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neil phillips

who wants to be a great planetary imager

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Everyone can be as good as the best imagers on this site. Heres how. Its not magic

Depends what your willing to do to achieve what you want. or how interested a person is. to achieve it. In my opinion a 8 inch scope at the very least is needed in the uk for high mag high resolution, a 10 is better still, and is optimal for most seeing conditions around the uk,

thats not to say bigger cant do better, but its a nice compromise. As a example i was using a 2 grand 7 inch Meade mak for ages, but could never get the cassini on saturn looking clean and precise,

then i switched to a 10 inch Orion costing half as much. But almost straight away it suddenly started happening. and i realized good as it is, the 7 inch mak just wasnt good enough. Theres a lesson for small apo scopes right there.

There nice, but they will never do what a good 10 inch newt can on planets. yet the price of small quality ones are nearly as expensive.

A lot of people are also afraid to push high power, I use a 3x televue at f6 with a slight extension which for the most part is not enough. a 4 x with slight exstension at f6 is a nice scale, once you crack precise settings and focusing. occassionaly the seeing allows for a quality shot.

Like Astromans jupiter recently, Theres no secret. it really is that simple. Oh collimation too. thats my take. What ive learned over the years. Yes theres always a place for beginers with small scopes.

Thats how most start. But if you really want scale and resolution, And can afford it. Evreybody can be a top planetary imager. If i had real bucks like 10 grand, i wouldnt be churning out what ive posted recently. It would be far better. i did that for about 12 hundred quid.

ask the ladies size matters lol. A 12 inch tak Mewlon mmmmm

A C 14 with mount to match yummy, this year i hope to do this with a 12 inch 3 grand setup, at a third the price. Its harder for sure, But im determined. Anyone live in Essex want to help me see if it can be done. I reckon it can, but mechanics is my weakness.

Neil phillips lunar and planetary images

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Thanks Neil. Planetary imaging is so different to DSO work. You have to be very dedicated and patient to get those great images. Tweaking the set up and getting out at every opportunity ready to periods of good seeing seems to be the key. Night after night of frustration then 2 or 3 times a year everything turns rock solid steady and that must be when the patience pays off.

I will be looking out for your jupiter images in the coming years as it rises higher in the sky.

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Many thanks Stuart, its the last part of your sentence that pleases me the most,

If i can show people that you dont have to be rich to get good results. Then hopefully it will inspire others, Especially those that have tried for a while, without achieving there goals, then this message is worthwhile.

Now with the likes of sky watcher on the scene i think it could be done even cheaper than ever before.

I may try and break the formula down somewhat at some point for those starting on this adventure,

.Starting from funds, to scope and mount choice. to settings, focusing, capture, and finally processing. If i can do it trust me anyone can. I learned by using my eye and pushing buttons to see the effect, I dont learn instructions well and it will go out to those type of people.

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Hi Martin yes DSO work and planetary imaging is so very different, a different set of rules and problems. I have so much respect for the deepsky guys bcause that requires dedication too. And lots of learning.

Its something i personally know little about. But know much learning is required to get those results, i often see on SGL that astound me.

Seeing is the key for the best images Martin, but i also belive good results can be got even on just average nights, thats where scope choice, technique, and collimation come in.

But we do remember those special nights of calm the most, dont we. Thats when its exciting

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I may try and break the formula down somewhat at some point for those starting on this adventure,

.Starting from funds, to scope and mount choice. to settings, focusing, capture, and finally processing. If i can do it trust me anyone can. I learned by using my eye and pushing buttons to see the effect, I dont learn instructions well and it will go out to those type of people.

I will definately be following this thread, as I want to learn more, particularly the bolded parts of the above post.

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Ok Chris if i get more responses like yours then i will write something up, or a pm might be in order

But i warn every one, my advice might be slightly un orthadox and may not be completely correct, I am stll learning myself, I dont learn instruction from text well. So my advice may not exactly be text book.

I learned by eye, a case of suck it and see. A fair amount of that has to really happen, its how a art is often learned well.

Most here probably have better computer skills than i do. But its my eyes that made up for this shortcoming. As such some may want to learn else where.

As i still need help too. But realize theres different levels of this, Please bear this in mind if i attempt to try.

Discussing the ideas i put foward may be a better way of approaching this.Then maybe more experianced text book learners can put me straight and we all learn together that would be cool

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Many thanks Stuart, its the last part of your sentence that pleases me the most,

If i can show people that you dont have to be rich to get good results. Then hopefully it will inspire others, Especially those that have tried for a while, without achieving there goals, then this message is worthwhile.

Now with the likes of sky watcher on the scene i think it could be done even cheaper than ever before.

I may try and break the formula down somewhat at some point for those starting on this adventure,

.Starting from funds, to scope and mount choice. to settings, focusing, capture, and finally processing. If i can do it trust me anyone can. I learned by using my eye and pushing buttons to see the effect, I dont learn instructions well and it will go out to those type of people.

When i first bought my 127 mak i never envisaged doing astrophotos thinking that involved megabucks cameras but after playing around with my compact camera i've been amazed at images from Jupiter and the moon. Yes the Jupiter pics are blurry and nothing like what you have taken but its got me hooked! I plan in the future to purchase a 10" skyliner auto dob. Seeing your brilliant images taken with a 10" scope has got my tail wagging!! Especially to see what can be achieved with an inexpensive webcam!

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I'm up for this Neil. Your methods sound very similar to mine. I'm a 'do'er' rather than a reader, and prefer to learn by doing things and not reading first. My pea brain won't absorb a full course on paper. ;)

It would be great if you start from scratch and, take it step by step, nice and slow, and include the equipment you need to get started, and how to use it. As a complete novice at this, I would really appreciate that. Gives my doughnut something to work on, gently. lol.

Thanks.

Chris. :)

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interesting thread

think i would like to become better and eventually upgrade a bit,

all my pics at min of Moon etc are on £500 budget

think some kind of comparison pics would be helpful

heres a few i noticed on flicker u might use to compare with ur own shots and others maybe (nice pics BTW)

1st is 180mm Mak (bout 7" i believe)

taken with Cheap Toucam Webcam

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37419943@N08/4006646550/

next with upgraded Atik more expensive camera

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37419943@N08/4005882309/

another with Atik processed different

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37419943@N08/4005880841/

heres one using 10"Dob and Cheap Phillips SPC900 Webcam

http://www.flickr.com/photos/astro_mike/3844545332/

think some type of comparison with other scopes would b gud to see which image most people think looks better so to speak

seen some good results using ep projection aswell in planetary section recently

thx James

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Neil, visited your w/site and just seen your "colour Plato mosaic" with the 10" Orion and DMK, have to say it's fantastic !! Mind you the rest aren't exactly average either ;)

Karlo

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Interesting...

I must of done something right. I've got a 10'' OO newt and a DMK.

My pics fall WELL short of your efforts ;)

Nice to know I've got the kit to produce the goods when my head finally catches up. :(

Cheers

Jon

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Hi guys before i go any further replying to any individul, i would like to respond to James post as i think what ive said could be misleading. First there are so many variables in comparing shots, lots of information has to be taken into acount, My meade 7" maksutov may not have been the best example of maks around the world regardless of make.

As such its a variable that will play a part in any comparisons, indeed ive owned 2 meade 7" maks f15 and i considered the first better. The comparison shots im about to show you all, are with the second meade maksutov that i thought wasnt quite as good. Still a good scope, still a mak, but i thought the first one i had seemed to fair slightly better.

Peoples local seeing conditions are also a variable that is very difficult to test against each other, as such comparisons between scopes and apeture, can often be virtually worthless. James your 7 maksutov shots are some of the best ive seen, Excellent. Can i ask what elevation jupiter was on all the shots posted. There very good indeed

The effect of local seeing conditions regardless of altitude of the planet, is very important. Heres a shot of jupiter under somewhat better seeing, at higher altitude, but with only a camcorder on my 7" maksutov, showing the effects of better seeing conditions

Notice when i reverse the seeing conditions on the orion it still wins, when i do that to the meade mak it crumbles.

4041171788_67251a1534_o.png

Not knowing how good your local seeing is James compared to mine ( which was average For me and the UK btw ) means comparing jupiter shots is difficult at best.

Without testing both locations over time, with the same equipment, makes it difficult to understand differences on your jupiter shots compared to mine, with a larger scope.

Ive seen a picture by a top planetary imager shooting from a nice location, were a 6 inch scope was every bit as good as my 10" Orion on mars, under much worse local seeing conditions at my site, and in the uk.

However the shots im about to show of saturn with a meade 7" mak against my Orion 10" Newt. does not suffer this problem as the location remained the same, the cameras remained the same, the imager and processing was also virtually the same.

I was using the maksutov on saturn for a reasonable period of time, enough to realize that the mak just wasnt cutting it at my location.

Soon after, when i switched to the Orion, i instantly saw a big improvement on the cassini division on saturn. The maksutov always struggled to turn cleanly on the cassini division, and rarely if ever, did i get the cassini all the way around.

I think the comparison here is both shocking and very telling indeed, im sure you will all agree.

I tried to be fair to the mak posting the best images i had. But clearly it doesnt even come close to the orion on saturns rings.

Notice how the sides of the cassini distort on the mak, as the cassini turns ? where on the orion it turns smoothly and cleanly.

Notice too how it can not seem to go all the way around. But the orion makes it quite well.

Notice too how the planets ball fairs quite well compared to the orion, Suggesting this maksutov would fair better on jupiter than it does saturns rings, for reasons i dont fully understand.

Its possible i had a very poor maksutov, But my lunar shots with the mak suggested otherwise. So im uncertain, but that seems unlikely to me.

Orion average to good seeing toucam pro

4040420011_6a5acdf8ec_o.png

Meade 7" mak average to good seeing toucam pro

4041167134_95879d3ac6_o.png

Orion poor to averege seeing spc 900 colour

4041153580_e5effa66dc_o.png

7" MAK Good seeing spc 900 colour

4041152446_1a632396b9_o.png

Orion 10" good seeing mono spc 900

4041159756_0c89f692d8_o.png

7" mak poor to average seeing mono spc 900

4041158806_95d57487c1_o.png

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Thanks for the comments guys and the intererst, spare me some time and ill relay things ive learned. This comparison here is probably the most important. without a scope that sings, you will get a lot of bum notes,

Raw head what focal length is your OO please say f6.3 as ive seen 10" Orions under perform before, almost always at f 4. 5 or is it f 4.8 cant remember. but ive seen it

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Raw head what focal length is your OO please say f6.3 as ive seen 10" Orions under perform before, almost always at f 4. 5 or is it f 4.8 cant remember. but ive seen it

4.8 :( My Tal mount wouldn't take a 6.3

I am constantly concerned at the level of accuracy required for collimation. An art I'm certainly not at ease with. ;)

In its defence, I do as much deep sky visual as planetary imaging.

I have seen a 6.3 on the Orion dob mount. A fine looking instrument.

Cheers

Jon

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hey Neil thanks for response

pics with 7" mak are not mine unfortuneately

just thought they may be interesting as comparison

i agree with what u said regarding conditions etc

also ur pics of saturn definetly favour newt, as u said,

think ur pic of Jupiter is very similar to one taken with 10" Dob

again this isn't my own pic, seen on flicker

http://www.flickr.com/photos/astro_mike/3844545332/

i actually have 5" Mak and as said before would like to upgrade

to larger aperture in future, so interested what option would be best

mainly for planets and moon

not really interested in Dob, would prefer larger Mak, or SCT, RC, or Newt

10" Newt does seem great value comparing to others

will be interesting to hear your method of capture and processing u do

as i tend to make mess over processing most of my pics

joys of the beginner LOL

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Jon Ive seen some good 10" f4.8 planetary shots but as you have noted collimation precision must be very good. The image scale is often smaller on the f4.8 shots, mainly because the scope has to be pushed much more with a barlow to achieve a good scale, then we are back to collimation again.

I can only advise what i would do, as planetary and lunar to me is everything. So if you want to do anything very well, i would find out what that interest is, be it deep sky or planetary. Then plan for that, you already have a good deepsky scope so that might be your best bet. but if you want a change of direction, i would sell it. get a 1/10th wave Europa as its cheaper, fit a fan and bobs your uncle, Or a spx, but the Europa with wooden cell is very light, having advantages on the mount, but cell support isnt as good, a trade off i feel. though my results suggest its not a bad trade off at all

James think i misread your post apologies, i thought you took those shots. But the information i supplied still stands, and is correct i think

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Ok think i have enough interest now to start maybe talking about the methods ect. so bear with me James and ill have a think about how to start this, i may try today to get the ball rolling many thanks

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Hi again guys im guessing most that will benefit from anything i have to say is the complete novice, my knowledge bank is actually fairly limited, and as ive already stated may not always be completley correct, or indeed the best approach, if anyone notices this please put me straight as i want to learn too, and want to give the best advice to the novice or seasoned guys who want to do better.

SCOPE CONSIDERATIONS

Right first get the best scope you can afford if its a newtonian make sure its at least at f6 a 8 " f8 will be nice, a 10" f6.3 even better. going any bigger is troublesome as the mounting will be pushed somewhat, im presently trying to do just that right now, ive sold my 10" Europa on vixen GP mount and now im using a 12" f6 spx on a eq6 its a big heavy beast, its harder to set up, presently i get help to mount it, being a 12" f6 the eyepiece is high up so again unless your tall or want to stand on boxes, the 10" f6.3 from Orion is much more user freindly, Going any bigger may not be the right thing to try for a novice, trust me its scary.

3357075083_30ea34b39f.jpg

A Celestron C11 is a good option it will blow in the wind much less than a 10" f6.3 newt, its focal length of f10 is also ideal. So the choice is yours, but brand new will double the price compared to a 10" newt. If you choose a 10" f6.3 then you will need nights where no wind AT ALL is present, the long tube has a see saw effect in the wind, so here a C11 wins hands down. or of course some kind of wind breaker would help.

SETTING UP THE MOUNT

Find The star Polaris face the mount so the polar scope will show polaris ( if you dont have a polar scope the polar scope hole will do )

Precise polar alignment is not essential, it will be better, but my method will get you in the ball park if your a begginer, Astro babys polar alignment site can be read if you prefer that. I recommend it as your polar scope might need aligning prior to using.

Level the mount so your bubble level is in the centre. Notice in the sky where cassiopeia and ursa major appear to be. if cassiopeia the W is on the horizen with the W the correct way up, unlock your mounts RA Lock then turn the RA axis so the W of cassiopeia looks the same in the sky as it does through the polar scope, If the W is say to the side in the sky,either on your left or right,just do similar through the polar scope by moving the mounts RA axis. Once done lock the RA bolt. The tiny small circle inside your polar scope is where you now put polaris by adjusting your lattitude bots ( for up and down )

Side to side movement of polaris through your polar scope can be done by adjusting the two side bolts azimuth bolts.

Put polaris in the centre of the tiny circle thats on the side of the larger one you can see through your polar scope. Once achieved All done, now Mount your telescope.

As mentioned earlier this is to get a begginer imaging. NOT PRECISE POLAR ALIGNMENT theres plenty of info on the net for precise alignment. If im wrong to use this quick method and it doesnt work please could others put me straight because it appears to have worked when i tried it. Though of course Not recommended for deep sky. But a planet should remain on the pc screen at high power with just a little drift, that can be adjusted with a hand controler

At this point i would tweak the collimation Sometimes i would tweak the secondary using a laser, ( not recommended for begginers ) as it can throw everything way off.

Other times i just adjust the 3 bolts or screws, on the primary end. ( note OFTEN NEEDED ) A glow in the dark colli cap is great, just get your centre sticker (ON THE PRIMARY) dead centre inside the colli cap, its very easy, and very precise. If you have not used one all will be clear as soon as you look. you can easily see when collimation is off. I prefer this to a cheshire, its easier to see in my opinion, and probably more accurate though both will work, if you have a cheshire but no glow in the dark colli cap.

Where ready to swith on the computer find your target and get the camera ready to image. Post after coffee lol

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Never heard of a glow in dark colli cap. Sounds a good idea. Will have to track one down. :(

I have an F8 6'' Newt (Tal 2) Do you think I would be better of using this for planetary work over the F4.8 10'' ?

Looking forward to the next installment... ;)

Cheers

Jon

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CAMERA CHOICE

A toucam pro 840, spc 900 nc, spc 900 nc mono DMK DFK DBK

Those are the most choices, though opticstar using cmos chips might be a option but ive no experiance of them.

For the moon and those on a budget a spc 900 mono is very good, though frame rates are limited to 10 fps at best

DMK 21au04 is a better choice but cost 3 times as much, Skynyx of course but you can get a scope for those prices

For colour unless a novice wants to learn RGB imaging using a DMK mono camera, a DBK 21au04 is a good choice it doesnt have the IR filter that the DFK has, and some say would performs slightly better. But you will need a Seperate IR blocker. on a budget a secondhand DFK will not dissapoint, I use this camera and i like it. But admit would like to try a DBK to compare results.

Personally as time goes by i may switch to a DMK using RGB filters as it offers the best performance

But its harder, and the novice may want to get hes feet wet with a single colour camera to avoid more of a learning curve.

But if you plan to shoot the moon a DMK might be a better choice, because if you master RGB imaging only one camera has to be purchased for both the planets, and the moon.Though filters and a filter wheel will add to the cost considerably. So the choice is yours

FILTERS

A ir uv blocker works well on the toucam pro - spc 900 and i presume the DBK, more accurate colour balance was the main benefit i noticed when i tried.

Poor seeing on the moon will work well with a red filter. ( though Tony Gondola says a IR UV blocker is worth considering ) Green for reasonable seeing, and blue for the very best conditions. Most dont get to use a blue. Most use red. with some occassionaly using green There are other filters out there. UV for venus for example but i dont want to go into filter theory to much, theres lots of info on the net about what filters do for a given purpose. so best to google that one.

Now back to imaging a planet

we are roughly polar aligned collimation is good, the telescope is balanced, ( that should be read in your mount manual ) You have your motors installed on most mounts now, so were ready to go

Try to setup on grass, cool your scope for at least a hour prior to shooting, three hours is better. prefarably with a fan. they really are worth there weight in gold.

Try not to shoot over house roofs, because of heat, ive done it because i had to, but if you can avoid that, do so

Now turn on you pc, I assume your finder scope is aligned to your telescope, again its in your manual, Get mars in your finder scope centre it in the eyepeice, switch on your drive motors, now switch to a high power eyepeice, a 10 mm will be good enough on a f6.3 scope. Mars should be sitting still right in the centre with little drift for at least a few mins. if it is not. something is wrong. Check your motors are not in southern operation. ( UNLESS IN OZ LOL ) the leads are in the correct sockets. Hopefully mars is now stationary in your eyepeice at 10 mm. Time to open IC capture or other software of your choice, for the toucam i used K3 CCD tools

But if i use IC capture here its most likely the way you should go as far as camera choice is concerned, Plus its been a while since i used k3. And i can check my methods in real time now, as i give a rundown on what i do to start a capture

Coffee break guys brb

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X2 X3 and X5 (used once with poor results)

Only had anything worth keeping from the X2 (using the DMK which is new)

Never had the seeing conditions to warrant using the (expensive and nearly sacrificed on several occasions) X5

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Hi agian Jon looking at your images one thing I am certian off is that you are under powered, problem is your focal length is short. I notice you have 1/6 wave optics others may disagree but that would not inspire me with confidence especially at f4.8.

If virtualy perfect collimation was achevied, and you still could not get to a resonable power regardless of seeing conditions (as you should still see a nice image behind the jet stream )

I would be inclined to think it's not working well as a planetary setup.

However I have'nt seen your collimation, which would nomally be a major cause of the scope under performing at high power.

If it is not this, I would'nt think it was your seeing conditions, as a example i've gone higher with both my 7" Mak and Orion under poor seeing with better results. As another example I bet if I had my 10" Orion at your location even under poor seeing I think the results would be better.

This clearly suggests there is something wrong with the imaging setup either collimation is not good enough, the 1/6 wave at f4.8 really doesnt push very well ? possibly a combination of those two factors.

Or your not hitting precise focus when you try high power. But I get the feeling if the setup was focusing well, this seems unlikely, which takes us right back to collimation or the setup not performing well for reasons already stated, and or a combination of those two factors.

As I've give you reasons for beliveing seeing alone wouldnt make your setup under perform this much. Its a guess jon, i might be wrong. but this is what ive learned about the equipment ive used at my location. unless your location really is very very bad indeed whats your thoughts

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