Last updated: 14 December 2003
This page documents Sonfest SAC imager models comments, tips, and photos. Also, see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products report on the SAC imagers. Search the site for "SAC" for other items about the Sonfest SAC imagers. Contributions welcome.
Subject: Jupiter Pics Sent: Tuesday, January 1, 2002 14:54:56 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris) First off great site. I have an ETX 125 that I have had for about a year and have been trying astrophoto off and on. I think I am finally getting the hang of it and managed to get some nice pictures of Jupiter the other night. I took these at prime focus with a SAC IV camera. Hope you enjoy and keep up the great work. Thanks Chris Orpurt
Subject: Another picture of the Moon Sent: Tuesday, January 1, 2002 18:40:16 From: email@example.com (John P. Pietrzak) I've learned a great deal from it. Anyway, if you're interested, I just recently acquired an ETX 90 telescope and the Sonfest SAC-7 CCD camera. I've been experimenting with them for the last few days, and last night took enough pictures of the moon to make this mosaic of it. (At least I thought I'd taken enough, as you can see I missed a spot!) I've been continually amazed by what you can accomplish with this telescope. Details: ETX 90 telescope, SAC-7 CCD at prime focus About 50 exposures of 1/25 second duration each Mosaic constructed using "The GIMP" Next up for me, learning correct polar alignment with Dr. Clay's "Kochab clock" technique, and then some long-exposure shots with this system! Thanks for a great site! --John
Subject: SAC camera Moon shot Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 9:47:13 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Jackson) Shot this picture 17 APR 2002 with my ETX-90EC with SAC camera mounted directly to the scope. Combined 28 frames with Astrostack. For my first try I was impressed! Thanks for the great site. Jeremy Jackson
Subject: Sav-7 ccd camera Sent: Sunday, May 5, 2002 19:22:24 From: email@example.com (Robert E. Eisenman) I was browsing the Sac ccd imaging website: http://www.sac-imaging.com/ and read about their latest ccd called Sac7. The ccd camera is designed for 'deep space' imaging and long exposures. It comes as either an air cooled unit Sac7($349) or as a peltier cooled unit Sac7b ($459). I've had fun capturing ccd pictures of the moon, Saturn and Jupiter with the SacIV camera and the Meade etx 90 and have posted some of them on my website: pages.prodigy.net/eisenmanr/astrophotography/ I was wondering if any of the readers of your great website have tried the new Sac7 camera with any of the Meade etx telescopes. Thanks, Bob Eisenman Salem, Massachusetts
Subject: SAC7 Sent: Wednesday, May 8, 2002 15:12:19 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ted Wilbur) I read with interest Robert Eisenman's post asking about using the SAC7 camera on ETX scopes. I purchased a SAC7 about a month ago, having tired of the limitations of the Meade Electronic Eyepiece. I've attached some early results to show, all using the ETX70 and SAC7 at prime focus. So far I'm very happy with the camera but still have a ton to learn. I've tried some M51 images with mixed results - there are lots of variables, Assuming I eventually get something decent I'll send it over. Robert noted that there is an air cooled SAC7 and a peltier cooled SAC7b. I'm using the air cooled version. Thanks!
Subject: Globs Sent: Saturday, June 8, 2002 10:06:51 From: email@example.com (Ted Wilbur) I've been hunting globular Messiers lately since there are so many around these days. M4 and M13 make nice targets for the ETX-70 since they are both bright and big. I was out last night and got everything completely soaked with dew. I grabbed my wife's hair drier to try to dry out the objective lens and blew a fuse, knocking out power to Autostar and my laptop. I guess I'm lucky I didn't zap myself. I've been taking lots of images (60-100) of my targets and picking out the few where "seeing" was best. I also have to keep exposure time down, 12 seconds seems to be about as much as I can get given the accuracy of my mount. If I need the images brighter I use software to sum the best frames, simulating longer exposures. Taking time to get the focus right, and dark subtracting the hot pixels and noise are also very beneficial to the end results. The attached M4 is a sum of 3 images. I think my registration was off a bit as the stars are a little bloated. The M13 is only 1 exposure, which came out tighter.Mike here: I haven't tried for color accuracy. Of course, there is "color accuracy" and "color accuracy". The eye "sees" one thing and imagers "see" something else.
One thing I'm having trouble getting my hands around is color. My SAC7 camera tends toward pink/purple. I guess that's why the guys who do serious imaging use color filters to expose red, green, and blue for different lengths of time. Have you found the Coolpix to produce accurate colors when imaging with it? I hope this note finds you well. Thanks! Ted
Subject: ETX-70AT - M13 and SAC7 Air Cooled Sent: Tuesday, July 9, 2002 18:56:58 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Carlos Family) Pictures of M13 taken with an SAC7 air cooled that I got recently. I think my mount is still shaky because I'm not getting the quality that I'd expect. Also, I'm getting a lot of star trails at the beginning. However, after a couple of exposure it starts stabilizing. The picture was a combination of 5 53 second exposure with darkframe removed and noise removed via Photoshop. I also used Photoshop 6.0 to combine the image. Regards Ed
Subject: ETX-70AT - M13/M92/M81 and SAC7 Air Cooled Sent: Friday, August 2, 2002 18:28:22 From: email@example.com (Carlos Family) Here's a new batch of pix. The M13 is a much better pix from earlier. M92 was very easy to capture and it was really sharp when it recorded. That was because Jul 31st was a very clear and calm night. M82 is my first crack at a galaxy. There a lot of high trees in my back yard so I can't get alot of galaxies. They either have to be near the zenith or if they're peeking out between trees. Also, I had to use gray scale because it produces a better hint of structure. I started playing around with the exposure of SAC 7 and it becomes unstable above 180 seconds with my scope. Anything above 90 seconds I need to put a counter weight. However, if recording near the zenith it seems a bit more stable probably because of better weight distribution. I've seached around your site for a home made counter weight for an ETX-70AT but I did not see any. Do you know if anyone has done this? FYI, I have no modifications on the standard 882 mount. I'm planning on making it a bit more stable or getting the mount that would allow me to do a polar config, e.g. 883 deluxe. Does it really make a difference? Would it help me stabilize my ccd imaging if I use polar as suppose to alt/az. Thanks again for the great site Ed
Subject: ETX-70AT - M31/M27/M57 and SAC7 Air Cooled Sent: Tuesday, October 8, 2002 19:58:07 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Carlos Family) Attached are recent pix from my ETX-70AT. These were taken while the scope is in polar alignment using a homemade wedge. I'll send the designs of the wedge as a separate e-mail. The wedge however did help stabilize my shots. For 60 second exposures there were more solid shots than bad shots with star trails . For 120 they're almost equal in numbers. I recombined the images afterwards with my old trusty photoshop. With adjustments on saturation, curves, brightness and contrast. The M31 images are from separate days. I did have to adjust that pix more to show the distinctive dustlanes. I am still having problems with the scope in polar alignment. Spordically the scope will not slew properly. It's almost like the scope is too heavy. However, there are night when everything seems to be ok I'm still puzzled by this. I may end up calling Meade support. Thanks Ed
Subject: SAC imager and SLR Camera Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 21:23:55 From: email@example.com (Carlos Family) I'm not sure if your interested but I recently got a used 200mm zoom Tamron SLR lens (circa 1980) with a Pentax Universal screw mount (42mm) from Ebay. I tried to mate it with my SAC7 to see if I could use it for CCD capturing. It did not work I could not get focus. I contacted SAC-Imaging and they recommended a spacer. I got the a spacer for the same mount. It comes with three sections with different sizes. One (1) being the smallest and three (3) the largest. I finally got it to work with my SAC7. Because the T-Adapter of the SAC7 was a 42mm it all fits great. I used #1 and #3 of the spacer with the lens at 22 aperture and no zoom. That did the trick. So for the lens $29 and spacer $12 including shipping, I got a wide field of view ccd long exposure camera. The following pix were captured by the lens by just mounting the SAC7 and lens on a standard tripod with no guidance. I was able to capture the moon with single shots but the pix attached is from a 10 and 30 second avi and stacked using the freeware Registax (www.registax.com). I tried to capture M45 with it but because it's unguided it produces a star trail. I planning on mounting this on the ETX70 once I get it to work so that I have some form of tracking. I'm also looking for a used 28mm wide angle lens to see if I can capture M42/43/45 and maybe a section of the Milkyway. Clear Skies, Ed
Subject: SAC7 Sent: Monday, December 9, 2002 6:26:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary CLAYTON) I would like congratulate you on such a great site I have been reading and using your tech tips on my ETX125 for some time now and its running great, I also enclose 2 pics that I shoot using my ETX125 and SAC7 video camera. I am still very new to astrophotography and am going though a steep learning curve. M42 was taken with 22, 10 seconds exposures combined and dark subtracted using AstroVideo from COAA, Saturn was a 20 second video stacked and combined using registaxv . both where taken from my backyard in Yorkshire UK .I now have to figure out how to image process to get the best from my photos. Best Regards Gary Clayton
Subject: M42/M45 with SAC7/55mm lens piggyback on ETX70AT Sent: Sunday, December 15, 2002 6:45:00 From: email@example.com (Ed Carlos) I decided to buy a used SMC 55mm Pentax camera lens from ebay ($29) and I mated it with my SAC7 (the same way as the 200mm Takamura screw lens that I got before). I built my own piggyback camera mount to hold the SAC7 and the lens from a 4inch pvc coupling and a 2inch electrical conduit hanger (total cost about $12). I'll finish it off and take pictures of it and send it over. It works really well. I took these pictures using this setup and processed the images using Adobe Photoshop. Clear Skies!!! Ed
Subject: pictures etx125 Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2002 5:07:53 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary CLAYTON) Could you please put these pics I shoot on the 18/12/02 from Yorkshire, UK using my ETX 125 and Sac7 CCD camera on your great website please. There were taken using AstroVideo from COAA and combined and staked with registaxv from a 60 second avi. Best Regards Gary Clayton
Subject: Double Cluster and M81/82 with SAC7/55mm lens piggyba Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2003 8:33:45 From: email@example.com (Ed Carlos) I've attached new pix taken with my trusty old 55mm, sac7 and ETX70AT. Both pictures were taken with extreme moon glow. I had to do a bit of work to adjust the pictures using Adobe Photoshop. By the way here's a link to the yahoo group for SAC camera's. I'm not sure if anyone has posted this already. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SACimaging/ Also, I recently got the book The New CCD Astronomy by Ron Wodaski. Highly recommended for anyone who's into astrophotography. They also have a yahoo group that's very active and helpful. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ccd-newastro Clear Skies Ed
Subject: Andromeda and Companions Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2003 19:14:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ed Carlos) Attached is a pix of M31/M32/M110. I had to translate the pix from color to grayscale to bring out the M110 without creating too much noise. This is again a wide field pix using a 55mm lens attached to my SAC7 Aircooled piggyback on my ETX70AT. The moon was already out that's why there's quite a bit of noise. I used some of the techiniques from the New CCD Astronomy book by Ron Wodaski. Also, my camera lens is starting to accumulate dust. I'm still trying to work on using flats. I'm thinking about creating a lightbox. Any ideas? Observations as well - I went out early in the morning on Jan 14th and 16th around 4AM EDT. This is the first time that I've observed during the last hour. I was inspired by an article that I read in the Jan '03 isssue of The Sky and Telescope by David Levy. He was right, it's very quite and was amazingly clear (the moon had already set). I was able to observe M51, M63, M94, M106, M101 (hard to see), M13, M92, M3, M53, M92, M81, M82, M64, M5, M104. However, anything above magnitude 8.5 were very faint, averted vision was necessary. All of these were between 4AM - 6:30AM. As I was resting and looking up I saw what seems to look like a moving star. I thought I was seeing things. It was lit but not blinking so not an airplane and it was moving at a constant speed without any trails so not a meteorite. I used my binoculars (15x70) to follow it and realized that it was an artificial satellite. I saw this both days once around 5AM and another around 6AM. I did some research and found out that it was the International Space Station. Sky and Telescope website has a published schedule of the ISS. I was able to confirm the time and date of when the ISS was visibile in my area. On Jan 14th it was scheduled to appear 4:51AM and Jan 16th was 6:07AM both EDT. It's amazing how accurate the schedule was and how it's visible with the naked eye. I'd probably try observing during the last hour again next month. The only thing is that the scope slewing noise resonates so much and I was afraid it was going to wake up my neighbors. Thanks and keep up the great work on your site!!! Clear Skies Ed
Subject: Astrophotography with ETX 125 using SAC IV Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2003 22:55:34 From: email@example.com (Lonnie Wege) Thanks for providing this site on this wonderful and captivating hobby of astronomy, I have had the ETX 125 for about 6 months now and have gone from 6 hours at a dark site without any hope of seeing much of anything to a backyard pier and testing various types of astrophotography. The first was taken with a SAC IV in very bright urban sky and a fairly full moon. I used the rear port and prime focus for the shot, stacked in Registax 2, Adobe Photoshop to clean it up.
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