removing the colour cast from light pollution - practice & patience needed with post processing me thinks].

Once I figure out what I'm doing wrong with DSS (getting fuzzy output) I'll find out how much a difference it makes to the final output to stack extra exposures.

I'm most impressed with the quality of the new kit used thus far and can't wait for the clouds to disappear for a few hours again.

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Can I ask a bit of an odd question? When you image Andromeda and do an exposure, is it clearly visible when you view the image on your camera screen or is it something that only really comes out when you process the image?

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Can I ask a bit of an odd question? When you image Andromeda and do an exposure, is it clearly visible when you view the image on your camera screen or is it something that only really comes out when you process the image?

I'd say the latter!

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Have you considered an LP filter?

My images were orange until I started using one. Apparently you can process out LP but frankly, I'm not good enough to do that yet. I purchased the well reviewed Hutech from FLO: http://www.firstlightoptics.com/light-pollution-reduction-imaging/hutech-idas-p2-light-pollution-suppression-filter.html

Saying that, I really really like it in B&W. Don't know why.

I take it you were out and about or what this from the garden?

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Thank you all for your kind comments. I'm glad you liked the photo.

Hi,

Thats a very impressive image for a 90sec exposure and the greyscale does give it an old world charm. You should probably try guiding with the finder of the 80ED. This will then increase the potential of your setup.

I'll probably try guiding at sometime in the future. For the moment though I'll just spend some time getting used to using the scopes and mount. I reckon that a dual mounting bar is probably all I need and I can swap between having the DSLR on either the 6" SCT or the SW 80ED and the ASI120MC as a guide scope on the other.

Very impressive!! Which camera is it?

Canon 650D DSLR - for the price, I'm quite impressed with it both for day and night time photography.

Can I ask a bit of an odd question? When you image Andromeda and do an exposure, is it clearly visible when you view the image on your camera screen or is it something that only really comes out when you process the image?

I could see the galaxy quite clearly (as a smudge) with the naked eye. I confess that I didn't take note of whether the galaxy was visible in the camera viewfinder or on live view. The GOTO was working so well that the scope was placing the target object bang in the centre of the camera frame every time.

Have you considered an LP filter?

My images were orange until I started using one. Apparently you can process out LP but frankly, I'm not good enough to do that yet. I purchased the well reviewed Hutech from FLO: http://www.firstligh...ion-filter.html

Saying that, I really really like it in B&W. Don't know why.

I take it you were out and about or what this from the garden?

I live in a small town, but the light pollution is not bad from my back garden - I can clearly see the milky way and have a NELM of about 6.0 . The 90sec shot at ISO 3200 does have a brownish tinge to it & because I'm not great at the post processing part, I found I just couldn't get the colouring in the image to my liking. I like you thought the B&W looked good so settled for it for the time being.

I have a 2" SW light pollution filter I might dig out to try, but I sometimes head out to nearby darker locations where a light pollution filter is needed less (unless I find one that filters out foreground auroral or zodiacal light ;-))

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Thanks all.

Nice one! I'm getting my AVX today, just sitting here waiting for the DHL guy :icon_bounce:

Hope it arrived safe and sound and you get plenty of clear skies to try it out! Unfortunately I'm seeing little but cloud at the moment

I perceive you tracing the steps that many of us have trod in the past. Excellent start.

I also use single exposures with the camera to tour the sky. I think it's a great thing to be able to do.

I expect like you say I will follow the same astrophotography adventure as many. That's why this forum (& ones like it) is so good - there's lots of helpful people out there willing to aid the learning process :-)

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Here's my first light using my uncollimated SW 150P and the AVX. It's 60 sec unguided @ ISO1600 with my Nikon D5200. From heavily light polluted skies in Stockholm and an 80% full moon. I only did some levels and curves in Photoshop.

It's like night and day vs the EQ3-2 :)

Now I'm waiting for October to bring me some darker skies :)

dumbbell_single.png

The star shapes are a bit off, don't know if it's the collimation or the tracking/polar alignment. I did the all star polar align using zoomed live view on the camera.

/Patrik

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Yes, I'm using a coma corrector. Without the CC I'm getting elongated stars around the center towards the edges of the image. This is typical for newtonians

If you crop the image it might not be necessary, but my images improved alot after getting one.

/Patrik

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Yes, I'm using a coma corrector. Without the CC I'm getting elongated stars around the center towards the edges of the image. This is typical for newtonians

If you crop the image it might not be necessary, but my images improved alot after getting one.

/Patrik

Which one did you get?

This one?

'>http://www.firstlightoptics.com/coma-correctors/skywatcher-coma-corrector.html

Edited by Russe
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I bought one made by TS Optics, but the SW should work all the same, and a DSLR-M48 ring adapter. Be aware that the coma corrector also acts as a reducer and might move the point where you reach focus inwards towards the tube (I see that you have a modified 130p, so don't know how much inward travel you have). I think that my CC moved my focus point 3 mm inwards, which leaves me with about 4 spare millimeters :)

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I bought one made by TS Optics, but the SW should work all the same, and a DSLR-M48 ring adapter. Be aware that the coma corrector also acts as a reducer and might move the point where you reach focus inwards towards the tube (I see that you have a modified 130p, so don't know how much inward travel you have). I think that my CC moved my focus point 3 mm inwards, which leaves me with about 4 spare millimeters :)

I'll try it out without first. CC is quite expensive with 100£ and the M48 ring is not for free either. Sigh.

Re: mod - I've modded in a way that I can always move the primary mirror higher. So, no prob!

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