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Tickets (free) are now available for the Birmingham University "Astronomy in the city" event on 6th March. Sounds like an interesting evening for newcomers like me.
The agenda includes
What to see in the sky this month,
A talk on super novae
Ask the experts
An observing season
And tea and biscuits!
I wan't to tell you about a relatively new open source imaging suite that I have been using for around 7-8 months now.
Night time imaging n' astronomy or in short NINA!
The new website is really quite informative, so check it out here: https://nighttime-imaging.eu/
As a software developer and IT professional I was blown away by this application these guys were creating, when I first stumbled upon it last year.
It is a really feature rich application as the very long feature list below will show, and it is absolutely free!
I was immediately drawn to the very simple but still quite information rich UI that was presented to me when I tried it the first time.
Isbeorn (the developer), Dark Archon (massive contributor) and Quickload (big contributor) have really created something impressive here, and it is constantly being improved upon.
It is quite normal to see these guys working on the next cool feature in the middle of the night
As it is a "hobby project" and Open Source, and these guys don't have every model of every camera available - sometimes there can be glitches with new equipment, but it is usually sorted out in quick fashion.
But this is where we "mere mortals" can help improve this amazing piece of software, by using it and providing feedback and logs (in case of errrors) via. Discord or the Issue tracker on bitbucket.
In return for this you get a very comprehensive piece of astro imaging software for absolutely nothing!
If anyone needs any help in settings this up, don't hesitate to write in this thread and I will try to help, or jump on Discord and join the "support" channel.
I recommend taking the latest beta version, pretty much always, as it has the latest fixes and is generally stable.
List of main features as grabbed from the webpage and personal experience (I surely missed some):
Equipment control ASCOM Cameras Mounts Filter wheels Focusers Rotators Native camera drivers for Atik ZWO QHYCCD Altair Astro cameras Canon Nikon Touptek Can run multiple camera's and supports syncronized dithering (early version, but tested in the field!) Image analysis Image statistics Auto stretch Full image star detection with HFR calculation (used for autofocus as well) Exposure time recommendation Sequencing Multitarget sequence lists (image multiple targets automatically) Automatic mosaic capture as defined in framing assistant Light, Bias, Dark, DarkFlat, Flat frames of various exposure lengths and gain/iso Automatic filter change Autofocus using full image HFR calculations over time number of exposures Temperature change Automatic centering and rotation of targets using platesolving Save as raw (dslr), fits, xisf, etc. Customizeable filename pattern Automatic meridian flip Can automatically flip and recenter target after flip has been completed Sky atlas Sky atlas with more than 10.000 objects. Filtering on type, magnitude, size, altitude and more Altitude chars showing showing altitude over time for your location Framing assistant Can pull data from various skyserveys, to make framing and planning easier You can see a preview of your fov based on camera and scope details Mosaic planning mode Shows your mosaic tilesin the framing wizard Set desired overlap percentage Offline skymap shows gridlines and all sky atlas DSO's, constellations and coordinates ("Cartes du Ciel'ish") Sleek and customizable UI Imaging tab can be customized to show all the information you could possibly want to see image (duh! ;)) Statistics HFR history PHD2 graph and statistics Mount information Camera information Filter wheel information Platesolve information Weather data and more.. Quick switch between light and dark scheme Customizable colorschemes Flats wizard Set a desired ADU and tolerance for flats Simple mode or multimode where flats are captured for each filter Set minimum and maximum exposure time Guide to help you get the desired flats Can automatically capture matching darkflats Other cool features PHD2 integration with Dithering Weather data from OpenWeatherMap API List of bright focus stars for use with Bahtinov mask, clik and slew to it Polar alignment tools Configuration profiles, so different setups can be used
A word about open source:
The project is open source, this means that all source code is readily available from bitbucket, and anyone is free to contribute code.
The developer is Isbeorn (Stefan) and as the repository manager he decides when and if a submission (pull request) is deemed good enough to enter a release..!
There are a couple of other main contributors who do a lot of work, and put in a lot of their free time to this project.
You are free to ask for features and request support and people are generally very helpful and quick to implement something if it is a good idea.
BUT as this is a hobby project for these people, don't expect the same of them as you would of a company from whom you buy a product, IT IS UNFAIR!
A word about Discord:
Discord is a free chat (text and voice) platform that anyone can create a server on. Discord as a whole is not run by the people behind N.I.N.A., only the NINA server, and as such is not moderated by the developers.
First post on here looking for some telescope buying advise. I've searched and seen some similar topics which have been very useful but thought i'd summarise and see what the experts think.
I'm looking at getting myself and my girlfriend a telescope as an anniversary gift. She's not scientifically minded at all but she really likes the aesthetic of the moon. The house is filled with 3D printed moon lamps, jewelry, cushion covers etc.. We're about to move into a new house in Forest Hill in SE London and the new house has a really large garden backing onto more gardens so quite sheltered from all street lights. We both said to eachother a telescope might be a nice thing to have in the new house and something we can enjoy together in the new garden.
I've got a budget of up to £200 but by no means want to spend that much if I'm paying for features we don't need or will use.
I've got some experience with a reflector scope that was my brothers. He got it years ago and we both obsessed over it for about a month and then once we'd seen the big planets and a few blurry distant clusters we got bored and it never got touched again. That was a 130mm DIA reflector (skywatcher I think). After the initial excitement, my overriding feeling towards it was it was not worth the faff! This was in dark Northumberland as well, not London.
I've tried to explain this to my girlfriend when we've talked about it and said if we don't want the faff we might have to invest in a Go to electric telescope. The logic being if its quicker and easier to see stuff, we'll use it more. I did get then quite excited reading reviews and trying to find second-hand goto scopes and it seems like something in my budget (or slightly pushed budget) is something like a Celestron SLT 127. (have seen second hand ones go for £250).
However having then done a bit of reading on here I think i've worked out that those cheaper Go-to's are still not that quick and simple to use, ultimately i'm I'm still only going to see fairly blurry planets and smudges of deep space clusters. I honestly don't think the girlfriend will be impressed and I'll probably get bored after a while too.
So I think I've come to the conclusion that I want to get a much smaller refractor that would be much more accessible for viewing the moon and would allow us to see a smudgy Saturn and Jupiter on clear nights. A smartphone camera holder would be a bonus too as it adds a simple feature that would keep us entertained for longer.
Do you think that's a fair approach or am I being a little too pessimistic about what I'm going to see? If so then what scopes could anyone recommend? Stepping down to a slightly lower budget there are so many more options and it's a bit bewildering.
The ABC in Australia has just published their 2018 "Sky Tour" presentation in support of their Stargazing Live event this week ( http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/stargazing-live/ ).
The presentation was produced by Genelle Weule and can be found at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-21/stargazing-live-tour-great-southern-sky/9775660. It includes a narrated presentation by Prof. Fred Watson and includes four of my photos
My name is Lorenzo and I am an amateur astronomer from Rome, Italy. I am writing since I moved in London one month ago where I will work for the next two years and I would like to introduce myself in UK astronomy world.
First I am going to tell you something about me. I am 30 years old and I am a physicist. I got a PhD in material science, then I moved during postdoc to X-ray imaging field. After two years in Rome, more than half year in France, I moved to London for a postdoc position at the University College on a really amazing project.
I have also passion for astrophotography and photography. The first since I was 10. I tried several telescopes, mount and accessories. My current setup is a FSQ106Ed telescope or Epsilon180 on a paramount MYT mount and Moravian G3-16200 ccd. I have also a Coronado PST and a stellarvue 102 refractor. If you are interested you can find my shots in my astrobin profile https://www.astrobin.com/users/LorenzoM/.
Unfortunately, I gave up with astronomy for more than a year. First, the earthquake in center Italy destroyed the place where I was used to go. Then, I moved in France and finally in London.
I couldn't bring the heavy setup with me. Moreover, I sold the FSQ106 to help my relocation in France and UK and I was never able to get the epsilon 180 working properly. However, when I was in France I started to build a portable setup including a Ioptron SmartEQ mount and photograhpic 300mm f4 Canon lens coupled with Canon 6D that I use also for normal photography and thus it is not modified.
This setup has not seen the first light yet and I would like to add guiding system.
Now, I am looking for a real telescope. I placed an add for an used epsilon 130, since I would like to continue to fight with these fast reflectors.
Like I said, I've never seen stars yet in UK. Main for two reasons. First because I don't know locations or anyone and I am still embarrassed to speak since I am not fluent in English . Second, because I am a little bit scared about taking a car and driving for miles in UK.
I hope to overtake these problems soon since it is also the best way to improve my English!!!
As first thing I think I will join meeting of amateur astronomers in Regent's park in London. I know that I will see only planets from London's center but it is a way to meet somebody. And also to look at Jupiter with a real telescope. I will try to get some night landscapes with my canon. You can have fun with long exposures also on the ground