Last updated: 22 June 2007
This page documents astrophotography comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome. Be certain to see the other articles on the main Astrophotography page.
Subject: Off-Axis guider + CCD Sent: Friday, June 22, 2007 08:29:19 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Is it possible to attach a CCD camera to the Meade off-axis guider? My DSI won't attach because the camera end doesn't seem to be for CCD - it is only threaded for normal cameras. Know of any adapters? Ideas? regards, Noah BlaserMike here: The OAG uses a T-Ring style adapter to attach the camera. You would need a T-Ring type with a 1.25" eyepiece tube. I haven't looked for such an adapter but I would think they exist.
Subject: Focusing with DG-2 Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 14:12:47 From: Tom Collins (TomC@homeimprovementking.com) I have had similar difficulties getting sharp focus while doing prime photography with my DSLR camera. Have you tried focusing with a Hartmann mask? Do you know if a Hartmann mask aids in fine focusing or only gets you close? I was hoping to make a mask and give it a try.Mike here: I didn't think to try it with my Hartmann Mask but I have found the Mask only moderately useful in the past.
Subject: Help With Astrophotography using ETX 125Pe And Philips toUCam Pro II Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 06:16:27 From: Simon Cowley (firstname.lastname@example.org) First of all I have found your website very useful. I am trying to take pictures of Jupiter and Saturn using the Philips toUcam Pro II. Unfortunately with little success. With jupiter it was just a big blurry disc with a yellow haze. Now could this be a focal length problem.. Using a 2x Barlow lens which only gives me a focal length of 3800mm. I'm assuming I need between 4000 and 6000? Is this correct and is this where i'm going wrong. I'll buy a 5x Barlow if need be.. Any help will be much appreciated Mike. Kind Regards SimonMike here: It almost sounds like you are overexposing the image. Set the software for shorter exposures. Before going with the Barlow Lens I suggest just imaging without it. Adding the extra magnification, while reducing the exposure and enlarging the image, adds focus and tracking complications.
Subject: Meade ETX 125 Load Bearing Capability Sent: Wednesday, May 2, 2007 05:16:28 From: JoelS551@aol.com (JoelS551@aol.com) Recently purchased a ETX 125. Love it! I also bought a piggyback adapter from JMI. In the instructions from JMI, they cautioned against using lens longer than 80mm because of weight. However in your book I see several pictures that obviously have much more weight than SLR with 80mm. How much weight can I put on the scope without damaging the drives and gears? I would like to use my Canon 5D with 100-400L zoom. Together they weigh about 8 pounds. Thanks. JoelMike here: Wow that is a heavy camera/lens combination. I have used my Pentax Spotmatic plus telephoto lens and Nikon D70 with the 18-70mm and the 50-200mm lenses piggybacked (separately) on my ETX-90RA without any problems. If you find that the weight is too much, adding a counterweight system could help; lots of tips on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Thanks for the response. I had just bought the book and had only scanned the pictures. Now that I have read it I understand there is a limit. However your experience has helped me a lot. Yes the 100-400L zoom is a very heavy lens. I think I might be able to use it only in alt-az mount. Do you anticipate an updated version of the book? There seems to be a lot of newer info that I would like to see included. Thanks again JoelMike here: Yes, there are new models and new techniques and new accessories and so little time...
Subject: Off Axis Guider for the ETX Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 16:19:24 From: Tom Collins (TomC@homeimprovementking.com) Is there an off axis guider suitable for use with an ETX-125? If so, how difficult is it to make corrections to the tracking using the hand controller? Will this require an adapter to go from the thread size on the back of the ETX to the SCT threads? And finally, does it make sense to use this setup on an ETX-125 or is this for larger aperture scopes?Mike here: There is no Off-Axis Guider designed for the ETX. However, you could use the Meade #777 Off-Axis Guider (http://www.weasner.com/lxd/reviews/2007/777oag.html) but then you would also need a SCT Accessory Adapter (such as discussed on the Accessory Reviews: Miscellaneous page). I haven't been able to test my OAG on the ETX as I have not been able to locate my SCT Accessory Adapter! However, as I mentioned on the 21 April update to the Helpful Information: Astrophotography: Astrophotography Tips page, you would likely need to add a counterweight system to balance all that weight at the rear. You can make corrections using the hand controller.
Subject: ccd cameras Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 18:03:14 From: GARY WADE (GARYCW@SHAW.CA) Could you recomend a ccd system or a dslr camera for astro photos with a etx 125 Thanks For Your Input Gary WadeMike here: You can spend <$100 or >$4000 or anyplace inbetween. I suggest looking through the items on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page to see where your interests are. Digital cameras can work wonders as can webcams. And there are the SAC and Meade (and Celestron) imagers. Then there are the high end imagers as well. The LPI and DSI imagers from Meade include some pretty impressive image processing software.
Subject: ETX125PE and Off-axis guider Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 09:29:12 From: User721401@aol.com (User721401@aol.com) I am looking at an off-axis guider (the Meade #777). I searched on your sight and found reviews using the Meade LX series..I did find something about the Meade #777 and the ETX, but if I read it correctly, it sounded like the ETX125PE could not handle the weight. I am wondering if the 125PE can handle the weight of the off axis guider and the nikon D70. Thanks DanMike here: I haven't tried mine on the ETX. First you would need an SCT Accessory adapter and then likely a counterweight system to balance all that weight at the rear.
Subject: USB Active Extension Cable by Aucoin, Richard ((G.)) (email@example.com) Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 07:03:18 From: Kim Miau Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) The other one is this, http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeed81b/usb_cables.html The content is exactly the same. Regards. -- -Robin Lee My Astronomy Blog- www.AstronomyNotes.net
Subject: USB active extension cables Sent: Tuesday, March 6, 2007 05:58:04 From: Aucoin, Richard ((G.)) (email@example.com) Not sure if anyone seen this yet. Seems like the solution of getting a decent run of USB cable to the imagers without signal degradation. Check out the link and see what you think of article. Rick www.njnightsky.com/nuke/html/modules.php?name=MReviews&op=show&ri d=45
Subject: Lunar eclipse 3-4/03/2007 with Meade DSI + ETX125PE Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 03:19:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Lunar eclipse 3-4/03/2007 with Meade DSI + ETX125PE Thanks for let me know your point of view and advice about my actual challenge, I finally think impossible; even with the Mogg Reductor, I have problems with the field of vision to track the WHOLE Moon with my Meade ETX125PE + DSI or WebCam TouCam Pro + Mogg reductor. Thanks for your help Regards Jeanine, 73 this month, 3825'N, 024' WMike here: I don't have a DSI but I suspect that the long focal length of the ETX-125 would prevent you from getting a full moon image at the focal plane with the DSI (or even the webcam). Depending on the amount of reduction with the focal reducer, you may still not be able to do it. Sometimes a shorter focal length telescope comes in handy!
Subject: Unsteady photos Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2007 12:11:52 From: Jerry (firstname.lastname@example.org) Can you help again, I have a DS 2102AT-TC refractor scope with autostar #497 which I have coupled together with my Canon 30d DSLR camera. I can manage to get superb lunar shots, but when trying for things like saturn, Pleadies or the great Orion nebular I try to shutter expose for 15-30 secs, but I am getting star streaks even when tracking with autostar. Is there any way of overcoming this? Hoping you can help. PS Saving for the LXD75-8"SC as recommended by yourself. JerryMike here: The AutoStar doesn't track that accurately for unguided exposures. Also, in Alt/Az mode you will get "field rotation" for longer exposures. But what I suspect you are seeing in your current exposures is image vibration from movement of the mirror as it moves. This movement will cause the telescope to vibrate. You can avoid that motion by using the "hat trick" method; hold something (like a hat or other light obstructing device) in front of the telescope aperture, release the camera's shutter (requires a Bulb setting mode), wait a few seconds for vibrations to dampen out, flip the cover out of the way, and then bring it back over the aperture to end the exposure, and release the shutter. With practice you can get consistent exposures under a second. Of course, this method is better suited for longer exposures. Note: you will need a manual release method for the shutter (my Nikon DSLR has a wireless remote). Touching the telescope is OK but only if you press the shutter to open it in Bulb mode and then press it again to close it.
Subject: Lunar imager or dsi for etx90 Sent: Saturday, February 3, 2007 18:22:35 From: WAFFL (email@example.com) Hi Mike, love the site! I own an etx90 ec and would like to get some photos of the upcoming lunar eclipse in March. I wanted to know if I should spend the extra money for the Deep Space Imager or just get the Lunar imager. Is the ETX90 capable of taking advantage of the DSI? ...or am I wasting my money. Thanks for your input Mike WagnerMike here: The DSI can image successfully with the ETX-90. Just keep in mind that you will need to gain some experience with it to get the most out of it. Also, you will need a #497 AutoStar for either the LPI or the DSI. For the DSI you really need a Windows computer with USB 2.0. If you have only USB 1.1 then the LPI may be the better choice unless you plan to upgrade the computer.
Subject: Astrophotography image processing Sent: Monday, January 29, 2007 23:03:41 From: Steven Abba (firstname.lastname@example.org) This may sound like a stupid question, but I have to ask. If I take 10 - 15 sec. exposures and stack them, wouldn't it be the same as taking 1 - 15 sec. exposure and making 10 copies? It would be easier to stack. Thanks again, Steven AbbaMike here: Yes and no. You add up the "signal" but you also add up the "noise". With different images you add up the signal and tend to cancel out the noise.
Subject: ete 125 and a small refractor piggybacked? Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2007 08:19:35 From: Stephen Olson (email@example.com) I really love your site. I am on it daily! I currently have a meade etx125PE. I love it, but would really like to get into taking pics. I got the DSI2 color, and I dont think the 125 really works well with it. I was hoping to piggyback another telescope with the 125. I really dont want to buy another scope and mount. Is it possible to piggyback a small refractor? If so what would be the limits? Any ideas? Hope your having a great weekend! thanks again, SteveMike here: I have piggybacked my PST on my ETX-90RA (http://www.weasner.com/etx/reviews/2004/images/pst7.jpg). That works great. I piggybacked an ETX-90 on an ETX-90 (http://www.weasner.com/etx/astrophotography/gallery.html#dualetx) and that didn't work out so great. But a small refractor on the ETX-125 could work out better. You could use Losmandy tubes or for a simpler but effective solution, use a piggyback camera adapter on the ETX-125. The only issues you will have either way are weight and balance. You could make a counterweight system (see the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page for lots of tips on them).
what are Losmandy tubes? this is what one of the guys in the meade dsi yahoo group reccommended http://www.williamoptics.com/prod_tel/zs66/features0.htm think its safe? Also what else would I need to get it setup? Sorry for all the questions.Mike here: Losmandy: http://www.losmandy.com/secondary.html. The weight isn't bad. But you will need a way to mount it on the ETX, hence some rings, both on the ETX and on the refractor. You do realize that the costs are going way up to reach your goal... For two other sources of rings, see the Astronomy Links page.
Subject: Horsehead nebula with ETX-125 Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 09:36:38 From: Harri Hytnen (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have been wondering, could it be possible to picture Horsehead nebula with ETX-125 in prime focus. Last night I tried this experiment and it really seems possible. At lest from the technical point of view. http://www.geocities.com/harri.hytonen/IC-434.htm BR, HarriMike here: From a dark site and with sufficient exposure time (or number of exposures if stacking images) there is no reason that the ETX can not capture the Horsehead nebula. If doing a single long exposure the difficulty will be tracking accuracy and field rotation (unless you mount in polar mode).
Subject: Re: ETX 70 AT Sent: Sunday, January 7, 2007 03:24:53 From: jkdfjsks sfsfsdds (email@example.com) Dear Mr. Weasner. I have a ETX 70 AT. I all so have a DSI and a LPI. I want to take photos with DSI and use LPI as a guider via autostar suite. Which is the instrument that i need for that job ? An off axis guider ? I need the exact model. Many many thanks Stelios AmbazidisMike here: You need another telescope. The ETX-70 won't handle the weight of an off-axis guider with both the LPI and DSI attached. Plus, if you want to use the AutoStar Suite you will need a #497 AutoStar, not the #494 that is standard with the ETX-70. I've not heard of anyone using the LPI/DSI combination with an off-axis guider but it sounds like an interesting idea.
Subject: Soory Sent: Friday, January 5, 2007 16:56:14 From: rbwhite (firstname.lastname@example.org) I'm sorry to ask what is probably a dumb question. If one can't be sure that a camera attached by adaptor to the port at the bottom of the tube is in focus, then what is the point of having that feature, and the ability to switch the mirror out of the way? Regards, RBWMike here: SLR cameras CAN be sure (or reasonably sure) that the image is in focus. Also, the port has other uses as well. Keep in mind that before there were digital cameras and digital imagers, there was film. And not all film imagers had viewfinders. So, tests (or mounted, then unmounted viewfinders) had to be used. We got it easy now days!
Subject: RE: Is Compressed RAW (new Nikon D40 NEF format) OK for astrophotography Sent: Friday, January 5, 2007 01:29:48 From: Tom Hanson (Tom.Hanson@sapphire.net) thanks for your reply. I'm not daunted by the extra processing needed for raw, I just wondered if the compressed NEF format on the D40 gave as good results as the uncompressed NEF on the D70 and D50. Do you know of anyone who's tried the D40? many thanks, and a great site by the way! regards TomMike here: Don't know of any D40 users but there is a review at the Digital Camera resource page (http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/nikon/d40-review/index.shtml). A great site.
Subject: Is Compressed RAW (new Nikon D40 NEF format) OK for astrophotography Sent: Thursday, January 4, 2007 07:22:16 From: Tom Hanson (Tom.Hanson@sapphire.net) I own an ETX125 and am contemplating buying and piggybacking the new mikon D40. Can you answer whether the NEF format is ok. Compressed Raw almost seems a contraction in words, and a friend of mine said I must stick to RAW format to avoid detail loss when compression occurs (for Jpeg etc). thanks regards TomMike here: People have been using JPEG for years for astrophotography so the loss of data has been tolerated by most people. I've been using Raw with my D70 for over a year. Your choice whether you want to deal with the requirements of using Raw or start with the easier to use JPEG format.
Subject: Re: Using DSX90 on a mountaintop?Thanks Mike! Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 09:43:23 From: Andy Horanic (email@example.com) Thank you for you speedy reply- I will go read in your webpage as you mentioned. Hope to leave in about 2 months or less. Have you ever photographed Aurora yourself? I notice Optics Planet has sale on Meade video cameras for 100 dollars- wonder if these will work? Have you ever made spectrum displays? Is it possible to measure Doppler shifts from these? Do you have a Mac laptop? What's your advice on the type of Mac computer(laptop) to do the editing? The sky above is often referred to has the Heavens, our eyes are NEVER good enough when looking up...perhaps this is telling us something... Have you had a chance to see the DK book called 'The Universe'?- Got it as a present last Christmas- a wonderful book!! I better go for now...Florida is 80 Again today!!!! Not good viewing conditions...at least I can see the Moon. All the best And a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Regards, Andy HoranicMike here: Yep, photographed aurora; don't need a telescope for that. The video cameras are nice to display an image on a TV screen. Beyond that they are not too useful (in my opinion). I haven't done any spectroscopy in decades but as you can tell from the Guest Astrophotography pages, several people have done this with the ETX. As to whether you can measure "red shift" will depend on the accuracy of your spectroscopy equipment and techniques, including how you generate lines for comparison purposes. Yep, use a PowerBook G4 17". Which model works best will depend on what you want to do, including more than just astrophotography. My next laptop will be a MacBook Pro 17". But then I do a lot with my computer, including video editing and making DVDs, Raw image processing, and some scripting. Don't recall that book; but there are many excellent resources available.
Subject: Astrophotography questions Sent: Monday, January 1, 2007 20:31:56 From: Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have two questions relegated to astrophotography. 1. What is the best tracking accuracy that can reasonably be expected with the LXD55 mount expressed in terms of arcseconds per minute drift error? 2. Is there a way to set up binning with the DSI II?Mike here: I have never measured it but you can correct for it using the AutoStar PEC setting. However, I have left an object centered in a medium power eyepiece and come back a couple of hours later and the object was still basically centered. And that was without any PEC adjustment. As to binning, don't know since I don't have a DSI II.
Thanks for the prompt response. As to binning, I had to ask since the instructions don't go into it, but I guess, since they don't go in to it, you cant do it. As to the drift question, check me on this. If a medium power eye piece had a field of view of half a degree that would be 30 x 60 or 1800 acs. So if the target was still centered within about 10% or 180 acs in two hours or 120 minutes then the drift would be 1.5 acs per minute. Does that sound reasonable? I asked because I wanted to establish the longest exposure that was practical without drifting out of the fov of about half a pixel on the DSI. At f3.3 the fov for one pixel is supposed to be about 2.6 acs so after about a minute photons are going to be slopping over on to a different pixel from where they started. I doubt I can get the mount to track as well as you can so a 30 second exposure without noticeable drift should be doable for me and should be ok. A lot of the images I see in magazines have 10 or 20 minute exposures, so I could easily stack enough sub images to get that exposure time. Thanks.Mike here: Sounds OK but there is no reason you can't get the mount to track as well as many other people have.
Thanks for your confidence. As I work (play?) with it I will try to get some accurate numbers for drift.
Subject: ETX 125 Sent: Monday, January 1, 2007 12:14:49 From: rbwhite (email@example.com) I have an ETX 125. I have a converter so that I can mount my Ebel XT at the bottom port, and the mounting words well. What I don not understand is what I can do to make sure that the picture, while in focus at the eye piece, can be in focus at the camera. Please help me. Regards, RBWMike here: I'm not familiar with "Ebel" cameras but if it is a SLR you can focus using the viewfinder. If not a SLR then you will have to determine where the focal plane for the camera is in relation to the back of the ETX and focus the image on a piece of tracing paper at that distance. You could then possibly make an eyepiece focus at that same position by adjusting it in the eyepiece hole (this may or may not work depending on the camera).
Should I understand that when an slr camera is mounted on the rear port using an adapter, that if the eye piece at the side of the tube is in focus, the camera will also be in focus?Mike here: The image at the camera's focal plane will probably NOT be in focus when the eyepiece image is in focus to your eye. Depending on the eyepiece and camera and its adapter, you may be able to create a condition (by trial and error) where you can insert an eyepiece, focus it, and have the image in focus at the camera.
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