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Despite the wonderfully clear skies last night, I couldn't muster the energy to go out for a session, so just played around with a Mickey Mouse All Sky Camera I have assembled out of bits. Really it is just a cylindrical Tupperware container with a hole cut in the lid for a plastic dome to be fixed into place. I used parts of smart camera bracket to hold the camera in place inside the container, with a Fujinon zoom lens attached. To provide a bit of dew control I just wrapped an 8" dew strip a couple of times around and wedged it in place just underneath the dome. After some messing around with focus and aperture setting, I got it working reasonably ok.
Despite being a complete muppet in IT terms, I managed to get an old laptop setup in my shed with teamviewer on it so I could access it from the house either on my laptop or phone. It seems to work well, got some good views last night, fun watching the planes go over and the constellations slowly moving. If nothing else it is useful to see if it is clear or not.
There is obviously a fair amount of distortion as soon as you get off axis, probably a combination of the lens and the cheap dome. I'm not looking for quality so no need to do anything about this. I will have a play with the aperture to get the best results. With the light pollution around here it is a tricky balance to draw the fainter stars out without blowing the whole lot! I experimented with 30 and 60 second exposures, plus fiddling 'in the dark' with the other settings in SharpCap. A bit of fun, although this morning the dome had frozen over so clearly more heating required!
Later I did pop the Heritage 130P out later on (after watching some appallingly bad film Mrs Stu had selected!) and had a quick run around a few objects. I was struggling with the eyepiece position on the alt az mount. I have the mount quite high on a pillar so I can clear the hedges so the eyepiece is either ontop or below the tube. I fitted an L bracket I had spare and although that added a bit of flex visible at high power, it was definitely more comfortable. The Skysurfer V RDF I have fitted is also a little too close for comfortable use so I need to find a way of extending that out a little.
M42 was surprisingly good at low power, clear green tinge to it unfiltered and the Trapezium split showing all four components at x27. Didn't try higher power.
Not having much time, I wanted to check a few doubles to see how the optics stood up. Polaris first, and whilst the primary was a little messy, the secondary showed beautifully as a tiny sharp pin point, really nice. Collimation seems pretty good but will check more thoroughly next time out.
Sigma Orionis next, and with the 6mm setting on the Nag Zoom, x108, all four components were visible, even the very faint fourth was quite clear, a nice result.
Finally Algieba. Reasonably tight double at 4.7" separation and mag 2.2 and 3.6 components. This too gave a nice split, again stars are not nearly as clean as in the Tak, and bit 'hairy' but as a quick grab and go it was still a nice image.
Actually that was not quite finally, I had a quick trawl across the Auriga clusters, and the additional aperture showed it's worth here, really quite pleasant views, well worth a look.
I guess I'm just reinforcing what others have said. This is a very capable little scope, very compact and light but great fun to use. Now I've finally found my plumbers tape, the focuser is much smoother and holds position well, no real need for an upgrade.
Here area couple of screen shots from the world's worst ASC
EDIT Found some pics of the beast itself ?
Finally a clear night and some good images grabbed with my DIY All Sky Camera.
All stitched together in Light Room and the resulting video stuck up on YouTube and now linked to here
Hopefully it will be clear again soon and can get some more good timelapses. Shame I am not further north with a possibility of an aurora, but hey ho.
Thanks for looking
Having completed my ASC Mk 5 night sky camera I'm now thinking about a colour camera for daytime use. Colour will allow seeing the difference between clear blue sky and grey cloud. To start with, the field is wide open for the camera and lens.
Ideas for camera :-
ZWO ASI185MC Raspberry Pi Camera Webcam CCTV Camera Ideas for lens - must be a fish-eye lens to give sufficient FOV :-
2.5mm f1.2 lens supplied with ASI185MC Fujinon Zoom Lens - 1.4mm to 3.1mm at f 1.4 Other CCTV lens RPi combined camera and lens
This is an upgrade of my Mark 4 with different camera and several additions including Peltier TEC cooling to reduce noise and using the Raspberry Pi for image capture and control. In addition I shall be using WiFi to connect from a desktop computer for control and image transfer. I'm currently learning how to use the RPi almost from scratch - I have used Linux in the past.
A new version of my ASC using a new imaging camera for lower noise and higher resolution but with the same Fujinon zoom lens. Previously Mark3.
I bought a ZWO ASI185MC for planetary imaging but the weather and short dark periods at this time of year are discouraging me from this. This camera should make a great all sky camera in conjunction with the Fujinon zoom lens. The 2.5mm lens supplied with it doesn't quite give the 180° coverage I would like and doesn't have an aperture control.
The ASC needed a rebuild of the drive system and electronics as I'm changing to two 28BYJ-48 12v stepper motors for focus and aperture control instead of a micro servo motor for the aperture, which proved unreliable.