Last updated: 28 December 2003

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

Subject:	planetary stacking
Sent:	Friday, January 3, 2003 9:06:53
From: (Keith Quattrocchi)
can you recommend a reliable, easy to use program to stack mult planetay

i use a st-10ME and 12" LX200.....i'm looking for a way to take a series
of images (one filter at a time, say red), selecting the best and then
aligning and stacking them......repeating this with B and G and then
putting them together

i'd appreciate any advise or ideas on where to go

Mike here: There are two standard Windows applications: Astrostack ( and Registax ( Right now there is only one Macintosh application that I know of: Keiths Image Stacker ( As to being easy to use, no way. Of course, you can use Photoshop but that is even more painful.
Subject:	Some help on Astrophotography with my ETX70 if possible!
Sent:	Friday, January 3, 2003 5:25:01
From: (Andy Stentiford)
First to say thanks for such a great online resource on the ETX.  I took
delivery of my ETX from Santa :o) and have just had a few clear nights
to witness it's ability.  However, trying to describe this to friends
doesn't do it any justice, and I'd like to rekindle my old
astrophotography hobby but using a digital camera.

I've shopped around, and in my price range are the following.  All have
Scopetronix Digi-T rings available for close-coupling to the eyepiece,
and all have varied exposures & features).  In your - or anyone else's
humble opinion - which would be the best out of this bunch (I think I've
listed the important features):

Canon Powershot A30 (1.2Mp, 8Mb storage, 6x total zoom, 15s max shutter
speed, video out)

Canon Powershot A40 (2.0Mp, 8Mb storage, 2.5x total zoom, 15s max
shutter speed, video out)

Sony DSC-P31 (2.0Mp, 8Mb storage, 3x total zoom, 2s max shutter speed,
video out)

Sony DSC-P51(2.0Mp, 16Mb storage, 6x total zoom, 2s max shutter speed,
video out)

Nikon Coolpix 775 (2.0Mp, 8Mb storage, 7.5x total zoom, ? max shutter
speed, video out)

Kodak DX4330 (3.1Mp, 16Mb storage, 10x total zoom, 4s max shutter speed,
video out)

Many thanks for your help, and keep up the great work! - Happy New Year!

Andy Stentiford (Edinburgh, UK)
Mike here: I haven't researched any of those. You can look through the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for lots of different digital camera pages. You will want some control over exposure length. Ideally that would be a "bulb" type setting. But then you would need a remote release cable.
Subject:	Re: Some help on Astrophotography with my ETX70 if possible!
Sent:	Saturday, January 4, 2003 3:54:20
From: (Andy Stentiford)
Thanks for the help, Mike!

Unfortunately, all of the B-exposure digital cameras are way out of my
(justifiable-to-the-wife) price range.  Also, I have had a look through
many of the interesting galleries on your site (I should just set your
ETX site as my homepage - I'm spending that much time there :o), and
most impressive images are done with the 995 - I think you have this one
too.  Hardly any are done with the basic UK-available camera models I
listed in my e-mail.  I was hoping with one of these models to get a
succession of short exposures (or a video clip) and stack them in PS6 to
maybe record some deep-space stuff when tracking on my ETX-70

I would consider the old SLR route again, but I know just how many
images are wasted in getting that elusive "right one" - particularly
when starting out AND relying on the local drug-store to process the

Would there be any chance of posting my original e-mail to see if any
other readers have had experience with these cameras?

I'm now off to hunt for your book...

Best R,

Mike here: Yep, I do have the Coolpix 995 and love it. Yes, you can stack shorter exposures and with some effort will get better results than single, longer exposures. However, if the exposures are too short there will be nothing to stack. And your email was posted last night on the Astrophotography Tips page (further down this page).


Well, with some frantic research, I've managed to answer my own
question. The best certainly appears to be the Canon A40.  Although it
doesn't have a "bulb" setting, it has much more in the way of "manual"
control - on it's dedicated manual setting - than many more expensive
cameras, including a fully user-adjustable shutter speed of between
1/1500s and 15s (basic noise reduction is employed on all shots above
1.3s).  This is given at two options - f4.5 and f13.  It can also record
up to 32s of video on it's onboard 16Mb memory, which may well be usable
with astrostack or suchlike. As mentioned before, Scopetronix Digi-T
rings are available for it (as are a full range of add-on telephoto &
wide angle lenses)

I think this puppy is an imminent purchase, and I look forward to
forwarding you some gloriously bad first-efforts :o)

Thanks again for all the info, and your as-ever speedy replies!


Subject:	Camera Adapters
Sent:	Friday, January 3, 2003 22:45:35
From: (Thx1326)
As usual... great site, great additions.  I notice you are using the
DigiT adapters.  I've inquired several times to them regarding which set
of adapters I need to adapt a video camera with a 43mm lens filter size
to ep. They always give me several choices.  Which would you suggest
based upon your experience.  I am using mainly the Meade ep's and the
Orion ED's and Lanthanums.  The Orions are larger than the Meade's in
barrel diameter.

Thanks in advance.

D. Sherfy
Mike here: What choices did Scopetronix give you?
Subject:	Astrophotography
Sent:	Saturday, January 11, 2003 3:42:39
From: (William Buckley)
I have tried many people for the answer and you are probably my last
hope. I have a meade LX 50 and have been using it in conjunction with
Meade of axis guider and a 35m camera.

I have a Nikon 950 digital camera which I want to use with the off axis
guider but cant because I need an adapter to convert from T mount to
eyepiece adaptor ( I have and adaptor for using the Nikon with a 1.25

Many people must be having this problem, e.g.
people using web cams.
Do you know of an adaptor available.


Mike here: If anyone has such an adapter I suspect it would be Scopetronix. If not, perhaps you could entice them to develop one; it does seem like a useful adapter.
Subject:	taking photos threw eyepiece
Sent:	Tuesday, January 21, 2003 10:27:54
From: (David Tinney)
just have a question....i have a etx70at i use alot and love this little
scope. gives me pretty good views of the moon, jupiter, etx......someone
told me to try to take a picture using a 35mm camera pointing it into
the eyepiece when i have the telescope in focus with what im looking
at...(moon)....will this work? i know theres better ways to take photos
but just gonna experiment to see how they come out....never tried it
before//// think it will work halfway decent?.......thanks for the reply

David A.Tinney- WA7NY
Mike here: Yes, it works. This is known as "afocal photography". Of course, exposure times are limited by how steady you can hold the camera but for low magnifications on the bright Moon it is less a problem. See the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for more information on astrophotography.
Subject:	starting out and camera suggestions
Sent:	Thursday, January 23, 2003 11:47:12
From: (Tom Poulton)
I followed some advice on one of your pages about the big picture on
buying telescopes and the need to buy a "little one" to see if you
really are as interested as you think you are before spending more than
a few hundred.  Great advice and I highly recommned it to any other
total beginner tooling around the net and reading this while deciding
what to buy to get in on the hobby.

I started by purchasing a 60AT at on-line auction last summer.  Saturn
in the 25mm eyepiece was terrific.  Jupiter and the four larger moons
also a great sight.  You know, I can look at photos of Saturn taken from
Hubble or big Earth-based telescopes all I want, but there is just
something about seeing a planet in real time that makes you appreciate
that the thing is really "up" there.  And of course, seeing craters and
mountains on the moon in such relief that I feel like I am floating over
the surface is downright awe-inspiring the first dozen times out.

I am a rank amateur and just now starting to grasp that the light I see
tonight from the far end of Andromeda Galaxy started out before mankind
existed while the light I see simultaneously tonight from the near side
started out towards us after we'd been around for awhile.  That the same
image brackets the start to the existence of our species is mind
boggling and great fun at cocktail parties.

At any rate, I quickly outgrew the 60 AT and have now purchased a 125EC.
Reading and reading and reading.  While atrophotography has always
fascinated me, I find myself really curious about CCD cameras.  What do
you recommend as to a CCD camera for use with the 125EC and what sort of
accessories might I need?  Do you think the CCD's ability to gather
light my eye cannot detect is really worth it at this level or am I
better off at the 125EC level going with a standard 35 mm camera with
removable lens to attach to the 125EC?  Either way, I'd love one-stop
shopping for it.  Try to keep me under $300 to $400 if you can or
perhaps direct me to a site that discusses all of this.

Tom Poulton
Winter Park, Fla.
Mike here: Check out the Sonfest SAC imager discussed on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products and the Helpful Information - Astrophotography. While it is not a CCD per se it makes a good entry point. Another excellent entry point are webcams and digital cameras, especially with the ETX line, which is not designed for long duration astrophotography.
Subject:	Celestron 80 GT Photography
Sent:	Saturday, February 1, 2003 10:37:53
I've emailed you before about a question on my Meade 90ec and it helped
me out so thanks for the help on that. I also have a Celestron 80 gt and
I don't know if you can help me out with this but I figured this
question is worth asking you.

I want to start getting into astrophotography and I want to use my
Celestron 80 GT with this. I'm getting a camera for it but I don't have
the specs or the info I need to find out what kind of mounts and the
info on what I need to use a camera with the scope.

Can you give me as much info as you know on what the specs are for
something like a t mount or t rin for having the camera in the scope?
Also, what kind of lense should I get for a long term exposure camera?

Thanks a bunch,

Mike Monahan
Mike here: There are several types of astrophotography that can be done with telescopes: piggyback photography where the camera is attached to the telescope, prime focus photography where the telescope (minus the eyepiece and camera lens) acts as a telephoto lens for the camera, eyepiece projection photography where the image from the eyepiece is projected onto the camera's image plane (no camera lens), and afocal photography where the image from the eyepiece is focused onto the camera using the camera lens. Piggyback and afocal are the simplest. Long duration photography can be done with piggyback but is difficult with the others unless you have a good mount and good tracking. With today's digital cameras, afocal photography works surprisingly well, especially for brighter objects. Have a visit to the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for lots of info. Scopetronix sells a lot of camera adapters for different types of cameras.


Thanks for the info. You have once again helped me.

Take Care,

Mike Monahan

Subject:	Which Digital Camera Adapter ?
Sent:	Monday, February 10, 2003 14:40:09
From: (Jonathan King)
I am just about to get an ETX-125EC and wonder which digital camera
adapter is better (I have an Olympus 2020-zoom); either the Meade #64
T-Adapter or the Scopetronix Digi-TT Digital Camera Attachment System ?

By the way, have you seen the great offer from Meade; the autostar and
field tripod free with any ETX for the next few months. What a

I would be very grateful for an answer to the above adapter question.

Best regards

Jonathan King
Mike here: Yep, great deals going on right now. The Meade #64 T-Adapter is generally for 35mm film SLR cameras, not digital cameras. The Scopetronic Digi-T System is generally for digital (and video) cameras. See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page on my ETX Site for info on both.
Subject:	Plejaden 
Sent:	Tuesday, February 11, 2003 8:55:03
From: (Georg Bhme)
I shot this foto with an ETX90. What do you think. Is it good?

Mike here: The images are out of focus, either due to the telescope or camera lens not being properly focused. You didn't say what camera you used but if doing afocal photography (using an eyepiece and shooting through the camera lens) you need to focus the eyepiece to your eye and set the camera lens to infinity. You might want to start with an easy target, like the Moon.

Subject:	afocal Photo ????
Sent:	Monday, February 17, 2003 12:33:14
From: (David Tinney)
dave here again. i wrote a while ago about taking photos of the moon
using my etx60at by pointing my camera down into the lens after it was
focused. im really new to this so im trying to learn. i have a feeling
what i did din,t work....or maybe it did.....heres what i have as far as
a camera and what i did.......i have a minolta freedom af35 camera....i
pointed it down into the 25mm lens on my 60at and took a few shots that
i havent developed yet....just testing question i need a different camera?....this is like a automatic focus
35mm camera so i had no way of seeing or focusing the
shot.......unless!!! they came out thinking they didnt....wont
know till i see the back of my mind im thinking i needed
some way to see and focus the camera in general........well being that
its a automatic......didnt know...........will this matter? i
have to use a different camera? i can see what im
shooting?.................thanks for the info in advance..........dave
the photo rookie.......ha...ha..ha.......hey gotta learn....

David A.Tinney- WA7NY
Visit My Webpage At:
Mike here: Being able to see that the camera lens is actually pointed down the optical axis of the eyepiece is obviously helpful. A totally automatic focusing camera can be a problem since it wants to read the distance to the eyepiece and what it might "see" is the telescope. When doing afocal photography the camera lens has to be focused to infinity. Take a look at the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for info on several cameras.
Subject:	technical tip
Sent:	Thursday, February 20, 2003 12:49:50
From: (Paul Campbell)
I made a focusing mask for my etx125 using a plastic lid off of a 2lb.
coffee can. I used the mask template that came with may sac7 camera
manual to align the holes and circle them in. I then used a large awl to
punch out the holes. I painted the lid black but you could cut and glued
a round piece of black construction paper to the inside. once the paint
is dried or the glue is set take a small strip of velcro no wider then
the inside of the lids lip,place the strip directly in line with the top
hole,on the lids inside lip. Next place a small strip of velcro to the
front/top of the scope,you will find that the lid fits loosely on the
front of the scope. I also made a dark frame mask using this same idea.
This setup works well for me. I'm not sure but a 1lb.lid may fit a
etx90. Sending my scope out to Dr. sherrod next week for a
super/charge,been wanting to do this for a while now,finely getting the

Thanks for a great site/info     yours in the way  Paul F. Campbell
Mike here: This is similar to the "Focus Aid" discussed on the Telescope Tech Tips page. It is a useful device.
Subject:	Seeking eyepiece projection help
Sent:	Sunday, February 23, 2003 18:14:54
From: (Leonard Ashcroft)
Hi Mike, great site!

I am new to amateur astronomy and have recently developed an interest in
astrophotography.  What I have is:

Meade ETX-60AT; 5, 9, and 25 mm eyepieces; a horribly automatic Minolta
Maxxum 5, and the ring and adapter to connect the camera to the rear
port of the scope.  I was wondering if you could tell my what part I
would need to connect the camera to the eyepiece instead?  I want to
take pictures of the moon and maybe some planets.  The eyepieces are
Meade, 5mm plossl, 9 and 25 are the MA.  Hopefully soon my new eyepieces
will be ready, a friend of mine in the Amateur Astronomy Association of
Pittsburgh was taking a head count for a new set of planetary eyepieces
being made by Thomas Back the apochromatic guru.  Any help would be
greatly appreciated.  And yes, $200 apiece for a set of four is
primarily for the 8" Celestron I've got my eye on.  Thanks again, Mike.
Mike here: You need the Basic Camera Adapter (see the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page) or the Shutan Mini-Tele Extender (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page). I'm not certain whether either of these will reach a focus with the ETX-70AT. But they do allow eyepiece projection with some eyepieces.
Subject:	ETX-60 Meade Telescope
Sent:	Monday, February 24, 2003 17:24:08
From: (Cooper, Paula)
I want to buy my husband an adaptor to take pictures through his
telescope. His camera is a Sony Mavica Digital FD71  (2x). He held the
camera over the lens of the telescope and took a picture of an Eagle. It
was beautiful so I was checking the internet for find an adaptor. I came
across a T- Adaptor 64ST, I'm not sure if this is the right one for our
camera and ETX-60 telescope.

Can You Help Me.

Thanks, Paula 
Mike here: Check the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page. You will want one of the Scopetronix digital camera adapters. The 64ST is for 35mm cameras with a removable lens.


Thank you so much for your quick response back to me. I would like to
get this for his birthday in April. So my search and time is closing in
on me.

Thanks again,
I just checked out your website and read about the Scopetronix. Thank
goodness you know more than I do about this stuff. See I didn't even
know that you can't remove the lens on his Sony Mavica.

OK now it said $50 dollars for price, where do I get it?
Mike here:
Subject:	Off axis question
Sent:	Saturday, March 1, 2003 3:47:11
Do you or others know the solution to my next problem:

I have a 1.25 inch focal reducer and a 1.25 inch nebula filter. I want
to take photographs of nebula with my ETX90.

I do need an off-axis guider for this.

The only off-axis guider I can find is one that fitts on a SCT. So I
bought an SCT to ETX90 adapter which fitts on the back of my ETX. But
the other site of the off axis guider is a T-mount. How and where do I
fit the focal reducer and nebula filter. See attachment.

THANKS Job Geheniau
Do you know the dimensions (diameter) of the SCT backmount ?
Mike here: My 8" SCT is 2". The filters are the type that attach to an eyepiece tube. The off-axis guider you have doesn't use eyepiece projection for imaging. Hence the problem you have. You would need a different style guider that can use an eyepiece (not certain I recall seeing one like this) or one that accept filters. By the way, can you reach a focus at the film plane with the adapters and camera you have?

And an update:

I think the attachment is the solution. I have the stuff. Hope it works.

Yes, but I still have to do a test with the Foucault test I learned yesterday. But it is cloudy so I have to wait for stars to do the foucault test.

Subject:	photography
Sent:	Monday, March 3, 2003 15:32:26
I love your site. Lots of great info. I have a question regarding
astrophotography with the etx90ec.

I purchased a Meade adapter for the back of the etx90 and a t ring to
mount to my Nikon n80.

Seems when i set up the camera on the back I can achieve focus with the
scope but when I switch

the mirror to the rear opening and refocus, the focus knob hits the stop
before i acheive clear focus in the camera viewfinder. This was with
land photography distance of about 1 mile.

Can you help me out.

J Halligan
Mike here: It is possible that the camera will not reach a focus but there are a couple of things you can try. The Meade adapter is actually two pieces; try the single piece instead of the doubled piece. If that doesn't work you can move the focus knob further out on the shaft. Point the OTA upwards about 45 degrees (to avoid the shaft falling inside the tube; which you really don't want to happen). The loosen the knob set screw, slide it a little further out on the shaft, retighten the setscrew, and CHECK that the knob is secure.
Subject:	T-64 adapter
Sent:	Tuesday, March 4, 2003 8:38:16
From: (Raymond Abou)
I am working at IBM France in Lagaude. I found your web site to connect
the ETX Meade to the digital camera.

I have an ETX 125 that I try to connect to a canon A20 digital camera on
the back of the telescope. I used the T-64 adapter from meade to connect
at the end of the ETX and a lense mechanical adapter without any lenses
that goes around the objective of the camera (to avoid to touch the
objective) Unfortunately I cannot focus at all the image. I see like in
naked eye i:e the dark circle in the middle of the lense and a black
cylinder for the sides of the telescope...(like looking through a straw
with one eye.)

Do you use an eyepiece ? It doesn' look like you are using the t-adapter
but something else. My t-adapter (for reflex) has no lenses is it the
reason for non focusing the image ..?

Any idea, Help ?
Thx Ray.
Mike here: The T-64 adapter is for use at Prime Focus WITHOUT any camera lens. The telescope essentially becomes a telephoto lens for the camera. For cameras without removable lens you need to do "afocal photography", which uses an eyepiece. See the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page; follow the links there for lots of info.
Subject:	Re: T-64 adapter
Sent:	Wednesday, March 5, 2003 2:07:02
From: (Raymond Abou)
Thanks Mike,
We do not pay enough attention between prime focus & afocal photography.
I thought I could do Prime focus with a digital camera by adjusting the
telescope focuser.

I forgot that if it works with webcam ( you have to REMOVE
the lens of the webcam..things you cannot do with non SLR digital
cameras.. Thanks again,

I'll "run" to amazon to buy your book. I definitely need to get


Subject:	a question
Sent:	Saturday, March 8, 2003 15:42:25
From: (gene marsh)
An incredable web page!!!  my compliments!

I am a nature photographer(advanced amateur) and I take special pride in
the technical quality of my photos I am planning to get into
astrophotography and want to do it right "the first time"   I have
narrowed the company down to Meade but now I would appreciate your
comments:  I dont know which is the better choice for me--TheMeade
ETC-125C or the 8"LX200GPS. My primary consideration is "quality of the
image" HELP!

another question:

My camera is the Fuji S1 digital camera- - a 6 megapixel(extrapolaed)
unit and most of Nikons lens. My question is this: Will I be satisfied
with this camera or should I go to a Meade Pictor  CCD unit?

Many, many thanks from a raw beginner.
Mike here: The ETX line is not the ideal platform for astrophotography whereas the LX200 is definitely an ideal platform. Yes, you can do some types of astrophotography with the ETX (as seen on the ETX Site) but if you want the best results possible you need to go with the best telescope for astrophotography and that would the LX200 series. Digital cameras can do some types of astrophotography (see the Helpful Information -- Astrophotography page for lots of examples with various types of cameras). But there is a BIG difference in digital camera photography and CCD photography. Feel free to start with the camera but again for best results you will want to move up to a CCD if you get really serious about doing astrophotography.
Subject:	Astrophotography
Sent:	Monday, March 24, 2003 16:04:40
From: (Alex Kuziola)
I've got something to ponder.

As cool as the new, shiny Meade GPS scopes are, I don't want to give up
my ETX-125. To me, it's a great scope. I've been doing piggyback
astrophotography with an Olympus OM-1 and a 70-210mm telephoto lens
mounted onto my 125 with great success. I've gotten some great shots.
But I'm desiring some more magnification now.

I've decided that trying to do deep sky prime focus astrophotography
through the 125 is a lost cause. The focal length is just too long, and
Scopetronix's ETX focal reducer, I'm told, is not designed for visual
use. In the interests of saving a little money on a bigger camera lens,
I've been exploring some alternatives. Do you have any info on the
effectiveness of teleconverters in astrophotography? And this may be
overkill, but is it worth finding a reasonably priced (and light-weight)
refractor to use as a lens, perhaps an ETX-70 or an Orion Shorttube? Or
is there something else you recommend?

By the way, counterbalancing is not an issue for me. With a little
creativity and a couple trips to the Wal-Mart sports department, I've
developed some effective counterbalancing techniques. In fact, the ETX,
with my OM-1 with the telephoto lens, which weighs about a zillion
pounds, tracked M42 PERFECTLY for about an hour last night. So tracking
is not an issue.

Thanks for any and all advice!

Mike here: I've not tried any teleconverters personally. With a polar mounted ETX and an off-axis guider you could probably do some short higher magnification photography. The problem will be manually guiding without showing trailing at the larger scale on the film using the ETX drives. Using an ETX-70 as a telephoto lens only gets you up to a 350mm telephoto but then you could guide using an eyepiece in the ETX-125.
Subject:	Digital camera choices
Sent:	Monday, March 24, 2003 16:50:48
I have just accessed your website today after having been directed to it
by the Meade Corporation. I am delighted to have found it because as a
rank amateur I need all the help I can get and there is so much
information to be had there.

I am the proud owner of an ETX125EC and plan to take some digital
photos. I do not have a digital camera as yet and need advice as to what
is a good choice. (that is why I phoned Meade)

Camera store clerksknow little or nothing about using a camera attached
to a telescope.When I settle on a particular make and model I have
reservations re: focusing, especially in low light. I also wonder about
the value, if any, of zoom lenses, especially the ultra zooms of 6X, 8X
or even 10X.

I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give me as to what
features you or your readers have found to be useful and what features
should be avoided.

Is there a make and model that everyone likes?

Thank you for putting up a great website and thank you also for any help
you can give me.

Stan Stolar
Mike here: Checkout the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for TONS of info. You can see examples taken with several types of digital cameras. You should look for one that has manual shutter speed (for long exposures) and manual focus capability (you need to set to infinity to shoot through an eyepiece). A zoom lens is handy to both enlarge the image and reduce vignetting. Recently, I discovered how handy digital zoom is; I use it now with my Nikon Coolpix 995 to check focus AND to even shoot the object. When I scale the image back down to reasonable size for posting the digital artifacts disappear! Also, you need a self-timer or remote shutter release cable capability to avoid vibrations from tripping the shutter.
Subject:	Focusing
Sent:	Thursday, March 27, 2003 20:27:57
From: (divenuts)
I have been trying different methods of focusing for Deep Sky
photography. The obvious choice for focusing a deep sky object would be
to have the camera mounted on the eyepiece in alt/az or polar and using
the photo port (or vice versa) to focus using the flip mirror. The
problem is the large difference in the focus between the two. Has anyone
figured a way to compensate for the focal differences. With the LCD or
even an external montor it is difficult to gather enough light to be
sure a DS object is centered...let alone focused.
Chuck Callaghan
Mike here: See the article "Focus Aid, Autostar Aligning Aid" on the Telescope Tech Tips page. It will work with reasonably bright stars.
Subject:	2 star alignment
Sent:	Tuesday, April 15, 2003 14:22:04
From: (Craig Ireland)
Firstly, what a great site. Most of my questions have been answered
using your web pages.

I am doing high resolution CCD imaging on my ETX125. This means I have a
camera adapter and MX5-C screwed to the rear. This is alot of weight but
I have spent a lot of time getting it balanced. in any position, with
both axis unlocked the tube will stay spot on where it should. I can
polar align by removing the camera at the back, locking the alt axis
this is fine. I cannot then use the motors as the tube is completely out
of balance. if I then unlock move the tube and then fit my camera stuff
to the rear, the motors can be used.

Here's my question.

I now want to do an align. The Autostar always wants to goto the 2 stars
from the home position. Is there anyway I can manually slew to the 2
stars without autostar TRYING to help me!.and from any position. Can I
be the brains behind this first operation?.

many thanks in advanced
East Anglia UK
Mike here: The Autostar starts from a known position (the HOME position along with the date/time/location) and then slews to the alignment stars. If you manually slew, the Autostar has no way to know what occurred. HOWEVER, there is a solution that might work for you: do the alignment without the camera attached then select PARK from the Autostar Utilities menu. Once you are prompted to power down, do so and attach the camera. When you power on you'll be asked for the day/time and then tracking will resume on the next GOTO. As long as there is minimal shift from the added weight you should be OK; you might want to SYNC on an object near your astrophotography target though.
Subject:	balancing the ETX90
Sent:	Wednesday, April 16, 2003 10:22:05
From: (marcus windrich)
I apologize if this question was already covered, but I checked the
website and couldn't find much on it (might have just missed it). I have
a Canon Powershot S200 and the digi-T adapter. My question is, do I need
some sort of counterweight for the front end of the scope. I don't want
to wear down the motors, but I'm not sure if balancing is needed for
just the camera. Its average weight for a digital camera I guess, and I
will be using the scope in Polar mode, so the Dec locks shouldn't be
straining too much anyway.

I ask because I see all the homegrown counterweight designs, but I have
NO access to machining tools or anything like that and I don't wanna
fork over lots of money for the Meade ones :)

Thanks for the help!

Mike here: I don't use a counterweight with my Nikon Coolpix 995 and haven't had any balance problems. I suspect you should be OK.


Thanks Mike! That's exactly what I wanted to hear!


Subject:	Questions
Sent:	Sunday, April 20, 2003 17:45:32
From: (Robert Zaballa)
I like your website.  I have a few of questions about the Sac7b camera.

I am trying to get into CCD astrophotography, and I was wondering if you
know anything about the Sac7b CCD (or Sac7, what is the difference?)
camera made by Digitec Optical.  I am trying to find a good CCD camera
that is not too expensive (under $1000).

One of my main goals is to image Mars this summer.  I have an f/10 C8
and a 17 mm Plossl eyepiece that I use for lunar and planetary imaging. 
I'm hoping that with a CCD camera I may be able to obtain better image
quality than with regular film.

I would also like to be able to take short exposures (20 seconds
roughly) of the brighter deep sky objects and stack the short exposures.
 Do you know if this is possible with the Sac7b camera?

If this is not a good camera do you have any other recommendations?


Robert Zaballa
Mike here: I have used an earlier model SAC imager. You can read about my and others experiences on the Accessory Reviews --> Showcase Products page as well as on the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page. There are more recent reports on the latter page. Yes, stacking is possible (using software); it is also possible with digital and film cameras (once you get the image into the computer). You can see many examples on the ETX Site.

And another SAC question:

Subject:	SAC
Sent:	Monday, April 21, 2003 04:43:20
Can you or anyone else tell me if the SAC imagers (SAC7 or SAC8) can be
used with an Apple Macintosh? And what is the quality of these

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands
Mike here: I used a SAC IV with an iBook sometime back. Worked fine. I haven't yet had a chance to try on my new PowerBook 17". I don't know what Mac software is included with the newer models however. You can see lots of examples of SAC photography on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page and the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	My Camera mount
Sent:	Friday, April 25, 2003 01:20:23
From: (jim abbey)
Here is a photo of my camera mount and my  Aiptek DV2 camera. I made the
mount out of a strip of  thick aluminum  ,I wanted it as light as
possible.This mount   put the camera and hold it up to the eyepiece and
I  have drilled additional holes for  needed space above the eyepiece
,depending on the  eye  relief of the  eyepiece.

Thank you, Jim


Subject:	digital cameras
Sent:	Saturday, April 26, 2003 10:19:09
From: (Frank G Dement)
I have noticed that there seems to be a preference for the Nikon coolpix
995 among some of the more experienced amateurs.  Are there any features
that influence the selection of the 995 or is it previous experience
with Nikon or just personal preference.

I intend to purchase a digital camera within the next month and am
confused as to the best choice among the numerous digital cameras
available.  Can you help?


Mike here: Many cameras can perform well in limited astrophotography as can be seen on my ETX Site (visit the Helpful Information - Astrophotography pages as well as the gallery pages). Ideally a camera should have a long exposure or BULB capability (typically in a manual mode), a remote release cable (or at least a self-timer), zoom lens, filter-capable (for mounting), noise reduction, adjustable ISO speed, and be lightweight. The Coolpix 995 (and some other Coolpix models and some other digital cameras as well) have these.
Subject:	photography with ETX-90EC
Sent:	Sunday, April 27, 2003 14:29:12
From: (j.f.bekker)
Thanks for your great site!
I bought my ETX-90EC in the fall of 2002.  Have been seeing lot of things.
Now I would like to make pictures through it. I tried to put my Minolta
Dimage X digital camera over the eyepiece and to my supprise got a
picture of the moon , which was not that bad.

The thing is that I have to keep my hand very steady and that the light
from outside is also coming in .

I tried to find it out on the internet but could not get information on
my problem.

Do I need any special devices? How do I mount a Minolta DimageX on an

Hope you can provide me with some useful information!

Freek Bekker
the Netherlands
Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page. The Scopetronix Digi-T System works great with digital cameras. Also, look at the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for some more information.
Subject:	Webcam
Sent:	Monday, April 28, 2003 14:18:51
From: (Jason Michael Canon)
First let me say thanks for your wonderful ETX site.  I use it all
of the time.

Some time ago I found a link to a European manufacturer of a commercial
web camera for the ETX that sells for around $200.  For the life of
me I cannot locate the link.  Suggestions?

Mike here: Do you remember anything about the camera?


If memory serves me at my age (often it does not :) you had a page on
your site that had email dialog regarding astrophotography.  At the
very bottom of the page you made a comment saying that if you didn't
want to build your own camera that several commercial offerings were
available.  I remember visiting the site once and think that it was
a company in France that made a small web camera that could attach
directly to any 1.25".  I've checked all of my bookmarks and simply
cannot find one for the company.
Your site, including the family information is really cool!  You should feel very proud.  I've worked in computer science for 26 years and my web site does not look half as good or provide anywhere near the valuable information resources as yours. Clear skies, Jason
Mike here: It isn't ringing any bells with me (and what little memory I have!). Have you looked through the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography --> Quickcam, Webcams (and similar) page for this year and last year?
Subject:	Question digital camera
Sent:	Wednesday, May 14, 2003 05:25:22
Hello Mike and other readers,

Is is a good or bad idea to put my Olympus C2020Z for three minutes in
the freezer to get rid of CCD heath pixels. (Dew?).

Job Geheniau
Mike here: Reducing the temperature of digital cameras will reduce the "hot spot" pixels. Turning off the LCD can reduce the temperature. Keeping the camera cool will also help but I'd be cautious about getting too large a temperature differential; you certainly don't want moisture to collect inside it!
Subject:	Astrophotography Time!
Sent:	Wednesday, May 21, 2003 14:51:58
From: (Steve Seman)
Mike, as always, love the site.

I'm going to dip my toes into the astropotography pool and have a little
question for you.

I have a 35mm minolta srt 101 that I'm going to attach to the etx-125ec
at the rear port. What, if any, do you suggest for balancing, or is the
scope ok without it?

As always, learning more from your site EVERYDAY, and wishing everyone
clear skies! Thanks,  Jim Seman
Mike here: It may or may not be OK without a counterweight but there are some homemade counterweights discussed on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page. Alternatively, the Scopetronix piggyback camera adapter doubles as a counterweight system (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page).
Subject:	astrophotography help
Sent:	Sunday, June 1, 2003 23:56:16
From: (Collin Sacks)
I was visiting your web site and I'm quite impressed with your photos. I
have a Meade ETX-90 also. Well, actually, it is arriving in the mail
shortly. I understand that I can hook up a 35mm SLR camera to it with
the t-mount adapter, which I have. I noticed that you took most of your
photos using a Nikon Coolpix 995. I wasn't sure how you did this,
because you can't hook that up to a T-mount, and also, it has its own
lens. I own a Fuji S602 camera, which is very similar to yours. Is there
any advice you can give me on how to hook it up to my scope? I would
greatly appreciate the help...and keep up the great photos! Thanks for
your time.
Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page; I use the Scopetronix Digi-T System with the Coolpix.
Subject:	Camera mounting
Sent:	Thursday, June 5, 2003 13:50:28
From: (Lou Church)
I want to connect my Nikon CP4500 digital camera to my ETX90EC.  Which
would be the best way and what equipment do I need. I have been doing
Afocal with this camera on my Meade 102APO with the Scopetronic
connection to my 17MM Nagler. Don't know how to connect to the rear
opening in the ETX.
Thanks  LouChurch
Mike here: For prime focus (rear port) photography you need to be able to remove the camera lens. I don't know if the CP4500 has that capability. If it does, then you need the Basic Camera Adapter (see the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page) and the appropriate T-Ring.
Subject:	astrophotography
Sent:	Friday, June 6, 2003 09:31:27
From: (Marc Delaney)
Haven't "spoken" to you for a while, but still visit your site about
twice every week. I learn so much from it, even though I am not a rank
beginner. But when it comes to astrophotography, I am a complete novice,
so a couple of questions:

(1) To stack images taken with a digital camera using afocal mode with
Maxview-40 in photoshop, how do I align them? If I place an image over
another, I cannot see the one on the layer below. Do I reduce the
opacity of the top image? Then, do I return it to full opacity? Finally,
what blending mode must I use (probably other than normal)?

(2) Referring to dark frames, how do I "subract" the dark frame from its
associated image (again using photoshop)?

Lots of thanks and good wishes,
Mike here: For stacking I suggest either Astrostack or Registax (both Windows only) or Keith's Imager Stacker (Mac). Links under the Software section on the Astronomy Links page. To stack images in Photoshop is a pain. You have to change the opacity of the top layer(s) and try one of the blending modes to see what works best for the photos. Starting with only two layers helps; then you can manually align the images and adjust the modes as needed. Then add the next frame and repeat the process. Haven't tried subtracting a dark frame in PS. Check out the "Catching the Light" web site (linked from the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for Photoshop astrophotography tips. There is a new book out on using Photoshop for Astrophotography (CD-ROM only) but I don't have it.


Thanks a million for the prompt reply. All the best,


Subject:	T-Adapter
Sent:	Friday, June 6, 2003 18:42:33
From: (Ty Benjamin)
I got my ETX 90 and all the necessary accessories for using my 35mm
camera with it.  But I have one question for you - the Meade T-Adapter
has two parts - one puts the camera at about 2 inches from the back of
the telescope, and when you add the other part, it puts the camera to
about 5 inches from the back of the camera.

So.....  which gets you the proper focus for the ETX 90?

Appreciate your help!

Mike here: Both work, depending upon the camera. The short version or the long version works on my Pentax Spotmatic 35mm SLR. One results in a slightly longer focal length and the other slightly more vignetting.
Subject:	ccd imaging?....
Sent:	Wednesday, June 11, 2003 08:42:49
From: (Steve Seman)
Mike, as always, great site.

I know you have reviewed the sacIVb imager, but was curious as to what
you think of the sacIVc which is the same except they add their
"integration" program. Looks to me like it could rule out stacking. Just
wanted to know what you think of this software.

Thanks again mike,

Jim Seman
Mike here: Integrating on the fly can help but haven't tried their new software personally. Offline integration/registration gives you the ability to throw out bad frames. Don't know how the on-the-fly integration handles bad frames.
Subject:	astrostack vs registax
Sent:	Tuesday, June 17, 2003 18:17:04
I, have a new etx125 w/uhtc and am considering some astro-photography.
After looking through the photos on your site and others I, noticed that
two programs were used regularly for stacking images. The one most used
is "registax" and the other is "Astrostack". Have you used both of
these? Which do you like better, ease of use, better result? I, am still
waiting on clear skies to use this instrument, I, have had it a entire
month sitting in its case.

Dale G. Smith
Mike here: I don't use either of these Windows-only applications.
Subject:	Canon 10D
Sent:	Thursday, June 19, 2003 09:44:39
From: (Eis, Stephen)
Great site ...great hobby.
I'm sure you've heard this before but, you are a godsend to the amateur
astronomers world.

If you have a moment, I have a question you might be able to help me
with. I've reviewed your site and other and the more I read the more
"unsure" I get. I have a Mead ETX90. I just purchased a Canon EOS 10D
after reading the review as to how you can push the ISO speed. I would
now like to take pictures combining them in these two ways.

1. Mount the camera on the telescope tube close to the CG. I would use a
regular wide field lens on the camera. I would use the ETX drive in
polar alignment to track the sky with long exposure times. I would like
to get a bracket that I can attach the camera to the tube of the
telescope and be able to slide, or otherwise locate, the camera close to
the drive fulcrum so it balances better. Can you recommend something for

2. Mount the camera to the telescope using a T-adapter. This is where I
get confused. I am not sure what the best options are and I don't want
to get something that either doesn't fit or limits my options. I am also
concerned about over-weighting the scope/drive and cause damage to
either the drive or the mirror/lens mounting. What kind of
"adapter/setup" would you recommend for this?

I really appreciate your help and insight.

Have a delightful day,

Stephen Eis
Mike here: Your first item is for a piggyback adapter. You can buy one (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products) or make one (see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page). You will want a remote release cable to avoid enducing vibrations or you will need to do the "hat trick" method where you cover the camera lens before you open the shutter and then recover the lens before you close the shutter. Your second item is for prime focus photography; you remove the camera lens and the telescope acts like a very long focal length telephoto. Tracking is difficult (to impossible) and any vibrations will ruin the exposure. You will be limited (generally) to very short exposures of bright objects when doing prime focus photography with the ETX. You best photographs will come from piggyback and your second best likely from doing afocal photography (shooting through the eyepiece with the camera lens attached). There are many adapters that allow this; see the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page.


Thank you Mike. 
I've got a good start now. :-)
Take care,

Subject:	CCD imaging
Sent:	Thursday, June 19, 2003 20:54:19
From: (Ty Benjamin)
Finally got a nice clear night, and I managed to see Jupiter's gas belts
and 3 of its moons...  I'm falling in love, and it's only a matter of
time before I buy a 125!  :-P

Here's a question:  Do you know anyone who sells homemade CCD/webcam
cameras?  I'm not "crafts inclined" but I don't want to spend over $2000
on a camera specifically designed for astrophotography either.....

Know anyone who would build me one?

Mike here: You could try out the Sonfest SAC imagers. They work nicely. You can see reports on them on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products as well as the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page.
Subject:	how to balance -125 with camera attached
Sent:	Thursday, June 19, 2003 21:30:48
I am thinking about buying the Meade T adapter and trying some
astrophotography with my ETX-125.  I am concerned that the weight of my
35mm SLR will be too much for the scope and the lock will not hold.  I
see on the bottom of the tube there is a plate with tapped holes, but a
counter weight would need to be at the front of the tube.  It seems that
a camera and counter weights might be enough to flex the optical tube. 
Also is the Autostar tracking good enough for one hour exposures?  I
would like to take pictures of deep space objects not just the moon.

Is astrophotography worth doing with the EXT-125 or am I trying to get
it to do more than it was designed to do.

Chatsworth, CA
Mike here: You can see many examples of DSO astrophotography on my ETX Site, so, yes it is possible. BUT it is not easy. Prime focus photography with a 35mm camera without some manual guiding (using an off-axis guider) will not work out too well as the drives are not designed for long duration photography. But you can add a counterweight (see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for more or purchase the Scopetronix Piggyback Adapter (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page), which does double duty as a counterweight when not being used for piggyback photography. Don't worry about the tube flexing unless your camera and counterweights are really heavy.
Subject:	Astrophotos without tracking
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2003 04:30:43
I am from Taiwan, in the East Asia. This is a great site that people can
share others experiences, I learned much here.

I have an equatorial mount; I am not familiar with Fork type mount,
although I ever used a Meade LX200-25. There is something always
bothering me: some photos in this site were taken without tracking, why?
Was it due to balance problem, or the camera was not attached to the

Clear Skies,

Mike here: For short duration photos, tracking may not be required depending upon the magnification of the image on the film or imager plane.
Subject:	Re: how to balance -125 with camera attached
Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 2003 23:19:35
How does manual guiding with an off axis guider work with an EXT-125?
Mike here: Just like it does with other telescopes except not as well. You place a star in the eyepiece that is near the object you are photographing and then use the slowest speed to correct tracking errors. You need to be polar mounted for best results. I haven't personally tried it though since I don't have one.
Subject:	Using iSight videocam for video astrophotography
Sent:	Wednesday, July 9, 2003 07:51:06
From: (Soehn, Keith)
Apple has just come out with a video cam called iSight as you might
know.  Looks like it is the right shape to be converted to a video
solution for videoastro work. ( I can't seem to get any dimensions on it
though.)  Any thoughts on this?

Clear skies,

Keith Soehn
Regina, Saskatchewan
Mike here: Since I was at WWDC I received an iSight. I haven't yet tried it for astrophotography but reports I've seen elsewhere indicate it won't do that well under low-light.
Subject:	Focal Reducer ETX
Sent:	Friday, July 11, 2003 01:49:07
Do you or others know if there is a f/3.3 focal reducer for the ETX90?
If so, can I use it with an Modified Toucam? (with 1.25 inch tube)?

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands
Mike here: There is the Shutan Wide-Field Adapter discussed on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page. It should work. I've used it with digital cameras.
Subject:	Stacking example astrophotography
Sent:	Sunday, July 20, 2003 03:22:50
Not the most interesting picture, but it shows the benefit of stacking.

Left the original frame of Andromeda. 16 seconds exposure with Olympus
2020Z digital camera with eyepiece projection on 40 mm Plossl on ETX90.
Lot of noise (warm weather) and tiny piece of the centre of Andromeda
(much light polution here).

Right 20 exposures of 16 seconds minus darkframe, aligned and stacked in
Registax. Looks much better.

Still no Andromeda Galaxy but if it's really not in the original  you
can never get it out of course.

This is just for 'fun' and shows what you can improve with
astrophotography with good stacking, aligning and working with

Greetings Job Geheniau
The Netherlands


Subject:	ETX125 - photo adapter + Canon EOS 500 problem
Sent:	Thursday, July 24, 2003 05:00:57
From: (Erick)
If I try to use an EOS Canon camera attached to my ETX125 connected with
a Meade #64 T-adapter, I notice a loss of  the "24x36 format" reflex
vision. About 15% of the top part of the picture in the camera
viewfinder is cut off... as if I had a new 20x36 format (with the focus
controls de-centered towards the bottom)

I get something like this:

|                         |                ______________      
|                         |                |                        |
|      0   O    0      |                |      0   O   0      | 
|                         |                |                        |
|______________ |               |______________|

I didn't take any picture so far. So, I am not sure that this problem
shall be visible on a picture itself.

Do you have any thoughts about what it could be?

Thanks a lot

Mike here: What you describe is typical, depending upon the camera and telescope. The focal plane is only so large in diameter and so may or may not all appear on the film. You can use one or both portions of the T-64 and see whether you notice much change.


Thank you very much for your quick answer. I appreciate.

Nevertherless, after having tried the 2 remaining possibilities with
each part of the adapter, I must admit that the phenomena is less
important with the shortest part. 10% instead of 15% and top part that I
said "missing" is in fact only darkened.(but a lot)

What I don't understand is why this part more than another (left, right
or bottom) I can correct this if I hold the camera at the rear without
adapter and that I play with the angle made by the optical axis and the
film plane. If I reduce this angle, the darkened part diminishes and
even dissappears. But in that case, I don't have a 90 angle anymore.

Attached to a Pronto, I had already noticed this problem in the past but
less important, about 5%.

Do you think that all this is related to the focal lenght of the
telescope. Or related to the camera itself....with a misaligned mirror
maybe??? Should I ask to Canon?

Thank you very much in advance for your comments

Mike here: It is related to the focal length and to the design of the camera. Cut-off can and will occur with many cameras.


Thank you Mike for your expalnation.
I've got also an answer on sci.astro.amateur that confirms a mirror
cut-off problem. There is a good chance that this will not appear on the
shots, so, I am happy with it!

Subject:	Help Me Please
Sent:	Thursday, July 24, 2003 19:24:18
From: (Michael Scotti)
My name is Mike. I have a MEADE ETX-90EC with the deluxe field tripod
and a regular Nikon SLR camera along with T-adapter, 2X Barlow, 25mm and
15mm eyepieces. How can I get decent pictures of Mars or any other
astronomical object? I really have no money to spend on anything else,
so if you can help me with what I have it would be great. I am new to
all of this so I would appreciate your help.

Thank you,

Mike here: First off, please read the "EMAIL SUBJECTS" notice on the ETX Site home page; your email was almost deleted unread as SPAM. As to your question, see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page. You will find prime focus a challenge but with patience and LOTS of film, it can be done.
Subject:	Question on Exposure times using a Coolpix 
Sent:	Thursday, July 31, 2003 15:04:53
From: (Javier Villarreal Nuez)
How can i determine the exposure time for a given object ?.
My equipment is very similar to that of yours, I have an LXD55 8"SC
UHTC, and a coolpix 5000 camera.

I'm about to go out and take my first astroimages especially of Mars but
i can't seem to find any tips on calculating exposure times and
apertures (FX.X). Like for example, do you use Shutter priority on your
camera or fully manual ?. I see 1/8 of a second is good but some times i
see somebody used 1/2 (for mars).

Is it true that for DSO the more the exposure the better?.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much
Javier ..
Mike here: The nice thing about digital cameras is that you can easily delete the bad images. Even with film astrophotography it is always wise to "bracket" the images for difficult exposures. That's what I do and then keep the best one. If you are planning to "stack" images then some underexposure will likely be better. I normally use a full manual setting on the Coolpix 995. Most times I use ISO 800 with Noise Reduction. Lens is wide open but typically zoomed to reduce vignetting. With bright and large objects like the Moon, you can use automatic exposures.
Subject:	RE: Question on Exposure times using a Coolpix 
Sent:	Friday, August 1, 2003 07:27:06
From: (Javier Villarreal Nuez)
Thank you, that seems just right.

One last question, what resolution on the camera do you use?. I know
resolution is limited by the resolution of the telescope, so for a 8"SCT
what would the best resolution be for printing/developing them ?.

Again thank you for your help and thank you for your great site. I'm
going out today to observe the heavens under dark skies and i'm
gathering all the info i can get.

Have a great day !
Javier ...
Mike here: I use 1280x960 and then reduce in software for posting. I suggest using the highest you have camera memory for.
Subject:	technical question for you,Mike!
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 19:45:27
From: (ROBERT Derouin)
I have a Nikon Coolpix 885 digital camera.It has a video mode where it
shoots "silent movies" of up to 40 secs in length.(320 x 240 pixels in
size).Movies are stored in Quicktime movie files.Do you think I could
use this in place of one of those Webcams(like Toucam)???Would I still
be able to use Registax or some other stacking and processing
program????I'm very new to this method of imaging but who can argue with
the incredible results!!!Would appreciate any input(feel free to post in
the photography section!!!!Thanks Mike!
                  Bob Derouin,Johnston,RI
Mike here: Yes, you should be able to do that using the QT movie file. However, I don't know if those programs accept native QuickTime; you might have to export the file in a different format and then use that file for stacking.
Subject:	Wanted to share my first photo of Mars
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 18:43:55
From: (A J)
I have been visiting your website for a while now and enjoy it. A couple
of days ago I was out playing with my Sony Cybershot 1.3 mega pixel
digital camera (p30) while I was waiting for my little ETX-90/RA to cool

I maxed out the resolution, set the focus to infinity, the white balance
to outdoor and the camera function switch to twilight. With the digital
zoom on my camera disabled, I zoomed in as far as the camera would go. I
forgot my mini tripod at home so I used a rock to steady the camera I
took aim at the little dot in the sky, turned on the self timer and let
it rip.

I got a single image. I then uploaded the image to photoshop, promptly
made a copy and used that to edit in case I messed up.

The image was large so I took the rectangular selection tool and made a
small box around the orange dot, copied the selection and made a new
image. I then enlarged the selection to 320 pix wide. I then repeated
the process using the same numbers. I remember seeing a photo in a
magazine about the use of Gaussian blur, so I tried that, set it to 5.2.

So now I have what looks like a quarter set on fire I thought about what
I could do about that. I selected the circular selection tool and
selected the outline of the disc, in-versed the selection and hit
delete. I now have a disc on a white background, this did not look too
good on a white background so I filled the back in with black.

The little dot in the white box is the image I started out with, actual
size. The disc in the center is after my edit.

This is my very first attempt at taking an image and trying to do an

Thanks for letting me share!
-Allan Jeffers
Denver Colorado

Mike here: I hate to burst your bubble of enthusiasm but you have attempted to get more out of the image than is actually in the image (that small version). That's why the large version looks so "bland". This is a common mistake by first-time astrophotographers. You have enlarged and enlarged and edited so that very little of the original image data remains. You first step would be to make the image as large as possible on the camera's image plane (but still in focus). You can do this with camera zoom and more magnification on the telescope end.



Oh well I guess I will keep trying. BTW, I shot the image with the
camera alone, not with the scope. I have yet to mount the camera to my

Subject:	Mac OS X Imager Stacker
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 20:28:56
From: (Mark Green)
Finally an image stacker for OS X:

Mark Green
Mike here: Yep. I have it linked on the Astronomy Links page. I tried one of the 1.x versions but haven't gotten to trying it since then. He's up to version 3.3 now.
Subject:	ETX90 and Astrophotography
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 21:16:14
From: (Alan H Leutloff)
Your website is great...I recently purchased a ETX70, your book then a
ETX90R/A .

I discovered my old Olympus OM 35 mm camera a few weeks ago when
cleaning out the garage...and promptly purchased the 64T adaptor for the
camera.  I am interested in "thru the eyepiece" photography...and was
thinking about purchasing the Meade Basic (or Projection) Camera
Adaptor....However a call to the dealer told me that you cannot take
eyepiece photography with the ETX90.  The primary photography is
great...but I would love to experiment with higher power/more detailed
photography.  Is there an eyepiece adaptor for the ETX90 that works? 
And what would you recommend??


Alan from Big Bear Lake, CA
Mike here: See my review of the Basic Camera Adapter on the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page. There are issues with eyepiece projection and film astrophotography on the ETX. Typically long exposures are required (except for the Moon typically) and tracking is not good enough for that type of astrophotography.
Subject:	Mike could you look at this picture?
Sent:	Saturday, August 9, 2003 12:54:52
From: (Linda Pauley)
Sorry to bother you  But I wonder if you get a chance could you give me
and opinion on the "Artifact" in this picture. I took it using a
standard eyepiece adaptor . And Im trying to track down what this is in
the image. I havent done anything to the image except crop and enlarge a
bit and add text.  I think I may have been using too much magnification
9mm ep and x2 shorty barlow as Mars is a bit blurry. But my curiosity is
the "Artifact". is this an internal reflection in the telescope or
between the ep and barlow? I know it Isn't "Real" but am wondering what
it is any ideas??
Thanks for your time.

Mike here: I suspect a reflection of Mars. Likely from the camera lens to the eyepiece and then back into the camera. The shape and shadows could be from the secondary.


Mike thanks for looking at the pic for me.. I suspected as much
(Correction hoped for as much since lens to eyepiece is something I can
correct!!) Thanks again

Subject:	Using Camera
Sent:	Tuesday, August 12, 2003 15:28:21
From: (Diane Rainey)
First let me say I have enjoyed your site.  I just got my Meade EXT70. 
I am completely new to this.  I have not had much time to spend with it
but I did purchase the t ring and adapter to take photos.  I have a
Minolta Maxxum 4 which is also pretty new.  I would like to take
pictures of the moon but I can't seem to get a focus in the camera. 
These are the steps I am doing...I have camera on manual, I get moon in
focus, I change the mirror to view in camera and then try to focus but
get nothing but just a brightness of the moon.  I need help.
Diane Rainey
Mike here: Not all cameras will be able to achieve a focus, depending upon their size. You can determine where the focal plane is located by holding a piece of paper at the rear of the telescope and projecting the image of the Moon or some daytime object on the paper. That is the distance that your camera focal plane needs to be at. I'm assuming the Minolta camera you have is a 35mm with a removable lens and that you have removed the lens and are using the telescope just like you would a telephoto lens.
Subject:	ETX 90 and Canon Digital D10 SLR Camera and Mars
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 10:27:45
From: (Wayne Huntley)
Can you offer me any direction when it comes to photographing Mars with
my Meade ETX 90 and my new Canon EOS Digital SLR D10 camera?  Mars is
just sitting up in the pre-dawn sky begging to be photographed.  I have
several adaptors available to connect my D10 to the ETX 90.  I just
purchased  Meade Variable Projection Adapter the Meade #64
ETX-90EC/RA/125EC T-Adapter and the T-Ring for the Canon EOS from
ScopeTronics.  Using just the T-Adapter and T ring I have been able to
use my ETX 90 as a primary lens and take some nice shots of the Moon.  I
guess I'm looking for some direction on the following:

1.  What shutter speed to use for Mars?  I can leave the shutter open
for 30 seconds if required.

2.  If using the Meade Variable Projection Adapter,  what is the best
magnification eyepiece to use?

3.  Do you have any tips for focusing when using the Meade Variable
Projection Adapter?  I'm not sure how close I should have the camera
body to the eyepiece.  Would the closer the better rule apply?

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Wayne Huntley
Cameron Park, CA
Mike here: Be certain to see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for lots of tips. Generally, you want the image as large as possible on the camera. Exposures for the planets are generally short, especially if you plan to "stack" the images. Your actual exposure is best determined by trial-and-error (easy and inexpensive with digital cameras!) but will likely be less than a second. Focusing is a challenge but you might find that the focusing aid discussed on the Telescope Tech Tips page would be useful.


Thanks for the fast reply Mike :-)

I've looked at the tips section.  But, my situation applies to digital
and SLR (film) cameras.  I can remove my lens.  So, I don't need to
worry about focusing the camera but rather the telescope.  My viewfinder
on the Canon D10 has a matte background.  So, it seems difficult to
focus.  Fortunately,  I have storage enough for over 400 6 MP images. 
So, I should get at least a few good shots out of the bunch :-)

I'll start taking pictures early tomorrow morning.  
Maybe I'll have some nice pictures to share :-)


Subject:	Re: ETX 90 and Canon Digital D10 SLR Camera and M
Sent:	Saturday, August 16, 2003 09:00:05
From: (Wayne Huntley)
Focusing is the difficult part.  
I'm not sure what it should look like through the ETX 90 using a Series
300 PlossL 10MM.  Should I use another eyepiece?

Do you happen to have any examples of Mars through a ETX 90 and a
Digital SLR?  The only good example I have for reference is the one
taken by Hubble and we know we can't get anywhere near that :-)

Thanks Mike,

Mike here: Mars should look the same way whether you look through a SLR (digital or film) as it does for your eye. I don't recall any specific examples but you can check the various astrophotography pages.
Subject:	Mars Images and Question (ETX 90RA)
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 13:19:53
From: (Paul)
I wanted to send you some of my Mars images (taken with my Canon G3) as
a means of comparison and also to ask you a question. First the images
were taken a couple days apart last week and have been through Photoshop
Elements 2.0 for some manual level adjustment and also for some USM
(Unsharp Mask). Now, the image that appears clearer, and with less
noise, was also sent through two additional noise filters in PSE 2.
following manual level adjustment, I first used the despeckle filter and
it removed some of the noise spots in the image. And the I ran it
through the dust and scratches filter and set a radius of about 4 (if I
remember correctly) to smooth the image even further (it was not like I
was worried about losing too much detail as of course there aren't any
craters or such that can be seen in the first place). Then I used the
USM filter to sharpen the image some more and bring out a bit more
detail. Personally I think the image that went through the two
additional noise filters looks nicer. Anyways, just wanted to share the
two images with you and your readers.

Also, I have a question/problem about astrophotography. I have had some
trouble locating Mars on my camera's LCD when I swap out the stock 26mm
eyepiece for the 40mm Scopetronix eyepiece with the camera attached (and
with 2x Barlow as well). Have you encountered a similar problem when you
add the camera? And this happens even though Mars is centered in the
stock finderscope (not the best I know) and in the 26mm eyepiece and I
have locked it in with the motor drive and RA lock. Do you think it
would be smarter to align the finderscope with the 40mm instead of the
26mm eyepiece? Just trying to find a way to make it quicker and easier
to use my camera with the scope.



Mike here: The telescope, especially the ETX, will shift somewhat when the extra weight of the camera is added. You can add a counterweight, which can help. A good aligned finderscope will also help; use a high power eyepiece and don't put the crosshairs OVER the object, put it in one of the four corners where they cross. Then it is easier to point more precisely at the object. I initially center the object in the 26mm, then I swap to my Coolpix 995 with a 25mm Scopetronix eyepiece + Digi-T. There is usually some slewing around to recenter the object.


those are some very good tips!

i experimented some with aligning the scope on a neighbor's roof exhaust
stack and did notice how the scope rises slightly in the front due the
added weight of the camera and eyepiece assembly. and i can see where
over a much larger distance (like looking 35 million miles to Mars!)
this rising action would cause some rather serious disparity.

i will definetly try your suggested technique and see how it works.

i also realize i would be better off with another finderscope as well.
have looked at that page of your website but not sure exactly which way
to go. i do like ScopeTronix so maybe there finderscope is the answer?

Mike here: Using a better finderscope is always an option.
Subject:	New Mars Photos
Sent:	Monday, August 18, 2003 19:36:20
From: (Wayne Huntley)
Thanks for the new Mars photos comparison.  It was a great help.  I
ordered the Kendrick Kwik Focus  to help me with my
focusing problems.  Hopefully,  I'll be successful before Mars
disappears :-)

Thanks again!

Mike here: Sunday night I made a "Hartmann Mask" for my LXD55-8"SC to help in focusing. This is essentially the same as the Kwik Focus; has two holes. I'll be posting details on my LXD55 Site once I get some photos using it.
Subject:	Setup with camera attached
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 05:58:14
I am getting ready to try some astrophotography with my ETX-125 and my
35mm camera at the prime focus.  I am not sure about the procedure to
setup the telescope.  It seems if I have the adapter/t-ring/camera
attached to the scope it will hit the base during alignment and if I try
to attach them after alignment I risk taking the scope out of alignment.

Mike here: Yes, on both accounts. Prime focus photography is a challenge with the ETX models but it can be done. If you don't need accurate GOTO for the first object then align, attach the camera, and then SYNC on a bright object near your intended target. Depending on how much slippage occurred when the camera was mounted you may or may not have tracking problems. But keep in mind that tracking is generally not that good for long duration prime focus photography. And in Alt/Az mode you would have field rotation as well. So you will be typically limited to very short exposures of bright objects.
Subject:	About an ETX Astrophotography
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 17:12:23
I found your web site a couple of days ago, and been reading it everyday
since.GREAT JOB. Now I got 2 question  for you. 3 weeks ago I bought
Meades Electronic Eyepiece that has a video-out  port to use in my
ETX-90. Couldn't pass it up cause the store was going out of business
and selling them for $25. Anyway I moved  up to the ETX-125 w/autostar
and WOW I'm impressed. Considering my 90 was the first older ones with
only a drive base. Anyway here is what I'm getting to.

1. Do you know what program to use to run images from the Analog video
port of the eyepiece to the USB to get the images on a laptop in order
to get some photos? Hardware and software needed?

2. And  we bought a Sony digital camera(Model#DSC-V1)  Is  it possible
to mount that to the ETX for some simple astrophotos? The ring around
the zoom lens of the camara doesnt screw off, but it does have internal
threads for mounting Higher zoom lens.

Keep up the awsome website
and I plan on purchasing your book soon.

Thanks you very much 

Mike here: I use Mac OS X and there are several applications that take video in from Firewire and USB. Can't say about Windows but I'm sure there are some. And yes, you can probably connect the Sony camera; see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for more info. The Scopetronix Digi-T System works well with many digital cameras and Scopetronix sells various rings for different filter size attachments.
Subject:	Deep Sky Object Astrophotography with ETX 90RA
Sent:	Wednesday, August 20, 2003 14:50:10
From: (Paul)
as you probably recall from my frequent emails, i have an ETX 90RA and a
Canon G3 that i hook up to it with a ScopeTronix MaxView 40. my camera
can take exposures as long as 15 seconds (not that long i know). do you
think this setup is capable of taking shots of say the Andromeda Galaxy
or other faint deep sky objects? and can you even make out those faint
object on the camera's LCD?


Mike here: You probably won't see M31 itself on the LCD but you might see a nearby star (if you look carefully). The camera COULD record M31 but you would likely have to stack several images to get a usable photograph.


so you would recommend finding the area as best you can with a standard
eyepiece (with 2x Barlow) and focusing as best as possible and then
firing away at max aperture (f3 for my G3 at 4x optical zoom) and for
maximum time (15 secs) and pretty much hoping for the best? is this
pretty much the same technique as required on dimmer planets like
Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune? i am guessing Jupiter and Venus are bright
enough to see clearly on the LCD?
Mike here: See my Hartmann Mask article on the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for some focusing info. Keep in mind that if you center the object in an eyepiece with your eye and then attach the camera, unless you have adequately counterbalanced the system, the location where the telescope is pointed will likely shift due to the weight of the camera. But yes, it can be a "hope for the best". Fortunately, you can easily delete images that are not what you wanted.
Subject:	Digital  Camera
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 15:25:15
What is the best digital camera to use with the ETX-125. Im looking for
something that will get great images and has adapters that I can
purchase to fit the etx-125. I looked on your web page and was
overwhelmed with all the info. Something in the $400 to $700 range is
fine. Thanks in advance. Jim
Mike here: The Olympus and Nikon models are probably the best for astrophotography (in my opinion). However, as you can tell from the examples on my Site, almost any digital camera can take photographs of some objects.
Subject:	Image of Mars 
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 15:58:03
From: (Julie)
The attached file is my first attempt at astrophotography and in fact my
first outing with a telescope. Taken under light polluted skies in
Edinburgh, Scotland using ETX-70AT with a 9mm lens and 3 x barlow and my
Olympus C220 digital camera.  Tried to tidy up the image a bit.

Not Mars

Mike here: Unfortunately it is not a photo of Mars. You have a picture of either the objective lens or a way out-of-focus image. Focus Mars to your eye and then take the picture with the camera lens set to infinity. This is a common mistake for new users.

Subject:	Re: Image of Mars 
Sent:	Tuesday, August 26, 2003 23:41:31
From: (Julie)
Hi, thanks for taking time to reply.

Is it possible that it was an out of focus image of Mars? I had to track
it across the sky and it was the only bright object visible in the SE
skies and matched the position of Mars on the sky maps.

When you say to take the picture with the camera lens set to infinity is
this the highest zoom on the camera?

Thanks for the quick reply and for running a great site!
Mike here: It could have been way out of focus (on the telescope). For the camera, if it is not a fixed focus type, then you should be able to adjust the distance setting for long distance (known as "infinity"). It does help to use some or full optical zoom as well.
Subject:	ETX owner from Spain
Sent:	Thursday, September 4, 2003 10:51:28
From: (Marco Garcia)
Above all, thank you for your web site and your book!!!. I write you
because I need some help. My name is Marco, I live in a village near
Santander, a city in the north of Spain, and I owned a ETX 125 EC since
february. It's my firs telescope and it's wonderful. In your web site,
I've seen the photos of Andrew Michie, taken with a Kodak DC 240. I've a
DC 240 too and I want to do photos through the telescope. My question
is: how work the EZ Pics Cam Adapter  of Scopetronix. Can I use it well
with the camera in the ETX 125?. To do the photos, it's only neccesary
the camera and the EZ Pics Cam Adapter? Anything else?

Have you a good photo of the EZ Pics Cam Adapter?, because in the web of
scopetronix and in your book, I can't get an idea of all the piece.

A last question. Do you know if Scopetronix sell theirs products to all
the world?.

Thank you very much and a lot of greetings from Spain.
Mike here: Have you checked the Scopetronix web site? I don't have any info beyond what would be available from them. And I don't know what Scopetronix's shipping policy is; check with them. Sorry I could not be more help. I have limited (and costly) internet access this week.
Subject:	question about deepsky photographing
Sent:	Friday, September 19, 2003 13:06:46
From: (A. van Kranenburg)
I'm thinking of buying the Meade ETX125EC, but I am somewhat confused
about it's optical quality and it's tracking precision. Although I am
certain you have these problems in you recent book, I was hoping you
could shed some light on this so I can make a more easy decision. I've
searched your website but could not find the specific topics. If I
overlooked please show me were they are discussed. Is it possible to use
the ETX125ED for some deepsky photography with normal film? Is it
possible to track for extended periods (30 to 60 minutes) to get sharp
slides from deepsky objects? Every dealer I contacted had a different
answer to this question so I hoped to get some clarity from someone with
practical experience. From Gary Seronik in his october 1999 article I
got the impression that a Newtonian with a comparable size actually
outperforms this Maksutov ETC125EC when it comes to planetary imaging.
Are these your experiences as well? Or has the telescope design been
improved over the years?

Thanks in advance for reading this mail and for sharing your experience
on the web.

Kind regards,

Arnaud van Kranenburg
The Netherlands
Mike here: As you can see on the Deep Sky astrophotography pages, the ETX can do some imaging of deep sky objects. But you can not expect to do long duration exposures (30-60 minutes) with it without the use of a guider (that's true of many telescopes, not just the ETX). However, since the ETX does not provide for PEC (periodic error correction) you could expect the occasional "glitch" in tracking. As to the ETX-125 vs another telescope, keep in mind that it is a long focal length (1950mm) telescope with a large focal ratio.


Thanks for your speedy reply,

What exactly do you mean by guiding? I'm Dutch and a lot of the English
terms in astronomy are a little bit difficult to translate because
they're so specific. Are you referring to manual correction when a
subject is slowly getting out of focus?

Thanks for your time,

Kind regards,

Mike here: Guiding is doing corrections during tracking. Few amateur telescopes will precisely track over long periods without needing some positional correcting. For 35mm film photography should could use an "off-axis" guider that lets most of the light reach the film plane. A small portion of the light is directed off to the side where you watch a bright star using an illuminated reticle or high power eyepiece and make small tracking corrections to keep the star in the same place.
Subject:	Scopetronix EZ-Pix
Sent:	Tuesday, September 30, 2003 19:03:20
From: (Craig J. Kopra)
I just read an email at your website from a fellow in Spain inquiring
about the Scopetronix EZ-Pix device for astrophotography for his
ETX-125.  If they do not ship abroad, I may suggest checking out Ebay
(, which is where I got mine at.  The only drawback may be
additional shipping charges.  As far as what comes with the EZ-Pix: he
should expect to get an additional adapter besides what is offered,
English instructions, and mini allen wrenches.

I had to use the EZ-Pix for my ETX-90 as my Olympus D-40 has no
threading for the other Scopetronix items.  It does the job, but can be
a pain sometimes just trying to set it up and hoping I got it right.  I
had to slightly modify my EZ-Pix because the additional spacer is only
good for so much and the camera lens and eyepiece holder are a slight
enough bit off to cause some minor vignette in the photos.

The EZ-Pix is good, but there are times when it can be a bit frustrating
enough to buy a new Olympus digital camera or Nikon for the other
Scopetronix products to hopefully make the entire process less of an
ordeal.  Perhaps that is going too far.

All the best,
Craig Kopra

Subject:	ETX 90 & Astrophotography
Sent:	Saturday, October 18, 2003 11:43:36
From: (Alejandro Bascolo)
I just bought an ETX90-EC UHTC that I would like to use for

Some people just told me that the ETX90 is too small for the motors to
support a piggyback mount with a heavy camera.

Should I take pictures only in polar position rather than in AZ so I use
only one motor and ensure a better life for the scope?

Thank you for your contribution. As soon as I get knowledge of my scope,
I will contribute with mine in your site.


Mike here: As you can tell from the ETX Site, piggyback photography CAN be done with the ETX-90 and many cameras. As to camera weight, yes, a really heavy one will cause problems. I have used a Pentax Spotmatic (1960's model) 35mm camera and a Nikon Coolpix 995 for piggyback without any problem. But neither of these are what I would consider "heavy cameras". I did try to piggyback one ETX-90 OTA onto another ETX-90 and the weight of the tube was too much. Adding an effective counterweight could help with heavy cameras (see the Astrophotography page for more info on counterweights). Polar mounting is required for long duration photography (piggyback or not) in order to avoid "field rotation" (which will appear if you track the sky in Alt/Az mode).


Thank you very much for your prompt answer Mike!!!

I have a Pentax P30-T model, the next one after the famous and now
expensive K-1000 (that I'm looking for).

I'm still discovering your site...

Keep in touch,

Mike here: Just like the Sky, there is a lot to discover!
Subject:	Astrophotography
Sent:	Sunday, November 2, 2003 10:45:45
From: (John Brians)
This is Guy from Israel.
I just recently recieved my ETX 125 and i want to connect a camera to
it. i have two cameras in mind actuall, one is the canon g3, and the
other is g5. i was wondering whether or not there wieght should be a
problem when connected to the scope in equatorial mode.. the cameras
weigh around 500 grams

thanx in advance
Mike here: Adding significant weight can cause slewing and tracking errors. You might want to consider adding a counterweight. See the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for some homemade ones.
Subject:	newbie coolpix990/etx60 question
Sent:	Monday, November 3, 2003 00:46:09
From: (Philippe Gautier)
First of all, congratulation for your website: it's an infinite source
of information for a newbie like me. I got a ETX60 very recently and
yesterday, I practised taking picture of the moon with my coolpix 990
(without digi-T adapter, just coolpix on a tripod against the eyepiece.
My question is: everything I've read so far seem to indicate that I
should set the focu on infinity, but in my case, I systematically ended
up with completely out of focus pictures! Here is the best ones I've
made: 9mm eyepiece, coolpix focu set to Macro/0.4m. Do you know why my
settings seem to be so different than everybody else. Is it beacuse I
use a ETX60 and not 90, 125, ...?

Many thanks in advance

Philippe, Edinburgh, UK
Mike here: If you eyesight is normal (corrected or uncorrected) then you can normally focus the object in the eyepiece to your eye. This is essentially "infinity". You can then focus the camera lens to infinity (for afocal astrophotography, which is what you are doing) and get a good focus. However, for some this does not always work. When I created the Hartmann Mask I discovered that I had to make a slight focus tweak myself.


Thanks for the reply. I still don't quite understand why my "best
setting", i.e. focus at 0.4m is so far from the INF setting.. I'll do
more trials .

Subject:	Astronomy Links For Your Site
Sent:	Sunday, November 16, 2003 21:26:37
From: (Paul)
Just wanted to pass these along to you:
A very nice Registax tutorial page can be found here:
Vincent Chan's FABULOUS H-Alpha Solar and also ETX 90 Galleries can be
found here:
and my humble ETX 90 gallery can be found here:

Subject:	ETX and Starlight Xpress
Sent:	Friday, November 21, 2003 15:32:05
Do you or others know, if it's possible to use a Starlight Xpress MX516
CCD Camera or equivalent on the ETX.

Will the result be better (I want to use it as a webcam, so taking 20
sec exposures max)? And can I attach it easlily on the ETX90.

replies to

Thanks in advance,

Job Geheniau
The Netherlands
Mike here: I searched the Site for "Starlight Xpress" and found a few hits. Seems to work through the eyepiece port.
Subject:	ETX 60 Imaging Question
Sent:	Monday, December 8, 2003 18:20:57
From: (frank busutil)
I recently sold my LX90 (saving for a LX200) and I am now using my ETX
60 to continue imaging. My camera set up is a Cool Pix 4500 with a
Scopetronix 14mm eypiece/adapter. I know that for bright objects( Moon
Pleiades etc.)  the ETX 60 will work just fine but i can't seem to get
much more beyond a few seconds before I pick up trailing or elongated
stars. My Mount is a table. Will any amount of leveling of the table and
scope along with as best 2 star allingment help the trailing/elongation
or should I just take a whole bunch of low exposures and work on my
stacking. I am having a great time re visiting the ETX60 and I assure
you it will be part of what I carry with me to Dark skies along with the

Thanks for a great site you have helped me a ton.
Frank B
Mike here: Trailing will occur for a couple of reasons: 1) field rotation if the telescope is mounted in Alt/Az mode. To avoid this you need to polar mount it. 2) with unguided exposures, the image scale when using an eyepiece is such that any error in tracking is compounded by the increase in magnification. In either case keep the exposures as short as possible when doing afocal photography and stack.


Kinda thought that Thanks for answering my question
Frank Busutil

Subject:	SAC IVb and MaC
Sent:	Tuesday, December 9, 2003 11:35:20
From: (Michael DiOrio)
I have an ETX125AT/UHTC and was told by email from SAC cameras that the
SAC IVb was the only one that they make that works with a Mac but I see
no info on their website about this.I was wondering if you or anyone
else Knows a about this.
Michael DiOrio
Mike here: I have the SAC IVb and it came with ReelEyes software that runs in Classic only. It is possible that the newer models MIGHT work with the Boinx ( iRecordNow software (which I use with the iSight for non-astronomical purposes; so far) but it seems to be Firewire only.


sorry to bother you again but what do you think of that camera?
Mike here: The iSight is really nice for video conferencing with iChat. It is also nice for use as a simple camcorder using the iRecordNow software. I just downloaded the iStopMotion software but haven't tried that yet. It does stop motion as well as time-lapse. As an astro camera it is not ideal though.


thanks again,how about the SACIVb?
Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page as well as the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for reports on the SAC imagers.
Subject:	Astrophotography with the  ETX-125
Sent:	Saturday, December 13, 2003 22:59:35
From: (Michael M. Leszczynski)
Many a thanks for the information your website provides to the ETX
community. If not for it I would still probably be trying how to align
the thing. I am an owner of a Meade ETX-125 and decided to give
astrophotography a try, purchasing a Canon G3 digital camera. Now, that
I think I have pushed the attainable limits of  quality with the
handheld afocal method, I'm wondering what kind of connector kit/mount
to buy for the 125-G3 combination. The popular Scopetronix products seem
to be rather expensive (when a working combination is purchased), and
most of the few comparable products seem to follow this trend. I've seen
a couple rather crude mounting products such as the one found at the
below link, they are lower in price but don't seem to be very accepted.

From your experience and knowledge, what would you say would be the best
way to go for afocal/eye piece projection photography? I am not
necessarily looking for the lower price, just something that has been
proven to work well with such a setup.

Thank you,
Michael L.
Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page for some adapters. Also, see the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page. The clamp-on brackett type work but are difficult to keep optical alignment when the camera is attached. Also, you can get stray light into the camera lens. The best results come from adapters do a physical mate of the camera lens to the eyepiece.
Subject: A question on Astrophotography using digital camcorder
From: "Marcin" (
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 21:31:38 +0100
Dear ETXers,

does anyone know software that can download a video from a digital
camcorder to a hard disk, via a FireWire link, when that video was shot
in PROGRESSIVE SCAN mode?  At the moment I have to use still photo
capturing software and download each frame of the video as a still
picture, one by one; that takes hours for a minute-long video...  But I
can not find any video capture software that can handle progressive
scan.  Any suggestions would be most welcome!

(FYI, progressive scan is a video option that could be most useful for
astrophotography, it is like a movie, except that there are fewer frames
per second and each frame has twice higher resolution than in normal PAL
video. So in fact it is a series of sharp still pictures, something that
would serve as a perfect input for AstroStack!)

Thanks in advance,

Marcin Bruczkowski
Warsaw, Poland

Mike here: Although I haven't tried a progressive scan DV video, I would think that iMovie, Final Cut Express, or Final Cut Pro would do that (assuming you have Mac OS X).


Nope, I have Intel/Windows - based PC. But these days a lot of software
has versions for both platforms, I'll check those out.

Mike here: Those are best in class and Mac only. Sorry. But there are similar programs for Windows; beyond Adobe Premier, I don't know what they would be. I'm sure the Windows crowd will chime in.

Subject: ETX 90 Astrophotography Beginner
Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2003 14:43:08 EST
I just recently purchased the necessary equipment to connect my Nikon
SLR to the back of my ETX 90 so that I can experiment with taking some
pictures of the moon.  I just set everything up in daylight to get a
better understanding of the system before I attempt to work with the
moon.  I have the scope attached to a T adapter which is attached to a
T-ring which is attached to my camera. I have the mirror flipped as
well.  Turns out, I can't see a thing through the camera viewfinder. 
All I get is a very fuzzy cross-shaped spectrum.  Is it just extremely
out of focus, or am I doing something wrong?  I tried focusing in both
directions for some time without any improvement.  I was afraid to focus
too far for fear of messing up the telescope lens somehow.

Also, I noticed in your astrophotography galleries that people list
eyepiece powers with their pictures.  According to the way my telescope
is set up, there is no place to put an eyepiece between the telescope
and the camera, is there?   It would make sense to me that you would
need an eyepiece to focus the light into the camera, the same way it
works when you view just through the eyepiece in the top of the scope. 
It would also make sense to me that you would need an eyepiece between
the scope and camera to be able to adjust the view ("zoom") to bring
objects in closer.  However, nothing I have read so far (including some
of the "basics" items on your web site) tells you to use any eyepiece. 
So, why do people list eyepiece powers when describing how they captured
a photograph?  Am I missing something?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Mike here: There are several types of photography: afocal, eyepiece projection, prime focus, or piggyback. You are doing prime focus, where the telescope acts just like a telephoto lens for your 35mm camera. You do have to focus the image on the camera's focal plane. Be certain you are using a very distant object during your tests. You can remove the camera body and focus on a piece of white paper to see where the camera's focal plane must be. That would tell you whether or not you should be able to focus with the camera inplace. Don't give up; just recognize that prime focus photography with any telescope is challenging. Keep in mind that you will need to keep the exposure lengths short to avoid trailing since you won't be able to accurately track on an object. See the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for lots of info on astrophotography.


Thank you very much.  I will try focusing on a more distant object.  I
was only using the a pile of wood in my back yard a couple of hundred
feet away.

Subject:	Hartmann Mask Questions
Sent:	Wednesday, December 24, 2003 11:51:57
From:	Stu Mitchell (
First, great site! I really appreciate all the info.I have a hard time
focusing my Nikon 4500 through a 25mm eye piece and an ETX-70. Usually,
I set the camera to infinity, prefocus the telescope, hook everything up
and then zoom in on a bright star. (I use a Hauppauge WinTV adapter and
Hocus Focus to watch the star.) Then using the focus on the scope, I
tweak the setting until the star is as small as possible. However, I'm
still not pleased with the results. Perhaps the Hartman mask may help
and I have a few questions.1) Is there anything special about the size
of the holes in the mask?2) Can it be scaled to fit the ETX-70?3) Do you
remove the mask after everything is in focus?I also discovered that
Picture Window pro can be used to help remove the chromatic abberations.
I ordered a Baader contrast filter, which I hope will help,
Mike here: The holes just need to fit in the available diameter but if you make them too small the image may be too faint to see in the camera. And yes, it should work scaled down to the 70mm aperture. You should probably remove the mask unless you want a really large f/ ratio.


Thanks for the reply! I did a little poking around on the web and came
across this interesting URL. (...the guy
added a third, triangle shapped hole to help determine which direction
to focus. If a person had some programming experience (ala Hocus Focus
theme) and an electronic focuser, he/she could build a neat tool.)

It's supposed to be clear tonight, so I'm looking forward to giving this
a try. Sure wish my LXD55 SN-8 was delivered in time for Christmas! It's
due in mid January and I'm sure I'll be sifting through the helpful tips
and tricks on your web site.

Happy Holidays and thanks again for an info packed site.



Subject: Digital Photography
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2003 20:07:00 -0700
From: "Harry McKee" (
Great site Mike!!  How would I take digital pictures from my new
ETX-125ATC?  I assume I need a digital camera that will properly attach
to the #64 T-Adapter, but wanted to run it by you to see if the process
even works.  Thanks!

Harry McKee
Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page as well as the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page. Lots of info on connect various model digital cameras.

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