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peter shah

Remote imaging experiances

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I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I've been extremely frustrated with the amount of imaging time I have been getting here in the UK due to the weather. I have so much kit but feel I'm not getting enough use out of it.

So I'm looking at buying some remote imaging time. I was wondering if any of you have had any experiences and whether you were happy with what you paid for.

cheers

Peter

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Even here in mid france this year in winter i share your frustration. I have been impressed with ITU. Look at the website, i now look at the amout of gear around me and realise it could have been a lot less hassle if i had known earlier.        henry b

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Hi Peter,

I tried iTelescope's services once. I got to choose target and exposures etc, but in all honesty I can't say I enjoyed the experience. It certainly didn't feel like the end result was something I had earned or had really contributed to.

Other services are different as they in effect offer data sets, which other contributors share too. I haven't tried that, and won't as it holds no appeal.

Somehow the chase, being so difficult in the UK, is all the more reward when you get a half decent result, for me anyway.

Have you tried putting your spin on any of the Hubble or other agency data sets?

Tim

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24 minutes ago, Tim said:

Hi Peter,

I tried iTelescope's services once. I got to choose target and exposures etc, but in all honesty I can't say I enjoyed the experience. It certainly didn't feel like the end result was something I had earned or had really contributed to.

Other services are different as they in effect offer data sets, which other contributors share too. I haven't tried that, and won't as it holds no appeal.

Somehow the chase, being so difficult in the UK, is all the more reward when you get a half decent result, for me anyway.

Have you tried putting your spin on any of the Hubble or other agency data sets?

Tim

Yeah I have to agree with you Tim, however I think for me at the moment I've done years of chasing the weather. I've  refined and tweaked my kit to the point where all I need to do is open up the observatory point and shoot, in fact I've figured the automation to the point where I go to bed and the data sets are there waiting for me in the morning. All that ground work has been done and I think there needs to be a balance of playing and tweaking the equipment and getting the rewards..... So I think the frustration is possibly getting the better of me I just want to use the observatory as it should be used under clear skies. I will probably send my scope over to a remote site in the future but before I do that I want to get a taster of remote imaging.

I haven't had a go at processing any HST data sets that sounds like something  I could do on a rainy day.

I was wondering how user friendly the sites are and how prone to glitches they were. How did you find iTelescope?

1 hour ago, henry b said:

Even here in mid france this year in winter i share your frustration. I have been impressed with ITU. Look at the website, i now look at the amout of gear around me and realise it could have been a lot less hassle if i had known earlier.        henry b

ITU looks interesting Henry not heard of them before

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13 minutes ago, peter shah said:

I was wondering how user friendly the sites are and how prone to glitches they were. How did you find iTelescope?

It was a long while back so probably not fair to say, I'm sure the operation is much smoother now......

Yes, your real answer is to have your kit somewhere with reliable skies, e-EyE maybe?

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I can only comment as a host (of five scopes, with no capacity to expand, so this is not an advert.) The folks whose kit is based here are fully hands on and engaged in the design and maintenance of their gear. As far as I'm concerned what they do is real imaging and they have earned every photon - and then some, because being a thousand miles away makes it harder rather than easier. I think, Peter, that you'd enjoy running your setup remotely. I can't comment on 'rent-a-scope' deals, though. If you're anything like me you'll be keen to experiment with different weightings per filter at the capture stage, different sub lengths, etc etc. If I didn't have that control it would be a diminished experience for me.

Olly

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Have you considered remote hosting of your own equipment? I'm thinking of E-EyE down in southern Spain. Costs a bit in rental though, which has put me off.

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I've been having similar thoughts over time.  The mount, camera and telescope have been acting more as glorified towel racks rather than what they were purchased for. 

I'm not a fan of the ITU mechanism as you never get to choose what you want to image on any night.  It's all done by a panel which can all get very political.  I much prefer the image what you want approach.  That really leaves iTelescope but their prices are close to a £1 a minute depending on options and the plan that is chosen.  There also appears to be a tendency to use some of the best equipment out there whereas for most of us we'll never get the benefit of that last 1% when a bank of Espirits might work just as well for most.

If I moved the equipment to Spain then I'd get a lot more out of them.  Problem is that I'm unlikely to be able to use the 200-250 clear nights each year as I have day jobs to deal with.  I've been pondering if I do this whether I could then offer it up for a number of nights at a rate per night (£50?) to offset the cost of the nights I might not use simply because of work commitments.  However I need to finish my thesis over the next couple of months before I look at this in more depth!

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From remote imaging it is perhaps a short step to just downloading professional FITS files and processing them yourself.

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Not if it's your own equipment that's being remotely hosted, and which you have complete control over. It's only one step (If a rather long one) from having the obsy at the end of your garden and controlling it from your sitting room.

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1 hour ago, ChrisEll said:

From remote imaging it is perhaps a short step to just downloading professional FITS files and processing them yourself.

It largely depends on what elements you enjoy about the hobby.  For some it may be about the processing and getting that final image regardless of the sources.  For others it might be the sitting outside changing components to see what does and doesn't work and the processing to some stunning image is less of a priority.  I assume for most it is somewhere in between and how far you are on each side of the see-saw depends on whether the individual prefers remote imaging or not.

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I agree with Dave here. Completely different setting up your own gear abroad. I'd have no interest in just downloading data and processing. For me the pleasure is in the capture. Then processing the data to see what i got, good or bad.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

If you're anything like me you'll be keen to experiment with different weightings per filter at the capture stage, different sub lengths, etc etc.

If we had weather like you, then we’d actually be able to do some of that. :sad2:  Sadly, the U.K. barely permits that kind of tinkering, so we need system which works first time, every time...  Oh dear, that means refractors, doesn’t it?   :shocked:

If you’re into just processing, then a shared system like ITU could work well.  If you’re more interested in acquisition instead / as well, then I guess it’s time to move abroad.  (Obviously not you, Olly, you already did that.)

Edited by AKB
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4 hours ago, DaveS said:

Not if it's your own equipment that's being remotely hosted, and which you have complete control over. It's only one step (If a rather long one) from having the obsy at the end of your garden and controlling it from your sitting room.

Try walking to spain to sort out a camera that your pc has decided not to recognise :D

 

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5 hours ago, ChrisEll said:

From remote imaging it is perhaps a short step to just downloading professional FITS files and processing them yourself.

 

3 hours ago, Whirlwind said:

It largely depends on what elements you enjoy about the hobby.  For some it may be about the processing and getting that final image regardless of the sources.  For others it might be the sitting outside changing components to see what does and doesn't work and the processing to some stunning image is less of a priority.  I assume for most it is somewhere in between and how far you are on each side of the see-saw depends on whether the individual prefers remote imaging or not.

I think Olly has made a superb point. Its not like the scope is down the bottom of the garden and if the mount decides to do something peculiar is a two minute trip.  You would have to get on a plane to sort it out, I see it as being much more of a challenge.

So I think there are two separate arguments here the first where its your own kit that you have gone and set up somewhere. The second is a system where you have a virtually a pro setup that you let somebody else deal with hardware side of things..... For me, as said before I've done all the leg work and know my kit inside out I've fine tuned it to a level where there isn't much that will go wrong in a session. So I see this as midway step where I'm nearly ready to send my kit somewhere nice but I want to just experience the benefits of the nice skies from the convenience of  home before I do.

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2 hours ago, AKB said:

If we had weather like you, then we’d actually be able to do some of that. :sad2:  Sadly, the U.K. barely permits that kind of tinkering, so we need system which works first time, every time...  Oh dear, that means refractors, doesn’t it?   :shocked:

If you’re into just processing, then a shared system like ITU could work well.  If you’re more interested in acquisition instead / as well, then I guess it’s time to move abroad.  (Obviously not you, Olly, you already did that.)

I've only just bought myself a refractor and I don't see it as a replacement to either of my reflectors.... Its all about setting them up correctly so they are stable....... mine works faultlessly  with very little maintenance..... but I have to say its taken me years to understand the kit and learn how to set them up so they are reliable....The refractor has its own challenges and is a lot more forgiving,  I understand fully why many favour refractors....but isn't this a whole different argument :wink2:

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32 minutes ago, Scott said:

Try walking to spain to sort out a camera that your pc has decided not to recognise :D

 

Probably cheaper than a trip on the train to London though!  And if you have 200 clear nights then losing a few is less of an issue compared to losing a night in the UK when you might get only 20!  Not that I don't see your point though.

 

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You do need a muggins on the ground and nearby. Oooh that's me! :D If it is possible to make a truly automated system without a nearby muggins I can tell you this much: none of my lot has managed it! 

Olly

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Posted (edited)

Hey, why not an alternative??

Have a lovely weeks holiday in the South of France and get to use some neat scopes. I went to Olly's place and the images I got were the best I have ever done. I put them on Astrobin and one of them got Image of the Day. And no problems with the equipment or imaging as Olly is there. Great imaging, great food and yes we managed to do the tourist as well. Sorry if I infringed any rules but it was fun....

Edited by George 47
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, George 47 said:

Hey, why not an alternative??

Have a lovely weeks holiday in the South of France and get to use some neat scopes. I went to Olly's place and the images I got were the best I have ever done. I put them on Astrobin and one of them got Image of the Day. And no problems with the equipment or imaging as Olly is there. Great imaging, great food and yes we managed to do the tourist as well. Sorry if I infringed any rules but it was fun....

Yes thought of that....Im off to La Palma during the new moon in May :wink2: just getting a portable setup together for the trip..... 

Edited by peter shah

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I think on remote stuff as a bonus to my own setup, I certainly cannot afford to setup my own remote system, this is the next best thing.

I'm a member of Deep Sky West, the widefield setup and have gigabytes of data from this 7500feet dark sky site in New Mexico.

Also joined Paddy's ITU in Spain but he has had a few hicups with getting stuff going and a few trips were needed to sort it out.
Hopefully it looks like it's about to take off as the weather even in Spain has been bad.
Paddy has some serious hardware down in Spain and I don't see any problem in taking advantage of it.
 

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3 hours ago, wxsatuser said:

Paddy has some serious hardware down in Spain and I don't see any problem in taking advantage of it.

Yup, with you on that thought!

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On 3/13/2018 at 21:37, Tim said:

holds no appeal

 

On 3/14/2018 at 15:58, Allinthehead said:

I'd have no interest in just downloading data and processing

It is a matter of perspective an objective for me.  I still have my UK scopes as well as those in Spain - the masochistic side of me still enjoys getting a scope up and working but I made a decision I wanted to become a better processor.  As with most hobbies practice, repetition and gradual improvement was the process required.  Under UK skies this was not going to happen, I was seriously hampered and without a change, this would have always been the case. Not to mention having high value equipment I very rarely used!!

I then thought about the challenge and realised a remote set up with a more consistent supply of data was the only way forward. Any further comment would fall into advertising I suspect, suffice to say the 'rest of it' came about as I thought if a was doing why not provide others with the chance to share that opportunity. 

With the practice under my belt I now feel capable of doing the data I do collect justice.  For me, the final product is what I enjoy, the creation of what I hope is a good image.  I needed the consistent data as a pre-requisite and set on a course to provide a framework that could provide.  

I don't expect this will appeal to everyone and that is to be expected in a hobby with so much diversity, I have no bias to what people prefer and enjoy all aspects of the hobby.  If you chose any service that is 'not your backyard' then you will have typically done so for a purpose, be it a target you can't get from home or for a more regular supply of data.   I don't think we have one customer who is still not actively practising with there own gear. People subscribe as a supplement for various reason including adding to their local work or a means to have better or more frequent data, occasionally better skies will help resolve targets that can't easily be imaged.

It is just another avenue to explore within the hobby - it works for some and for others not so much :) 

On 3/13/2018 at 22:48, ollypenrice said:

different sub lengths, etc etc

Being careful not to advertise but this is an option available to users.  And that is all I think I can safely say to that :) 

On 3/14/2018 at 13:38, Whirlwind said:

I'm not a fan of the ITU mechanism as you never get to choose what you want to image on any night

Technically this is correct - you don't get to pick but neither do I.  This is software algorithms picking the right target in the right part of the sky at the right time of the month.  However, target selection is purely down to client base, yes it has to be weighted and shared but you will get some of your personal selections.  It is a balance iTelescope provides your personal target selection route.  Dataset type operations try to balance subscriber requests fairly and give as much 'personal' as possible for the money spent. Typically to receive the same number of personalised targets from iTelescopes costs a lot more (factors of 10 involved!) than the data set option.  Again, objective (and budget) driven.

11 hours ago, wxsatuser said:

a few hicups with getting stuff going

(again trying to avoid advertising - just responding to a comment)Yes it's true a few hiccups have been encountered (I know Mike meant no ill with that comment) - we have, I believe been very transparent about all developments Issue 1, an MS update totally killing a PC and its back up! Gone a little OTT now and have multiple redundant spares on site, Issue 2, One scope had a chance for improvements so we took that, it meant it was in limbo for a while but it is now resolved.  Lessons have been learnt, along with some that have not impacted subscribers.  However, we are being fair and realistic about these challenges and have not yet put any scopes into a live state.  So those who do use us receive free data until the scope is proven to be in a fully operational state. Only when proven to be in a proven live state does the subscription period start, until then it's all free bonus data :) .  Likewise, we may of course, encounter issues in the future, we have so many back-up plans in place it verges on ludicrous (such as full replacement setups on site) but something will always crop up that was not expected.  In these scenarios (if the scope is live) we just extend the subscription out into the future to make up for the downtime.  We are a new startup and really appreciate the support of our clients.  Seems only right to ensure they get what they paid for and a little extra bonus seems wholly appropriate.

8 hours ago, AKB said:

Yup, with you on that thought!

Thanks AKB - it is not the solution for all as pointed out.  It is an option for some with objectives that can be met by the solution, be it location, consistency or even budgetary.  Another option is we all move as you said :) (Wonder what houses cost in Chile.....)

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I still focus manually, and the most remote thing I do is watch what the obsy is doing via teamviewer, but I still go out to it every hour or so.

For me, a large part of the experience is being in my obsy, which I guess doubles as a man cave.  So I guess it is safe t say, if my gear ever moves abroad, it will be because I have too.

Each to their own :)

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15 minutes ago, PatrickGilliland said:


(again trying to avoid advertising - just responding to a comment)Yes it's true a few hiccups have been encountered (I know Mike meant no ill with that comment) - we have,

For sure, no intention of putting it down, it's a major undertaking and will be worth the effort.

Having played with the early data it's quite mouth watering, no way could I get the quality from my horrible LP ridden home setup.

I get the best of both worlds, a bit of narrowband from home and world class data from a dark sky site. :thumbsup:

 

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