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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 ?
By The Admiral
On Wednesday I took advantage of the very dry and clear conditions to set up for some imaging. But boy, was it cold 🥶. Given the time since I was last able to image it seemed like starting over again! Plus -
This is only my third serious attempt at imaging with my new iOptron GEM45 acquired in April last year. This is only my second attempt at guiding, using my new MGEN-3 guider, and my first attempt at dithering. My first attempt at using Astro Pixel Processor (trial version) on new data. Anyhow, I thought I'd post the image with all its faults! On the whole, I'm pretty pleased with the way it's turned out, and as is my wont I've been a bit aggressive with the colour, partially to make up for the lack of red content as the Fuji camera is not modified (though does still possess a modicum of Ha response).
26 subs of 300s (total imaging time 2h 10m)
12 Darks, 50 each of flats, dark-flats and bias. Processed in APP, with adjustment of black point, addition of a little clarity and selective colour intensity, and noise reduction, in Lightroom.
Altair Wave 102mm Super ED Triplet APO, William Optics Flat 6A III 0.8x reducer/flattener, William Optics Uniguide 50mm guide scope, iOptron GEM45, Lacerta MGEN-3 autoguider, Fuji XT-1 mirrorless camera.
The yellow-starred cluster bottom right is the Trumpler 5 cluster. I didn't realise that was there until I processed the image! Pity it's going off the frame.
I recently bought an Askar FRA400 f/5.6 Quintuplet APO Astrograph. I couldn’t find much info about it in advance – the best was a thread on Cloudy Nights – so thought it might be useful to other folks to jot down some of my feedback. I’m happy to answer any specific questions or clarify any points written in this review.
This is a great telescope that’s fun and easy to use, but with a few issues potential buyers should be aware of.
I got into astroimaging a few years ago, using a Sky-Watcher Evostar 80ED DS-Pro and ASI1600 mono camera plus filters. I enjoyed it, but the arrival of a new baby took a lot of my time (and energy!) so I sold everything with the intention of coming back to the hobby a little later. Barely a year on and I was missing astroimaging a lot, so decided to get back into it, but this time trying to create a simpler set up that would get me imaging on a clear night with the minimum of hassle.
I bought a William Optics Zenithstar 73 II APO 2019 with reducer / flattener, but had terrible issues with streaky corner stars due to backfocus problems. I tried a few things with the help of FLO (great customer support, of course) but in the end returned the telescope as it looked like I’d gotten a duff one. Luckily, at this time FLO started stocking Askar FRA400 f/5.6 Quintuplet APO Astrographs. Its Petzval design promised to be free of backfocus issues (assuming no reducer), which given recent experiences was music to my ears. I decided to go for it, and pushed the button.
I’d be coupling it with a ZWO ASI 2600MC-PRO USB 3.0 Cooled Colour Camera. I went OSC to keep things simple. However, I live in Bristol city centre – Bortle 8 light pollution – so added an Optolong L-eXtreme to my basket so I could still do narrowband imaging.
I decided to forego the optional Askar f/3.9 Full Frame Reducer for FRA400/5.6. This was for four reasons. 1) The L-eXtreme isn’t as effective with very fast systems; 2) 400mm is good to frame the targets I’m most interested in; 3); with the reducer I’d need to get the backfocus spot-on, and I’d had enough of that with the WO ZS73; 4) I’d save £269!
Askar FRA400 f/5.6 Quintuplet APO Astrograph
ZWO ASI 2600MC-PRO USB 3.0 Cooled Colour Camera
William Optics 32mm Slide-base Uniguide Scope
ZWO ASI 120MM Mini USB 2.0 Mono Camera
ZWO EAF - Electronic Automatic Focusmotor
ZWO ASiair Pro Wireless Astrophotography Controller
Optolong Dual-Band L-eXtreme Filter (2”)
ZWO 2″ Filter Drawer with M48 / M42 Connections
Primaluce Lab 30mm PLUS Spacers
William Optics DSD 245 Plate
Dew heater straps
Orion Sirius EQ-G mount
Not being a pixel peeper, I’m not qualified to write a detailed analysis of image quality here, but I will post a single sub so people can make up their own minds. I can say though that I’m very happy with the views – both through the eyepiece and via the camera. There are some aberrations (fringing maybe?) around stars at the edges of the frame -- zoomed examples included below.
Issues and solutions
Build quality on the whole is good, a different league to the 80ED, but not quite up there with the WO ZS73. The dew shield is a little loose, and on the cusp of sliding down under its own weight when the telescope is pointing straight up. I solved this by putting a white elastic band on the main tube, just behind the dew shield – a DIY fix but works just fine. The lens cap also feels a bit loose, but hasn’t fallen off. The default focusser is ok, but doesn’t quite have the premium feel of the WO ZS73. I upgraded with a ZWO EAF, which was very easy to install, and works perfectly. I'd consider this a must if you're astroimaging.
The supplied dovetail is quite short, and makes it difficult to achieve balance if using a heavy camera. I solved this with Primaluce Lab 30mm PLUS Spacers and a William Optics DSD 245 Plate. This allows for good balance, plus there’s room for an ASIAIR PRO to be attached at the back.
All my accessories are attached to the left-side of the telescope, making it slightly off-balance. However, there are enough holes in the spacers and tube rings to allow for the dovetail to actually be attached slightly off-centre to the telescope, allowing for it to all be well balanced. You can buy a Finder Plate to open up more options.
The telescope comes with a conical M68 to M48 adapter. Askar say this is threaded for 48mm filters – ideal for my L-eXtreme, or so I thought. I couldn’t really see where there was a thread in the adapter. I e-mailed Askar customer support, and got a reply two days later saying that the thread is inside the adapter. Fair enough, there is a thread in there, but no way of actually getting a filter inside and screwing it tight. It’s really odd. I e-mailed Askar again to ask for clarification, but this time didn’t get a reply. So, I don’t rate their customer service. From more research online, it looks as if some of the adapters come in two parts that screw together, presumably to give access to the thread. In the end I bought a ZWO 2″ Filter Drawer with M48 / M42 Connections. This fixed the issue, and is very convenient, but is an extra cost that should be considered.
The ASKAR FRA400 doesn’t come with a carry case, which is a bit of a shame.
I’m really happy with my ASKAR FRA400, and think it’ll serve me well for years to come. Once the initial issues were overcome, I’ve been finding it a lot of fun. It’s compact and light -- I can carry the OTA with all attached accessories in one hand. It pairs well with the ASI2600 and L-eXtreme. The ASIAIR PRO controls everything very neatly as well. If I see a gap in the clouds, I can set everything up (tripod and mount in the garden, attach telescope, polar align, autofocus, start imaging) in 20 – 25 minutes. I’m looking into a DIY pier in the garden, which should reduce this to 5 – 10 minutes.
Single FITS sub, straight from the camera (with L-eXtreme):
Single 300s sub with L-eXtreme, debayered, stretched, and resized to 50%:
Random star from the centre of the frame:
And the edge of the frame:
8.5 hours of integration time. One of my very first attempts at processing with PixInsight, so definitely not the limit of what the telescope can do, but more an indication of what a beginner can achieve in Bortle 8 skies:
Views of the Askar FRA400 in my garden:
After much research, primarily on this site and The Binocular Sky, I got hold of the above binoculars. I spent ages writing a review specifically for this site of what I found, as a thanks for all the advice I had received. By the power of idiocy I then managed to post it on Cloudy Nights instead (I had both open in my browser). Too much Christmas port I guess
Anyway, too late to take it down as some have already replied and I guess I shouldn't post the same thing on two sites so here is a link to my review on completely the wrong site No offence at all to Cloudy Nights but I wrote it with the Stargazers Lounge audience in mind and it may make less sense on a US site.
Comparison of Pentax SP 50 WP 10x50 and Nikon Action EX 10x50 CF
By Ade Turner
I’ve just bought a Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro. I’m trying to drive it from Stellarium using EQMOD but I’m running into a problem I haven’t the experience to solve.
This is my set up:
Windows 7 Laptop > 10m active USB 3.0 cable > 4 port powered Atolla USB 3.0 hub > Lynx Astro EQMOD cable > Mount (plugged directly into hand control socket)
When I first connected the mount to the laptop (a 2015 Dell Inspiron) Windows 7 searched for a serial/USB driver and installed it on COM 8 (according to Device Manager).
In Stellarium I created a profile for the mount but it wouldn’t autodetect the COM port. So I manually set it to 8.
When I try to connect to the mount it sits for a while and then tells me the connection has timed out.
Anyone have any suggestions as to where I should start to try and get the connection sorted please? Thanks.