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By David Millen
Help! I have a Skywatcher EQM-35 PRO GoTo mount for which I am unable to get the star alignment right, whether I use 1 star, 2 star, or 3 star alignment. I can get it polar aligned without any problem, but when it comes to star alignment it is way out. Choosing Sirius as the first star to align, the scope slews to the right general direction but about 20 deg. lower and slightly to the east of where it should be. The mount is perfectly level. I have checked, and double checked, all the settings, longitude and latitude ( N 50:41:46 W 3:13:53), Date in mm:dd:yr format, Time, Time Zone (0), Elevation (25m) and Daylight Saving Time (Yes). I am at a complete loss what to do next. I am getting close to chucking the lot into the sea!!! Before I do that anyone got any suggestions?
After a 20 year long hiatus - my last astrophoto was captured with a film camera in 1997 - at the beginning of 2020 I decided it was time to start again.
So, January 25th 2020 I brought home my used Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro and I immediately started taking photos. Obviously, my first target was M42 in Orion.
This was my first digital astrophotography. 31 subframes, 30s each, taken at ISO800 with my unmodified Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300mm at 300mm f/6.3 - January 28th, 2020, home front yard, Bortle 5/6 sky, no guiding, no filters. A grand total of 15.5 minutes...
A couple of weeks later, me and my wife went to spend Valentine's weekend in the mountains. Of course I couldn't avoid taking advantage of the Bortle 4 sky and I took all my gear with me. Same target, 52 subframes, 45s each, taken at ISO800 with my unmodified Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300mm at 300m f/5.6 - February 14th, 2020, Tonadico, Bortle 4 sky, no guiding, no filters. 39 minutes total integration.
After I finished post-processing the second photograph, I was so happy with the result. It felt amazing that I was able to capture so many details and more nebulosity compared to the photo taken from home.
Months passed, gear was changed. First one being the camera: at the end of February I bought a Nikon D5300 and a couple of months later I astromodified it on my own, adding a UV/IR cut filter in front of the sensor, after cutting it to size.
In October the rest of the setup finally arrived: Tecnosky 80/480 APO FPL53 Triplet OWL Series imaging telescope, Artesky UltraGuide 60mm f/4 guide scope and ZWO ASI 224MC guide camera. Also, an Optolong L-Pro 2" light pollution filter.
After months of imaging and getting more experienced with PixInsight, it was just a matter of waiting before I could have another go at one of my favorite targets. And maybe give it a little more justice.
This project took me more than a month, due to the rare clear nights opportunities I have had here lately.
I started acquiring in January and finished a couple of weeks ago.
M42 taken over 8 nights, under my Bortle 5/6 sky.
Total integration time: 18h 04m 00s for the nebula. 714s (14s subs) + 2065s (35s subs) for the Trapezium and the core.
Here are the acquisition details:
Mount: Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro
Telescope: Tecnosky 80/480 APO FPL53 Triplet OWL Series
Camera: D5300 astromodified
Reducer/flattener: Tecnosky 4 elements, 0.8x
Guide-scope: Artesky UltraGuide 60mm f/4
Guide-camera: ZWO ASI 224MC
2021/01/12: Number of subs/Exposure time: 33@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, no Moon
2021/01/13: Number of subs/Exposure time: 33@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, no Moon
2021/01/15: Number of subs/Exposure time: 38@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 8% illuminated
2021/01/18: Number of subs/Exposure time: 36@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 30% illuminated
2021/02/13: Number of subs/Exposure time: 30@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 4% illuminated
2021/02/14: Number of subs/Exposure time: 23@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 9% illuminated
2021/02/15: Number of subs/Exposure time: 51@14s + 48@35s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 15% illuminated
2021/02/17: Number of subs/Exposure time: 11@35s + 38@180s + 1@300s. Notes: L-Pro filter, Moon 30% illuminated
Total exposure time (main integration): 65040s = 18h 04m 00s.
Total exposure time (35s integration): 2065s.
Total exposure time (14s integration): 714s.
Pre and post-processing: PixInsight 1.8.8-7.
Full HDR Version:
Masked Stretch Version:
Blended Version (50% HDR + 50% Masked Stretch):
To my personal taste, I like the blended version the most. I think it brings out the best of both worlds (HDR and soft, less contrasty but more colorful look).
I must say, I am very pleased and happy with the result. Not to boast, but I think I have come a long way since I started.
Obviously the better gear and the much, much longer integration time helped.
I think I actually spent more time post-processing it than acquiring it. Especially since I had to do the work almost twice: I post-processed the HDR and the Masked Stretch images separately, making sure I used the same processes and with the same strenght in both, so that I could combine them effectively, if I decided I didn’t like the look of the HDR alone. I also think I managed to tame the stars a lot more, compared to my previous post-processing attempts.
As usual, here’s a link to the full resolution image(s): Orion Nebula (M42), De Mairan’s Nebula (M43) and Running Man (NGC 1977)
Thanks for looking!
Hey everyone. Have previously stumbled across this forum when searching for answers to questions, have finally made an account.
Last night I shot the moon for a couple of hours. I took around 10x3 minute videos and captured a little over 80,000 frames. My aim was to then create a lunar mosaic image but I have never done this before, and my technical ability seems to be adding to the confusion.
So to give some context, I used an ASI120MCS planetary camera through an 8" Skywatcher Skyliner 200p dobsonian.
I have read that ideally you would use a tracking mount to record sections of the moon at a time, however I sadly don't have that luxury.
I instead let the moon drift across the field of view and I'm pretty confident that among the 80,000 frames I have all the pieces of the moon as a whole.
What I'm now having issues with is how to break down these Avi files into frames which then can be used to create a mosaic. I need a "for dummies" guide ae thats what I'm feeling like currently.
Thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide. :)
I have a SkyWatcher AZ-EQ5 mount. It’s all working fine, except I have an issue with alignment. This applies whether I’m in EQ or Alt-Az mode.
I set it up using one or two star align without problems.
However if I use the handset to GoTo another object, I usually need to do fine tuning adjustments to centre on the new object. But the mount disregards these adjustments, so if I use the GoTo system to centre on a nearby object, or revisit the original object a second time, it’s still off by the same amount.
How do I tell the mount that I have centred on the new object and that it should now be aligned with that object ?
My iOptron MiniTower has a feature that does exactly this – once set up correctly and aligned, for each new object I go to there is an “ALIGN” option, and if I use this it now knows the correct position. Can I do this with SkyWatcher and Synscan ?