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I had a chance to get out in the garden last evening, had a go at capturing NGC 7023 - Iris Nebula, only managed to get 12 good shots, 240sec x 12, combined in Photoshop with Mean Stacking. The dew was super heavy and currently I do not have any dew heaters (next purchase) so lost the battle after around 2 hours.
One interesting point is I captured these shots with the long exposure noise reduction switched on with the Sony A7Rii, so each shot took 8 mins to take and save, but as a result the noise levels were next to zero at 800 ISO, and at the end of the day the noise is always our enemy. I need to try a real pro level 'cooled' astro camera just to see how much better it could be, as the Sony A7Rii is just stellar !
I am very happy with the final shot, taken with my Skywatcher 100 ED Pro Esprit Scope on my NEQ6 mount, Skywatcher ED50 Guide Scope and Altair Astro ASI130mm camera, PHD2 of course. The sky was nice and clear with low light pollution, as around 5 miles from major town.
I do not take darks or flats or use Deep Sky Stacker, and I do not use filters, plus the camera has not been modified, so I am always delighted with the results I get from my set-up, as I have a deep level of respect for the hard work that most Astrophotographers go through to get the incredible images that we see here in Stargazers.
I have read that some people believe that the Sony Alpha cameras have a tendency to 'eat the stars' and not show everything captured, to be honest, I always used a Canon 60Da for many years for my astrophotography, until one day I though, what if my Sony A7Rii could be used, the first time I did this I released that it was time to sell the Canon 60Da, the 'Remote' (free) Sony software is almost as good as BackYardEOS, but the cameras are a decade apart in performance, the noise levels on the Sony are at least 4 maybe even 5 stops better than the Canon, that is the Sony A7Rii at 3200 iso equal to the Canon 60Da at 200 iso, so at 800 iso it is just so impressive. As you can see from the picture only 12 frames, stacked in Photoshop (Mean).
Open to comments and welcome a discussion/debate,
I thought I would share with you my first hand experience of the Skywatcher ED100 Pro Esprit Telescope, I have only had it a few months, but so far I am extremely happy with the results, it is so sharp and the contrast is very high.
I live in a small town, Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK, where the light pollution is not to bad, but still I have to be cautious with the direction I choose to point the telescope. All my astrophotography is done from the back garden on my patio.
I have had a few different telescopes over the years, but I always found myself moving more and more into astrophotography, so after some research I selected the Skywatcher ED100 Pro Esprit, as many of the other users had commented on the sharpness and contrast. As I wanted to focus on more wide field astrophotography the F5.5 speed giving 550mm seemed the right choice, I also use an ED50 Skywatcher Guide Scope with an Altair Astro ASI130mm camera for the guiding and of course PHD2 software, all mounted on my Skywatcher HEQ6 mount.
Here is a shot of the Andromeda Galaxy, 20 x 30s stills at ISO 800 on my Sony A7Rii, no filters just RAW images processed with Photoshop, Stacked Mean option. I used the Trevor Jones video on his BackyardAstro You Tube page for processing DSO's and it seems to work very well. What you will see from the image is just how sharp it is, something that really surprised me when I processed the images.
This has inspired me to spend more time outside in the garden to photograph more objects, plus I have recently purchased an Astronomic CLS Filter for my Sony A7Rii, so I am looking forward to using this to see if it improve the contrast. I will keep you informed.
Also I am looking forwarded to trying my Olympus EM1 MK2 camera, yes I know it does not have the capabilities of the Sony A7Rii for light gathering, but it does have a really clever mode where it can stack the images in camera to reduce noise, so I will also let you know how this went as well.
I went this weekend to my girlfriend's parents and I took my Skywatcher 72ED with me and the smaller AZ-EQ5. Fortunately, the skies are dark there.
So, on 11/12 August I put all the stuff on the mount and took 130+ 60s subs with the Canon 550D. The result is a crop, towards the edges the stars are not perfect yet, but they're a bit better than in the past. I put some additional spacers to the universal flattener and increased the backfocus distance. The comet doesn't fill the frame anyway.
Unfortunately, the animation doesn't really play ball, I will upload it somehow else later. Neither on the processed image I did the best job, I need to improve somehow in removing the artifacts on the comet-only image.
However, this is what I got:
Thanks to FLO for my new ED150 DS Pro received on Wednesday. I was aware @John was down to test one so I delayed posting for a bit plus the delivery brought the clouds. I will post my initial findings and thoughts and top up as I go. I own or have owned an ED80 and an ED 120 but I no longer have the latter to do an objective comparison.
The first feedback applies to the outer packaging. As discovered by others it is inadequate for the item. In my case the outer packaging was ruptured at the pressure points under the narrow white plastic wrap bands. I imagine the bands are used along the supply chain to manoeuvre the package. The gross weight is 26kg so it’s difficult to manhandle for an individual. Fortunately, the flight case was in perfect condition and hopefully has protected the contents. SW could learn from Lunt and double box their items.
The flight case itself is typical SW and has considerable strength and weight. There is a lot of unused space though, with cut outs ready for a significant number of accessories which I can only assume is for another market. My version has the OTA, an M48 Canon EOS adapter (why?) and a threaded adaptor to allow connection to the draw tube. that’s it, no diagonal, EP, finder etc like other Pro offerings.
The OTA weighs just over 9kg which is the same as my SCT 9.25 but unlike the latter is much easier to handle as it’s a lot narrower. So attaching it to my AZ EQ 6 is a doddle. I have to be sure to carry it level because like every other SW I have owned the objective end cap is loose so tilt the OTA and it falls off. I usually add a bit more felt to solve the issue.
i was lucky to have about an hour of clear dark sky last night so was keen to do a star test for obvious reasons if you have read @John ‘s thread. The eagle eyed among you will have seen that the focuser is essentially fixed and has no provision for easy rotation during a session so one needs to rely on rotating the diagonal. My Moonlite which can be switched between the 80 and 120 does not fit the 150 so I eagerly await the adaptor 😉.
I used my ES 82’ 4.7mm EP on Altair to run an initial star test. The CA profile has been well covered by @John and my experience is almost identical including the slight hexagonal appearance in some situations. In my case the in focus and in and out focus transitions revealed absolutely perfect collimation. A big sigh of relief there. Interestingly I had placed the scope outside for about an hour at roughly 21 degrees but the initial star test was too unsteady but 20 minutes later it was very steady.
Using in addition to the 4.7 my ES 14 and 20mm eps i moved on to look quickly at some targets such As Iota Cass which was clearly defined as a triple with distinctive colour ranges, M27 which had a typical grainy appearance very similar to the view in the SCT and M81 and M82. Considering it was not astronomical darkness the dark centre of M82 was very well defined. The best view though was of M57. The detail in the ring was dramatic and high mag was easily tolerated. I must have stared at it for 15 minutes. I tried the Blinking PN in Cygnus and although a small target even with the 4.7 the brightness was remarkable and the structures defined.
By now I was tired but tonight and tomorrow look good so I will try and post more findings from a visual perspective. Just to say that the mount had no trouble at all in swinging this beast around and I didn’t even need to do a new alignment from the last session with all targets centred in the EP when using the Synscan database.
i must say I’m quite chuffed and a big thanks to FLO for excellent communication on this item.
I have a Sky-Watcher Skyliner 300P FlexTube GOTO which I am enjoying however after a period of no use the base has become very stiff. My fault, as it became wet not realising that the cover I had bought for it was not waterproof.
Looking through the threads in here I found one which I followed to try to strip down the base however I have become stuck at the point of trying to remove the motor housing from the base after removing the 4 machine screws. I suspect that it is a combination of corrosion and the base material swelling which is preventing me from removing the motor from the base. When I release the worm gear from the static gear using the release lever the motor turns easily which is what is fuelling my suspicion.
Any advice or suggestions would be useful as I've come to a halt in my investigation for the moment. It looks to me like I'm going to need a new base which may be a better bet anyway as the original supplied is heavy and definitely not good in the damp.