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Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs

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#1 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:24 PM

After a long wait and learning curve, I finally got out with my Mallincam Xtreme and gave it a spin in the dark. I was rather astonished at what I saw and wondered how it compared to what you see in deep sky objects through a large dob. The biggest scope I've ever looked through is my C8 which I was using with a Mallincam telecompressor for the attached shots. I know that's hard to believe after 50 years in astronomy, but I've almost never been to a star party, never had close friends who were into astronomy, and am pretty much of a loner when I go out, except of course for my star tours, where no one has a scope except me.

In any case, I was pretty astonished at what the Mallincam did through my modest C8. The photos here were taken just by holding up iPhone to an ancient 4" LCD display of terrible quality and unknown resolution, but that's all I had on hand. The hot spots you see in the iPhone photos and the screen discolorations were no where near as prominent to the eye.

Anyway, I was really wondering how this compares to what you folks have seen in a large dob. I was especially blown away by M81 which filled the entire screen of the display with its spiral arms. Heretofore, I have only seen the bright core in my C8.

Here and in a few other posts are the photos.

/Ira

M81

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#2 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:27 PM

M82

Prominent star burst knots, dark disruption lane, twisted arms.

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#3 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:32 PM

M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. In my C8 under dark desert skies this barely shows as two bright smudges at the core of the Whirlpool and its companion. This really rocked me back on my heels.

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#4 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:36 PM

M43 and the light bridges connecting it to M42 below.

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#5 IVM

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:37 PM

It's comparable. The links below are to my sketches of M81, M82, and M51.

http://ivm-deep-sky....owy-fields.html
http://ivm-deep-sky....ers-in-m82.html
http://ivm-deep-sky....011/04/m51.html
http://ivm-deep-sky....ova-in-m51.html

EDIT: Where I observe from, my 16" is not universally considered "large".

#6 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:45 PM

M1, the Crab Nebula, finally looking like a "crab".

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#7 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:48 PM

Nicely drawn. Looks like a 16 incher might be the minimum to bring out the same detail I saw with my Mallincam.

/Ira

#8 Astrojensen

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:05 PM

Mallincam = imaging. That makes it extremely hard to compare with visual observing, IMO. The "depth" and brightness difference range visible with the human eye is staggering, but the camera sees color and much fainter objects, by integrating light over time. The visual output on the screen is compressed in brightness and contrast difference by many orders of magnitude, compared to what the eye see in the eyepiece, giving the on screen images a flat appearance. It is like comparing a book and a movie about the same story. They are similar, yet very different. In the first, the image slowly build up in your mind, while in the second, you see lots of flashy images, but they aren't a product of your own imagination and observation. This is both good and bad. It is objective and easily shared, but it is not as intimate and emotional.

That is at least how I feel.


Clear skies!
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#9 GlennLeDrew

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:06 PM

For nebulous objects of low surface brightness, the Mallincam makes visible details which would require for visual work an aperture at least five times larger.

#10 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:10 PM

Thomas,
After actually using my Mallincam, I couldn't disagree with you more, but I won't argue the point. I understand why you would think so, I just don't feel the same way. In any case, I am trying to compare what is visible in my Mallincam Vs. what size scope I would need to experience the same thing in an eyepiece, since to me the experience is comparable.

/Ira

#11 highfnum

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:36 PM

what is glow at bottom of screen

#12 starrancher

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:37 PM

I'll take my eyepiece view under pristine skies over the camera view all night long and twice on Sunday night .
There is something special about the eyepiece view that cannot be substituted by any other means .
The intimacy and tranquility of it all cannot be recreated with a camera .
Awestruck through the ocular . That's astronomy .

#13 Astrojensen

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:38 PM

That's why I said "that's how *I* feel". I've tried a Mallincam on a 18" dob at a star party and, sure, it showed lots of details, but to me, the result didn't feel any different than watching any other astroimage. Interesting, because of the details, but not emotionally involving like visual observing, since the camera completely remove the personal achievement aspect of visual observing. Thus, to me, they are not the same.

Each to his own.


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#14 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:46 PM

what is glow at bottom of screen


It's an old, low quality monitor whose uneven brightness is exagerted by the iPhone and how I was holding it up to the display. Hope to get a better display soon. Also to capture the best images you wouldn't want to use an external camera. You'd want to bring it in to a computer, digitize it and save the results. The Mallincam Xtreme's output is all analog video, composite and S-Video.

/Ira

#15 Ira

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:47 PM

Astrojensen and Starrancher,
I understand your points of view, but trying not to discuss that aspect of the Mallincam in these posts. Perhaps I will start another thread for that. :)

/Ira

#16 mattflastro

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:14 PM

Perhaps your queston needs a bit of rephrasing . Instead of asking how much bigger needs the scope to be in order to see the same details visually as in the smaller scope using a Mallincam, the simpler question would be how much bigger needs the scope be in order to see anything at all . Compare minimum scope sizes that allow seeing certain objects visually and with the Mallincam. Forget about whether they look the same or different and if the subjective impression gives the same feeling etc. Just the plain and simple see vs. not see .

#17 A. Viegas

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:22 PM

Well nearly three decades ago while an undergraduate in college I routinely got to play around with the research telescopes whenever they were not being used by the faculty. In fact, as I ran the public observing sessions for a year I was able to utilize the 20" Clark refractor and the 24" F14 classical cassegrain every week and for one summer I interned at Oak Ridge and got to play with the 61" reflector too! So in terms of comparison, and mind you I just got back into Amateur Astronomy about 10 months ago so my memory may be a bit foggy... BUT... for DSOs I find the color and detail produced by the Mallincam Extreme (MCX) to be extremely pleasing. Soon after I left University and ended up in a total non-Astronomy field I bought a C8 and literally used it maybe 3 times. The disappointment was massive, going from the college telescopes to the C8. I kid you all not, i packed the C8 away and it remained in storage for over 25 years until 11 months ago when I took it out and found my way back into the hobby. Since I discovered using the Mallincam Extreme the joy and wonder I remember while in school came back and now I am planning on getting bigger and better instruments. So from my perspective, I can say that video astronomy has re-awakened my passion for Astronomy in a way that visual just never did once I left school. I suppose that unlike most others here on CN, I started in Astronomy using such high-end instruments that I never got to experience 'faint fuzzy wonder' in small apertures.

Equally interesting has been my experience with the new Mallincam SSI planetary camera... With my C8 or C11 barlowed, I have to say that the image of Jupiter easily rivals what I remember seeing through the 20" clark refractor.

I wish I had recorded what I saw back then so I could more accurately compare what I can see on the Mallincam cameras to what I remember seeing as an undergraduate with those large telescopes. Yet, I think the key factor for me has been how using the Mallincams has been a re-awakening for me in terms of my love for Astronomy. I believe that if I had not gotten into video astronomy that I probably would have packed the C8 back up and left in storage for another 25 yrs... so for me at least, I can say that video astronomy has exerted a powerful pull and definately drawn me back into the hobby.

Al

#18 Lorence

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 01:53 AM

I believe that if I had not gotten into video astronomy that I probably would have packed the C8 back up and left in storage for another 25 yrs... so for me at least, I can say that video astronomy has exerted a powerful pull and definately drawn me back into the hobby.

Al


I was drawn back into video astronomy before the Mallincam. The Mallincam was the icing on the cake. At least it was until Rock introduced the Universe.

It's a CCD camera, not video but I use it for live viewing. It is as live as a long exposure video image. In it's lowest resolution the Universe is comparable to the Xtreme.

You can decide what a high resolution "Live" image is comparable to.

This is a 3032 X 2016 pixel "Live" image of M42. It is a stack of ten 30 second images. The stacking was done by Deep Sky Stacker Live and developed one image at a time on the screen as they came from the camera. No other processing.

http://xa.yimg.com/k...l-10x30-sec.jpg

Meade 10" using the Mallincam focal reducer. (0.5ish if I remember correctly)

To Ira, I think you would need one of those ladder equipped Dobstrosities to equal your C8 and Mallincam Xtreme. :) Enjoy the camera, you won't regret it.

#19 PEterW

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 05:05 AM

Another point to remember is that the mallincam (and image intensifiers) are sensitive to longer wavelengths. The galaxy has a lot of red emission nebulae.... Which are all hard for visual observers, but pretty easy for the imager/video/intensifier crowd.
I'd say the m51 looks better than I remember from a dark sky with a 20". Scope prices ramp up massively, these technologies allow us to get bi scope performance from littler scope (thought the technology does have a sometimes high cost of entry). Another benefit is the ability to use aggressive filters to allow observing from Non ideal locations, where visual observing is rather pointless.
Might as well say that anything that improves the view is good to help with outreach where sometimes he views can be disappointing.

Peter

#20 Tony Flanders

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 07:05 AM

I was really wondering how this compares to what you folks have seen in a large dob.


It's an apples-versus-doughnuts comparison. The big difference is that with electronically enhanced displays -- either this kind or old-fashioned photomultiplier tubes -- something is either there or not there. It's very different from the experience of glimpsing something with averted vision.

Video observing is a whole new category. It's not really imaging, nor is it really visual observing, but combines elements of both.

#21 Tony Flanders

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 07:08 AM

M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. In my C8 under dark desert skies this barely shows as two bright smudges at the core of the Whirlpool and its companion.


You need to work on it more. M51's spiral arms are definitely visible through an 8-inch scope under dark skies. Not even difficult once you understand what they look like. The key is to concentrate on the dark areas inside what at first looks like a uniform circle of light.

#22 Astrojensen

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 08:28 AM

M51's spiral arms are definitely visible through an 8-inch scope under dark skies. Not even difficult once you understand what they look like. The key is to concentrate on the dark areas inside what at first looks like a uniform circle of light.


Yup. Like this:

Posted Image

Observed with my 150mm f/8 Sky-Watcher achro. Baader Maxbright bino, magnifications 30x, 60x, 80x and 120x. SQM 21.4. Somewhat hazy. NELM about 6. Image best at 60x.


Clear skies!
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#23 jgraham

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:07 AM

“I am trying to compare what is visible in my Mallincam Vs. what size scope I would need to experience the same thing in an eyepiece…”

Hmmm, I’ve been using my cameras to observe with for the past 10 years and I came to the conclusion that you can never see through the eyepiece what you ‘see’ with a camera, particularly a camera like the Mallincam. The specific issue with the Mallincam is that there is so much in-camera processing that it can never match the natural appearance of an object. At best, the view provided by the Mallincam can provide some guidance as to what to look for through the eyepiece, and sometimes you’ll see new detail visually simply because you didn’t know that it was there. The closest that I’ve come to having a camera that approximately (very roughly) the visual experience is a monochrome camera where the only adjustments you make to the live image is brightness, no non-linear operations like curves, gamma, or contrast. Of course it’s fun to make those changes live to bring up faint detail, but that blows any equivalence to what you could see visually through any size telescope.

In the big picture, I used to consider my little Orion StarBlast (4.5” f/4) fitted with a live view camera (any of the Meade DSI/DSI Pro series cameras running Envisage) to be roughly equivalent to my 16.5” f/6.5 or my 16” f/4, but that’s not quite accurate. I can easily see far fainter with my StarBlast, but the view can never, ever, ever, ever, ever match what I see visually, the techniques are simply too different. The two methods of observing can complement each other very nicely, but I don’t think that you can ever compare them on an equal basis.

Enjoy your camera.

#24 IVM

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:51 AM

I agree with Tony and Thomas regarding the arms in M51 (note though that the Mallincam image in the OP is very detailed). That's a great drawing, Thomas, and reminds me of the view I had ONCE with my 7" (minus the "bridge").

Since I already answered the real question in the OP as I could, and since the discussion has turned to theoretical matters, I may add that the way I see it, visual observing, traditional astrophotography (excruciatingly long exposures and lengthy off-line processing), and live or quasi-live photography (digital or analog short-exposure CCD, displayed as video or stacked in real time) are three different hobbies. I have done a little bit of each, and so far settled on visual for its especial tranquility, its especially human challenge, and to make the most of my access to good dark locations. In all three hobbies, however, the main attraction (besides the technology per se and the elements of personal challenge and even competition) is to make the cosmic wonders materialize before your eyes through your own observational efforts. (Professional observational astronomy was defined as visual and is now defined as CCDing.) Thus all three hobbies are instrumented observation and are similar in the most fundamental way and different from the (also worthwhile) hobby of “armchair astronomy”, where one browses through images made by others or watches live observational broadcasts set up by others.

#25 bobhen

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:22 PM

There’s an excellent article about video astronomy in the February issue of S&T (I get the digital issue so I already have February). The article is written by Rod Mollise. All the virtues, the whys, and the advantages that video observing offers, are explained in-depth. Rod’s blog also has a few articles on video astronomy that are also well written.

Bob






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