Thursday, 8 July 2021

Eastern Veil Nebula and freinds

 A two-hour session from midnight to 2am on a rare clear night. ISO of 1600 on my canon 450d unmodded and 37 shots all 3minute long. Guided with PHD2 using multi-star guiding.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Making it easy to set up with a few simple ideas

Astrophotography is never easy so making it less complicated is going to save you a lot of hassle. I don't have time to build a separate observatory so instead, I have opted for a lighter setup from that of the past. Here is my skywatcher 200p on the eq5 pro mount with the finder scope adapted to use a ZWOI120 guide camera. I don't use the syn scan hand controller instead I use an eq direct cable that goes straight from the control box to my pc which is kept in the shed opposite. All the cables from my camera my guide camera and the mount feed straight into my shed through the sidewall and into my pc.

Once it's all switched on via the pc in the shed I can link up to that with my laptop using TeamViewer and control it all from indoors in the warm. So no hand controller to deal with everything controlled by the computer and I can go inside and stay warm while the camera and mount get on with the job of imaging.

One big difference to making this all easy to set up is to have three bricks set into the ground that has a hole in each one for the legs of the mount to sit in. I have lined them up carefully so that the mount is perfectly lined up with the north position and have made sure that my polar alignment is spot on using PHD to do the polar alignment with its very good drift alignment tool and my guide camera.

It takes a bit of tweaking but once it is all set up correctly its just a matter of taking the mount outside and placing it in those hole in the bricks and I am ready to go each night without the hassle of having to re polar align the mount a big time saver.

Because I am using a large Newtonian telescope the skywatcher 200p I check the colmination regularly with a laser collimator and check the focus each night with a bahtinov mask. Dew is kept at bay with a yoga mat stitched up to form a tube that is placed over the front of the scope and a small dew strap is placed on the guide scope. Simple and effective, my camera is an unmodded 450d.

With good views of the northeast and south, the mount is positioned to make the 
most of the night skies and key targets

The eqdirect cable replaces the hand controller and just goes straight into the pc its 10 feet long the same as my guide camera and cannon camera cables so easily goes into the side of my shed to the pc

Three bricks embedded in the ground with holes for the tripod legs to fit in saves time
and allows you to set up in minutes without the need to polar align each time or having to reposition the mount.


Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Galaxy time

M101 M51 and the Needle Galaxy from the last few weeks. It's been difficult at times with strong winds and snow showers to contend with but having got my guiding sorted out it is now much easier to get longer exposures and gain more data for the final images. M101 was done with my 450d ISO 1600 4 minute subs about 4 hours worth. M51 5 minute subs one hour's worth and last night the Needle Galaxy two-minute subs about 30 of them. One of the most useful discoveries of late is using dithering with my images something I never really tried before but it really makes a big difference to the final stacked image so well worth trying it out.


Saturday, 13 March 2021

Leo Triplets

Lots of issues to contend with when doing astrophotography but if you persevere and keep at it you can be rewarded for your efforts. This shot of the Leo Triplets is only 13 shots each 2 min long and an ISO of 1600 it was quite windy tonight so I had to throw out quite a few of my shots that were ruined by gusts of wind knocking the telescope about. I now have a guide camera set up so can get longer exposure which is great. 
My guide camera is a ZWOI120 and I have attached it to my skywatcher finder scope to use as the guide scope which works very well.


Thursday, 4 February 2021

Thors Helmet and Galaxy's galore

 Another nice batch of images from this simple setup all taken at an ISO 16000 50sec each and about 60 or 30 lights depending on the subject stacked with 30 darks flats and bias.

I am using APT and Cartes du Ciel together at the moment to control the mount and camera but I must say I am tempted to try out NINA as it looks very good.

Thors Helmet Nebula 

M81 M82

The UFO Galaxy

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Rosette Nebula M3 and M51

 A few more clear nights and I was able to get out and do a bit more imaging with my current set up still not got a guide camera yet but that will come later on.

All images were taken unguided with a canon 450d on my skywatcher eq5 pro with a skywatcher 200p being controlled by Astrophotography tool and hooked up to my laptop using an EQdirect cable to my mount.

Rosette Nebula 50sec ISO 16000 x 65 with 30 darks flats and bias Canon 450d

M3 50sec ISO 16000 x 65 with 30 darks flats and bias Canon 450d

M51 50sec ISO 16000 x 65 with 30 darks flats and bias Canon 450d

Current Equipment for Astrophotography

Telescope and mount: Skywatcher 200p and EQ5 Pro mount Connected to PC with eqdirect cable that bypassed the use of the hand controller and powered by a mains adapter

Camera: A Canon 450d with 10ft long cable that connects to pc and is controlled by software. Software used: Astrophotography Tool APT, Cartes du Ciel Planetarium, Ascom platform & EQmod

Friday, 22 January 2021

Mosaic madness part 2

Well is it worth it? 

Another frustrating session taking a mosaic of the Rosette Nebula. I thought I had solved the issue of the frames not lining up but once it was all connected to my mount nothing lined up again so its back to the drawing board I guess but I decided to line the mosaic frames up manually which at least got me enough frames to stack them and have something to try out.

Only ten images for each of the four frames which were 50 secs long and an ISO 16000. This gave me enough to work with but with no guiding in place, longer exposures are not going to happen. The other big problem you face when doing this with a DSLR is the gradients you get on the edge of your frames and also how to process them all. 

When I put them together I got the following which is very hard to process successfully so I must conclude that yes this can be done if you are willing to work hard at your processing and stitching the images together but overall my feeling is its not worth the hassle unless you're using a very good camera that gives you nice clean images with no gradients and noise to deal with.

As for the problem of the mosaic frames not lining up I might try and solve that later on or just stick to single images while using a DSLR for the time being.

                          Individual frames put side by side then processed as one image

Images lined up and processed further

Image cropped down to size but the problem of the edges and gradients which is normal in single images becomes much more of a problem when stitched together.

So in conclusion
 You can do it but if your single frames are not very clean and gradients are large on your edges it is going to be very hard to get a good final image even with a large overlap on your frames.

I have done this before on several subjects but it has never been easy to do but with guiding in place and longer exposure times the frames are a bit better with more detail and this helps to match them up.
But for now, I think I will stick with single images or invest in another telescope for a wider field.