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Small Can Be Beautiful ... Honest !


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Got everything set up for a bit of daytime testing yesterday. Not much to look at apart from some closeups of leaves and TV aerials for fringing tests, but all I can say is WOW.

Build quality is first rate. Everything feels premium, fit and finish all flawless, down to the small details like PTFE bushings on the tube ring fasteners, and the screw-on cover for the fine focuser. Focuser itself is super solid and held a 2" diagonal plus my 41mm Panoptic without even the slightest slop. 

Onto the main event - the optical elements. Again, this is only daytime viewing on limited targets but I tried a 41mm Panoptic, 35mm Aero ED, 30mm GSO superview, and at the other end of the scale, 5mm and 3.2mm Starguiders. 

The Panoptic was obviously flawless, representing perhaps the largest FOV a 2" EP can muster in this scope. Views wonderfully crisp, and focus snapping in easily. 

The 35mm was bought as a travel friendly alternative to the Panoptic and performed admirably.

The 30mm was essentially replaced by the 35mm, as I knew It would not stand up well in a fast scope, and it showed lots of false colour and aberration in the outer 30% of the view as expected. 

With the 5mm and 3.2mm at the top end of sensible mags for this scope, I was very pleased to find excellent focus, good eye relief and no obvious aberrations.

Overall, hugely impressed! 

Next stop, the night sky! 

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There was finally a clear night last night so I took my little TS70 out to the best dark site I could find (I'm in Bortle 6) and did some stargazing at first.  Once 1-2am rolled around, Saturn and Jupiter came up and I managed to view those objects for the very first time by myself and I even snapped a few photos of both (dreadfully horrible pics using only an iPhone because that's all I have right now).

What is amazing to me is when you're doing general stargazing, the amount of distant "shooting star" and/or "comets" you come across that blaze across your FOV in the blink of an eye. The fun part is attempting to grab your mount controls in time and trying to manually follow it before it disappears.

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1 hour ago, Maideneer said:

Once 1-2am rolled around, Saturn and Jupiter came up and I managed to view those objects for the very first time by myself

Congrats! A rite of passage there. I'm really glad you're having fun with the TS - there is something very special about finding objects for the first time 😊

One thing about the comets - depending how fast the objects are moving, you may also be seeing satellites! There are some sites etc. as well as apps like Stellarium which will show you the orbits, so it's maybe worth taking a note of the time and where you are in the sky and looking them up later. 

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Posted (edited)

Just a note … when I started this thread I didn’t realise how keenly people would be to contribute .. so it’s obviously ignited a passion for small scopes of which I am really happy … keep it up guys … my ST120 sits on my Nexstar mount waiting for a bit of action tonight ! My target is hopefully the ring nebular but I’ve a feeling clouds might roll in before it rises above the house . But , hey , that’s the life we lead :) .

image.jpg

Edited by Stu1smartcookie
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  • 2 weeks later...

Just installed my brand new ZWO 224MC and downloaded Sharpcap and ASI Studio.  I have experience in absolutely none of it 🤣 and have almost no idea how to go about any of this.  Just for reference, I have an AZ-GTi and a little Travelscope 70 which I know is the weak link in my chain.  The most I've ever done is taken a picture with my iPhone through an eyepiece so this is understandably daunting.  I've watched every Youtube tutorial I can think of (I almost feel more lost after that because of info overload) so I think the best thing I can do for myself now is just get out there and see what I can or can't do.

Figured I'd ask here first though...what the hell do I do haha?!

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5 hours ago, Maideneer said:

Just installed my brand new ZWO 224MC and downloaded Sharpcap and ASI Studio.  I have experience in absolutely none of it 🤣 and have almost no idea how to go about any of this.  Just for reference, I have an AZ-GTi and a little Travelscope 70 which I know is the weak link in my chain.  The most I've ever done is taken a picture with my iPhone through an eyepiece so this is understandably daunting.  I've watched every Youtube tutorial I can think of (I almost feel more lost after that because of info overload) so I think the best thing I can do for myself now is just get out there and see what I can or can't do.

Figured I'd ask here first though...what the hell do I do haha?!

Hi , how about starting just looking through your scope . It’s 70mm objective lends itself to wide field views so a 25mm eyepiece will let you see objects like the Beehive cluster , double stars , and of course the moon . The Az-gti is a fantastic bit of kit that , when used correctly will take you to many objects that will be visible in your scope. The camera you have will show the moon in great detail via your pc when connected . I do understand your point though .. although I love watching reviews , it’s easy to get confused . Buy the book “Turn left at Orion”. Most people swear by it . It will help you see the capabilities of your scope . Sometimes reading is better than watching videos . 
 

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8 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

Hi , how about starting just looking through your scope . It’s 70mm objective lends itself to wide field views so a 25mm eyepiece will let you see objects like the Beehive cluster , double stars , and of course the moon . The Az-gti is a fantastic bit of kit that , when used correctly will take you to many objects that will be visible in your scope. The camera you have will show the moon in great detail via your pc when connected . I do understand your point though .. although I love watching reviews , it’s easy to get confused . Buy the book “Turn left at Orion”. Most people swear by it . It will help you see the capabilities of your scope . Sometimes reading is better than watching videos . 
 

Ordered the book the other day and shipment is en route!  I am halfway decent with the scope itself and know the basics of SynScan and north-aligning, so I'm ok there.  And I've gotten up to speed with all my eyepieces and their limitations and abilities so comfortable with that.

I suppose it's the camera and software that is clogging my head now.  I have no background in photography whatsoever, and here I am looking at people talking about ISO and exposure time and flats and darks and gain, binning and histograms and polar aligning and hydrogen filters processed through Autostakkert and Registax...and I'm sitting here wondering how to take a color picture🤣

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I k

11 minutes ago, Maideneer said:

Ordered the book the other day and shipment is en route!  I am halfway decent with the scope itself and know the basics of SynScan and north-aligning, so I'm ok there.  And I've gotten up to speed with all my eyepieces and their limitations and abilities so comfortable with that.

I suppose it's the camera and software that is clogging my head now.  I have no background in photography whatsoever, and here I am looking at people talking about ISO and exposure time and flats and darks and gain, binning and histograms and polar aligning and hydrogen filters processed through Autostakkert and Registax...and I'm sitting here wondering how to take a color picture🤣

I know what you mean  🤪  🤣

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8 minutes ago, Maideneer said:

I suppose it's the camera and software that is clogging my head now

I'm going to sound a bit "agricultural " here but isn't it a case of putting the camera into the focuser and plugging the usb into the laptop , opening sharpcap and then pressing connect . It will invariably be out of focus at that point and you may have to mess with the exposure ( on the panel to the right ) . I use a QHY camera and do the same as i've described to you  :) 

 

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14 hours ago, Maideneer said:

Just installed my brand new ZWO 224MC and downloaded Sharpcap and ASI Studio.  I have experience in absolutely none of it 🤣 and have almost no idea how to go about any of this.  Just for reference, I have an AZ-GTi and a little Travelscope 70 which I know is the weak link in my chain.  The most I've ever done is taken a picture with my iPhone through an eyepiece so this is understandably daunting.  I've watched every Youtube tutorial I can think of (I almost feel more lost after that because of info overload) so I think the best thing I can do for myself now is just get out there and see what I can or can't do.

Figured I'd ask here first though...what the hell do I do haha?!

+1 for getting a bit more experience on the visual side first, at least for a couple of months. Even after starting to get the hang of things I tended to find that AP (I only ever did a little planetary/lucky imaging AP) was just a load more headache and stuff to learn and kind of gets in the way of learning the basics through information overload. On a very basic level, being able to find your way around the sky better (for example, knowing a few of the major moon features ands a handful of constellations off by heart, maybe even where to look for a few easy DSO targets) will mean you're able to then focus more of your efforts on the imaging side.

All of this said I totally understand the desire to start creating images - as you said there's a lot to learn, but you have plenty of time to pick it up :) 

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1 minute ago, badhex said:

(for example, knowing a few of the major moon features ands a handful of constellations off by heart

Good Call ... you can spend absolutely ages studying the moon . 

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6 minutes ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

I'm going to sound a bit "agricultural " here but isn't it a case of putting the camera into the focuser and plugging the usb into the laptop , opening sharpcap and then pressing connect . It will invariably be out of focus at that point and you may have to mess with the exposure ( on the panel to the right ) . I use a QHY camera and do the same as i've described to you  :) 

 

I guess that's true, I just don't want to screw anything up.  When you don't know you don't know!

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1 minute ago, Maideneer said:

I guess that's true, I just don't want to screw anything up.  When you don't know you don't know!

Absolutely , and honestly NO question is a silly question on here . As you probably know already everyone is here to help  :) . Looking at the moon on a laptop is amazing ...plus it gives you chance to show what you are looking at to others . 

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BTW @Maideneer I'm certainly not super experienced but I can say with confidence that knowing where to look really makes all the difference. I had a few years break with astronomy until last year, and I'm having to relearn tons of stuff, and along the way making loads of mistakes too. There were some favourite targets and constellations that stayed with me but a lot of stuff I used to know off by heart has disappeared into the recesses of my memory.


I think I'm the same in the temptation to dive in head first (which is great, don't get me wrong - I've also been thinking about buying a second hand DSLR body or planetary imaging camera to replace my ancient converted webcam) - but I also know that sometimes all of the technical stuff can get in the way of just enjoying observing. It can be quite frustrating spending 3 nights under the stars with tech that won't behave and not a single image or even visual observation to show for it!

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I don't even think it's an answer I'm looking for here, I think most of the time what I really need is a reassurance that things will be ok and to just take my time etc.  Almost like a little astro-baby that needs attention and guidance.  Sounds weird, but goes a long way boosting someone's confidence.

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1 minute ago, Maideneer said:

I don't even think it's an answer I'm looking for here, I think most of the time what I really need is a reassurance that things will be ok and to just take my time etc.  Almost like a little astro-baby that needs attention and guidance.  Sounds weird, but goes a long way boosting someone's confidence.

i think we are all like that :) 

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One reason I got a Celestron C8 years back (still have it and use it a lot) is that it is quite light and compact, and yet packs an 8" aperture. That hasn't stopped me getting an APM 80mm F/6  triplet which is just brilliant for wide-field viewing, and packs a 5.3 deg FOV with the Nagler 31 T5. With a 2" Amici prism it gives lovely upright, correct image views. It is also my solar workhorse, and a great DSO imaging scope. There is  certainly scope for small scopes.

 

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17 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

I'm going to sound a bit "agricultural " here but isn't it a case of putting the camera into the focuser and plugging the usb into the laptop , opening sharpcap and then pressing connect . It will invariably be out of focus at that point and you may have to mess with the exposure ( on the panel to the right ) . I use a QHY camera and do the same as i've described to you  :) 

 

This was a frustrating night I must admit. It wasn’t a simple as plugging in and playing with exposure. I literally saw a black screen the whole time, no stars, no star fields, nothing. I pointed at the moon and it got brighter but still couldn’t make out a thing no matter the setting.

I ended up doing visuals only for the rest of the night and snapped a Jupiter + 4 moons from my iPhone. Quality stinks so I can’t post it here because it’s not up to any standard really lol.

My Travelscope is really proving its limitations…I suspect I can’t see a thing w/the ZWO because it’s just too much for the scope to handle. That is, unless I’m doing something outrageously wrong then I can’t imagine it could be anything else.

I’ll have to keep playing with it but have to be honest…got a bit disappointed tonight.

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36 minutes ago, Maideneer said:

This was a frustrating night I must admit. It wasn’t a simple as plugging in and playing with exposure. I literally saw a black screen the whole time, no stars, no star fields, nothing. I pointed at the moon and it got brighter but still couldn’t make out a thing no matter the setting.

I ended up doing visuals only for the rest of the night and snapped a Jupiter + 4 moons from my iPhone. Quality stinks so I can’t post it here because it’s not up to any standard really lol.

My Travelscope is really proving its limitations…I suspect I can’t see a thing w/the ZWO because it’s just too much for the scope to handle. That is, unless I’m doing something outrageously wrong then I can’t imagine it could be anything else.

I’ll have to keep playing with it but have to be honest…got a bit disappointed tonight.

I'm not sure that the scope would cause any issues here, not the issues you describe anyway! A couple of things to try:

  • I believe that model comes with a wide-angle lens which won't be needed for imaging through a scope - is this still attached? I believe there's a nose piece included with no lens inside, so you should make sure the standard nosepiece is attached, not the lens
  • You may eventually also need an IR cut filter as don't believe this model has one, but this won't stop you taking pictures in the first instance
  • It's possible that may not be able to reach focus without an extender of some kinda although there is quite a bit of focus travel so I'm not sure this will be an issue
  • Try taking some basic images/videos through the scope in the daytime, TV aerials, lamp posts etc - something easy to find
Edited by badhex
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44 minutes ago, Maideneer said:

This was a frustrating night I must admit. It wasn’t a simple as plugging in and playing with exposure. I literally saw a black screen the whole time, no stars, no star fields, nothing. I pointed at the moon and it got brighter but still couldn’t make out a thing no matter the setting.

I haven't scanned back over the whole thread so this may have been mentioned but have you tried getting an image of a distant object in daylight?

 

Edit: sods law - come back after making coffee, hit post reply and see the message above yours saying the same thing. Lol

Edited by haitch
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6 minutes ago, badhex said:

I'm not sure that the scope would cause any issues here, not the issues you describe anyway! A couple of things to try:

  • I believe that model comes with a wide-angle lens which won't be needed for imaging through a scope - is this still attached? I believe there's a nose piece included with no lens inside, so you should make sure the standard nosepiece is attached, not the lens
  • You may eventually also need an IR cut filter as don't believe this model has one, but this won't stop you taking pictures in the first instance
  • It's possible that may not be able to reach focus without an extender of some kinda although there is quite a bit of focus travel so I'm not sure this will be an issue
  • Try taking some basic images/videos through the scope in the daytime, TV aerials, lamp posts etc - something easy to find

great advice here ... i second the fact that its not the scope that is the problem . Also these cameras rarely come with any meaningful instructions regarding the lens and the nose piece that is provided . 

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54 minutes ago, Maideneer said:

This was a frustrating night I must admit. It wasn’t a simple as plugging in and playing with exposure. I literally saw a black screen the whole time, no stars, no star fields, nothing. I pointed at the moon and it got brighter but still couldn’t make out a thing no matter the setting.

I ended up doing visuals only for the rest of the night and snapped a Jupiter + 4 moons from my iPhone. Quality stinks so I can’t post it here because it’s not up to any standard really lol.

My Travelscope is really proving its limitations…I suspect I can’t see a thing w/the ZWO because it’s just too much for the scope to handle. That is, unless I’m doing something outrageously wrong then I can’t imagine it could be anything else.

I’ll have to keep playing with it but have to be honest…got a bit disappointed tonight.

Not sure what scope your using but yes you are doing possibly 3 things outrageously  wrong 1 the moon wasnt actually on the chip (just the glare of it was) 2 it was on the chip but your exposure was way too slow and all you could see was white. 3 you was so far out of focus it appeared as a big white mass. Or even a combination of all 3. My scope might be long focus but i took this days ago in daylight before the sun had set. a 70mm refractor

SW CAPRICORN 70MM 17TH JUNE 100.png black 2.jpg

Edited by neil phillips
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