Last updated: 28 February 2005

This page documents astrophotography comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome. Be certain to see the other articles on the main Astrophotography page.

Subject:	ETX- 125 and home made balancing and piggyback
Sent:	Sunday, February 27, 2005 06:56:27
From:	phil (
I would like to thanks you for this site, hoe is very helpfull for me
and Maede users, sure.

I use this ETX-125 since one year, and use a Canon 300 eos for astro
photos. I have been front off find a solution for the weight balancing
and the piggyback of this EOS.

So it's just finish, and have to test life.... regards, phil

Subject:	Re: Saturn photo's 
Sent:	Thursday, February 24, 2005 09:04:17
From:	james muscroft (
Here is a photo of saturn through my etx60 with 2x barlow and 9mm lens,
taken with my cannon digital camera.

There is also a copy of the same photo but i have used adobe photoshop and used the auto levels function. When using the auto levels function it shows many small white dots. Are these stars which are not visable on the origional ? Also there are two blue dots in the edited image and i was wondering if these were likely to be saturns moons.
Do you have any tips for getting clearer better pictures through my etx60? many thanks James Muscroft Astrology newbie Yorkshire (UK)
Mike here: The dots are "noise" in the camera's imager. It is unavoidable with most digital cameras when there is a lot of black and you use long exposures and/or a high ISO setting. The blurring in the original image looks to be due to camera motion. Did you hand hold the camera over the eyepiece? If so, you might want to look into one of the camera adapters discussed on the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography page. For many more tips, see the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Subject:	counterbalance query etx90
Sent:	Wednesday, February 23, 2005 07:03:21
From:	Helen Lindsell (
I was just wondering if there is a maximum amount of 'weight' you can
attach to the back of an etx before you would need to use a counter
balance system.

The 'weight' being a DSI and a Scopetronix Field Doubler, though I am
hoping to add a illuminated reticle and an off axis guider at some point

And are there any counterbalance system you would recommend?

Many Thanks

Mike here: I haven't heard of any exact measurements but if the OTA "sags" (slips) or tracking is not smooth with those items attached then you definitely need to add a counterweight. Keep in mind that you still want the locks only "finger tight". As to systems, there are several discussed on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Subject:	Meade ETX 125 tracking
Sent:	Monday, February 21, 2005 14:33:01
From:	Jun Lao (
I bought a Meade ETX 125 more than a year ago, and love its portability
and auto control. I usually go the point and move way, but want to be
able to do some longer exposure piggyback photography, using the ETX as
my base.  The Meade instruction manual is not particularly helpful. 
Would you know of more detailed resources on how I can use the drive
system to more accurately track the sky so I can take longer exposure


Mike here: For piggyback astrophotography you can manually track a "guide star" using a high power eyepiece in the ETX. Use a slow slewing speed. At small image scales for piggyback astrophotography, slight errors in tracking will not be noticeable. You will need to polar mount the ETX however to avoid "field rotation".


For piggyback photography, can I just use the alt-az mount and then just
use the Sky Sensor to give me rough tracking?  I have an illuminated
reticle eyepiece I can use to track a guide star.

On the point of polar alignment and tracking, that's where the Meade
instruction manual is bad - not enough detail to be helpful, but just
enough to be confusing. Can you recommend material that explains better
how to use the wedge to polar align the scope?  I have the Meade ETX
field tripod.


Mike here: Depending upon the FOV of the camera and the length of the exposure, you can get away with Alt/Az mounting. Whether the resulting field rotation will be noticeable will depend upon those. As to setting up in Polar Mode, see the article "Polar Home Position w/Graphic" on the Helpful Information: Autostar Info page. There are some other Polar alignment tips there as well.
Subject:	Star pics Interesting Web Site
Sent:	Monday, February 14, 2005 00:00:41
From:	Tony Bulat (
I received the following note from my brother tonight. I thought you
might find this interesting if you didn't know about it already. It
would floor me to catch you off guard. Anyway, the web site is:

I would love to participate in something like this, but I don't have
Adobe PhotoShop CS yet, even thought versions 3-7 would do according to
what they have to say. Seems like you have to have an awful lot of spare
time on your hands to fool around with this program and so forth, but
maybe it'd be fun one time. The price is right if you already have
PhotoShop. Just thought you might like to know. Clear skies old jet


brothers comments:
    I was just reading Popular Science when I came across an article
that I thought you might be interested in.  The title was "How to
Photoshop the Universe".

In it they had a star pic by an amateur astronomer named Danny LaCrue. 
He had stitched together a bunch of photos (16 to be exact) from the
Hubble's online archive.  After 60 hours he had created a 200 MbB image
of the Tarantula Nebula.  Besides the photo, the interesting item was
the last paragraph:

    "The key to LaCrue's pro-quality beauty shot is a free software
plug-in from the European Space Agency's Hubble information Center that
converts bulky professional files to a user friendly format.  Now anyone
with a desktop computer, a broadband connection and Adobe Photoshop can
turn raw Hubble data into a digital masterpiece.  To download the
software, visit:"

Subject:	Your M42 at Mike Weasner's site
Sent:	Wednesday, February 9, 2005 07:26:14
From: (
To:	John Haunton
Hello John,

beautiful picture you did with your ETX-90 and Canon EOS 20D (a great

You asked how to improve your picture.

The normal way would be to use a good tool like Adobe Photoshop (the
best in my opinion) or Jasc Software PaintShop pro (less expensive and
good too; I use it) or others and try to:
- stretch Histogramm (try to use all light you gathered)
- adjust colors (which way you like it personally; there is no right or
wrong; equalize different color sensitivity of the chip)
- do a light unsharp masking to improve small details and stars
- try to remove some noise without loosing details

I did that a quick and dirty way with your picture (hope you don't mind)
and this is the example result. You see the 'wings' of M42 and M43
begins to be a nebulosity.

The next step would be: - try to combine short exposures (for the bright inner part of the nebula) together with long exposures for the weaker outer parts (combine them either via separate layers or by calculations, adding / subtracting / etc.) - try to mask some parts of the picture and work with only these parts or vice-versa (the rest of the picture) - try to increase or decrease the size of the picture until it 'looks nice' If you want to spend more time you can first of all separate the picture into the color and luminosity channels and do all the work for each channel separately... I - personally - don't want to spend more than half an hour for 'finetuning' but I know colleagues - e.g. Job Geheniau - who sometimes work for hours (and even days!) until they are satisfied with their - excellent -work. Finally there are some good articles on the web - e.g. at (in German) - and many others. Enjoy your hobby, Dieter (Munich, Germany)

Subject:	Help processing ETX photos w/Registax
Sent:	Tuesday, February 8, 2005 06:14:27
From:	David Blythe (
Have you heard of any tutorials or user's guides for using Registax
software to process astro photos and videos?  The help files in the
program are pretty sketchy and seem to assume I already know the
background on what it's doing (which I don't - what the heck is wavelet
processing?).  I need a "Registax for Dummies".  My attempts at using
Registax have been dismal failures, but almost all the digital
astrophotos I see have been processed with it with amazing results.  Any
Mike here: There are a couple of items on Registax listed on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	How to use the ScopeTronix Field Doubler and Visual Back 
Sent:	Saturday, January 22, 2005 02:45:19
From:	Stephen Bird (
Reference use of the Scopetronix field doubler and visual back.

Both these items fix to the viewing port on the back of the ETX. Unscrew
the cover, and screw on either the field doubler or the visual back.
This then gives you a 1.25" eyepiece fitting to attach the camera, much
the same as you would when attaching the camera to the eyepiece port on
the top of the scope. Focussing is the same, except that the field
doubler is designed purely for photography so you may not achieve focus
if you use an eyepiece rather than a camera with it.

The field doubler does what it says on the box, doubles the field of
view, compared to the visual back which is just a straight through 1.25"
to ETX port adaptor.

Things to look out for are:

Clearance - with the field doubler or visual back plus a camera attached
to the back of the scope, you will not be able to reach the same range
of declination / altitude as before, especially if you are not working
in polar mode. Ensure you check the range of dec / alt before the nights

Weight - Since you are hanging a lot of weight (the camera) off the back
of the ETX, it can upset balance and affect the dec drive efficiency. It
might be an idea if you experience or are worried about problems, to fit
some balance weights to the scope. you can buy these accessories from
the same place you purchased the Scopetronix field Doubler and Visual

Camera shutter control - you will need a remote shutter control, as with
the extra weight on the back of the ETX, it does not take much to induce
"the shakes" and even upset good polar alignment.

Hope this helps.
Stephen Bird
From:	Thava Kumar (
I have one last question. I have a Nicon Coolpix 5000 and I would like
to know if I will be able to utilize the Scopetronix field doubler or
the visual back with this camera in order to get a wider field of view.

Mike here: I have no experience with that combination so can't say directly but the field doubler will increase the FOV.



Sounds like you are confused over which of the two items increases the
field of view? I have both these Scopetronix items, and I know they come
without instructions and look identical with the exception that the
field doubler has a lens inside it and the visual back is just a stright
through tube.

The field doubler does what it says on the box, doubles the field of
view, the visual back is merely an adaptor to connect 1.25" items to the
straight through port on the back of the ETX.

So with your camera connected to the field doubler you will get pictures
with twice the field of view that you will get if you use the visual
back. As with all these things put it together in daylight and take some
daylight pictures of the same subject with both the field doubler and
the visual back and compare the pictures to see what you get and check
out any limitations before you try things again at night time.


Stephen Bird
Hi Stephen,
Thank you for your suggestion. I will try that.

And more:
Do you think that it will work with a a digital camera ?

Mike here: Depending on the digital camera, you will need the right type of adapter to mate the camera to the telescope. However, to be used either of these accessories, the camera must have a removable lens. Otherwise you must use an eyepiece and project the image into the camera lens. If the camera has a removable lens, with the visual back the telescope acts just like a long telephoto lens.
Subject:	Re: Saturn images
Sent:	Thursday, January 20, 2005 14:24:34
From:	BT Internet (
I have a question if I may: Others using the ETX125 seem to achieve much
greater detail in their images than myself, some of them are simply
fantastic. I'm guessing that in order to do this, I must collect and
stack many more images?

Thanks again,

Clint Gouveia
Mike here: That's a commonly used technique.
Subject:	sorry to bother you again.
Sent:	Wednesday, January 12, 2005 16:40:48
From:	Tom Mesquitta (
i have a couple of questions reguarding astrophotography.

First and foremost, can i photograph the sky in winter? I ask this
because surely a laptop would be at great risk to dew, and I have not
seen any special boxes or dew heaters for a laptop. I would hate to
tempt fate otherwise with a 15 inch powerbook G4 (being a mac user i'm
sure you will understand).

Secondly I am confused on the advantages of an ETX-125 over an ETX-90 or
even ETX-70. Judging by the 3 images
( by N
Mukkavilli using an ETX-70, in comparison to the image
using an ETX-125. I understand that they are two different objects, but
the quality difference is amazing. This is then further reinforced when
comparing the above image by MATTUSMC using an ETX-125, to Job Geheniau
(image two up on the same page) using an ETX-90. I expect camera skills
as well as photoshop skills had a big part to play, but the difference
in size and resolution is too great to manipulate in photoshop. I am
very confused.

Many thanks once again,
Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Home Page; your message was originally UNREAD as SPAM due to the non-specific subject line. Thanks for understanding.
See my comments on the ETX-70 on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page. I supply some simple images that show the main, non-processed, differences. So, yes, skill, patience, and time can do wonders when processing images. So can the imaging equipment. Yes, you can do astrophotography in the winter but of course, dew isn't just a winter thing as it can happen anytime the conditions are right. But would I take my Mac out in sub-zero weather and leave it there for hours? NO WAY!
Subject:	How to use the ScopeTronix Field Doubler and Visual Back on my EXT125
Sent:	Monday, January 10, 2005 23:23:03
From:	Thava Kumar (
I have a ETX125 and I just purchased the the Scop Tronix Field Doubler.
I would like to know how do I configure it in order to take pictures
with my Nicon Coolpix 5000. How can I configure it to get the maximum
field of view? Is prime focus photography the best for astrophotography
on the EXT125? I am contemplating to get a Off-Axis Guider for my ETX
125, would you recommend the Meade #777 Off-Axis Guider ? If not, please
advise what I should get. I am very interested in doing extended
exposure photography of deep sky objects and I have already got the
necessary mount for my ETX125. Now all I need is advice on the optics.

I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

Mike here: I have no experience with the Scopetronix Field Doubler. As to the Off-Axis Guider, this will require a SCT adapter (see the Accessory Reviews: Miscellaneous page) but it may not reach a proper focus with the ETX. Also, weight and interference from the fork arms could be a problem in some orientations.


Thank you for your feedback. I look forward to the feedback from others.


Subject:	Camera Info
Sent:	Thursday, January 6, 2005 14:19:55
From:	Tom Connors (
Great information you have gathered here, thank you!  Most of the
digital camera info hasn't been updated in a while, and I was wondering
if you had any thoughts on what the best cameras are for Astrophography
these days.  I know the Nikon CP line that you've recommended is getting
old, just wondering if any of the new cameras will work out.

I ordered a Meade ETX-90 to get my feet wet in this hobby.  I have a
Dimage Z1 that I'm pretty sure won't work well, so looking for something
better (without doing DSLR).  I've seen a couple small Kyocera/Contax
cameras getting praise at a bird digiscoping forum, but that may not
mean good astro shots.  The CP4500 seems to get a lot of hype, but there
must be something newer (5mp, lower noise, faster).  Thoughts?  If not
I'll probably go for a used CP4500.

Mike here: Good question! I know the Olympus models (DSLR) were getting some positive comments on the Net.

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