Image by Samara Nagle
To view our readers increidble images of the 2017 Eclipse, please click here to purchase Issue 44 of the Magazine to enjoy the gallery.
The lens in question is a 200mm SMC Takumar f4. It was manufactured sometime in the early 1970s and I picked it up off eBay for £22.
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Atik Cameras are releasing their first camera with a CMOS sensor, the Atik Horizon. It’s a strong step forwards for the company, combining exceptionally low
I am very pleased to report that the purchase of the QSI brand completed on Thursday 1st of February.
At Atik, we have a sincere respect and admiration for the QSI camera designs and the people behind them. After the incredibly sad news that the QSI joint founder Neal Barry passed away in 2017, QSI’s board of directors decided to restructure the company. QSI have long been both a market leader in Astro-imaging, and an important part of the astronomical community. By purchasing QSI, we can provide a bright future for this much-loved brand.
Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Under the Hood
One of my favourite cars is the Jaguar E-type. It caused a sensation when it was first launched and compared to the XK150 it replaced it epitomised the flare and panache of the 1960's. Thing is Jaguar had a bit of a problem, they wanted the car to be advertised that it was capable of 150 miles per hour... so they took it to the test rack, but the problem was that the original 3.8ltr original 6 cylinder engine wasn't quite up to the task! So they had to use a few tricks to get it past the magic 150 mph barrier. Such as – pumping up the tyres rock hard (it actually ran Dunlop R5 racing tyres) and tuned the car so it produced more power so it would make the timing run. Sounds familiar – doesn't it?
In the middle of the last decade, and thanks to the success of DSLR in astronomy, Canon suddenly surprised the astrophotographers with a specialized camera. The Canon EOS 20Da was introduced in February 2005, and this was the first time for Canon and all other manufacturers to produce such a version of a standard camera. The 20Da was mainly based on 20D, but with substantial modifications, both hardware and software, and immediately was identified as the reflex for the astronomical usage, but also traditional diurnal usage was still possible.
A great astrophotography lens is only as good as the images it produces. Not all camera lenses are created equal, and imaging a night sky full of stars has a way of pushing your photography gear to its limits.On a recent astrophotography session in the backyard, I discovered how enjoyable it can be to squeeze in a brief mid-week session using a camera lens in place of the telescope.For this imaging run, I used the refreshingly simple and affordable Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 lens. The lens was attached to my Canon Rebel T3i DSLR, which rode atop an iOptron SkyTracker camera mount.
Going remote with your Astrophotography Rig? You’ll need power. Quite a bit of it. Most people won’t want to have a generator ruining the peaceful solitude of the night, so battery power is the usual solution.So how much power do you need, what kind of batteries will do, how to connect to them, how to house them, how to charge them. all are good questions.How much power (capacity) do you need: This part isn’t hard to figure out, just be sure to count everything that needs power. Here’s some rough guidlines:
Astrophotography can seem like a daunting hobby to jump into. Indeed, there are definitely learning curves to overcome, but if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing, our astronomers are always happy to help you along in your goal to capture some deep sky objects with your camera. To help you get started, I’ve written up a simple guide to help you get going!The Camera (of course!)Naturally, the first thing you’ll need is a camera to photograph the night sky with. Though many options exist, we’re going to stick to the more budget-minded route since that’s where most people will be coming from. The most accessible option would be to get a DSLR camera, such as a Canon Rebel.
A mono astrophotography camera gives backyard imagers in the city the opportunity to collect dynamic narrowband images from home. Although LRGB image acquisition using a filter wheel requires some extra setup time early on, the flexibility of this configuration is appealing.
I was perusing Facebook and saw that Rother Valley Optics (fantastic astro shop btw) had some synscan wifi adapters back in stock for £53. Now being the gadget girl that I am, I had to buy one.It arrived very quickly and packaged well. One of the main reasons that I wanted to get the wifi adapter was that I wanted to do away with the hand controller and using my phone as a planetarium and generally juggling multiple devices to reach the same ends.Now before we go any furtherif you use iOS sadly at the moment you’re still going to need multiple devices to get it to work. i.e two iPhones, an iPhone plus iPad or whatever. If you’re on android be happy in the fact that it should work straight off the bat.
For the postprocessing description we do not include screenshots of our various PixInsight settings. The reality is that settings are different for each image. We will, however, provide links to online resources which give descriptions of the techniques we use. These resources often provide settings to get you started.While the individual subexposures were saved in the .fit file format (a long time standard for astrophoto files), once in PixInsight we use their native .xisf format in 32-bit. When moving files back and forth between PixInsight and Photoshop, we use 16-bit TIFF images.
Using a DSLR camera for astrophotography has you dealing with quite noisy data, and the issue is compounded if you are shooting from the city under light-polluted skies. Noisy data gives you a hard time when processing, so it would initially take me quite some time and effort to get to pleasing results, even with dedicated software.StarTools has made my life much easier as it does many things that require many manual steps in other software almost automatically, allowing me to get decent results from an image in just 10-15 minutes. You can always tweak some more of course, but the example process I am going to demonstrate on this post will get you to the following result in just a few minutes:Apart from very powerful and quite easy, StarTools is also inexpensive, at just 60 AUD, it is available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and even has a full-featured evaluation version which you can download freely – only saving is disabled (you can still take a screenshot of your result) – but you have all the time to make sure it’s for you as it doesn’t expire.
The problem with being a mount tuner is that you are always working to 2 decimal paces. Tracking a Star is a very precise game. The cool thing is that we know what the sidereal movement should be over a given amount of time. This is how the basics of guiding works. You can, of course, track a star with one motor which if you have precise polar alignment you should be doing, as DEC is positional. However, we humans aren't so precise. There are so many variables in astro imaging it makes it both a challenge and a curse at the same time.I've been told many times that I've made a rod for my own back by basing what we do solely on the basis of PHD graphs and I'm beginning to agree. But we actually use PHD to identify how themount is behaving, not only to it's guiding input but how the mount was set up in terms of polar alignment, balance and even cable management. Anyone who's had a mount from us knows that after a re-build they all need 15 up to 50 hours running in.
The sky is clear and wonderful but I have to be up early tomorrow morning.
I don’t have the strength to setup and polar align my telescope.
With the Panther Mount the setup and alignment is much easier.
Just setup the Pier, Mount Head and Telescope
NO LEVELING needed. polar-aligemenleveling
NO POLAR ALIGNMENT needed
For visual observations align on just one object and you have goto and tracking.
For Astrophotograpy align on just two objects and you have precision goto and tracking.
I've been given the unique opportunity to review a new Ritchey-Chrétien Telescope, the iOptron Photron RC6. This telescope has a longer focal length than any of my refractors, which I plan on putting to good use. The impressive 1370mm focal length means that this stocky red Ritchey-Chrétien is a perfect choice for astrophotography during galaxy season.
This time of year the attention of many observers is focused on galaxies. The coming of spring in the north and autumn in the south has become known as galaxy season because of the favorable placement of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Of course galaxies are in such profusion across the entire sky that they are fair game all year long.
The goal of automation is to be able to perform all your astro-imaging functions (slewing, target acquisition, plate solving, focusing, filter changing, and image capture) without going anywhere near your telescope, mount, or camera.
A number of years ago, as you may have already read on my homemade telescope blog, I built my own 10 inch Dobsonian telescope. While carrying out all the research at the time before I built it, I realised that one day I would eventually want to mount this scope onto something that would enable me to do some imaging.
Plate-solving is a image analysis that detects the stars and then tries to identify them using catalogs of know stars. If the analysis is successful it is possible to calculate the Right Accession (RA) and Declination (Dec) of the image center which tells where exactly is pointing the telescope, image orientation, resolution and etc. Plate-solving is the engine of many scientific studies for example comet, asteroid hunting and orbit analysis.
Nowadays we are lucky to have access to many advanced techniques and devices that in the past were available only for the biggest professional observatories. Plate-solving is one these techniques that makes imaging much productive, accurate and pleasant.