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: email@example.com (Keith Quattrocchi) can you recommend a reliable, easy to use program to stack mult planetay images 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 thankyou KeithMike here: There are two standard Windows applications: Astrostack (http://www.astrostack.com/) and Registax (http://aberrator.astronomy.net/registax/). Right now there is only one Macintosh application that I know of: Keiths Image Stacker (http://keithwiley.com/software/keithsImageStacker.shtml). 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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 pics... 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, AndyMike 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! Andy
Subject: Camera Adapters Sent: Friday, January 3, 2003 22:45:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. SherfyMike here: What choices did Scopetronix give you?
Subject: Astrophotography Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2003 3:42:39 From: Buckcomm@btopenworld.com (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 eyepiece). Many people must be having this problem, e.g. people using web cams. Do you know of an adaptor available. Thanks BillMike 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: email@example.com (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- WA7NYMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Thanks, 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 From: Mikelad1@aol.com 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 MonahanMike 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: email@example.com (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 company..... I would be very grateful for an answer to the above adapter question. Best regards Jonathan King IrelandMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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 anyway........my question is......do 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 ok.....im thinking they didnt....wont know till i see them......in 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?......do i have to use a different camera?....so 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit My Webpage At: http://www.angelfire.com/ny2/dave2xlMike 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: email@example.com (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 chance. Thanks for a great site/info yours in the way Paul F. CampbellMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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, PaulaMike 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, PaulaAnd:
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: www.scopetronix.com
Subject: Off axis question Sent: Saturday, March 1, 2003 3:47:11 From: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.And:
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 From: email@example.com 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 HalliganMike 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: ABOU@fr.ibm.com (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: ABOU@fr.ibm.com (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 (applelust.com) 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 started... Ray.
Subject: a question Sent: Saturday, March 8, 2003 15:42:25 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. geneMike 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: email@example.com (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! AlexMike 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 From: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (email@example.com)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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Thanks, Chuck Callaghan Fla.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: email@example.com (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 Craig East Anglia UKMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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! marcusMike 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! marcus
Subject: Questions Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2003 17:45:32 From: email@example.com (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? Thanks. Robert ZaballaMike 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 From: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 instruments? Job Geheniau The NetherlandsMike 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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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? Thanks, FrankMike 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: email@example.com (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 ETX?? Hope you can provide me with some useful information! Freek Bekker Delfzijl the NetherlandsMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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? Thanks!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.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?
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
Subject: Question digital camera Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2003 05:25:22 From: email@example.com 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 www.xs4all.nl/~geheniau firstname.lastname@example.orgMike 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: email@example.com (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 SemanMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. -Collin-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: email@example.com (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 LouChurchMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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, MarcMike 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, Marc.
Subject: T-Adapter Sent: Friday, June 6, 2003 18:42:33 From: email@example.com (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! ~TyMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 SemanMike 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 From: SMITHDG@gru.com 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. SmithMike here: I don't use either of these Windows-only applications.
Subject: Canon 10D Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2003 09:44:39 From: Stephen_Eis@Instron.com (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 this? 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 EisMike 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, Steve
Subject: CCD imaging Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2003 20:54:19 From: email@example.com (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? ~TyMike 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 From: KlaraColli@aol.com 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. Tom Chatsworth, CAMike 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 From: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 telescope? Clear Skies, JackMike 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 From: KlaraColli@aol.com 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@siast.sk.ca (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 CanadaMike 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 From: email@example.com 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 NetherlandsMike 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 From: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 darkframes. Greetings Job Geheniau The Netherlands
Subject: ETX125 - photo adapter + Canon EOS 500 problem Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 05:00:57 From: email@example.com (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 ErickMike 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 ErickMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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, MikeMike 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: JVILLARREALP@gruma.com (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: JVILLARREALP@gruma.com (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: email@example.com (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,RIMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 off. 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 edit. 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.
Bummer. 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 scope.
Subject: Mac OS X Imager Stacker Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 2003 20:28:56 From: email@example.com (Mark Green) Finally an image stacker for OS X: http://keithwiley.com/software/keithsImageStacker.shtml Mark GreenMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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?? Thanks, Alan from Big Bear Lake, CAMike 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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Thanks, Diane RaineyMike 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@whuntley.com (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, CAMike 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 :-) Wayne
Subject: Re: ETX 90 and Canon Digital D10 SLR Camera and M Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2003 09:00:05 From: email@example.com (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, WayneMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Thanks, Paul
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? PaulMike here: Using a better finderscope is always an option.
Subject: New Mars Photos Sent: Monday, August 18, 2003 19:36:20 From: email@example.com (Wayne Huntley) Thanks for the new Mars photos comparison. It was a great help. I ordered the Kendrick Kwik Focus http://www.kendrick-ai.com/kwikfocus.html to help me with my focusing problems. Hopefully, I'll be successful before Mars disappears :-) Thanks again! WayneMike 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 From: KlaraColli@aol.com 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. Tom ChatsworthMike 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 From: AnthonyRukcic@aol.com 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 AnthonyMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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? thanks, PaulMike 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 From: email@example.com 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. JimMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Julie
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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (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 NetherlandsMike 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, ArnaudMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 (www.ebay.com), 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: email@example.com (Alejandro Bascolo) I just bought an ETX90-EC UHTC that I would like to use for astrophotography. 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. Cheers, Alejandro.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, Alejandro.Mike here: Just like the Sky, there is a lot to discover!
Subject: Astrophotography Sent: Sunday, November 2, 2003 10:45:45 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 guyMike 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@hgu.mrc.ac.uk (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
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: email@example.com (Paul) Just wanted to pass these along to you: A very nice Registax tutorial page can be found here: http://www.threebuttes.com/RegistaxTutorial.htm Vincent Chan's FABULOUS H-Alpha Solar and also ETX 90 Galleries can be found here: http://www.pbase.com/chan_ysc and my humble ETX 90 gallery can be found here: http://www.pbase.com/sdpaul/etx_astro_telescope_g3 thanks, Paul
Subject: ETX and Starlight Xpress Sent: Friday, November 21, 2003 15:32:05 From: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com Thanks in advance, Job Geheniau The Netherlands www.samage.net/~gehenoiau/astronomy.htmlMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 LX200. Thanks for a great site you have helped me a ton. Frank BMike 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: email@example.com (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. Thanks Michael DiOrioMike 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 (http://www.boinx.com/) 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? MichaelMike 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=65&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=6&iSubCat=29&iProductID=65Mike 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" (email@example.com) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Warsaw, Poland
Nope, I have Intel/Windows - based PC. But these days a lot of software has versions for both platforms, I'll check those out. Thanks!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 From: DoItFun@aol.com 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. -KathyMike 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 (email@example.com) 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, too.Thanks.StuMike 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. http://cometman.com/mask.html (...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. CU Stu
Subject: Digital Photography Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2003 20:07:00 -0700 From: "Harry McKee" (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 McKeeMike 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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