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Posted (edited)

Hi guys

I sold all my kit a few years ago, but given lockdown have decided to get some equipment.  I bought a package deal of bits which was at a good price and I'm hoping to do some EAA with it.

At the moment I have:

CPC925 (Alt/AZ) 

Antare 6.3 focal reducer

80mm Celestron Guidescope

Nextar autoguider (unused which i'm selling as doesn't work in alt/az)

QHY5y original cam

Laptop

I can get some okay-ish results with QHY5Y, but the sensor needs a clean and it's not that good in any event.  I had though I could use it for guiding in Alt/Az mode, but it turns out it's' not really possible.

 

So my plan at the moment (subject to some advice) is to:

1, Spend a bit of £££ on a new / used camera for EAA (planetary photos plus deepsky EAA), but also capable of doing some deepsky imaging at a later date (see step 2 below for the future).  I think my budget for this would be around £600 on basis i'll recoup about £200 for the auto-guider which is in A1 unused condition.    

2.  At some point, probably next year, invest in a hyperstar kit so I can turn the scope into an F3 wide FOV scope for some astrophotgraphy with the same camera.   I would have thought even with a camera more attuned to planetary / EAA that it would be possible to get some good results at F3.

I am loathed to defork it and loathed to get a wedge due to set-up time becoming extended.  Astrophotography is not something I will spend hours and hours on so i'm never never going to get really good results.  I used to autguide with a gt81 on a neq6 and got some okay results but I detested the set-up time and the impracticality of EQ for just getting away at short notice (to get away from light pollution i also have to drive 30 minutes each way).  In alt/az i can get the CPC up and running and aligned in about 15 minutes which is by far quicker than I could ever set up the NEQ6 (more like an hour).

So from what I have read, from the point of view of a quick setup, a hyperstar seems the way to go for me as I should end up with a good set-up for visual (and EAA) in the meantime that is also portable and in the future will have a wife angle FOV quick scope that I can dabble with some deep space astrophotography (field rotation aside).

So looking for some advice on my plan, as well as what camera i should consider.  I live in a relatively light polluted area and for EAA anyway I am keen to be able to do this from home as i'll remote desktop the laptop and do the EAA from comfort of inside the house.  I did wonder whether a canon slr might work (and be cheaper option) but open to ideas 🙂 

I am also coming around to the fact I might need to get an autofocuser but at the moment i'm hoping i should be able to get some okay results from manually focusing with a decent camera - i don't mind having to nip out now and again to refocus 😉

Thoughts everyone?

Thanks in advance

Brian

 

 

 

Edited by goldblade1983

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Hi Brian

The emphasis in EAA is on simplicity. Since most sessions tend to last for a few hours at most (and it is possible to get away with a short session between clouds), it is useful to streamline things as much as possible. So, for example, you don't need to guide for EAA (some do, most don't, as far as I can tell). The same goes for auto-focus. With a Bahtinov mask you can accomplish focusing in half a minute and it should stay in focus for the entire session (if not, then check the focuser before looking into autofocus). Alt-az is perfectly fine too. So I guess this agrees with what you're suggesting. I use alt-az, 2-star alignment (no plate solving) and can get up and running in 5 minutes on a good night. Its just as well because its amazing how often the clouds comes over while I'm framing the first object...

I imagine you've already looked at https://astronomy.tools/calculators/ccd_suitability. I can't find the QHY5y but if the specs for the QHY5 are the same, then it looks like a very good option when used binned and with the 0.63 focal reducer. I would therefore use what you have got already before spending on a new camera. Most sensors can be cleaned easily unless something bizarre has happened. I use Baader Planetarium's Optical Wonder fluid with a cotton tip. Lightly wet one end, then start in the middle of the sensor and use a spiralling out motion to reach the edges, then immediately use the other (dry) end of the cotton tip to soak up excess fluid. Ensure it is dried off before replacing in the scope (matter of a few minutes). If you still have dirt issues, some of them might be calibrated out using flats, which are becoming a fairly normal part of the procedure even in EAA these days.

I don't do planetary (except Uranus, Neptune and Pluto!) so maybe others will chime in, but I think it is quite hard to find a single setup that excels for planetary and deep sky. But having said that, the scope you've got is already very adaptable as you can use it at its native focal length for planetary work.

All the best

Martin

 

 

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+1 for Baader Wonder Fluid. Stating the obvious probably but remove all the dust and potentially scratching particles you can with a bulb type blower. (I avoid canned air/gas blowers.) I might also give a bit of a sweep with a Lenspen. Finish off the cleaning with Baader Wonder Fluid as per Martin Meredith's suggestion.

I would however check the guidance from the manufacturer, if available. Looking at some comments about QHY cameras the sensor may be covered with a transparent window held in place with shellac. Why not contact the manufacturer? If you can't get anything from them I know Modern Astronomy sell QHY cameras so Bern may be able to advise.

See: https://www.qhyccd.com/bbs/index.php?topic=5690.0

Cheers

Bill

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and me for Baader Wonder Fluid.

I take Martin's approach (as does Bill) - keep it simple so that you can concentrate on observing rather than getting bogged down in complications.

I used a C9.25 for a year or so (its now a C11). The C9.25  is optically very good and personally I think is an excellent EEVA scope. Its decent aperture gets quick results but can go deep. At f6.3 it has sufficient wide fov to encompass some really lovely galaxy groups and nebulae but good to for picking up smaller DSO targets. (If I could have just one scope for EEVA it would be the C9.25 - aperture fever struck and hence the C11). I did try the scope at f5 but vignetting would kick in so plan on using it at f6.3.

With the f6.3 reducer I leave it in all the time so I can do visual then easily swop to camera and back again.

Hyperstar - great for wide fov and quick results but would you plan to leave it always in place - that keeps it simple but then if you wish to do a spot of visual then it would be a pain taking it out etc. Whereas with the reducer in place with the C9.25 I could grab and go for a quick lunar outing or some lovely doubles/conjunction and then as stated go over to the camera.

Absolutely no need to guide with EEVA - I use a Dob at times (obviously ALT/AZ).

Focusing is critical - use a Bahtinov mask - so easy and accurate and quick.

In my opinion there is not a camera that is excellent for both DSOs and planetary using the EEVA technique. (others may disagree?). Why get a camera for the planets at the moment? Mars is passing opposition.  Jupiter and Saturn will continue to be low down for several years yet so always in rubbish air. So my opinion would be to get a camera that would do well for you on DSOs - there are thousands of objects. Take a browse through the posts in the EEVA reports sections - there is a lifetime of possibilities up there.

With my former C9 I used the Starlight Express Lodestar x2 mono and also the ultrastar. With the C11 I use just the ultrastar as it has a bigger chip and thus wider fov. Personally I prefer the ultrastar - smaller pixel size and a bigger chip.  I don't do planets (as in bright planets - fun doing Uranus, Neptune and Pluto with it). 

Mono cameras are more sensitive than colour and thus you get a result quicker. Sometimes I think about going colour but that is another layer of complication.

Good luck and have fun,

Mike

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Thanks for the comments.  After doing some research I was considering going with this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi-385mc-usb-30-colour-camera.html

I also found a site of someone who used it on a C8 with great success - see link and images towards the bottom:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/171338444@N04/with/47841005961/

Would be grateful for any comments on this approach!

Brian

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Hi Brian,

In some ways what ever works for you, then go for it. I took a look at the link - wonderful images. To me though they would not appear to be in the spirit of EEVA - which is about observing using the EEVA technique, rather than producing wonderful images and no additional comments re the observation, links to research papers..... Of course EEVA is imaging but at the risk of being boring, it about a technique that aids observing rather than producing yet another fine image of the well known objects. At the most I will take a "live" stack and drop it into Photoshop, just to tweak it a bit - spend no more than a couple of minutes doing that. Imaging as we know involves much post processing with the emphasis on the techniques rather than the object.  If a camera gets invented that can give a "live" image in the space of max 5 minutes at the level of clarity/colour/detail as per many a wonderful image then I would certainly go for it but still with the thought of observing rather than imaging.

Others will have a different view, which makes for much interest.

Which ever pathway you decide, enjoy it.

Mike

 

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I hear what you're saying Mike an I certainly won't be looking to create images such as those everytime and to be honest I'd be amazed I could ever manage it.  However if you believe the description of those pictures however they're noted not to have any post processing and were just as viewed live (albeit with longer exposures to create them)

I was more thinking of it from a solely basic visual perspective and given that the camera seems capable of good images with some basic long term stacking without processing I was imagining it would be also therefore be good for three/four minutes live stacking to get some decent visual on screen for observing with sharpcap pro?

I am little concerned over fov with the cpc925 (even with 0.63 f/r) and the ability to get good visual eaa images with that setup but this guy seems to have delivered outstanding results on. C8 which is a similar scope (albeit as noted with longer exposures). 

I am not against taking up to say 10 mins max of exposure and live stacking it to get an almost live image but was more worried about the ability to focus correctly, deal with field rotation etc and have a camera that was capable enough given the long focal lense.  So really trying to understand whether the camera seems a good fit.

 

It is also half the price of an ultrastar so trying to understand the benefits of ultrastar (or indeed lodestar) over the asi385.  In terms of price I can pick up a lodestar X2 mono second hand for £350 which is equivalent price.  I can pick up a second hand colour for £250 I think.  The ultrastar you're talking £700.  So with price in mind I'm trying to weigh up the options and understand the differences, but I'm useless with all the camera mathematics.....hence the fall for help ;)

Longer term, if I am looking to get some decent images with the CPC I will get a hyperstsr for it turning it into an f/2.3 scope.  Before that happens I do have a celestron 80mm guidescope that I can stick in top that I'll probably play about with to see if I can get any wider fov eaa shots - but not sure if anyone has had much luck with those.

 

Brian

 

Edited by goldblade1983

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Hi Brian,

Cameras are a mystery to me - point and shoot is about my limit, although I have looked into pixel size versus focal length but I will leave others to advise.

Below is a some shots from my early days of using a C9.25 to help you gauge what you can achieve. Now with more experience and using Jocular software. I could do much better I was still trying to get use to the SLL software so there are some odd labels. I have used the C9 at F5 (using a 0.5 focal reducer).

No need to be concerned about field rotation - the software deals with that.

Focusing is a doddle with a Bahtinov Mask - absolutely essential.

Mike

 

image.png.68c4549db0cd5e0f247905ef8c6dba85.png

image.png.f2ae22ef74c6971f6733fa11a6559f70.png

image.png.ca09e3593f7e0ac4db6c17ee6f158d38.png

image.png.dc112dd927af68a6daadfab169b4dc88.png

image.png.52a6177a3f27b27a62644e0da6a38672.png

 

image.png

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There is an "inbetweeny" hyperstar VS a std reducer - made by Starizona called the Night Owl - until recently they were on back order (so I haven't bought mine) and now they say they are bringing out a "new" version whatever that means. At $279 (dollars) far cheaper than full blown Hyperstar and easier to use/change.

Camera sensor size might be a problem and the review mentions a problem with Sharpcap - which I dont understand.

Bearing in mind nothing is perfect and you can/do need deep pockets for camera's this option may provide a way of getting a decent camera and not paying for full blown hyperstar ( Approx £1000 for 9.25 SCT).

https://starizona.com/store/featured/night-owl-4x-sct-reducer-corrector

a review https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/677186-starizona-night-owl-c6-294mc-224mc-review/

 

Just a thought 🙂

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