Category Archives: Technical

Orion 60mm Guide Scope – First Light

First light with the Orion 60mm guide scope, NGC 1502 in the background. Got good results with the first light images using my Meade 12” LX90 and Antares f/6.3 focal reducer. The Orion 60mm has a focal length of 240mm and a focal ratio of f/4. As you can see from the 2-second guide images, it does a good job of displaying what you are imaging. Received a few messages from PHD2 about the “initial calibration too far from the equator”, thoughts? That’s a new one for me – any thoughts? I did get good results last night despite the warning message.

PHD2 Guiding Graph

Clear skies!

…Tom

Poor Transparency on March 21, 2017

I tried setting up last evening, March 21, 2017, with no luck. While the skies looked good overhead (visually) and there were clouds around the horizon, I decided to try and shoot some images of M95 in Leo. The first 60-second image showed me how bad the transparency was. High level, thin clouds covered the sky which I failed to see before setting up. After I broke down the telescope, I captured this image showing the light cloud cover in the area as an example of bad transparency.

Tech Specs: Canon 6D with a Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens, tripod mounted. Single 20 second exposure, ISO 1600, 14mm, f/2.8, Imaging was done on March 21, 2017 from Weatherly, Pennsylvania.

…Tom

Autoguiding – First Light on Messier 82!

So, I’ve been putting off autoguiding for a long time now, after a lot of research, reading and asking a bunch of noob questions I decided to dive into autoguiding this week. I recently purchased a ZWO ASI290MC camera for planetary and moon photography and decided it would make an awesome guide camera when not in use. At the time of purchase, I also grabbed the Canon EOS adapter, why not. The next step was deciding to either go with an off axis guider (OAG) or a separate guide scope. I almost purchased a Celestron OAG and at the last minute decided to try out my Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens as a guide scope.

I had a piggy-back camera attachment for my Meade 12” LX90 and used that to mount the ASI camera and Canon lens to the Meade telescope. I installed PHD Guiding v1.14.2 by Stark Labs (www.stark-labs.com) for the first trial run. I kept all the default setting and was thrilled with the initial results!

Canon 400mm lens piggyback mounted on my Meade 12″ LX90.

I’ve never been able to take longer than 15-second exposures unguided. During this initial run with default settings, I was taking 60-second exposures at ISO 3200 using my Canon 6D DSLR, below is the first light image of the galaxy M82 (28-minutes total exposure taken on February 20, 2017) in the constellation Ursa Major, also known as the cigar galaxy.

Needless to say I can’t wait to image again.

The second run will be using PHD2 Guiding 2.6.3 and possibly using a Canon 100mm f/2.8 lens for guiding. My thoughts are the f/2.8 lens may bring in additional guide stars and also take a little weight off the mount (that I can use for other attachments, lol).

…Tom

Ganymede and Io Transit of the Planet Jupiter on March 23, 2016

I have set a goal to do more planetary imaging this year and try to improve my planetary imaging techniques and skills using my Canon 6D (although I may investigate a different camera for planetary imaging). So, to kick things off, I setup my Celestron C6-A SCT and attached my Canon 6D to a Televue 5x Powermate and snapped some images of Jupiter. I opted to start my planetary imaging season using my Celestron versus my Meade 12” due to the ease of setup. I used Backyard EOS v3 for camera control and video capture. Backyard EOS has the added benefit of video capture at 5x and 10x magnification, I used the 5x option as 10x was way too much on top of the Televue.

I took a series of nine videos, each video consisting of 2000 frames (ISO 1000, 1/30 second). Seeing was not the best with severe fluctuations in focus – Jupiter was only 29-degrees above the horizon during this session. Registax was used to process each video series, stacking the best 25% into the final image. I tried using a higher percentage and it didn’t seem to make much of a difference, at least not with the quality of the individual frames for this session. Thoughts?

The mosaic shows the nine processed images capturing the transit of Ganymede and Io across Jupiter including both shadows, a first for me, I was pretty happy with these first results. The imaging session lasted from 20:18 to 20:47 Eastern Time.

Transit of Ganymede and Io.

Transit of Ganymede and Io.

I’m more than happy to share my Registax settings, just let me know if you are interested in them.

Clear skies!

…Tom

A View of the Crater CLAVIUS

I snapped this picture of the crater Clavius, on our moon, back on September 22, 2015 and just finished processing it. Clavius is a large crater found on the southern side of the moon, it measures approximately 136 miles across. The crater was named after Christoph Klau (or Christophorus Clavius) a 16th century German mathematician and astronomer.

I will always remember this crater as being the location of the lunar base in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Yellow box shows the location of Clavius.

Yellow box shows the location of Clavius.

Crater Clavius

Crater Clavius

Technical Info: Images were captured using a Celestron 6″ telescope with a Canon 6D at prime focus, mounted on an iOptron ZEQ25 mount. Video stream captured using Backyard EOS, 2000 total frames captured. I then processed the frames using AS!2, the best 400 frames were stacked. Captured on September 22, 2015.

Clear skies!

…Tom

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