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JGM1971

The "No EQ" DSO Challenge!

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Wow great difference that's super. I've revised old data with new processing skills as well

 

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I like pc  expess  for noise reduction  and snap seed for the levels. I've still a lot to learn with gimp.

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Got frustrated last night with the tracking so stuck the 85mm lens on and just took 11 frames, 30 seconds ISO 1600 f4. Very busy area.  I did the night before take a load with the 200mm lens and stacked 143 of those and the background is much nicer but I prefer this process though close to being clipped but that's lack of data and not wanting to stretch it to much. Both nights were clear but misty sky glow.1492575632_Autosave.fts85mm.thumb.jpg.bb1b52b8fc51a4a6447e9dc67ba2e418.jpg

I was tracking on NGC 2903 on a 2 star align where I could only see one of the stars.

692495725_platesolve85mm.thumb.jpg.3ed5c7791bea82dbdf7b949ef98f92be.jpg

 

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Hi everyone!

I'm not entirely sure if this is the right place to put this but I was really inspired by all of the incredible pictures that you guys have been taking and wanted to ask your advice. I'm doing a road trip this summer of a few of the American dark parks and wanted to do some astrophotography while I was there, but I have absolutely no experience. I already have a Celestron Nexstar 6se and the body of my grandfather's Cannon 5D (but no lens), and I was wondering what other equipment I should get as a person who doesn't really know what they're doing but is very willing to learn. I would rather not spend more than a few hundred dollars if possible, but I want to get the best bang for the buck. I was also hoping I could get some tips on how to get started in astrophotography, or if someone could point me in the direction of a trusty online resource that would be great as well.

Thank you in advance! Keep up the amazing work, I have loved seeing everything you guys have been doing. 

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A good way to start astrophotography, is often to start with the Milky Way. You basically just need a camera, a lens and a tripod. More advanced users also like to throw in a camera tracker, but that's not mandatory to make great pictures :) 

I can recommend this website, Ian has some great tutorials and "get started" articles and videos about everything Milky Way:

Here are a few Youtube tutorials:

The reason why I would start with the Milky Way, is because it teaches you almost everything you need to know about astrophotography: what settings to use (ISO, shutter speed, aperture), how to manual focus in the dark, how to deal with the noise, and perhaps, how to stack... Besides, you can get great results without an expensive equipment. Since you already have a camera, you can invest in a good lens and a solid tripod.

If you'd like to try deep-sky astrophotography, like pictures of galaxies and nebulae, that's also possible of course, but that's more complicated, and it often requires a different equipment (equatorial mount or camera tracker). 

If you need a lens without breaking the bank, I can recommend this website. They sell second hand equipment, at good prices. They always provide pictures and an accurate description of the product, so you know what you're buying! 

For astrophotography, the best lenses are often the ones from Samyang (also called Rokinon or Bower). They are usually not very expensive (especially if 2nd hand), manual focus only, but excellent for astro. The 14mm f/2.8 is a wide angle lens that would be perfect on your 5D! 

For longer shots, people get very nice results with the 50mm f/1.8 from Canon. This lens is also very cheap, even new, and can be great for portraits as well! The Samyang/Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 or the 135mm f/2 are also great options for astro, if you want a bit more reach. But with these longer focal lengths and with just a tripod, it's more difficult to get nice pictures than with a wide angle lens, and you'll need to learn how to stack for best results. So that's a bit more advanced, but still doable! Here is a picture I took of M42 with the Samyang 135mm f/2 and a tripod :) 

If you want a more serious setup, you can consider using a camera tracker. These will track the stars as the Earth rotates, and allow you to make much longer exposures than with just a tripod. But there's also a learning curve with these, because you need to learn how to align them properly. Nothing complicated, but for a beginner in photography, that's another thing to learn and consider. Keep in mind that you'll do everything in the dark, so that makes everything more complicated! :) 

On the cheap side, of camera trackers, I can recommend the new Omegon Minitrack LX2. It's a really simple device, perfect if you want to travel light or to remote locations. Here is a review, and you can see some example on the official Facebook group :) 

Other good camera mounts to start include the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer (also, the "Mini" version), iOptron Skytracker Pro and Vixen Polarie.

And of course, most people here will tell you that the first thing you need, is a good book :)  The deep-sky imaging primer was recommended to me, and it's a great one to get started. It teaches you almost everything! Making every photon count is also often recommended.

Hope that helps!

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Hi. I would buy a second hand lens for your DSLR, say 50mm to keep cost down maybe the nifty fifty.

I would use/buy an intervalometer for the camera or if use an android device does DSLR Controller support your camera.

I myself would be more inclined to use camera and lens on static tripod for photos.

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On 04/03/2019 at 03:34, Vega1156 said:

I already have a Celestron Nexstar 6se

If you have it on a motorized (goto) alt-az mount, that's also fine for imaging within some constraints (and techniques to learn) -- as this thread proves. But depending on how you travel and how much space and weight you can afford this could prove too much, in which case the LX2 or self-made "barndoor trackers" are good and lightweight solutions (but limited in precision and hence focal range).

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On 04/03/2019 at 02:34, Vega1156 said:

I already have a Celestron Nexstar 6se and the body of my grandfather's Cannon 5D (but no lens), and I was wondering what other equipment I should get as a person who doesn't really know what they're doing but is very willing to learn.

All I can add to the advice above is make sure you test whatever set up you decide to use before you go on your trip. Things that are easy to forget and not easily obtained under dark skies include:

  • A focus mask to go over the front of the scope/lens to help you get sharp focus on stars (works really well for cameras that offer a "live" view that can be zoomed in x5)
  • Adaptors and extenders to join camera to said scope/lens
  • Enough removable storage for the camera so you have enough space to take lots of shorter exposures (if you go down an alt/az route)
  • A decent finder scope if you need to align a goto mount (I found the red dot finders useless, finder scopes much easier and the "live" view through the camera the best once in the right area)
  • Good binoculars so you can enjoy the dark skies while you image
  • A dew shield if you're using the scope and you're going to areas where dew will be an issue

Otherwise, keep us posted on the results!

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Posted (edited)

I have made a new picture of M81&M82:
-50x30sec, 25 darks, 50 bias, 60 flats, ISO 1600,
- Antares f/6.3 used with spacers to obtain f/5, 
- Optolong L-Pro filter,
- FujiFilm X-A1,
- Meade LT-8 ACF.
I should have taken more light frames, but I do not have enough opening from my balcony and that limited the number of lights taken.

812881304_M81M82.thumb.jpg.c133784cd3ea69d990112dcaf808b281.jpg
Also, this is my attempt on M106:
48x50sec, 20 darks, 50 bias, 63 flats, ISO 1600 + 48x35sec, 20 darks, 50 bias, 50 flats, ISO 1600, 
- Antares f/6.3 used with spacers to obtain f/5, 
- Optolong L-Pro filter,
- FujiFilm X-A1,
- Meade LT-8 ACF.

M106.thumb.jpg.db04d8a58f9c40b28b6151131d1fc03e.jpg

The pictures were processed in DSS and adjusted in StarTools.

I like the use of Antares with spacers to get f/5 reducer. I do not see any distortions of stars with this reducing. I will have to try ISO 800, as I think that 1600 is too high value from my light polluted skies. Also, it was my first try with DSS to combine multiple sessions (same ISO, filter and reducer) and I hope it made a difference, even if I did not had greater number of light frames on one session.

Thank you,
Cezar

 

Edited by antaeus
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Posted (edited)

Well done Cezar, using a scope with a reduced focal length of, I guess, around 1000mm, on an Alt-Az mount and producing sharp stars is an achievement. And M106 with 50 second exposures too. :smile:

I had to look up the Antares reducer on the web, and I read that it isn't supposed to work with the Meade ACF? But clearly it does!

Ian

Edited by The Admiral

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A wide field from me, the Leo Triplet, what tiny targets (I did toy with using the ancient Helios 135mm). I like using the 85mm lens as I get reliable results. Last night the target was drifting SE so set to 20 seconds to keep star elongation down, one corner shows slight star elongation on pixel peeping but maybe it is the lens. Happy with star shape and colour. Focus was easy on the bright star Regulus using DSLR Controller which focused for me then I switched to manual so focus did not drift and sent the mount to M65.

85mm 103x20 second lights f4 ISO 800 Canon 1100d darks, flats, dark flats and bias files. The FWHM never got higher than 3.55 and was as low as 3.30 very happy with that, I had only rejected 15 or so frames due to cloud that came in though it wasn't going to be long until the camera was in the path of a street light. Stacked in DSS and processed in StarTools saved as png using irfanView. Mount was the Virtuoso powered by the Celstron LiFEp04 battery. Aligned only on Regulus as the second star picked was Sirius which I could not see so just said yes all fine and carried on. I will probably do another process as this was my first go.Autosave.ftsv1.thumb.png.2f451f08ab7652cb7f2126b009881dfd.png

Plate solve is here from using Astrometry.net.

85217177_platesolve.thumb.jpg.d4093f1d092997acf10d2bc3b4c98a54.jpg

 

 

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Thank you, this was the canon 85mm stopped down to f4 (it's the fast f1.8 lens but CA too strong wide open), I might try the 135mm Helios next time.

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17 hours ago, happy-kat said:

A wide field from me

Really good tracking there with nice round stars almost throughout. I think the target might have benefitted from the longer focal length though I know it's hard to pass over a lens then performs so well!

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17 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

Thank you, this was the canon 85mm stopped down to f4 (it's the fast f1.8 lens but CA too strong wide open), I might try the 135mm Helios next time.

Ah, sorry, I thought you were using the Helios 85mm f/1.5!

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Rolled out the Nexstar 102 SLT for the first time in a couple of years. This is from a reasonably dark site in South Wales. 30 sec subs, total of 1620 sec exposure with a Canon 1000D at ISO1600. Image binned 4x4 (8" per pixel) for web display. M52 and NGC7635 (Bubble nebula):

spacer.png

NigelM

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You stars are nicely controlled, there's no CA evident. 

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30 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

You stars are nicely controlled, there's no CA evident. 

It is not a bad scope in that respect (given it is at the cheap and cheerful end of refractors), but if you get the focus just a little out then colour horrors can happen (as they did in the subsequent image of NGC5866 which I am not going to show!).

NIgelM

 

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I am thinking to buy a dedicated astrophoto camera (for example QHY8L) mainly because I am struggle with read noise on my Fuji X-A1. But before I will do that, will I see a major improvement in read noise on CCD camera for the equivalent ISO-Gain and the same exposure time?

Thanks,
Cezar

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Posted (edited)

Sorry for my previous off-topic post.

These days were cloudy and raining, time to review some pictures I made. I have processed two new objects, M13 and M57.

M13
-124x27sec, 25 darks, 54 bias, 64 flats, ISO 800,
- Antares f/6.3 used with spacers to obtain f/5, 
- Optolong L-Pro filter,
- FujiFilm X-A1,
- Meade LT-8 ACF.

M13.thumb.jpg.ac43f139361119ad8149ea2d8e064f7a.jpg

M57
-47x38sec, 14 darks, 63 bias, 22 flats, ISO 1600,
- Antares f/6.3 used with spacers to obtain f/5, 
- Optolong L-Pro filter,
- FujiFilm X-A1,
- Meade LT-8 ACF.

M57.thumb.jpg.0bb78d11dafb9a020c788886ae225398.jpg

From what I can tell, it depends on the target, when using 800 ISO or 1600 ISO. I think that if I would have been used 1600 ISO on M13, it would have got overexposed.
Also, I have found here a  nice  explanation on exposures with reference to light polluted skies. It seems that there is almost no  difference for multiple short exposures vs long exposures.

Thank you,
Cezar

Edited by antaeus
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These two were taken with a 50mm 1.8 lens on an unmodded Pentax K-S1 camera and an old Manfrotto tripod. 

I shot about 1300x4" lights for Andromeda and 1100x4" for Orion. About 30-40 darks and flats each. Stacked them in DSS and processed with Startools. 

Any criticism is welcome! 

2077605779_Andromeda-stack1290editnuovo.thumb.jpg.3f0340180c4918dd522a95008e86f14a.jpg

1222717807_Orioneedit21-4jpg.thumb.jpg.d1d82118cf6cf9c40becbad7f392b64d.jpg

 

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They've come out very clear what the targets are. Did it take a long time for DSS to process that amount of images? Also your stars are nice and tight did you stop the lens down or is that not the nifty fifty?

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25 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

They've come out very clear what the targets are. Did it take a long time for DSS to process that amount of images? Also your stars are nice and tight did you stop the lens down or is that not the nifty fifty?

Yeah, my laptop isn't the fastest so it took about three hours if I remember correctly. The lens was stopped down to f2.8, but I also managed to shrink them slightly with Startools. 

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