Last updated: 30 June 2004
This page documents astrophotography comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome. Be certain to see the other articles on the main Astrophotography page.
Subject: Astrophotography Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 19:10:42 From: SAYHELLO2003@aol.com (SAYHELLO2003@aol.com) I am having problem getting clear photo using my Canon Digital Rebel SLR. I attached my digital rebel to T-ring to ETX-125 via prime focus method. When I look at the view finder of the camera, it's clear. but the picture it appears to be out of focus. Any advise will be appreciate. Thank you, HenryMike here: Try making a "Hartmann Mask"; details on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Subject: ETX or LXD for piggybacked astrophotos Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 14:31:34 From: Emoticon Fury (EmoticonFury@comcast.net) I've been playing a lot with my barn door mount for deep sky astrophotography and now and I'm looking to take it to the next level. For the last month of so I've been looking at all sorts of scopes and mounts and I've narrowed it down to an ETX series scope or the LXD55 SN-6". I read the manuals on both scopes and meade seems to stress that the ETX mount isnt accurate enough for long exposures. Is it possible to attain acceptable images from a camera piggybacked on an ETX series scope at focal lengths up to 300mm @ f\6 for 30 minutes? The reason I ask is that I like astrophotography as a hobby but spending $800+ is a little steep considering I only get about 100 clear nights a year. I've seen the excellent photos on this site but I would like to know how well piggybacking on an ETX works with a DSLR as opposed to a high gain CCD. Thanks, Stephen StreitMike here: I have done piggyback astrophotography with both a 35mm camera and a digital camera. I've used telephoto as well as normal lenses. The thing to keep in mind is that with small image scales on the film/imager, minor tracking errors are less noticeable. But that with a telephoto lens and its larger image scale, longer exposures will be required and more tracking errors will become evident. HOWEVER, you can use a high power eyepiece or a reticle eyepiece (see the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page for "Celestron Guide Eyepiece" and "Rigel Systems PulsGuide") to aid in making guiding corrections using the slew controls.
Thank you very much! I appreciate the prompt response!
Subject: Invitation to New Webring Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 06:28:26 From: LarryHarrison (firstname.lastname@example.org) So many times I have desired to find tutorials on astrophotography. Many sites are not on a search engine - mainly to the cost. I have opened up a new WebRing to localize the sites into one. It is called Astrophotography Tutorials. To sign up (I am hoping) go to: http://dir.webring.com/rw Go to Science/Astronomy/Astrophotography Short summary: This is a ring intended for those who have an interest in astrophotography, whether through the usage of film, digital, or ccd cameras. If your interest lies in the field of astrophotography, and you have a tutorial, or you just have a desire to learn astrophotography, this ring is for you. Hope you join. Thanks. Larry Harrison
Subject: Jupiter Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2004 06:19:59 From: Lou (email@example.com) Last night I was able to see Jupiter and 4 moons. Great image. I can't wait until I get my more powerful eyepieces. I tried to photograph it but with little success. I realized that mounting the camera on the back of the scope limits the magnification I can get. How does one increase the magnification for photography? Warm Regards, LouMike here: Use a Barlow Lens or eyepiece projection. However, the increased magnification also magnifies any telescope motion/vibration. You can also zoom the camera lens if doing afocal photography and the camera has a zoom.
Subject: Piggyback mount for my ETX125 Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 10:38:36 From: Tommy Lim (firstname.lastname@example.org) Can you give me some idea where can I get or buy the piggyback mount for my ETX125 since most of the dealer or seller in US are banned shipping and online purchasing from Malaysia? What do you think? Regards, TommyMike here: Personally I can't say which dealers allow purchases from Malaysia. My standard set of dealers to try would be (in alphabetical order): OPT (I have a relationship with OPT), Scopetronix, and Shutan.
Subject: camera balance and ETX-90 Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 15:33:24 From: Lou (email@example.com) I just spent some time looking at the site for help balancing my Canon 10D on the ETX-90. I must have missed any mention of a way to balance the scope with the camera attached. I don't want a piggyback mount because I would like the scope as my lens. Any suggestions? Warm Regards, LouMike here: There are several articles on counterweights on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page.
Subject: Lunar photos Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 06:07:49 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I came across your page as I am thinking of switching cameras from the Nikon Coolpix 4500 to the 10D. When viewing your lunar shots I noticed all the pics of the Moon are mirror imaged. This might be confusing for new astronomers. Clear skies, Gary Boyle Chairman, Light Pollution Abatement Committee Ottawa Centre, The Royal Astronomical Society of CanadaMike here: The telescope reverses the image. So that is normal for the images to be displayed that way. Of course, you can do whatever you feel appropriate to your own photos.
I know the scope reverses the image, but for a true view, you should flip them back with horizontally. It would appear closer to the true view such a binocular view.Mike here: If the submitter sends them reversed I post that way. Personally I'm not always trying to show what would appear to the naked eye or a through binoculars. If the purpose is to show what the telescope shows then the image should not be re-reversed.
Subject: RE: Piggyback photography using ETX-60 Sent: Saturday, June 5, 2004 08:03:19 From: Willett, Mike (email@example.com) Thanks very much. Have been following your website for a few years now, even submitted a couple of pictures. You really have done a nice job with the website. Thanks again. Mike Willett
Subject: ETX Prime Focus photography Sent: Friday, June 4, 2004 11:11:02 From: Kathy Koerber (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am the proud new owner of a scopetronix DSLR adaptor for my Nikon SLR. I had it out for the first time the other night to try to take some pictures with my ETX 125. I ran into the same problem as I did when I was using just the basic Meade camera adaptor on my ETX 90. When I look through the camera, the object (e.g., Jupiter) is very fuzzy, with criss-cross spectrum-like patterns. It's not a focus issue (I don't think), since I can go from out-of-focus in one direction, through what should be focus, to out-of-focus in the other direction without the object ever becoming clear enough for me to really see a crisp image like I can see when I am just observing. The scope works great by itself, so I think I am missing something when I am attaching the camera/adaptor. I am extremely new to this and was hoping someone could explain to me what is happening and what I can do to improve this condition. Many thanks! -KathyMike here: Make a Hartmann Mask (see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page); this will help ensure a precise focus without having to deal with a fuzzy image on the camera viewscreen.
Subject: Piggyback photography using ETX-60 Sent: Friday, June 4, 2004 10:50:48 From: Willett, Mike (email@example.com) I'm considering getting one of those piggyback camera mounts for my ETX-60 and was wondering if you could give me some quick pointers on how to take some shots of the milky way, etc. Do you have to set up the ETX in polar mode, etc. Thanks for any info, Mike WillettMike here: See the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for lots of info. For photos of any duration longer than about 30 seconds (with a normal lens; shorter if using a telephoto), you will need to be mounted in polar mode to avoid "field rotation" trailing.
Subject: Piggyback photography question Sent: Thursday, June 3, 2004 11:39:12 From: Aslan9999@aol.com (Aslan9999@aol.com) I have an ETX 90 with Meade's piggyback mount and I noticed the same problem that you had reguarding the motor drive slipping. I took some photos of comet NEAT recently where they came out because gravity was assisting the drive, but any time I try to take a picture in the east, the drive noticablyrefuses to trackover the course of a couple minutes. I have a Pentax KX which is a pretty heavy camera and I was wondering if you could suggest any cheap, light-weight cameras that would work with my etx. Thanks a lot for your time. If I can ever figure out how to scan my slides properly I would love to send you some of my photos. ~CollinMike here: You might just need to add a counterweight system to balance things out. For more on those, see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page.
Subject: ETX Photo Adapter Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2004 04:22:35 From: B & C Ronalds (firstname.lastname@example.org) I recently bought a 1997 ETX being a 90mm,the same as the present ETX 90 as far as the scope goes. It is a table top type but I have adapted it for a tripod with a wedge mount and also for an equatorial mount. I want to get into astro photography namely prime focus. I would like to make my own adapter for the camera which goes at the back of the scope. I have the facility to manufacture something and I know you can buy them but they are fairly expensive in Australia. My question is what length should I make the adapter. The genuine Meade comes in two parts I think. I intend to use a Pentax SLR. I would appreciate some advice on this matter and any other related issues I should know about. Thanks Bruce Ronalds Warragul, Victoria AustraliaMike here: Since you seem to be inventive, the best way to match your camera is to measure the position of the ETX-90 focal plane. Do this by holding a piece of paper or semi-transparent material at the rear port. Move it towards and away from the ETX until the image of a distant object is in focus. Measure that distance. That's where you will want the camera focal plane to be. Then make your adapter such that it holds the camera where the image will be in focus. For best results, try to have the focus knob turned about halfway through its full range of focus.
Subject: Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 23:06:59 From: Christian Spangenberg (email@example.com) I love your website Weasner.com and I had a few Questions. I am mostly a photographer I own a 1000mm F11 celestron model c90 that I got fro free. I purchused a t-mount and adapter to atach it to my nikon d-100. I have shot pictures of birds with it am am very pleased. Howevr when using a t-mount I cannot take advantage of the TTL metering that is in the camera. Infact I must manualy setthe time and apature.This is easy enough to do durring the day f11 @1/60 But at night I have absolutly no idea. I am intersted in taking pictures of the moon but need some information about how long I should set the camera for. I havesome great tripods and am interested in getting some shots. Chris http://photos.yahoo.com/chspangenberg http://f1.pg.briefcase.yahoo.com/chspangenbergMike here: Did you notice the item that asked first time visitors to read the Email Etiquette? Your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing Subject entry.
Subject: Meade LPI vs. Philips ToUcam Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2004 05:00:15 From: Rick Mellon (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have an ETX-125AT UHTC and a decent laptop, and would like to use a webcam with the PC as a virtual eyepiece (for family viewing) and do some astrophotography. My best options seem to be the Meade LPI and the Philips ToUcam 840. Since they cost about the same, does anyone have any experience or thoughts as to which is the better choice? --RickMike here: For more serious astrophotography of most objects, including DSOs, the webcam (and patience) works best (as you can see from the many examples on the ETX Site). For brighter objects, the LPI with its included software) is a good choice for ease of use compared to what you have to do to get similar photos with a webcam. As a "virtual eyepiece" for bright objects, either should work. But keep in mind the limited FOV.
Subject: Tracking Comet Neat Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 14:02:34 From: kevin keyes (email@example.com) I have a question about tracking Comet Neat. I know that the comet is moving faster than sidereal( after GoTo tracking speed) and was wondering what Autostar speed to use to track the comet.Iplan to image it with M44 this wknd. piggybacking my Canon 300D on my LXD-55 AR-5. I figure a tracked M44 photo on top of a tracked comet photo will eliminate star trails. It might not work, but that is what makes digital cameras so great, you can delete the bad shots. Thanks, KevinMike here: For short exposures you can just track at sidereal rate. And since most digital cameras have some upper limit on effective exposure length I wouldn't worry about it.
Subject: Re: Piggyback Astrophotography with ETX 125 Sent: Thursday, May 6, 2004 16:26:50 From: "P. Clay Sherrod" (firstname.lastname@example.org) The lighter the camera the better and ALWAYS make sure that the scope is perfectly balanced. For wide field, normal lens piggybacking, you can get by with about 2-3 minutes exposure; anything more telephoto and you must be in Polar. There is a complete article that I wrote on Mike Weasner's Mighty ETX site on piggyback: (it is not listed as such, so it is often overlooked) http://www.weasner.com/etx/ref_guides/astrophotography.html Enjoy! Clay -------------------- Dr. P. Clay Sherrod Arkansas Sky Observatory Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain) Harvard MPC H43 (Conway) Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.) http://www.arksky.org/ ----- Original Message ----- Dr. Clay, I hope you are doing well. I looked at the Weasner site but I really did not get a definitive answer. My question is, is the ETX, after you have supercharged it, capable of doing good piggyback photography? If so, does it have to be in polar alignment or can you get away with Alt/Az mode? I have a Sony F717 digital camera. I am considering purchasingthe Scopetronixpiggyback adapter and possible the Maxview 40. My only concern is that the Maxview 40 with my big camera is too much for the ETX to handle and track properly.Will you please shareyour experience. Thank you. Regards, DaveMike here: Piggyback photography is definitely possible on the ETX models. There are many examples of this on the site. Most of the "sky" shots are done piggyback. Check out the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products for more info.
Thank you for your response. I like your site very much and check it often. Dave
Subject: ETX photography Sent: Tuesday, May 4, 2004 05:53:21 From: Kathy Koerber (email@example.com) I recently just got some pictures back of the moon that I took with my ETX-90 using prime focus photography and I was pretty happy with the way they came out. I have since sold that 'scope and purchased an ETX-125. Given my initial success, I would really like to continue to pursue astrophotography with the bigger scope and my Nikon SLR. I would like to figure out how to take pictures using eyepieces so that I can adjust the size of the object, and hopefully get some nice planet shots. I read the review of the basic camera adaptor on your website and was not impressed. Are there any other options? Have you heard any reviews of the Meade variable projection camera adaptor? Thanks much for your help! -KathyMike here: Check out the Scopetronix Digi-T System or their MaxView products (see the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page for the former). Haven't seen any comments on the Meade variable projection adapter.
Subject: CP995 blurriness Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 21:28:11 From: Ted Wilbur (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have a Coolpix 995 that I use for daytime photography and I have recently picked up a Scopetronix Digi-T to try some Lunar and planetary stuff. I'm using a laptop and software called The Force to control the camera (instead of a remote cable). I can't seem to take really sharp images. For example, viewing the moon through the on camera display before I take a shot, the image is very crisp and detailed. This is true, once focus is achieved, for any eyepiece I have. However, when I take the shot the level of detail drops off significantly. Using The Force and the bulb setting on the camera I can take shots as fast as 0.033 second exposure. But when they show on the camera display during downloading (and of course, in the actual images) they just aren't as crisp and sharp as what I see on the display before taking the shots. I've tried messing with exposure times and the on camera sharpness and contrast, but to no avail. Have you ever run into this with your CP995? Do you know the cure? I appreciate whatever help you can offer, Ted WilburMike here: Some thoughts come to mind. At the scale of the LCD it is easy for the image to "look" sharp when it actually isn't. Some getting a good focus is definitely required. I suggest making a "Hartmann Mask" (see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page). It is possible that when focusing the eyepiece to your eye and the camera to INFinity, the focus is slightly off. Image motion is also a possibility. Make certain the mount is stable and that there is no camera movement during the exposure.
Subject: Recommendation of Digital Camera for ETX125 Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 19:59:00 From: SAYHELLO2003@aol.com I would like to start my astrophotography using digital camera. Can you recommend a digital camera that is simple to use and can produce good quality pictures. My main objective is taking pictures of planets, moon, and near by nebulas for astrophotography. I would like to attach the digital camera to my ETX-125 eyepiece. Any information provided will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Henry L.Mike here: Look through the Helpful Information - Astrophotography pages; lots of info there.
Subject: Astrostack / Registak question Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 08:09:41 From: "chris warburton" (C.A.Warburton@lboro.ac.uk) I wonder if you can give me some advice. I've been looking to buy a new digital camera and wanted one that took movies at 640 x 480 pixels as well as stills. I found one in the Nikon coolpix 3200. The problem is that the movie file format is MOV, which I believe is the Apple version of AVI. Do you know if this format is compatible with Astrostack and Registak. Many thanks for your assistance, Chris WarburtonMike here: I don't think they understand the industry standard Quicktime MOV file format. They only understand the Microsoft standard...
Subject: Starlight Xpress STAR200 Tracking Sytem Sent: Sunday, April 18, 2004 09:23:36 From: "David Mann" (email@example.com) I'm considering buying a Starlight Xpress CDD camera to use in conjunction with my ETX105.Reading your book you wouldn't suggest using the ETX for long exposurephotography but onthe website there is also the STAR2000 tracking system to autogude the scope and overcome alignment errors. I can't find enough info on their website to determin if it is compatable with the ETX mount. All I can find is the following statement on compatable mounts. 'A telescope with 'Autoguider' capability. Most modern SCTs have this facility in the form of a 6 pin 'RJ11' telephone style connector on the mounting base or handset. If your 'scope is 'ST4 compatible' it should work with S.T.A.R. 2000' Being the 'fountain of all knowledge ETX' (and many other things reading your website) I was wondering if you could tell me if the ETX is ST4 compatable? Many thanks in advance DaveMike here: Since the ETX/Autostar does not have Periodic Error Correction (PEC), Autoguiding the ETX would be challenge and likely disappointing for long exposures. You would also have to use Polar mounting to avoid "field rotation" unless you added an SCT adapter and de-rotator to the CCD, which would add a lot of weight needing to be counterbalanced.
Subject: Focal Reducer for the ETX-125 Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2004 12:06:28 From: "Pepper, Mike" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have been around the web searching, and am coming to you for advise. I am starting to work on Astrophotography. I am looking for a focal reducer that works well with the ETX Thanks for your input. Mike Pepper Supercharged ETX-125 UHTCMike here: I have used the Shutan Wide-Field Adapter; see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page.
Subject: Photographic speed Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2004 07:08:56 From: "Ivar Marthinusen" (email@example.com) Just a question about photographic speed. If I am taking a picture through a 32 millimeter lens, and my dicital camera is set at f/2.8. The 32 millimeter lens is then attached to an ETX-105, which is f/14 if I remember correctly. What is then my final photographic speed? Ivar MarthinusenMike here: I forget how you calculate this but keep in mind that the f/ ratio is the effective focal length divided by the aperture. So you calculate the effective focal length of the combination and divide by the telescope aperture.
Subject: Re: Astrophotography Tips - WebCam issue Date: 4/8/04, 07:23 From: Dieter.Wolf@DNSint.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Hi Paul, we all know the problem you are describing. For getting larger images of the planets with prime focus webcams you can use a 2x ... 5x barlow lense (you may be able to use it on some nights with stable air and forget it on others...) Besides Mike's tip to use a well-aligned finder scope (which is hard to do) or make a parfocal combination of barlow+eyepiece / barlow+webcam (you will loose the planet in the small CCD FOV again when you change from EP to CCD) I prefer to use exactly what you describe as the problem: the very unfocussed large spread-out disc. Push 'gain' and 'brightness' close to maximum so that the screen gets bright and you will be able to see the large unfocussed disc. As you start to focus - the disc gets smaller and brighter - move the scope to center the disc and as soon as you're close to focus, readjust gain and brightness. This works fine for me with an ETX-125EC + 2x/3x barlow lense. Clear skies, Dieter
Subject: WebCam issue Date: 4/5/04, 15:55 From: Paul Davies (email@example.com) I've been using my ETX and webcam now for a few weeks, getting used to them. I'm finally starting to get some reasonable results. However one big issue still remains. Using the webcam (a ToUcam pro2) at prime focus in the camera port, I can locate the target with relative ease. This is fine for the moon, but the image scale is a bit small for the planets. For example, Jupiter shows about a half inch disk on the screen. What is the trick to obtaining a bigger image? I have a 3x barlow, that I have tried between the webcam and the 'scope, but the change in focus from inserting the barlow renders the image invisible! It is so out of focus that the image is spread out larger that the ccd chip, and too faint to see. On top of that, I have no guarantee that the target is even in the field of view. So I can't center the image as it is too unfocussed to see, but I can't focus it as it isn't in the field of view ....you see my dilemma? I'm sure there is a simple solution to this, but I can't see it!! Would I have better luck with a 2x barlow (I don't think the problem is the image magnification, so much as the focus change with and without the barlow) or would eyepiece projection be the solution? Many thanks in advance, for any light you could shed, and many thanks also for all your effort on your web site.. cheers Paul DaviesMike here: That's one of the challenges of astrophotography imaging! A well-aligned finderscope and a sturdy mount is really necessary. Try making a parfocal eyepiece (and eyepiece + Barlow Lens combination). Then use the eyepiece to check the centering and focusing; then replace the eyepiece with the webcam.
Subject: Web cams for the ETX user Date: 4/5/04, 07:43 From: KirbyWm@aol.com First, let me congratulate you on an excellent site. I enjoy my ETX 125, and I believe the craftsmanship is very good for the money. However, I am less sanguine about Meade's lack of solid technical/user's manual writing. For a while there, I was treading water with the new scope. Now I am having fun. Credit goes to your website, which possesses one of the rarest attributes found on the web -- useful information! I have printed out pretty much every technical article and piece of advice found on your site. I hope you keep up the good work. Recently, I started experimenting with web cameras and most especially with Meade's LPI camera. I have two bits of information other webcam folks might make use of. First, I know a lot of people out there use PDAs (such as Blackberry and Palm) and synch these devices with their computers. Please be aware that the synching software in these machines "grab" the RS 232 comm port that your webcam will most likely connect to. When you try to talk to your webcam through the port, Windows will give a "Cannot Open Comm Port" error -- not the most informative bit of info. If you see this exasperating error, don't panic. You must free up the comm port by logging off or otherwise shutting down the auto-synch function on your PDA's software. Second, Meade's LPI comes with a parfocal ring to adjust the focus via an eyepiece before switching to the webcam. If you wish to avoid long minutes of frustration, you need to make use of this most helpful device. Hope this will be of help. William S. Kirby firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Date: 4/5/04, 03:07 From: Bill Bruck (email@example.com) Last night, I tried to take my first pictures (of the moon) with my Meade ETX 90EC and a Canon Digital Rebel EOS. I used the Meade #64 T-Adapter for what I believe is the prime focus method. Unfortunately, I cannot focus the telescope/camera combination. I turned the focus control completely clockwise, and the moon started to come into focus, but the result was still blurry (see attached photo). Any hints? Bill B
Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing Subject Line.
When doing photography at Prime Focus you must remove the camera lens. I presume you did that. Have you tried both lengths of the Adapter? It is possible that not all cameras (due to their size) will be able to reach a focus.
And a confession:
1. I am a computer techie. It clearly says put in a subject line. I feel really stupid. 2. I am pretty mechanical. I never noticed that the damned thing comes apart. I feel really, really stupid. 3. You have the best site in the known world - your dedication and generosity is absolutely wonderful! 4. I just sent in a contribution for $50. All the best.Mike here: Thanks. We all miss various things at times. Pressures of the moment, expectations, or whatever, we usually can't all be perfect (even though we try)!
Subject: piggyback mount for ETX125 Date: 4/3/04, 19:18 From: Tommy Lim (firstname.lastname@example.org) is it very hard to build one? I have tried, but hard to get the parts....... Thanks anyway.... TommyMike here: There are several ideas on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page.
Subject: ETX-90 RA and 2X Converter Date: 4/2/04, 19:50 From: Thom Tapp (email@example.com) I've been reading your excellent site's information for the past few days and I am amazed at the depth it contains! Thanks for doing this! My question is this: I've read that some do astrophotography through their etx 90 using a Barlow lens. Why not just use a 2X converter or a 3X converter on your camera body instead? Wouldn't this provide a better quality image? I will be getting my ETX 90 RA in the mail next week, and I'm not sure which way I should go. Thanks! Thom TappMike here: If you have a 2X or 3X converter, definitely give it a try if you can still attach the camera to the telescope (unless you plan on handholding it).
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