Last updated: 30 June 2002
This page documents astrophotography comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome. Be certain to see the other articles on the main Astrophotography page.
Subject: Astrophotography with Olympus C-3000 and ETX-125 Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2001 12:56:56 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter Rossi) I have an Olympus C-3000 Digital Camera that I would like to use with my Meade ETX-125EC Telescope to take photographs. I have purchased the Scopetronix Digit-T Camera Attachment System for the C-3000. A very impressive collection of adapters I might add. The camera is a really nice unit. It takes GREAT pictures except when I try to use it with my scope. I must be missing something. No matter what I try, I cannot get the photos in focus when I use the camera with the telescope. I take the photo but everything is blurred. I have tried manually setting the focus of the camera to infinity. I have tried automatic focus. Blurred!!! I am starting to run out of ideas. Can someone out there in the ETX Nebula, shed some light on my problem?? I am sure I am just missing one little item, but what is that item. How do the rest of you C-3000 owners deal with astrophotography?? Mike, keep up the FANTASTIC job!!! Your Web Site is my absolute FAVORITE!!! Thanks Again: PeteMike here: Some thoughts: Use a low power eyepiece with the Digi-T and focus it to your eye. Then attach the camera to the Digi-T. Center a bright object, like the Moon or some terrestrial object. If you can disable auto-focus, do so. If not, focus for infinity. The image should be in focus on the LCD screen. Next, to avoid blurring from hand-induced vibrations, use the self-timer. Try automatic exposure first (since it is a bright object). Once you have these techniques down you can move to fainter objects with longer exposure times.
Subject: Do I need a drive corrector? Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2001 18:24:06 From: email@example.com (Ken Bratz) About 6 months ago I purchased an ETX 90EC. This is my first scope, and I have to say that I am quite the rookie when it comes to some of the specifics spoken here. I would like to get into some Astrophotography, but I am not sure I have the right equipment for it. I have a Canon EOS SLR camera, both of the camera adapters from Meade, and I also purchased the JMI Piggyback Camera Mount that I read about on your site. My question is this: What exactly is a dual axis drive corrector and do I need it for astrophotography with the ETX 90? I have read a little about them, but I have to say that I am still unclear as to what it actually does for the scope. I am also considering purchasing the Celestron Guide Eyepiece. I obviously would like to begin with some piggyback shots, then progress into some prime focus shots in the future. I know that my scope may not be the best for some photography applications, but I think this is a good place to start my new hobby. I researched the scope before I bought it and finally came to a decision based mostly on the positive reviews from your site. Thanks for all the info you have for rookies like myself! I'm sure there are plenty of us out there! Ken Bratz San Diego, CAMike here: The ETX-90EC with or without the Autostar has dual-axis control but it will require manual drive corrections during tracking. That's where a guide eyepiece helps. However, since you are using the eyepiece you can't take photos through the eyepiece without some additional equipment. But for piggyback astrophotography this setup works fine. Remember to polar mount the ETX. If you add an off-axis guider attachment you can guide and do photography through the telescope at the same time but I've not tried one with the ETX.
Subject: Polar alignment for astrophoto Sent: Monday, October 8, 2001 23:39:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (G. Yedema) At the risk of asking a very stupid question: I was reading the mails on your site, and quite a few make the remark that for making astrophoto's, the scope (I have an ETX70) has to be in polar alignment. Here's the stupid question: why is that? In Alt-Az. the scope is compensating the earth rotation so in theory it will stay pointed at the same location... or isn't it? Is it perhaps that movement over two axes isn't precise enough? I hope you can give me an answer... Sincerely, Gerben Yedema Leeuwarden, NetherlandsMike here: When a telescope is NOT polar mounted, the sky will rotate in the field of view of the eyepiece or camera. This is due to the movement of the telescope in two directions (altitude and azimuth) versus one (Right Ascension). For very short duration photos this is not a problem but for longer ones trailing will occur.
Thank you for your answer! After thinking it over (a few times...)it now seems logical to me; it is, in alt-az. mode, as if the whole sky moves around one point; that point only keeps ok on the photo while everything around it seems to circle around it... Thank you again for making that clear to me!
Subject: Vibration and astrophotography Sent: Monday, October 8, 2001 16:36:29 From: email@example.com (David Milne) I'm about to buy a telescope, and wish to take photos, as that's my real love. I've noticed, while going through your fascinating site, mentions of SLR mirror shake when using 35mm cameras. Years ago I had a wonderful camera - manual, with a mirror lock up, which I used with a 1000mm lens for lunar photography - no vibration! The camera, alas, is no longer made, but is readily available in second-hand camera shops at very reasonable prices - the Olympus OM-1. Easy to use, compact and light (an issue with balance I have also noted in your pages). Olympus also were a great producer of microscope accessories, adapters etc, so I would imagine it's worth looking into - once I have my telescope, I may find an old OM-1 and give it a try - any promising results I'll add to your website - keep up the good work, it's an encouragement to us all. So we can't compete with Hubble, but it's amazing what a little care and attention will accomplish. As for the digital photo stuff, I think I'll have to give that a go as well. Regards,
Subject: RE: Jupiter Photography Sent: Monday, October 15, 2001 19:03:44 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jean-Yves Beninger) Here is the details of the webcam I used for the Jupiter's shots. It's amazing what can be done nowadays with double sided tape and cheap but powerful components. Cheers Jean-Yves Beninger
Subject: astropghotography Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2001 19:51:17 From: email@example.com (Ken W Anderson) I have found your website on astrophotography a valuable tool for a begginner. However I would like to share a problem I have been having and would like to know if it is me or the one hour photo lab Im sending my pics to. Attached is a JPEG of a index print of some lunar pictures. As you will notice that some pictures turn out and some dont it veries thruout the roll. As I take eyepiece projection pics I will change eyepices in a dark room to avoid light exposure. Now since I have a inconsistancy on the pics is it a product of the lab or is it me changing the camera adapter? The film I used on these was a ISO 400 Fuji. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
I am using a zenit em it is a manual camera.The shutter is closed when I change eyepieces. What I find so strange is that some pictures come out and some dont. Whether they are at the begining or the end. Another question how about putting the pics on cd? instead of processing the film.Mike here: I like PhotoCD, which is higher quality than JPEG on CD-ROM. It is also more expensive. But that won't change the processing or exposure problems.
Subject: EXT125/digital camera question Sent: Thursday, November 8, 2001 5:53:15 From: Jeanne_Callaghan@progressive.com Mr. Weasner, my huband Chuck has a Meade ETX 125 telescope that I bought him for Christmas last year. I got that model after finding your website (thank you for your website - it's wonderful) and he loves it. He's even corresponded with you a few times regarding accessories etc.. With the weather recently turning cooler down here in Florida he's been out every night for the past few weeks since the sky's are so clear. Well, this year I'd like to get a digital camera for him and saw that Scoptronics has the adapters for digital cameras, I am thrilled. I am starting my research and I'm open to any models but I'd like to keep the price under $1000, if possible. My question to you is in your corresondence with others have you heard of one or two digital cameras which perform better with the telescopes than others? Is there anything in particular that I should be aware pertaining to the cameras which is specific to using them with telescopes? For example, I know that there are various pixel's etc and are there any requirements that I should specifically look for since this will be used on the telescope? I know I have alot of research to do but I wanted to make sure I had all my bases covered when it comes to the telescope. Thank you so much. I'm sending this from my work e-mail address so he won't find out. Thanks, Jeanne CallaghanMike here: Almost any digital camera can take good pictures through a telescope. If you want to attach it using the Scopetronix Digi-T System you will need a camera that is supported by the Digi-T (i.e., has adapters). Another consideration is degree of control over the exposure. For objects like the Moon, fully automatic exposure is likely OK but for fainter objects you will need to control the exposure manually. Some cameras even allow exposures of up to 8 or perhaps 60 seconds. And don't forget a self-timer feature; you need that to allow vibrations to dampen out after pressing the shutter button.
Thank you so much for the quick response. I would not have thought of the self-timer and exposure issues you mentioned so that is very helpful. Yes, I plan on buying one of the Digi-T adapter on the Scopetronics website. I appreciated the fact that they listed the camera models which can use Digi-T, fortunately the models I am considering are all listed.
Subject: PantherObservatory Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2001 13:31:17 From: DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland) I thought this site might interest you as he uses the Coolpix 995. Check out the tips and gallery sections. Don http://panther-observatory.com/And:
I found this one and I think it might head off a lot of questions about digital camera imaging. Hope this link works better. Don users.erols.com/szykman/Astro/AstroDigiCamFAQ.html
Subject: Trick to focusing camera? Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2001 22:37:06 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bryan Morris) I've been using my ETX-90EC for awhile now and figured I'd try taking some pictures. I am polar aligning and the tracking and everything works great. I bought the camera adaptor that holds an eyepiece and attaches to my Nikon FM10 SLR camera. I tried Jupiter first as it was bright and easy to see. First I tried putting the 26mm eyepiece in the adaptor and putting the whole thing into the ETX, focusing to my eye, and then attaching the camera and taking a couple exposures. Those pictures came out as white doughnut looking images. I also tried attaching the camera, putting the whole thing on the telescope, and then focusing the telescope while looking through the viewfinder on the camera. I could see the doughnut. I focused enough to see Jupiter as a single disk... more or less. Those pictues came out better, as I could see a single white blurry disk and 3 blurry dots to the sides (moons). My problem is that it is nealy impossible to focus through the camera viewfinder because the image is very dim and not very clear, even after focusing back and forth a few times. I couldn't imagine trying to focus a star cluster or nebula. Can someone share the secret or point me to a good source for figuring this out? Thanks for your help! -bryanMike here: Yes, that is one of the challenges of SLR astrophotography. However, there is a neat item that can be purchased or homemade. See the "Focus Aid" article on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
From: email@example.com (Bryan Morris) Thanks! I took a piece of cardboard and cut out my own homebrew focus aid. I think my next batch of pictures should come out better! This last round I experimented with exposure times on Jupiter and Saturn. Thanks for the tip! Its amazing what you can do with cardboard... -bryanAnd another thought:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) The basic guidelines for eyepiece photography is: (a) focus the telescope for 20/20 vision (b) focus the camera at -infinity- (aim and focus at the moon?) (c) put the camera lens as close as possible to the eyepiece lens (that minimizes "vignetting".. the "through a too-small-tube" effect) (d) shoot. you can practice during the day with distant, well-lit targets have fun --dickAnd:
From: email@example.com (Bryan Morris) Thanks for the reply! I am not using a lens on the camera. It is attached to a Park eyepiece projection adapter. An eyepiece goes into the adapter, and then the two are attached to my camera via a T adapter made for Nikon cameras. This effectively turns the whole scope into my lens. I focus with the same focus knob used for normal observing without the camera. The hard part though is that its very difficult to focus through the viewfinder on the camera due to its dark focusing screen. I was wondering if theres any trick or cheat method to doing this. Thanks! -bryanAnd:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (richard seymour) hmmm... i'm not at all familiar with a method that uses an eyepiece, but -not- a lens in the camera. I'm used to either: no eyepiece, no camera lens *or* eyepiece -and- camera lens (which was what my focus guide covered) Can you focus on items in the daytime? I'd always thought that an eyepiece didn't deliver the proper light path to create a real image on an (unlensed) external film plane. Live and learn. Given -your- arrangement, i'd try focusing on the Moon (if available) and trusting that setting for elsewhere in the sky (if 250,000 miles isn't close to "infinity", what is?) Otherwise choose the brightest target possible (like Sirius). (there -are- other focusing screens available.. and some are far better suited for star-work (of course i don't remember which ones)) have fun --dickMike here: That's real "eyepiece projection photography". Eyepiece + camera lens = afocal photography.
Subject: Telescope Sent: Monday, December 10, 2001 21:31:25 From: JakeELee98@aol.com I have a mead telescope but used to take pictures with a nokia camera, I had gotten a new camera (canon) but the adapter piece does not fit(the piece that attaches to the lense hole to the telescope). Do you know where i could find what I am looking for.Mike here: Are you talking about a 0.965 to 1.25 inch eyepiece adapter?
Its not an eyepiece adapter. Its a connection that converts a regular 35 mm bayonette attachment to a threaded attachment for the telescope. Its a ring with 3 or 4 hooks on one end and adapts it to a screw like endMike here: OK. It sounds like you are referring to a T-Mount ring. There are specific ones for each camera lens mounting design (bayonet or screw). Your local camera dealer should be able to help you.
Subject: ETX 60-AT Eclipse Photo glitch Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2001 21:19:29 From: FGutcher@aol.com Using my ETX 60-AT and the great JMB Solar filter I got from Scopetronix, I shot the attached photo of yesterday's solar eclipse. The odd thing is I got this strange inverse double image. It was not at all apparent through the eye piece or the camera's viewfinder. I was using an old Nikkormat attached to the rear cell of the ETX. It was there, with variable distance between the images, in every frame. I have taken pictures of the moon with this same configuration, without the filter of course, with no problem. Any ideas? Thanks, Frank
I think you are probably right. However, I did make sure it was on there snug. It is one that just slides over the objective end of the scope. The only direction I could try would be out, meaning further from the objective lens but I am a little leary of having it come off at a bad time. Again, its not something that I noticed visually. Maybe photography in this configuration isn't going to be an option. I will do some experimenting though. I'll keep you posted.And more:
One other thought on the double image reflections. I may have to make a different choice of film. I was using Fuji 400. Maybe something with less latitude and speed might not pick it up. Fuji 400 is far more sensitive that my eyes. Maybe less sensitive film won't pick it up either. By the way, I just went back out with the scope and looked at the sun (between the clouds we are having here in Florida today) and confirmed that it isn't there when I look through the silly thing. I will try and figure out how I can vary the distance between the filter and the objective safely. The one thing that confuses me about that is that the ghost image varied in distance from the main image. So distance of the filter from the objective must be only one factor. Angle of image through the filter and the objective must also play a part. I would like to hear from others using an ETX 60-AT and a solar filter for photographing the Sun and maybe get a handle on what works and what doesn't. Thanks again Mike for the great web site!Mike here: You are correct that exposure level influences what is captured on film. And your earlier comment about the varying distance is what keyed me to it being a reflection. As you move the scope side to side (or up/down), the angle of entrance of the Sun's image changes and so does the angle of reflection.
Subject: etx60 video attachment Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2001 5:06:03 From: email@example.com (Tuvia Solomon) I have a Meade etx60 scope and want to attach a Sony Hi-8 trv-87 8mm video camcorder. What is the simplest way to do this? I have seen products from Adirondack and Stratton for hundreds of dollars which are generic adapters. I want something cheaper and simpler which will enable me to view and record a terrestrial image on the camcorder. Is there such a thing, or is it preferrable to buy the Meade electronic eyepiece? I read that it has 76k pixels, my Sony has something like 320k pixels. Is this different in resolution important, given the task? Also, can the electronic eyepiece be fitted over both a plossl 4mm and a Barlow 3x together? Thank you for responding. Tuvia Solomon firstname.lastname@example.orgMike here: Simplest is placing the camera on a tripod and pointing it at the eyepiece. Next simplest (and better) is either the Universal Digital Camera Adapter or the Digi-T from Scopetronix. You may or may not be able to use the Digi-T. For other adapters see the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page. I have no experience with the Meade Electronic Eyepiece so can't comment on that.
Subject: re: ETX 60-AT Eclipse Photo glitch Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2001 13:44:05 From: email@example.com (Richard Hayes) I'm using my etx 60, Canon G1, scopetronix digit-t, and a homemade solar filter (solar mylar, plumbing cap, glue...) and haven't noticed any secondary images like Frank is seeing. (my pics are at members.shaw.ca/rph/sun_spots.htm). If the distance between the two suns varies then I'd say it probably is internal reflection - if you get the scope pointed dead-on at the sun then the weaker image might not show up in the photo. Maybe it's not the filter that is causing the reflection. Check the camera end to see if there is any extention tube that is shiny on the inside. Just throwing ideas around... Ricardo
Subject: About Your own camera Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2001 12:20:51 From: Briguy730@msn.com (Brian Gaines) do u have an SLR digital camera...In your photos u use a 55mm lense...cant u only do that with an srl....but how did u get it on ur pc if it was an asl and not digital??Mike here: Yep, I also use a 35mm film SLR camera as well as a digital camera. See the "Original Astrophotography - Basics" page (linked from the Astrophotography page) for more on 35mm film to digital.
Subject: Questions about astrostack Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2001 21:34:48 From: Briguy730@msn.com (Brian Gaines) when using astrostack I am only able to use two images i cant get anymore than that...can u give me some help
Subject: Eyepiece Sent: Friday, December 21, 2001 11:05:44 From: GSkoubis@ussco.com (Skoubis, George) I was trying to shoot a picture of the moon (full shot) with a digital camera hand held to my ETX90. I was wondering what eyepiece would give me that wide shot since the 26mm does not and show big time vignetting. Will a meade 40mm give me that shot, or would I have to buy a special wide angle eyepiece? Thanks-GeorgeMike here: There are a couple of factors at work here. The distance between the eyepiece and the camera lens will affect both the size of the image and the amount of vignetting. If you digital camera has a zoom or macro capability, try that. With my Ricoh I could not zoom enough to capture a full moon image but could with a wide field adapter and 40mm lens.
Subject: vignetting Sent: Sunday, December 23, 2001 13:01:26 From: Briguy730@msn.com (Brian Gaines) what does vignetting meanMike here: From my response to this same question on the current Feedback page:
Subject: Astrophotographs Sent: Friday, January 4, 2002 12:22:07 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Coles) I've got a ETX 70 AT and I'm going through all the options of purchasing an SLR, and wondered what most people did regarding devoloping. Do they tend to develop thier own or get them done from a shop? Any Info regarding this would be very helpful Regards MattMike here: A long time ago I used to develop my own film but I stopped (no time). I then used standard photo processing (not the 1 hour variety). Today I use PhotoCD processing. I know that others use 1 hour and pictures-on-disk.
Subject: Re: Astrophotographs Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2002 2:51:04 From: email@example.com (Matt Coles) Would you recommend me starting piggy backing? Do you find it hard and do most of the photos come out? Is it better to get a scopetronix piggy back mount or a meade one? Thanks for your time MattMike here: Piggyback astrophotography is the second easiest way to get started in night sky photography (the first is to just point the camera at the sky and leave the shutter open for several minutes or hours; you get nice star trails and star colors that way). I don't think Meade offers a piggyback adapter.
Subject: ISO Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2002 10:23:11 From: Briguy730@msn.com (Brian Gaines) what does ISO mean?Mike here: International Organization for Standardization. You can visit their web site at: http://www.iso.org/
Subject: re;Cheap CCD Sent: Sunday, January 6, 2002 12:27:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Smerdon) I tried to email one of the people who posted here about a cheap CCD. the email was returned undelivered. So I will share this with everyone here. There is a man by the name of Steve Chambers who has discovered a way to modify certain CCD webcams to take long exposure pictures. and has written software for it free. check out his site. with links to people who have performed his mod with great results and some nice pictures. in these links also you will find other mods. A wide field adapter for the webcam mod looks to be promising and cheap if you have an old set of binoculars laying around www.home.clara.net/smunch/atm.html another site www.astrabio.demon.co.uk/QCUIAG/ This is a site of people who use unconventional ways to take astrophotos. A nice site with downloads. there is one download that looks like it would be of use to everyone taking astrophotos. I can't remember the name of it. but it claims that you can take a series of long exposure pictures from a static mounted scope and there will be no star trails so the pictures can be stacked. lots of pictures here. Now I don't know how much use the etx 125 will have for a long exposure cam. but its cheap enough to try and the experiment should be as fun as the scope itself. I'm going to try it, I will let you know how it comes out
Subject: A question on cameras for astrophotography Sent: Wednesday, January 9, 2002 00:06:47 From: email@example.com (Blais Klucznik) To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) Hello Clay, Just read your interesting, and informative, article on piggy-backing with the ETX125 posted on the ETX site. As a result I wonder if you could make a suggestion? I have an Olympus OM SLR that I purchased about 15 or so years ago but as I am just now getting a bug to try my hand, and luck, at astrophotography. I was wondering if you could suggest a decent camera that I may consider buying? My second question is 'should the new camera be of the digital type or still one that uses standard types of films'? As your astro-photos are magnificent, as is all of your work that I've seen, I thought I may be able to pry a suggestion from you. I have gained much from your wisdom and your experience. Thank you Clay and have a nice Wednesday. Blais Klucznik email@example.comAnd:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Sherrod) For piggyback photography, the digital cameras are not recommended as the signal noise accumulates and destroys the integrity of the good image. With stacking and dark frame subtraction, you CAN get good results, but by all means what you have - the Olympus OM camera - is the best 35mm ever made for astro work! You can change focusing screens on it to aid in precise focusing and there is also a viewfinder magnifier available for it; the mirror can be flipped up out of the way as well, aiding in vibration reduction. I highly recommend you put that OM to good use! For the ETX 125, you can't beat the Scopetronix piggyback adapter. Good to hear from you! Clay ---------------------------------------- P. Clay Sherrod email@example.com Arkansas Sky Observatory www.arksky.orgMike here: Thanks. The other problem with digital cameras for piggyback astrophotography that most will only allow exposures upon one or a few minutes. For short duration photos of less than a second or a few seconds, they work well. So, for planetary and some brighter deep sky objects, digital cameras can work. See the Astrophotography page and the Astrophotography galleries.
Excellent point.....one which I totally overlooked! ClayAnd this:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Blais Klucznik) Once again I must say that you folks are amazing. Not only are you well versed in astronomical topics but your prompt responses are in a class by themselves. I do wonder if you people actually sleep. It seems just a few hours ago that Dr. Clay responded to me on camera selection. (Wee hours of the morning.) I have decided to give the piggy-back for the -125 a shot and did order the mount from Scopetronix. Maybe after several years I may obtain images something not too unlike Clay's although THAT is a challenge. In fact I am going to do some deep site observing at the 'Mighty ETX' hangout and try to read the related articles there. Thank You Blais Klucznik email@example.comAnd:
Best of luck...you will really enjoy that piggyback mount. By the way.....SLEEP? Clay Sherrod
Subject: RE: Meade ETX for Planetary Astrophotograpy? Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2002 14:16:36 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Lee Polikoff) I actually have been exploring your site over the past few weeks. I do have some questions for you, if you have the time to answer. 1. How well does the ETX 90 or 105 keep the object centered for visual observing? 2. How suitable is the #883 Field tripod for astrophotograpy? Would I need to buy a better tripod? Thanks in advance for your time. BTW, as I'm sure you know, your site is excellent!!!! Lee -----Original Message----- From: Mike Weasner [mailto:email@example.com] Subject: Re: Meade ETX for Planetary Astrophotograpy? In article (grLfirstname.lastname@example.org), "Lee Polikoff" (email@example.com) wrote: > Are the ETX's good for Planetary Astrophotograpy? See the Astrophotography Galleries on my ETX Site.And:
Thanks for the info. Is the new #884 tripod any better, or is it comparable to the older #883? Is there a tripod that you would recommend? I read thru what you had on your site, but it was confusing to me.Mike here: The new #884 is more sturdy than the #883. So is the #887. I don't have either however.
Subject: Astrophotography Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2002 15:50:56 From: XxGnEiSeNAuxX@aol.com I have the proper camera and equipment. Will the camera pick up on the different colors?Mike here: It will pick up colors. Whether they are proper or not depends upon the film (or imager) sensitivity to various frequencies and (with film) whether it suffers from color shifting with longer exposures.
Subject: How can I eliminate star trails using a digital camera Sent: Monday, January 14, 2002 7:01:16 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron) I am using a Kodak DC4800 camera to take pictures through my DS2130ate and to eliminate vingetting I use the 3x zoom but seem to get some star trails. When I set the camera back to approx. 2x zoom it reduces the star trails but gives me vingetting. My question is: Is there another way to eliminate the star trails? Can I change the tracking rate, and would this work? I am new to Astronomy and Astrophotography and any help would be appreciated. Thanks RonMike here: There are a couple of factors at work here. First, by zooming in you are magnifying the motion and so what motion doesn't appear at the lower magnification can appear at the higher magnification. This means that you need to address the root cause of the trailing so that regardless of the magnification, no trailing is evident. HOWEVER, doing that requires a lot of patience and work. So, you must precisely polar mount and align your telescope (trailing can't be overcome in Alt/Az mounting without adding a field derotator device). You might want to see the "Getting Started in Astrophotography" article (linked from the Astrophotography page).
Thanks Mike for your quick response and suggestions for the problems. You have an excellent Web Site here! Ron
Subject: digital cameras Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 12:04:51 From: email@example.com (saber) Ive checked out your astrophotography link, do you have any actual info on the cameras themselves? Obviously I could check out the products on their own websites but it would be better if I could see what astrophotographers think of them. Cheers SamMike here: The only info available is what is there in the user comments about the cameras. It would be nice to have a comparison of several different models but that would require that someone have several different current popular models.
Subject: Picture quality? Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 19:01:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Hewit) Another thing I was wondering about is how do people get such amazing pictures from their ETX's? I would have thought that if you attach a camera to the back of the telescope it is just the equivalent of looking through a 1250mm lens? How do they get such hugely magnified, clear pictures when I can just about make out details through a high magnification eyepiece? Also if a picture has a 20-30 minute exposure surely even with the excellent tracking ability of an ETX the image will wander a bit? Definately going this time... John hewit.Mike here: Film and digital imagers are more sensitive than the eye and can "store" information better than the eye. Plus you can "stack" photos (overlapping, essentially) to add up the data on the film/image to improve the picture. And yes, long exposures can have "image trailing" unless you manually guide the telescope during exposure. This works best with piggyback astrophotography the camera is mounted on the telescope tube and takes the picture through its lens while the telescope tracks the sky (manually assisted by the user at the eyepiece). For more information on astrophotography, see the Astrophotography page.
Subject: Nikon 800 and my ETX70 Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2002 12:31:15 From: email@example.com (Jack Slater) I ordered the Digi-T from Scopetronix but I'm concerned about using it on my 70. Is it possible, while the scope is adjusting, that the mounted camera can run into the scope base? If so, how do I manage this or do I?Mike here: Yes, this is a possibility. You can reduce the chance of a problem by rotating the camera body to be parallel to the telescope tube. This should let it avoid the forks when the telescope slews to high altitudes.
Subject: AFocal adaptors Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2002 19:09:52 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Drew) I read an article on how to make your own afocal adapter by Luettjohann@gmx.de (Stephan Lttjohann) This info is in part about the Kodak DC240/DC280/DC3400 Zoom Digital Camera's, and or any other Cam, Dig or Film with built-in lens's. These cams have a lens that hides when powered down (shut off) their for it would not be wise to use a "lens adapter" that attaches directly to the cameras main lens for use with A-Focal imaging. The results can be real bad. The cam will auto shut down on LOW BATTERY! (not if you have portable power) this can do several things. One (1), The cam will stay "ON" but not function until the batteries are removed!. Two (2) The cams lens will malfunction requiring that the unit be serviced!. Three (3) the cam will fall out of the Adapter and hit "terra firma"!.awww geeezzz :-( All of these scenarios are a bad thing, So "think" before you "do"!. Kodak has Lens adapters for these cams and others, and it might even improve the final results. Drew
Subject: Digital Photography Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2002 18:01:32 From: email@example.com (divenuts) While waiting for Dr. Clay to do his magic on my ETX-125, I found an excellent site for digital cameras of all types. It is a forum that covers everything imaginable...FYI http://www.dpreview.com/ As always..my gratitude for your site, Chuck Callaghan
Subject: (no subject) Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2002 20:34:01 From: FinalFunk7@aol.com do you use a etx-90 to take your pictures? and would a etx 125ec yield bigger and better pictures than the etx90?Mike here: I have used both my ETX-90RA and the ETX-125EC. You can get brighter images and more magnification with the larger aperture.
Subject: Using Zenit TTL Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2002 17:47:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (jon dunne) Great site!A few questions:1/What are your views regarding the use of the Zenit TTL camera with the ETX 70AT?Is it too heavy?I have the T-Adapter ring which came with the telescope but do I need another piece of gear to attach the camera?What is this piece called and what would I ask for in my local camera shop?Finally,am I right in thinking that the the ETX 70AT comes wih a 2xBarlow lens?If so why did mine come with with what I think is a 3xBarlow?On the little box the Barlow came in it says:'#128 3xTelenegative Barlow lens (1.25")'.Am I misunderstanding this? Thanks and again....a GREAT site!!Mike here: I have no experience or familiarity with this camera. Normally, to mount 35mm removable lens cameras (if that is what it is) you remove the lens, attach a T-Mount ring which is specific for certain camera models. That ring then attaches to the camera adapter, which attaches to the telescope. You can see these adapters discussed in more detail on the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page. As to the Barlow being included, I don't think there is any included with the ETX-70AT but if you got a 3X, use it.
Subject: nice ETX astrophoto Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2002 10:22:25 From: email@example.com (Robert Pollock) I've enjoyed your site for several years and have owned an old ETX90 RA and an ETX90EC that I bought for a trip to Africa. I found on a trip to Australia that mounting a camera on the old RA mount in place of the tube can give great wide feild pictures. Here is one (resolution reduced for easy transfer).
I have a small website that shows several approaches to Astrophotography and the results. It is at: home.att.net/~r.a.pollock/ I also have a site that is sort of the antithesis of yours. Yours is everything about ETX scopes, mine is something about most all scopes. It is: home.att.net/~telescopebluebook/ in case you want to list it in your links. Thanks again for your site! RaP
Subject: E125 and Olympus and Minolta digital cameras Sent: Monday, February 18, 2002 15:17:07 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Great site! Thanks so much for keeping it so current. I have one question and one comment: 1. The Minolta D7 - I have the same setup that Joe Kazup wrote about. You simply cannot do any better with it because of the size of the Minolta's lens. After trying and trying and trying, I now use my older Olympus c2000. 2. The Olympus C2000 - is there a remote cable for this camera? All I have is a remote timer control but no cable. I live in Tokyo and I THINK the guy at the shop I go to told me that there is no such thing as a remote cable, which I find hard to believe. So I have to push the shutter button on the camera, which does wonders for in(stability). Thanks for any help/advice you can give... Barry Halpern, Tokyo, Japan
Subject: Astrophotography Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 12:26:15 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Alex Kuziola) For the past several days, I have read article after article after article about ETX astrophotography, about which methods work and which ones don't, due to the "sluggish" ETX drive system. Then many of the articles contradicted each other saying some methods that the other article said worked, in fact, didn't work. My question: What is the bottom line? What is prime focus good for? Bad for? What about piggybacking? What about CCD imagers for the ETX (e.g. SAC-7)? What method would be best for photographing deep-space objects through the ETX? And one more unrelated question...on the subject of filters: when I ordered my scope, I ordered both a LPR broadband and narrowband nebular filter. Because the dealer was out of Meade LPRs, he substituted a Celestron. He assured me the specifications were identical, so I agreed to the substitution. To the best of your knowledge, are the Meade and Celestron filters pretty much interchangeable, that is, yield the same visual effects? Thanks for your help and for the great site. AlexMike here: Well, the good news is that you can do astrophotography with the ETX. And the bad news is that you can't do astrophotography with the ETX. Hope that clears things up... The real story is that you can do some kinds of ETX astrophotography on some objects with some equipment. There are many examples of ETX astrophotography on my ETX Site; some poor, some good, and some really amazing. All it takes is patience, luck, and some effort. But that's true no matter what telescope you use.
Piggyback astrophotography, with the camera (using a film camera) riding on the telescope tube, is the simplest form of astrophotography with a telescope. The telescope drive tracks the sky and so the stars stay in the same location on the film. This works great for exposures of a few minutes to about an hour. The telescope MUST be equatorially mounted (polar mode) to avoid "field rotation" during the exposure. (See the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page for some piggyback adapters.)
Prime Focus photography works for just like using a telephoto lens of the same focal length as the telescope. So, depending upon the telescope you may get a lot or a little magnification. Optically, this is the best choice to reduce light loss and keep exposures short. The ETX drive system is normally not accurate enough for exposures longer than a few seconds as best. (See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page for info on adapters.)
Eyepiece Projection, where an eyepiece is used to project an image onto the camera's film plane, is nice when you need more magnification than Prime Focus provides. Unfortunately, it only works with cameras that have a removable lens. Due to the light loss exposures must be longer and then you run into the ETX drive limitations again. Focusing can be a real challenge. (See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page for info on adapters.)
Afocal Photography, where an eyepiece is used along with a camera lens, works nicely with digital or other cameras that do not have a removable lens. You focus the eyepiece for your eye and the camera to infinity and shoot. This is likely the next easier to do after piggyback photography. (See the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography page for info on adapters.)
CCD imagers (expensive) and imagers like the SAC system work well with the ETX. But keep in mind the drive limitations for long exposures. (See the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page for info on the SAC imager.)
Astrophotography of brighter DSOs can be done with the ETX models, given the above constraints. Again, there are many examples on the ETX Site.
As to the Meade vs Celestron LPR, I have only the Celestron one and it works for me.
Subject: Re: Astrophotography Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 20:40:14 From: email@example.com (Alex Kuziola) Mike- I appreciate very much the time you put into your reply...I am grateful. Epiphany! I think I finally have this all pieced together...correct me if I'm wrong... The big problem with ETX astrophotography is that, with the exception of piggyback astrophotography, the camera is using up the "visual port" for the scope, which prevents the esteemed astrophotographer (E.A.) from seeing what the camera sees, and thus prevents the E.A. from making minute corrections, corrections that are necessary due to the ETX's less-than-perfect drive system and that especially are necessary during long-exposure astrophotography. Right so far? And the reason SCT and similar scopes are favored for long-exposure astrophotography, aside from focal length, is because of the fact that they have more accurate drives as well as off-axis guiders where the E.A. can see what the camera is seeing, thus giving the E.A. the ability to correct whatever tracking errors there may be. And since there are no off-axis guiders available for ETX's, prime focus, afocal, eyepiece projection, and CCD photography are not the best methods, due to the ETX's sloppy drive system and the E.A.'s inability to make corrections. Whew...I think I finally understand this stuff now...am I right? :) If I'm right, read on. If not, disregard the rest of the note, as it presumes the above is fairly accurate. ScopeTronix just came out with a Large Accessory Ring for the ETX models that allow the connection of SCT accessories to ETX-90 and -125 models. If a E.A.were to purchase a SCT off-axis guider and possibly a reticle eyepiece, is it concieveable that prime focus astrophotography is possible with the ETX? Thanks again for your help! Alex Kuziola, E.A.Mike here: Well, you are essentially correct. The ETX can do astrophotography of all types, as can be seen on my ETX Site. And there are probably off-axis guiders that will work (you'd need one of the SCT adapters also). But the drive system is not designed (nor priced) to accommodate the minute corrections needed for accurate guiding at large magnifications. I've guided for piggyback photography (examples on the Site) using an illuminated reticle eyepiece but the image scale on the film is very small.
So, basically the fact that the motor drives are a pretty jerky, especially at high magnifications, is the primary reason why, in your words, "the drive system is not designed (nor priced) to accommodate the minute corrections needed for accurate guiding at large magnifications." Thanks once again for your great advice.Mike here: The drives were not designed with astrophotography in mind since these telescopes were not intended to be used for astrophotography. The fact that the telescopes CAN BE USED to take some amazing photos is what counts. If you want a system designed for astrophotography, you'll need to spend more money.
Subject: Digi-T and Scopetronix 40mm Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2002 14:31:13 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Kaye) Can I ask you some advice. I want to to do some more imaging and am just about to purchase Scopetronix Digi-T system for my Nikon 995 as it looks like a good product and will help with imaging. However my lowest power eyepiece is the Meade recessed 26mm that came with the scope and I believe this may cause too much vignetting especially with shots of the moon . Therefore I was considering one of Scopetronix eyepieces - either the 30mm or 40mm eyepieces. My first thought was the 40mm but I see it has quite long eye relief and wonder if this too will cause too much vignetting? Looking to the 30mm, will this give me much advantage in terms of FOV over my 26mm. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thanks, Michael.Mike here: I have been planning to try the Digi-T on the Scopetronix 40mm but just haven't gotten around to it. But the long eye relief could be a problem.
Subject: ETX Astrophotography Sent: Sunday, March 3, 2002 15:18:20 From: email@example.com (Alex Kuziola) Hi Clay, Before I start, I want to thank you for your advice on the black wire situation yesterday. I just read your article on Mike Weasner's site on ETX Astrophotography. I am certainly one of those people who gets mesmerized by the colorful astrophotographs pasted everywhere. I have committed myself, if its the last thing I ever do in life, to get a photo of that quality using the ETX and nothing but the ETX...no ETX riding piggyback atop a mega-scope...a photo involving the ETX drives. Anyway, now that I've gotten my life's goal out of the way, let me get to the point. For the past several weeks, I have spent nearly every spare moment researching different types of astrophotography and their associated advantages and disadvantages, prices, etc... (I know, I have no life)... Anyway, I have ruled out CCD imagers, after my awakening discovery of their very small fields of view with the ETX, even with a focal reducer or two. I'm now looking at a piggyback setup with a camera...I'm debating whether to go 35mm or digital. While I like the price of a 35mm camera, several factors are holding me back: 1) Cost of film (averaging $5-$6 per roll); 2) Developing costs; 3) Having to wait for the prints to figure out if I did something wrong; 4) Having to wait for the prints PERIOD. So, I've been considering that in the long run, a digital camera, although much more expensive, might be the best option, since none of the above factors or their costs are involved. I'm currently looking into the 5.0 megapixel Sony DSC-F707 (their top-of-the-line camera model), which has all the goodies, including full-manual everything (exposure, focus, etc.), remote controlled shutter release, a f2 focal length and even a nifty automatic noise subtracter built in. Anyway, my question is, given for all intents and purposes that the 35mm and digital models have practically the same features, do you think that the digital camera would yield the same or better results than the 35mm? Basically, I'm concerned that when I point this digital camera into the sky and take an exposure, nothing will show up. I know it sounds crazy, but it will be an expensive lesson to learn. Also, I realize that you're probably not an expert in digital photography, but if you could list some potential problems (and/or advantages), in your view, using a digital camera for astrophotography I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much for your time! Alex KuziolaMike here: Take a look at the Helpful Information-->Astrophotography. You'll see all kinds of examples and comments about 35mm and digital camera astrophotography. I took some neat photos last night using my Nikon Coolpix 995 that I'll be posting soon.
Subject: Astrophotography Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2002 17:20:18 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John) Would a Sony TK-1070U COLOR CCD CAMERA have any use on an LXD55 Newtonian or any other astro photography applications?Mike here: As you can see from the photos posted on my ETX web site (in the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography and Astrophotography Galleries), CCDs, digital cameras, and video cameras can be used to make some amazing photos.
Subject: First scope for astrophotography? Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2002 16:38:42 From: email@example.com (Joseph Taylor) I've been looking into purchasing an ETX-90 or ETX-105 for awhile, and for now, leaning towards the ETX-90. I live in the city and need something portable to take out into the desert. The main reason for the telescope purchase is to experiment with astrophotography. I'm not looking to do anything serious such as deep sky photography. It's strictly a hobby. I know that the ETX-90 has the ability to have a lightweight SLR mounted to its back, but I am wondering if there have been any issues with cameras being to heavy for this scope. I'll be using a Canon ELAN IIe. In your opinion, is the ETX-90 a good system to begin with? Thank you, Joe TaylorMike here: As you can tell from all the evidence on my ETX Site, the ETX-90 makes a fine first instrument. I'm not familiar with the Canon camera but yes, too much weight at the rear of the ETX will cause drive and axis slippage. You could make a counterweight system to offset the weight.
Subject: ETX astrophotography Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2002 17:22:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joseph Taylor) I'm getting ready to purchase an ETX 90 or 105 for the purpose of astrophotography. I saw on your web site that the ETX line really isn't the best for doing time-exposures. With your experience, what is the longest exposure one could expect, with good results, with one of these systems? Joe TaylorMike here: Seconds, except for piggyback astrophotography.
Thank you for responding so quickly. For the time-exposures, are you talking only a few seconds, so 4-5 secs., or longer, like 30-45 secs. For piggy back exposures, how long can I go?Mike here: Seconds, <10 for best results, and probably shorter. For piggyback, hours if you manually correct the tracking, 30 minutes or more unguided (but tracking with a good polar alignment) when using a wide angle or normal lens.
Subject: Polar alignment & Star Trails Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2002 17:36:22 From: email@example.com (Terry Pierson) Thank you for a wonderful sight...It helps beginners such as myself very much......I have a etx 90 ec with a canon rebel 2000 camera, with the usual bells and whistles to take astrophotography pictures. Been having success at piggyback & and prime focus astrophotography in alt az mode and exposure times under 1 minute for the moon, jupiter etc etc...... My first roll of film in polar mode, all shots of M-42 5-10 minutes exposure all came out with star trails......Examining them, it appears to be in focus, so I've narrowed it down to the polar alignment was incorrect........Though I will say, the alignment process sure appeared correct.....Any ideas, or perhaps a detail I missed?....... Thanks for your time...... Terry Pierson PS: Just for fun, I was out the other night, stayed out two hours, shot a roll of film, came in the house pleased as I felt I'd done every step correctly, and discovered I had NO FILM in the camera........LOL, Now thats as basic as it gets.....:)Mike here: Are the star images trailed in curved lines or just squiggly lines? Curved lines would indicate an imprecise polar alignment. Squiggly lines would be from drive tracking errors. And imprecise polar alignment can come from not putting the alignment stars (assuming a two star align) in EXACTLY the same place in the eyepiece field-of-view. Also, you would need a very precise location (not just a nearby city) in your Autostar.
Thank you for your prompt response......I don't post many messages, but I read every update and learn that way.....My shots are about 50% curved lines and 50% squiggly indicating that my polar alignment was incorrect, and I have some tracking errors to repair as well.....Regarding location in the Autostar, are you telling me to input my lat & long in lieu of my city listed on the Autostar?.........Also, I studied your response about placing alignment stars exactly in the same spot of the eye piece FOV......Seems to me, I'd need a off axis guide in order to achiever exact location everytime I take a shot.....Is there another way?Mike here: Your position on the Earth is important for the alignment process to be real accurate. If your latitude is different than the one listed for the City you input you should input your exact location. However, some difference is acceptable depending upon the length of the exposure. But why not go for 100% accuracy on this entry. As to centering the stars in the same way, you can use a high magnification or even center with the star image out of focus and hence larger. Alternatively you can purchase an illuminated reticle eyepiece (see the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page).
Subject: Piggybacking w/Meade DS-114-EC Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2002 5:22:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Don Bailey) Can someone tell me if the mount (alt/az) for this scope will allow the extra weight of a 35mm camera with a 135mm telephoto lens? I would like to use this setup to shoot comets. Thanks for your reply, DonMike here: You should be OK however you will get "field rotation" in your photographs unless you mount the telescope in polar mode. For short exposures or short lens focal lengths you may not notice it but with the 135mm lens and exposures of several minutes you will. You may also need to use a counterweight to keep things in balance.
Subject: ETX 70 with CCD Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2002 0:30:54 From: email@example.com (Dave Brown) Would you please give me guidance on the following:- I have an MX7c camera and AstroArt which I use on my 8" LX200. I'm considering buying an ETX 70 so that I can take deep sky images at dark sites. Will the MX7c and AstroArt keep the EXT 70 aligned accurately enough to permit this. DaveMike here: Doubtful. The drives are not as precise as your LX200 systems, nor is there a Periodic Error Correction mode. That doesn't mean you can not use the CCD with the ETX-70AT, it just means you'll have to keep the exposures short.
Thanks for answering my email. I'll probably give it a try and let you know the outcome. Once again, thanks; you've produced a great web site. Dave Brown
Subject: Which Camera and adapter for ETX-90 RA Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2002 17:26:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kendell and Donovan) I have 4 cameras to use with my ETX 90 RA and would like to know which camera and adapter you recommend. I have the following cameras: Canon AE-1 Canon A-1 Canon F-1-old style imported by Bell & Howell Minolta XE-7 I have no adapter as yet. Please provide me the part number if it wouldn't be a problem. Thanking you in advance for all of your help. Very fine web siteMike here: Personally, I don't have any of these cameras. For starters, I suggest you take a look at the Canon and Minolta pages on the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page and then look at the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography for info on adapters.
Subject: Digital Video Astrophotography Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2002 17:26:17 From: Wryword@aol.com Hi Mike, I was wondering if you or anyone has tried digital video photography with the ETX scopes, particularly the 125. There's an article on the Sky and Tel. website about it, and a link to "Astrovid" for those who want a camera specifically devoted to this kind of use. Do you or anybody else have any thoughts or recommendations about this.Mike here: Take a look at the Astrophotography Galleries and the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography pages; you'll find several examples of digital video astrophotography with the ETX telescopes.
I'm not a complete grifter on your site. I bought your book, seeing as how good your site is and how knowledgeable you are. Can't thank you enough for the link to Dr. Clay. On maybe a personal note, I have often gone to the part of your site about your brother. That was a very loving, kind thing you did. John Henry, a/k./a Wryword, Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Subject: Stacked Image? Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2002 18:33:19 From: Wryword@aol.com On the part of your website showing digital camera images, everyone refers to a "stacked image". What's that?Mike here: Stacking images is a technique (manual or automated by software) to overlay images, thereby reducing noise in the final image and increasing contrast and bringing out details that might not otherwise be evident.
Subject: digital astrophotography Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2002 22:06:55 From: email@example.com (Russ Whaley) I keep coming back to your site every month or so to catch up on the latest on the ETX60 & 125. I am trying to get into astrophotography. I have purchased a T64 adapter and mounting ring for my Minolta SLR camera. I have an older Olympus digital camera that does not have a manual focus (nor a 'bulb' mode for extended captures). I am interested in purchasing a new camera and was wondering if you had any recommendations? I have looked at the Sony Mavica CD300 and the Olympus 700UZ. While I will have other uses for the camera, it needs to meet the needs of my astrophotography first (I have a digital camera for other uses). Whatever information you have would be great. Thanks for your help and the great site! Russ WhaleyMike here: I have the Nikon Coolpix 995 and really like it for astrophotography and general use as well. See the Helpful Information-->Astrophotography section for examples and tips on various models of digital (and film) cameras.
Subject: Telrad and Piggybacking Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 2:15:53 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ralph E. Trimble) I purchased a barely used Meade ETX125EC about two weeks ago (photo attached) and have been busy purchasing accessories for it (as the weather has been MOST uncooperative here lately for actually USING it) and would appreciate your opinion on a potential problem. I would very much like to try piggybacking my 35mm camera to the 125, but it already has a Telrad finder attached to it. (See attached photo.) Of course, the Telrad can be removed from its base/mount, but the base/mount itself is pretty well permanently attached to the tube. I have been looking at the ScopeTronix Piggyback mount online, but I don't know if the 'strap' or bracket that goes around the tube will also go around the base allowing me to use it. I don't know if the ScopeTronix piggyback has a flexible belt, or solid metal strap. I would certainly appreciate your advice on this matter. I already have a Meade T-Adapter and T-ring for my camera, as well as a ScopeTronix Digi-T Ring set for my Sony Mavica FD-83 digital camera, but I would like to try piggybacking as well. Since I haven't been able to use the 125 more than once since I bought it, I've been spending a great deal of time reading and printing articles from your wonderful ETX site. I also just received your new book on the ETX in the mail from Amazon. I must thank you for making my introduction to the ETX125EC *SO* very much easier! Many thanks in advance for any help you can offer. All the best, Ralph Trimble email@example.com Markham, Ontario, Canada (just north of Toronto)
Subject: Site LInk Sent: Friday, April 26, 2002 17:04:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Greg Beeke) I've been trying to see how far one can push an ETX90/EC as a CCD Imaging platform. I have been using long exposure modified webcams in prime focus and piggyback mode. I though you might like to link to my site, which give details of my set up and some images, including deep sky. BTW I've learnt a great deal from your sight, especially relating to tuning the ETX mount. Thanks Greg Beeke 52N6 1W22 www.greg.beeke.btinternet.co.uk
Subject: basic camera adapter Sent: Saturday, April 27, 2002 12:22:19 From: email@example.com (Chad Wagoner) I have a Minolta SLR camera and an ETX-90EC. I have tried to use the basic camera adapter with prime focus and afocal projection, but I have run into the following problems. When using this adapter at prime focus, how do you focus the image? The camera viewfinder is much to dark to discern the image. When using the adapter in afocal projections with an eyepiece in the adapter. Do you focus the image using the eyepiece and then attach the camera to the T ring? Needless to say, my initial tries at astrophotography have been frought with problems. Mostly focusing issues due to the dimness of the camera view finder. I have Astrophotgraphy for the Amateur, but it is difficult to apply at times. Any support you can provide would be greatly appreciated. thanks, chad wagoner ---------------------------- "I want to know God's thoughts...the rest are just details." --Albert Einstein ------------------------------------------------Mike here: You are correct that focusing is a challenge. When doing prime focus photography (no camera lens nor eyepiece) the telescope acts like a telephoto lens, in the case of the ETX-90 you have a 1250mm telephoto. You can make a "focus aid" as discussed on the Telescope Tech Tips page which will help. In afocal photography, where the both the camera lens and eyepiece are used, you focus the camera lens to infinity and the eyepiece to your eye (assuming correct vision). Then mount the camera and shoot. The image will be in focus. If you are doing eyepiece projection photography (eyepiece but no camera lens) then you have the same problem as with prime focus photography. Keep in mind that you have to keep exposures short and avoid vibrations enduced by the camera's flip mirror and shutter movement. Use the "hat trick" method.
Subject: etx mount Sent: Friday, May 3, 2002 14:56:54 From: firstname.lastname@example.org If I were to get just the etx-ra mount, would I be able to use my camera instead of the etx body to track the stars (that is use my camera on the equatorial mount designed for the etx 90). Do you understand what I'm asking? I want to know if removing the etx 90 from its ra mount is as simple as unscrewing the tripod mount from it..that is does it connect to the mount with a 1 1/4 screw...that is does the 90 body use the tripod block to connect to its mount. Thanks, haiMike here: Well, it is not quite that simple to remove the OTA (optical tube assembly) from the fork mount; there are fours hex screws that have to be removed and then you can remove the tube. Also, there is no camera tripod screw on the top of the base that you can attach a camera to. BUT, a better way to do this is to purchase a piggyback camera adapter. See the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page for a couple of reviews.
Subject: what can i do Sent: Saturday, May 4, 2002 12:29:37 From: email@example.com (John Scully) Ok I have an etx-90ec and I want to start to do astrophotography with it, I have an old 35mm so I can do everything manually. I have all the correct adapters but the only problem I am having is the weight. I get it all lined up for the picture I let it go and the scope tilts back, is there any solution to this? TIA JohnMike here: Add a counterweight to re-balance the system. You can make one or buy something that will work.
Subject: etx photography Sent: Monday, May 6, 2002 9:09:56 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Allen Pinkall) I've recently purchased an ETX 90, and feel lucky that I've found your site. It's been informative and helpful. Great Site! My question: I recently went to a telescope shop and asked for a camera adapter. The clerk set me up with an adapter and a t-mount ring for my camera. I expected to get an adapter which would attach to the back of the telescope, but the adapter I bought does not fit there, but appears to fit in the eyepiece socket. Is there any advantage/disadvantage to this setup over the adapter connecting to the back of the telescope? Does one more 'bounce' off the mirror make a significant difference? To sum things up, should I exchange the adapter for the one I originally wanted (including a one hour trip) or keep the setup I currently have? Thanks! AllenMike here: As long as you can focus you can still shoot through the top port. I suspect the adapter you have may also accept eyepieces for eyepiece projection photography.
Subject: photo idea Sent: Wednesday, May 8, 2002 21:04:39 From: MartinHMiller@msn.com (Martin Miller) I've never done astrophotography but I checked out your site and had an idea. I'm in Photo 2 at my high school and an assignment we have is to use pinhole cameras, a pinhole camera is basically a light-tight box with a pinhole and a piece of photo paper inside, using a piece of black tape as a shutter over the pinhole. Because it uses a pinhole instead of a lens it has an infinite depth of field. I made mine out of an empty film canister so it is pretty light, it could be mounted onto a telescope really easily and its low weight should allow the telescope to track properly. If you'd like some more detailed information on how this could be done email me back. This summer I will try to go to my friends house and use his telescope.
Subject: land photography Sent: Friday, May 17, 2002 20:25:33 From: email@example.com (alan & jenny neilson) Could you please advise me as to what settings I need to have my camera set to to take photos through my ETX 60 AT. The camera is a Minolta 500si. Also do I focus on an object through the eyepiece and then flip the mirror or do I focus through the camera lens. At the moment we can not get the camera to take photos when connected to the telescope. Please helpMike here: If your camera has a removable lens, is a SLR camera, and you have it mounted at the rear port, then you focus the image on the camera's viewscreen using the ETX focus knob. If the camera does not have a removable lens, then you must do "afocal photography" which means you shoot the image seen in the eyepiece. In this case, you focus the eyepiece to your eye (assuming you have normal vision) and the camera lens to infinity. For more on photography, you find lots of tips and info on the Helpful Information-->Astrophotography page.
Subject: Photography w/ETX Sent: Saturday, May 18, 2002 11:10:45 From: Lacydthomas@aol.com I've been visiting your site. I have an old ETX and I have bought the coupling ring and a T-adaptor for my Pentax Spotmatic F. I have tried to take pics of the Moon and also the Sun, but I can't get anything but a huge blur. If you get the time could you point me to a site where I can find out how to correct whatever it is that I'm doing wrong? Thanks. I think you have a GREAT site. Lacy Thomas Columbia, MDMike here: The blur could be due to one of two problems (or both, actually). Is the image in focus? if not, then you have to focus the image on the camera viewscreen. Second, and probably more likely, is blurring due to movement of the telescope during the exposure. When the SLR mirror flips up and the focal plane shutter curtain moves, they create some vibration, which is tremendously magnified by the telescope. So, unless you are using very short exposures (1/125 or shorter) you will likely be getting this vibration blurring. The solution for longer exposures is to use the "hat trick" method; hold a dark object (like a "hat" or other solid object) in front of the telescope objective, trip the camera shutter and keep it open (using the "B" setting), wait a few seconds for any vibrations to dampen out, flip the "hat" out of the way for the duration of the exposure (you can get 1/2 or 1/4 exposures this way or longer as well), and then with the hat covering the objective, release the shutter.
Subject: Meade ETX&Nikon Sent: Saturday, May 18, 2002 13:06:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dana Kerr) Could you point me in the right direction to find out how to use my Meade ETX, as a lense for my Nikon Cameras. I want to try and use it for bird photo's Thank you for your help Dana KerrMike here: See the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page on my ETX web site. Lots of general info and links there.
Subject: Photography Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 13:05:04 From: email@example.com (Mike Quinn) Is there is an adapter for digitals at prime focus. I currently am trying to use the Digi-T with an eyepiece and an Olympus camera. Thanks again, Mike QuinnMike here: I don't recall seeing one. The problem is that most (consumer) digital cameras have fixed lens. For prime photography the telescope becomes the lens, so the camera lens is removed.
Subject: Camera Selection Sent: Tuesday, June 4, 2002 15:55:09 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (N O V A) What camera would you choose for astrophotography using the Meade T-Adapter to attach the camera directly behind the ETX90/EC? I'm looking for a fast camera with a great long-term exposure capability. I want a camera that could take images I would feel proud of. What camera would you suggest? Thanks!Mike here: Actually, for prime focus photography, the cheaper (read "older") the better. You want a camera capable of removing the lens, full manual shutter control, ideally it would have a mirror lockup feature, and it must accept a shutter release cable. Check your local camera store for a used Pentax, Olympus, Nikon, etc, 35mm SLR.
Subject: Re: Camera Selection Sent: Wednesday, June 5, 2002 9:23:58 From: email@example.com (N O V A) Which camera do you use? I saw a picture of the camera you had with the wire attached to the shutter. I suppose this is to take pictures without disturbing the telescope. What kind of camera is it and would it be good for the kind of photos I am wishing to take?Mike here: I use a 1968 vintage (I'm the original owner) Pentax Spotmatic SLR. And you can see the type of photos it can do by looking at the Astrophotography pages. But I tend to use my Nikon Coolpix 995 digital camera more often now.
Subject: ETX 125, astrophotography Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 2:12:42 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (serge et julie nobile) I have bought an ETX in mars 2001 and it came out that there was a defect (a coma) in the optics that I discovered one year later ..... We dont have very good weather here in switzerland ! The scope was sent back (in France I think) and came back fixed one month later. I am trying asrophotography so I build myself a support for the camera with a hose collar (very stable indeed) and now I am wondering how can I follow the stars during long pose shots. I guess I need a reticlated ocular ? What kind (brand ?) do you suggest ? Is it crazy from me to try long pose photos with the ETX 125 ? Thank you for your answers. Great Site Mike ! Serge Nobile Geneva SwitzerlandMike here: The best long duration astrophotography you can do with the ETX is done by piggybacking the camera on the telescope tube. The camera shoots the sky while the telescope provides the tracking. You can adjust the tracking using a high power eyepiece (with or without an illuminated reticle). There are two reviews of reticle eyepieces on the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page (Rigel Systems PulsGuide and Celestron Guide Eyepiece). if you want to do long duration astrophotography THROUGH the telescope then you will need an off-axis guider accessory (no reviews on the Site).
Subject: EXT/digital camera connections Sent: Friday, June 14, 2002 11:39:16 From: email@example.com (Patrick Lynch) Great site, Mike! Maybe someone has been down this road. I know that most astrophotography hardware is still for film cameras. Does anyone know if the rear port connection can be utilized to direct couple a Sony digital - I have a DSC-S70 with both 43 mm and 52 mm extension tubes that allow full travel of the telephoto lens. Why not just attach the camera and tube to the rear port directly? Too much vignietting ? Or has this been tried? The telephoto lens travels to the end of the extension tube and would be very close to the port itself. I don't know what the threading is on the port itself. Is this worth pursuing? Pat Lynch CaliforniaMike here: I haven't seen any rear port connectors for digital cameras. Remember, for prime focus photography you have to remove the camera lens and most consumer digital cameras today do not have that capability.
Subject: focussing Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2002 13:44:13 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (marc.delaney) Should one wear eye glasses for focussing? My photos of the Sun do not show sharpness around the sunspots which I can see on direct observation. I do not normally wear glasses for distance viewing but I do need a small correction for 20-20 distance viewing. I do need glasses for reading. For afocal photography with my Coolpix-995 on infinity focus setting and Scoptronix Digi-T, should I wear the glasses when visually focussing before attaching the camera? If so which pair --- distance or reading? Best wishes, MarcMike here: You want your eyes to be able to focus to infinity. So the distance glasses would be the one to wear.
Thanks Mike. As always, so prompt in replying. How can we thank you for such selfless help! This is Britain, so I'll have to sit twiddling my thumbs to put your advice to practise, until our weather sees fit to smile. Marc
Subject: Total Solar Eclipse Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2002 11:56:10 From: Quarryeff@aol.com In December there will be a TSE visible in Southern Australia just before the sunsets. I hope to be there for my first TSE. I am a long-term amateur astronomer but have only had this ETX125 for a month. It's going with me to Aus. and I hope to get some good pictures. I am well aware that you only have minutes to get the best bits so I hoped I might get some tips. I am of such an age that I could probably witness only a handful more. So I don't want to fluff it. I have a very lightweight CanonEOS 5000 which I could use but I am most keen to use my Olympus 10X Zoom digital 2100. Maybe I could use both. Anyone with experience as to how to not muck up? Also some ideas as to exposures (I like to use 200asa with the Canon) that would be best for: views in general from 90% before total through to the same after corona at total prominences at total best filters to use (a) approaching totality (b) at totality any tricks how to change filters quickly? I would be pleased if people with experience could advise.Mike here: Sky&Telescope usually has some photography tips posted before eclipses (and may still have the last one online). You will likely not even use your telescope (except maybe for partial phases or close ups of prominences during totality). You'll need a solar filter for the camera (and/or telescope) for the partial phases (see the Accessory Reviews - Filters page). For totality no filter is used. Bracketing the exposures (especially with film) is a good idea. Experiment a month or two before the eclipse.
Thanks for the tips. Do you have any to ensure the skies are clear? Regards Roger MunnsMike here: Sure, go into orbit...
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