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  1. #21
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    Thanks JG. I plan to start out the spring finishing up some old projects. If I get them finished, I am thinking about playing around with comet watching. Your photos showed me a low cost way to tag them. I wonder how dim an object could be recorded in this method?
    Rob
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  2. #22
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    GB,

    Can you use your XT12G? The only way I know to find out is to try it. If you have a DSLR you may want to try it out. Start with a short exposure of a couple of seconds and work your way upward with longer exposures until you start seeing star tracks. I've found that my AZ mount takes a couple of minutes to settle down (tracking motion) after reaching a target. Another alternative is to piggyback the camera. You should be able to get some nice shots that way. The further you are from the zenith, the greater exposure time with regards to the earth's rotation. I've found that my AZ mount's tracking motion is the governing factor that limits exposures.
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  4. #23
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    Thanks Rob,

    I take as a rule some 4 pics, then scan them, do alignment, and they will be finally stacked. It is amzing, what you can get this way. When working with the slide film Ektachrome E200, I eventually make slide copy on a negative film, pushing some 2 f-stops to obtain brightness. This boosts the contrast and shows dim stars.

    Since 2010, I have the AstroTrack, it became much more easy. But this will not be that pedestrian way, you know.

    Best

    JG
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  5. #24
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    sxinias asked me to drop in and post some of my Minimalist AP experiences...
    I just got into this hobby so i can't claim to know much but here's what i can add to the conversation.

    My current AP setup:
    Meade ETX-80AT AltAz
    Canon 300D - Prime Focus on back port (perfered... )
    or Olympus C-4040 P&S - Afocal

    I know my setup isn't grand by any means, but its all i've got... I have an XT6 (non-GoTo) Dob but I found out pretty quickly its limitations for DSO work...


    This is about 107 half-second frames stacked in DSS...

    I use it with my iPhone, now, to try to image planets.... I'm hoping the iPhone 5 comes out soon so i can upgrade from my 3Gs... (better camera)
    I just like the idea of astrophotography with a cell phone...





    both shot with my iphone attached to my telescope with a homemade mount.



    My minimalist images: (all with ETX-80)

    C-4040 afocal shots: (i usually show them in a circle to remove the noisy vignetting, it makes for a better looking image imho.




    The best method i've come up with for using this little scope is at prime focus. I don't get to image smaller objects, but it works great for wider shots like the Orion Nebula, and the Pleides. And many others, i'm sure. I'm still new to AP, i've only had this little scope for a few months, and my dob for about a year now...

    Canon 30D prime focus shots:








    With my setup, prime focus looks about the same as my 25mm eyepiece so i had a machinist friend of mine work up a parafocalizing ring for me. It really helps me compose my shots and gets me pretty close to focus. I also use a Bahtinov mask to help me, i'm not sure how I could have achieved sharp focus with out it... the 300D doesn't have live view... My P&S camera, the C-4040, does have live view and has a remote shutter, but i'm limited to only 15 second exposures and since its setup is afocal, 15 seconds doesn't get you much, but you can get some decent results.

    As for my process, I have an Orion skyline pointer that I attach to the scope with rubber bands and it makes alignment a breeze! (seriously... this scope didn't come with any kind of finder. After installing this little part alignment went from 10 or 20 minutes to 5 tops.) I also use the internal 2X barlow for alignment (ETX-80 comes with this installed) I've found that if I align with the barlow in place, my target is always in the field of view when I slew around. I also recommend the high percesion mode on the handset. If your scope has this as an option in the GOTO, use it. It's where the scope will slew to a bright star near your target first, ask you to center it, then use that to aid the scopes alignment. it seems to work pretty good for me.

    I usually start off taking 30-second exposures to see if my object is even in the field of view. (its always good to check on these things early...) then i'll test up to 2 minutes and review the images to see just how good my alignment is. If its a good alignment, i'll just start trying to take as many light frames as i can, as long as i can.

    The little scopes mount isn't the most stable thing around so any wind whatsoever will ruin a shot. Sometimes it seems like if i walk away from the scope, my movement will shake the scene... I've taken to hanging a 2.5-pound weight from each of the legs at the top part of the tripod where the scope attaches to help minimize this, and it seems to have helped, but i'm still looking for other ways to stabilize this little scope. typically I trash 80% of my shots because of streaking or zig-zagy stars...

    Thats pretty much the long in the short of it when it comes to my AP. After stacking in DSS I take the images over into PhotoShop and process the crap out of it. Not much of a process here, just whatever it needs to bring out the information i'm after. (Levels, Curves, Masks, de-noising, more levels, more curves...and on, and on, and on, until i'm happy with it...) For me, this is the observing portion of my astronomy it feels like I get such a better feel for the view while i'm processing it than at the eyepiece... but thats just me. I'm a graphic artist so i'm at home in PS...


    [[wow, that turned out pretty long... I apologize for mis-spellings, run-on's, incomplete sentences or any other grammatical errors that i'm sure are in there... I'm not a writer. I write like I think and I think messy....]]

    Thanks for looking,
    Kerberus
    Last edited by Kerberus; 03-31-2011 at 02:13 AM.

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  7. #25
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    Keerberus,

    Thanks very much for your excellent description of your work and your photographs. Hopefully it will encourage other owners of ETX telescopes to take them out and try their hand at photography. BTW, your ETX 90 produces some very sharp images.

    I've noticed that with my Celestron SE and SkyWatcher SynScan AZ mounts, that the mounts tracking takes about 5 minutes to settle down after a goto .... like they are slowly homing in on the objects. After about 5 minutes, tracking motion seems much less as does movement of the object in the fov which allows longer exposure times. Have you noticed anything like this with the ETX mount?

    Joe

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    now that you mention it, i may experience the same problem.... it does seem that after the scope slews to a target, the first few exposures aren't very well aligned, but after its been on an object for a while they seem to be a little better... (its an 80 btw, i think the ETX-90 is a different type of scope...)

    I'm going to do some imaging tonight, i'll see if i can nail down how long it takes to settle after a slew...

    Kerberus
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  10. #27
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    Default Re: Minimalist Astrophotography

    great to see this thread as i am interested in doing astrophotography and have not spent 1000's on the telescope
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  11. #28
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    Default Re: Minimalist Astrophotography

    Quote Originally Posted by Belal View Post
    great to see this thread as i am interested in doing astrophotography and have not spent 1000's on the telescope

    Minimalist astrophotography really makes economic sense if you already have a telescope. If you have yet to purchase one, the Celestron Advanced Series C6NGT is really difficult to beat. While it will cost more than a minimalist telescope, the cost difference is not that great but the difference in photography potential is like night and day.
    SXINIAS

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    Default Re: Minimalist Astrophotography

    I wish i had known this as looking at the price of that telescope its not far off from what i paid anyway ... i bought a Celestron 5SE.

  13. #30
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    Default Re: Minimalist Astrophotography

    The Celestron 5SE has a lot of positive attributes for astrophotography. Start first with azimuth mount photography to get the feel for the scope and exposure times. A 0.65 focal reducer will greatly enhance its photographic capabilities. You will be pretty much limited to 20 to 30 second exposures but that's sufficient to photograph a lot of of objects. The Messier and Caldwell lists are good places to start.

    After you get good at azimuth photography, then modify your latitude adjustment bar so you can make fine adjustments in altitude and start using the mount in the equatorial mode. your 5SE with a camera and focal reducer will be heavier than the setup I use on my 4SE mount so it may not do quite as well. With the 5SE in the equatorial mode, exposure times longer than 20 to 30 seconds will be possible. This will improve the quality of the images as well as allow photographing a somewhat larger range of objects. How much longer than 20 to 30 seconds, I don't know. I often get 90 seconds but more often less. Even if exposure times in the equatorial mode are not appreciable longer than in the azimuth mode, the quality of the images will improve as the stacking program does not have to adjust for field rotation and data is not lost due to the fanning effect caused by rotating each image so they can be stacked.

    One problem with the 4/5SE mount is the lack of controls needed to obtain a precise polar alignment. Even after modifying the latitude adjustment bar, polar alignment repeatability is difficult. One night 90 seconds, the next 40.. etc.

    Not mentioned in the manual is the fact that the 4/5SE has Celestron's All Star Polar Alignment feature. This greatly facilitates obtaining a precise polar alignment. It will not show up as an option until after a successful polar alignment is done.

    Regarding the camera control feature of the 4/5SE mount. It works very well. However, for what camera shops in the UK charge for a firing cable, you can get a no brand interval timer off eBay from Hong Kong that works just about as well.
    SXINIAS

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