Last updated: 30 March 2006

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

Subject:	Really newbie Astrophotography question
Sent:	Tuesday, March 28, 2006 21:57:03
From:	Ted Semon (
Last year, I bought my son an ETX-90 for his birthday and this year we
are going to venture into the realm of astrophotography.  I've never
done this before and so am reading up on it, on your site and at the
Meade site.  In reading about the Meade DSI, and looking at the videos
they provide, I see that the DSI connects directly to the telescope,
bypassing whatever eyepieces there are.  Questions:
	1.	Does this mean that all magnification is done electronically,
	rather than optically, or am I missing something really obvious?

	2.	What is the purpose of the Focal Reducers that Meade sells as
	DSI accessories?

	3.	What is the purpose of the Color filters on the DSI?
I'm sure these newbie questions are all answered somewhere, but I'm
darned if I can find it.  If you could point me to the "Ultra-beginners
starter tutorial", I'd be most grateful.
Thank you.
Ted Semon
 PS  I'm using your RSS news feed (with my FeedDemon News Reader) and it
 seems to work just fine!
Mike here: Imagers like the DSI are single magnification only. If you want to magnify the image the DSI "sees" you can use a Barlow Lens, just like you would with an eyepiece. A focal reducer (or a wide field adapter) is the opposite of a Barlow Lens, it reduces the magnification (by effectively reducing the telescope focal length). One of the DSI models is "black and white" only so the color filters allow colors to be captured, one image at a time. The images are then combined into a single color picture.


Thank you for your prompt reply, Mike.  I guess I'm just mystified as to
how people get pictures of the Deep-Sky images with an ETX-90, the
images that I find on your website.  It doesn't seem possible to me that
these galaxies can be visible without more magnification.

I guess I'm going to find out :)

Mike here: The camera resolution makes up for the small image (to some degree).
Subject:	etx 70 at
Sent:	Tuesday, March 28, 2006 14:07:08
Hi I appreciate any help you could give me. I have a sony f828 camera
and would like to find a low cost solution to take astrophotography.   
How do I connect my camera to the telescope?
Mike here: See the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page as well as the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography for LOTS of info. For low cost you can try one of the adapters that holds the camera over the eyepiece. However, be certain to read the reviews of those first.
Subject:	Re: Astrophotography
Sent:	Monday, March 20, 2006 00:31:44
Thanks for the reply.   Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand the
Schimdt Newtonian to be a rich field scope and good for deep sky
imaging. But to get it to do its job with planets and the Moon, what
esle do I need?

Thank You and Have A Nice Day!

Row Gordon Sylvester
Mike here: The SN is excellent for deep sky work but can also do planetary and lunar work; you just need higher power (shorter focal length) eyepieces (for visual work and/or a Barlow Lens (for visual as well as imaging).
Subject:	Astrophotography
Sent:	Thursday, March 16, 2006 02:06:03
From: (
I bought a basic 60mm scope some years back as a beginner and spent some
time on it.  I am now looking for something with more capability and I
am thinking about the Meade LXD75 8" SN coupled with the DSI Pro 2 CCD
imager and the ETX 125AT with the same imaging setup.

Based on your experience with the ETX/LXD55, I would like to know if the
scopes own motor drive is sufficient for decent beginner type imaging or
do I need autoguiding?  By beginner type imaging, i mean being able to
takes images of the key planets, lunar surfaces and the more common deep
sky objects.

From an aperture standpoint, do you see a clear distinction in image
quality between the ETX 125 and the LXD55/75 8" SN?   What I think is
about the trade off between portability of the ETX and light gathering
ability of the 8" SN.

Just would like to know your opinion.

Thank You and Have A Nice Day!

Row Gordon Sylvester
Mike here: Yes, you can take excellent images (with practice) using either of those telescopes. Autoguiding can help but isn't necessarily required but keep in mind that the ETX will need to be mounted in polar mode for that. As to a comparison, note that the SN is a short focal telescope compared to the ETX-125 so a direct comparison isn't possible but the larger aperture of the 8" will certainly allow more light to reach your eye/imager.
Subject:	solar eclipse photography with Meade ETX 125 EC astrotelescope
Sent:	Thursday, March 9, 2006 10:00:27
From:	neelima thatte (
I am an amateur astronomer from Pune (India). I am a child specialist by
profession; but interested in astronomy. I've done a bit of
astrophotography of constellations, meteors, transits,lunar phases etc.
I tried TSE photos for TSE 2001 from zambia using 500mm telephoto lens.

Now I am planning to do prime focus photography of TSE 29th march 2006
from Antalya(turkey) using my Meade ETX 125 EC which has a focal ratio
F15 and focal length 1900mm. Will you please guide me regarding the
exposure time for various phase of totality, film speed etc. Also is it
possible to cover full view of diamond ring including the scattering
rays? I am aware that it may not be possible to shoot outer corona thr'
it. What is the soution?

I humbly request you to kindly guide me in this matter.

Thanking you in anticipation,
Sincerely yours,
Dr. Mrs. Neelima Thatte
Kothrud, Pune (INDIA)
Mike here: Do lots of test exposures well before the day of the eclipse (like start now!). You will use the same exposure value for most of the partial phases. If your camera has an exposure meter, just use that. Otherwise, the exact shutter speed will depend upon the ISO rating of the film you use AND the type of solar filter you attach to the objective end of the ETX. For totality, you will probably not want to have the camera attached to the telescope as the field of view will be too narrow to get the full disk unless you have a focal reducer or wide field adapter of some sort attached to the telescope. For totality, take LOTS of exposures, bracketing by 1/3 or 1/2 f/ stops.


Thanks a million Sir for your valuable tips. I've already taken test
exposures with ISO400(kodak). The image size is just above 17mm leaving
about 4mm clearance on each side. Presently I'm using full aperture
mylar filter and I'm trying to get glass filter. I have made
arrangements for piggy back attachment as well. Also I'm practising with
an unloaded camera to take as many exposures as I can in 3 minutes with
different shutter speeds & have reached upto no. 30 so far.
Thanks once again
Dr. Neelima Thatte

Subject:	ETX-105 AstroPhoto Help
Sent:	Monday, March 6, 2006 21:07:23
From: (
I have a Meade ETX 105 on the way here after sending back my new meade
80at that was bad when I got it so I thought i would just go with a
bigger one, well to the point I know U are busy so I was wondering will
the 105 handle a Canon Rebel 650 piggyback ? also with it word ok with
it on the back of the 105? I heard there might be a problem with the
tracking, is this true? could I use a counter weight on the front to
handel the weight of the cam on the back, what do U think i sould do?
Also I am very new at all of this, I started just about a month ago with
a DS114 and then went to the 80 then to the 105, wasn't real happy with
the 80 it had a problem with the fosicing out out of the field of view,
you could see that the top that moves in and out would pull one way when
u turn the ithe fos. then the other way when u turn it the other way
everything would got out of the view. well forget the 80 and now I got a
105 on the way, so can U help out with this weight thing, I just want to
know if it will work or not,
Mike here: You shouldn't have any problem with piggyback photography; just keep in mind that you will need to use Polar mounting for that. You can also do photography through the rear port with the proper adapters, assuming the camera has a removable lens. I don't know how heavy the camera is but if you need to add a counterweight, see the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page for lots of info on counterweights. As for tracking, keep in mind that most telescopes will require some "assistance" with tracking during long duration exposures by manually correcting during the exposure. For piggyback just use a high power eyepiece and keep a bright star centered by using a slow slew speed on the Autostar. Minor tracking errors won't show up at the image scale of the camera with shorter focal length lenses.
Subject:	CCD Imaging Beginner
Sent:	Thursday, February 23, 2006 10:19:36
From:	John M. Urbanchuk (
I am becoming comfortable with my ETX 125PE and am considering taking a
run at astrophotography.  My digital camera (Canon Powershot S20) is
getting long in the tooth and it seems that the adapters and associated
gizmos would cost almost as much as a Meade DS (OK not quite, but you
get the idea).  I have been reading the postings on your website about
astrophotography and examining the equipment that submitters of photos
indicate they use.  Confusing to say the least!

Any thoughts on the DSI versus webcam (the Philips TouCam seems widely
used)?  I notice that you do not use the DSI.  What imaging equipment do
you use?

Mike here: I mostly use my Nikon D70 DSLR now. I have used an LPI and SAC IV imagers and other digital cameras. As to webcam vs DSI, that really depends upon your expertise. If you don't want to have to do a lot of post processing work yourself, get a DSI. There is a significant learning curve either way but the Autostar Suite software with the DSI will streamline a lot of the work for you.
Subject:	CCD Imaging Ignorance
Sent:	Sunday, February 19, 2006 14:57:28
From:	dennis sebranek (
I owned my last telescope 30 years ago and managed to take a few
accepable photos of the moon at prime focus with a Canon AE-1 camera and
a homemade camera bracket.  I am now getting back into astronomy and
know I will eventually want to take planetary and deep space images at
some point.  I will be getting a Meade LXD 75 8" Schmidt Cassegrain
soon, but I am COMPLETELY IGNORANT about taking self-guided CCD images. 
The web sites just add to the ignorance, there are so many different
products and accessories. What I'm asking is:  What do I need to get
started in CCD imaging, can the LXD 75 be self-guided, what do I need to
do that?  Can you give me some web sites/books that can take me through
this step by step?  Thanks, Dennis
Mike here: I suggest starting simple and get a Meade DSI or DSI II. That will do what you ask. But don't get me wrong, it is not that simple and certainly is NOT a simple imager. It is just that for the price vs performance, it gives the best results for Autostar telescopes.
Subject:	Astrophotography on my Mac?
Sent:	Saturday, February 18, 2006 11:35:41
From:	Kirk & Shannon Moberg (
I've been searching the internet for a long time trying to find out
whether it's possible to do astrophotography on a Mac or not.  I finally
found your website...thank God!  Could you tell me what my options are? 
I want to get a more powerful camera, not an LPI or a modified webcam,
but I'm also on a budget.  I was thinking about a Meade DSI or DSI Pro
or a SAC 7, or the Orion StarShoot Deep Space.  As far as I can tell
Meade doesn't support Mac very well, I can't find any information on the
Orion StarShoot, and SAC seems like it supports Mac in some cases but
not others (and it doesn't help that the SAC 7 is discontinued).  Is
there any separate software by other companies that would enable me to
use a CCD camera with my Mac?


Justin Moberg
Mike here: I believe that SBIG has Mac OS X drivers for their imagers. There is also Keith's Imager which works some some imagers but I haven't really used it. Of course, you can start with a digital camera and grow from there. There are applications for stacking images like Keith's Imager Stacker and Lynkeos (which I use now).
Subject:	Saturn raw frames - some tips
Sent:	Monday, February 13, 2006 07:54:45
From: (
If you have one average avi under average seeing conditions you may be
able to extract 100 'reasonable good shots'. Optimizing this summary
ALWAYS demands a lot of compromise (do it harder and get more details
and it looks 'overtuned'; do it softer and you loose details)  But if
you have over 8000 frames and more than one third of them is really
excellent you have a bunch to work with. Use one part of them for
details, another one for colors, a third one for dark areas, a fourth
one for bright parts, one for smooth looking, one for...and adjust the
layers until you're satisfied.

My 'normal' way in planetary imaging (I'm not familiar enough with
Registax) is:
- record avi with PHILIPS tool 
- align and stack frames with K3CCD tools (using 2x magnification) and
do first post-processing (set dark and white, adjust colors, do a slight
- use .bmp until final image 
- adjust RGB position in Giotto 
- remove noise with Neat Image 
- stronger sharpening / filtering in Giotto 
- working with layers and color / brightness in PaintShop pro 
- remove final noise and crop to about 70% and save final .jpg 

Please find attached two accidental frames out of two different avi's, a
500 out of 1200 frames summary of a third avi and a quick and dirty
processed final of this summary (because I already removed my
intermediate steps)


Dieter (Munich, Germany) 

Subject:	proper balance
Sent:	Saturday, February 11, 2006 22:11:33
From:	Ben (
I have fashoned a weight set for my ETX105 PE but now I'm not sure
exactly how to balance. I have just started to use polar mode. While in
polar mode when trying to image im still getting streaks after cal
motors and train drives. what is a good procedure for balancing the ETX?
And at what angle should the scope be balanced? when the OTA is level or
when it is near the angle that I will be imaging at? There is quite a
bit of weight hanging off the back side, I am using a Nikon CP995 with a
scopetronix 14mm wide angle eye piece. While I polar align (using easy
align method) should I have the weights on if the camera is not on (so i
can see through the eye piece) or does that matter at all also?

Thank for all your help as always!,
                                                   Ben V.
                                                   Miami, FL
Mike here: The streaks you see could be due to three factors, either individually or in combination. Yes, balance can cause it IF the OTA is slipping during tracking. That would typically be evident as breaks or lumpiness in the streaks. If the streaks are smooth then either the polar alignment was not accurate OR the Polar axis is not precisely parallel to the Earth's rotational axis. As balancing, with the axes unlocked when you put the OTA/camera system at some orientation there should be no movement of the system. It just stays where you put it. And yes, the position of the counterweight is position dependent.
Subject:	how long
Sent:	Thursday, February 2, 2006 07:43:59
From:	Simon Parsons (
when using a fixed tripod exposure at the london lattitude iam able to
take sharp shots of the stars at 25 seconds facing north. if i shoot the
same looking south they trail.

iam going on hoilday to iceland and also wish to take night shots. will
i be able to take the shots at longer exposure times because iam further
north (whilst shhoting every direction).

look forward to your reply
simon parsons
Mike here: Your message was originally classified as SPAM and deleted UNREAD due to the ambiguous subject line. Please read the Email Etiquette on the ETX Site Home Page. Thanks for understanding.
As to the amount of trailing, this are two factors at work: image scale and the distance of the stars from the celestial poles. Your location has nothing to do with it. For example, put yourself (or your camera) at the pole and point straight. Stars nearly overhead will trail very little but stars near the horizon will have longer trails (because they have to "travel" a longer distance in the sky in the same period of time). Now put yourself (or your camera) at the equator and point the camera towards a pole. Stars near the pole will trail very little but stars overhead will trail a lot (for the same reason as when you were at the pole).
Subject:	Scopetronix Maxview 40
Sent:	Saturday, January 28, 2006 14:33:17
From:	Daniel Hackstedt (
I was thinking about getting into Astrophotography, but dont really know
what adapters to buy, there are too many.

I have a ETX 125 and a Canon Powershot S50, and a Canon 10D. I would
like to be able to perform planetary and lunar imaging as well as
capturing nebulas.

The Scopetronix Maxview 40 and Canon S50 Adapter Kit came to my


What do you think about that? Will the magnification be high enough for
planetary imaging? Should I get other Scopetronix eyepieces with the
Canon S50 Adapter Kit? What adapter/eyepiece do you recommend?

Mike here: The Scopetronix MaxView is a fine adapter. You can see my review of their MaxView II on the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography page. As to their eyepieces, there are reviews on the Accessory Reviews: Eyepieces page. Keep in mind that eyepiece projection astrophotography requires a steady mount and no vibration from any source.
Subject:	Astrophotography
Sent:	Tuesday, January 17, 2006 10:01:06
From:	Tony DeLuca (
I have a small etx 60 mm Meade scope and was hoping to take image's of
the Moon with my new Lumix FZ30 Camera. I found this thing on Orion and
was wondering if you feel it's worth the investment. The FZ30 is a
fairly big camera and I want to be sure the little etx can support this
hanging onto the eyepiece. Do you have any photo I can see shot through
the eyepiece of a scope? Thanks for your help.....

All Good Wishes,
Tony DeLuca

Mike here: This is essentially the same as the Scopetronix "Digital Camera Adapter" that I discuss on the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography page. It has the same capabilities and limitations.
Subject:	ETX 105PE Balance
Sent:	Wednesday, January 11, 2006 17:13:46
From:	Ben (
I was wondering what techniques I could use to balance my ETX 105PE when
I attach my Nikon CP 995 with the Scopetronix adaptor eye piece. I would
appreciate any advice, thanks again Mike!
Take care,
                 Ben V.
                 Miami, FL
Mike here: See the counterweight articles on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Subject:	Focal Reducer and Nikon 995 Question
Sent:	Saturday, January 7, 2006 20:18:39
From:	Luis Villa (
I will be buying a Focal Reducer, and most likely from Scopetronix, but
I am still confused!!

This is what I am confused with.. I found this on the Scopetronix Web
Site,   "The Field Doubler is designed to allow for a wider field
imaging; it is not designed for visual use and the scope will not reach
focus if a diagonal is inserted into it."  I have an ETX-125, and
perhaps I am the only one that is confused or lots of other people are,
but just do not admit it!!...

OK, so how do I focus?  Using the flip mirror?  Using the computer?  IF
it will work with the DSI, or my LPI, and my ToUcam, why won't it work
with my Nikon 995?  I would prefer using my 995 over the LPI or the
ToUcam--the 995 CCD is much more light sensitive than the others...
(except perhaps the DSI, which I don't own.)

I have e-mailed not only Scopetronix, but also other vendors, and all
say the same thing, the focal reducers will NOT work with the 995 and I
can't insert an eyepiece....
So how do I focus????
Hope either you or site visitors can help...
Mike here: From the description and what Scopetronix has said, it appears that their Focal Reducer is not designed for use with eyepieces. It does accept 1.25" accessories like the LPI so while it would accept an eyepiece, the focal plane from the Focal Reducer may be where an eyepiece can't focus on it. With the Coolpix (and other non-removable lens cameras) you have to do afocal photography using an eyepiece. And since you can't focus the eyepiece you can't do afocal photography.

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