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My first DSO / Orion Nebula / on 127 Mak, alt az and webcam


jimbo747
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This is my very first attempt at imaging a DSO. Last night was partially cloudy but just went for it. As you can see, the results aren't brilliant but with the kit I'm using thats to be expected, was more of an experiment really so for my own mind I can find out why a mak, on an alt az with a webcam is pants for astrophotography.

Before you all laugh, please bear in mind that ...

1) Its a 127 SLT 1500mm FL mak scope and the alignment wasn't brilliant

2) Its a (very) wobbly alt az mount, fully extended due to high fences and with no additional weight

3) I'm using a rattly £8 0.5x focal reducer from ebay

4) I'm using a £4.99 ps3 camera exposed to the air to capture the image

5) I lost 15 mins of data when I tripped over the usb lead corrupting one of my recordings, so then proceeded to use 4x 5 min slots

6) Its only the 3rd image after one of the moon and one of jupiter I've taken

7) I only get 30 minute sessions before either wife nags or daughter wakes up

8) I haven't a clue on how to use photoshop - I just fiddled with the curves in 16 bit mode!

Ok, now all the excuses are out the way.

I took 4 separate recordings, approx 5 minutes each of 10s exposures ( was 6 mins but used best 80%) which I then split in to .png using virtualdub. I was aiming to combine all 20 mins in DSS but that didn't seem to work (there was a gap of about 10-20 mins between each one resulting in a massive noisy blur) so I stacked each recording in to 4 separate images. Exposure 10s, gain set to minimum as the camera is really noisy.

Below is an example of one of those images, about 5 minutes exposure.

get.jpg

I'm happy enough with the DSS stacking, however I have no clue how to get the best from my data, if someone wants to look at the 4 tiff files and see what you can do with them I'd be delighted! I'm now adding peltier cooling to see if I can increase the gain and obtain a better image. If anyone knows of a good photoshop tutorial, especially in combining 4 images in to 1 please let me know!

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Excellent first effort. Check your focus and you might want to invest in a light pollution filter to get rid of that colorcast.  You can also simply remove it pretty easy in post. Gradient xterminator works a treat.

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Ta. Just ordered a bahtinov mask to help with focussing and looking at the skywatcher electric focuser to see if there some way of fitting it on. Its nearly impossible with that mount as it shakes when you turn the knob, and shakes when you lean away to look at the laptop!

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Excellent first effort. Check your focus and you might want to invest in a light pollution filter to get rid of that colorcast.  You can also simply remove it pretty easy in post. Gradient xterminator works a treat.

Think the light pollution might just be me going too crazy with the levels in photoshop!  

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I'm a complete newb, but that looks really cool.  Using a PS3 camera?!

Yeah, its not as sensitive as the philips stuff, or even the logitech 4000 I've started using for planetry / lunar stuff but its a cheap way of getting >2s exposures. Sensor is very noisy though, even in 5 degree temperatures outside.

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Just a word of caution, I started doing exactly what you did, Orion on a 127 mak. Got similar kind of results, but then you get hooked. Pretty soon, its a bigger scope, a bigger mount, a bigger camera and all the lovely things that go with AP!

Nice image, especially considering what you are using.

Just a quick one, is it the skywatcher 127 mak on the AZ goto mount? If so, I used to use a clothes peg to make the focusing easier. Just stick it on the focuser and it gives you a lot finer control.

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Just a word of caution, I started doing exactly what you did, Orion on a 127 mak. Got similar kind of results, but then you get hooked. Pretty soon, its a bigger scope, a bigger mount, a bigger camera and all the lovely things that go with AP!

Nice image, especially considering what you are using.

Just a quick one, is it the skywatcher 127 mak on the AZ goto mount? If so, I used to use a clothes peg to make the focusing easier. Just stick it on the focuser and it gives you a lot finer control.

No its the near identical celestron 127 so thanks for the peg tip!

'luckily' my viewing sessions are likely to be 30 mins tops for the next few years so no point upgrading the mount. I had been looking at the orion g3 starshoot which costs 60x as much as a ps3 eye cam but i doubt on my mount i'll get images 60x as good, so will learn the ropes and get better at processing first.

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Ahh yeah, I loved that scope for that exact reason. Can be out and viewing within minutes. 

I was using a DSLR to do the imaging, so doing 30 sec subs and throwing a lot of the them away, however, I still managed to get orion, Andromeda (well, the core at least!) and the ring nebula. That got me hooked! I ended up selling that scope to fund the new one (wife doesnt understand you can have more than one scope!).

You should be able to get some pretty good images of Jupiter/Saturn. If you dont want to shell out on a g3, perhaps you can go for the SPC 900, if you can find one!

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Thought a dslr might be bit much for my mount although i have seen some decent shots.

One thing i want to look at, the built in tracking whilst great for planetry work does move about quite randomly - i think the out of focus stars disguise this somewhat. Do you know if its possible to autoguide via another webcam using phd or something and if it will be more accurate?

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You wont be able to do much on an ALT/AZ mount due to field rotation (earths rotation around its axis). Max sub is going to be approx 30 seconds.

Also, if you did decide to go down the AP route further, you would find that A LOT of the money is spent on the mount. The larger ones used are very heavy and very sturdy, which my GOTO was not! When you start adding weight, you add more problems, and it just becomes more hassle than its worth.

As I said, I think I threw about 80% of my subs away due to star 'trails', caused by wind, trains, a cat that walked past, a snail moving too fast..... fast forward a few months and a single 1 min exposure blows away anything I got with the 127. Still though, without that scope, I would never of gotten into this! 

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I will have to say that's not bad! I'm pretty sure there is more in there to extract if a guy tried. Not to put ideas in your head or anything but when I start imaging the sessions last at least 20 minutes. I'm inside while I wait then outside for 15 min or so starting the next one.

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Stupid question time.  

I'm just messing around capturing jupiter/saturn with my 127 but every time I try and capture orion, I cannot see an image on the laptop.  Even if I put the gain up full, I cant see anything so no idea if I'm in focus at all.... How do you get round this? 

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Stupid question time.  

I'm just messing around capturing jupiter/saturn with my 127 but every time I try and capture orion, I cannot see an image on the laptop.  Even if I put the gain up full, I cant see anything so no idea if I'm in focus at all.... How do you get round this? 

Could it be that Orion simply isn't bright enough? I know it is one of the brightest DSO's, but it is nothing compared to Jupiter and Saturn. 

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