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LX200 Imaging and 30 Sec Alt/Az limit

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#26 cn register 5

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 02:45 AM

With an AltAz mount to track you have to operate two motors, at varying rates. This is much more difficult than with an Equatorial mount where you only need to operate one motor at a constant rate.

Also with al Alt Azm mount you get field rotation. The amount varies depending on where you are pointed but in most cases this gives a limit of about 30 seconds before it matters.

A professional telescope can have the quality of drives and tracking that will track accurately in Alt Azm. They will also have a camera rotator that rotates the camera to compensate for field rotation.

It's possible to get field rotators for amateur scopes but they are complex and expensive. Much easier and cheaper to get a wedge.

Chris

#27 tommax

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 01:26 PM

Thanks for all the great advise!

I think all of it was good, not all of it would work... when you have to drag out an LX200 tripod with wedge, then try to put the scope on it in freezing (and I mean Wisconsin cold, not AZ or CA cold) : ) - I think that changes things a bit as it helps leveling and getting things just right when you can feel your fingers and toes...

My solution is to just do both as I only have the LX200 now aanyways, I just picked up an 80ED that happened to come with an ST80 and they are connected and ready to put on a GEM so for now I will put the ED80 piggyback on the LX200 and start hunting for a CG5 or something decent enough yet light enough to grab and go with... it is the only solution short of dumping the LX200 that might work, if I had the option of building something permanent the LX200 would be easier to stick with, but on the best to image nights here it is usually below zero...

Should be fun trying both and I can pick whichever one causes me to cuss the least : )

#28 Lorence

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 05:28 PM

you have to drag out an LX200 tripod with wedge, then try to put the scope on it in freezing (and I mean Wisconsin cold, not AZ or CA cold) : ) - I think that changes things a bit as it helps leveling and getting things just right when you can feel your fingers and toes...

on the best to image nights here it is usually below zero...


I just checked the Wisconsin State Climatology Office. You call that cold? I wouldn't be surprised if you had palm trees in your back yard. :)

Cold is just a number. It's telling you what you need to do to enjoy the outdoors regardless of the temperature. You just need to know what to do. Here's a place to start.

https://redrockstore...dex.php?crn=135

I know people that ice fish every weekend as long as the ice is safe to be on. Never once heard any of them complain about the cold. They have to be doing something right.

#29 tommax

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 05:53 PM

Yep, I used to ice fish with my uncle... nice heated shanty and his buddy jack to keep warm inside!

#30 tommax

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 10:57 PM

errrr....

I need to scrap all the ideas... I just hate the wedge, pay for a telescope that can level itself, find north and get a good idea what it is looking at... then you spend $400 to $500 more for an item that basically negates all the conveniences the scope offers...

I am clearly missing something, I level the wedge, set it to my lat, point the scope at Polaris (upside down / 90 degree per directions), do the usual guess work on at least one of the guide stars since I only have 1 direction I can really see much and then basically fight with this process over and over for a an hour or 2 until I give up and put it away...

I think I am better off just looking at hubble images, they are better than anything I will ever get anyways and a heck of a lot cheaper...

#31 nitegeezer

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 11:47 PM

The universe is over 13 billion years old, our sun over 4 billion, calm down it will be there tomorrow and probably the next day too.

This is a hobby that does not like to be rushed, but can be very rewarding. Hubble images are great, but there is something about taking them yourself that is beyond words. Don't expect things to happen too quickly. I was serious when I said I spend a whole night getting my wedge aligned so I was happy, and don't even have the rest of the stuff out until the second night. I consider every night out a learning experience.

When I am working with the wedge, I first make sure it is leveled as best I can, and I do not limit myself to just the bubble level that is in the wedge. While Polaris by itself won't give perfect alignment of the wedge, it is very close. I concentrate on Polaris until I can rotate the forks and Polaris stays perfectly centered, and yes this is a slow process. This won't get me to 10 or 15 minute exposures, I will have to learn drift aligning for that, but I will push this as far as I can.

To be honest, if you are only interested in the destination and not the journey, this is probably the wrong hobby for you. Even if you get everything perfectly aligned, are you going to have the patience to spend all night, or even multiple nights getting the shots you need to stack for just a single object?

I do outreach programs for kids, and as part of that program I give a presentation about the hobby and what to expect. At one point I show Hubble photos of objects I plan to show them through my scope. Everybody expects Hubble shots to be fantastic, after all, it is the Hubble. I then tell them that I still have a lot to learn, and then show them a few of the shots I have taken through my telescope. Some of these are really ugly shots, but they were taken through my scope, the same one the kids will be looking through, and it amazing how much interest that sparks in the kids. This summer I will spend many nights with the goal if getting 3 or 4 decent shots, and I can't wait until the programs next fall to show the kids. All summer, 3 or 4 decent shots, slow down and enjoy the journey.

I hope you can relax and enjoy the process. Yes, I do get frustrated too. My wife claims that on occasion the air around me turns blue as I discuss the family history of my equipment. I have set a goal for myself. I want one of those decent pictures to be of the Whirlpool Galaxy. What I am seeing left there about 30 million years ago. If I don't get the shot this summer, maybe next summer I will have learned enough to pull it off, but if not there always is the summer after that. I don't think days, weeks, or even years will make a significant difference because I will have taken it through my telescope, and those particular photons came to me, not the Hubble.

#32 tommax

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 02:19 AM

Hi nitegeezer,

Thanks for the pep talk...

I realize the hobby cannot be rushed, I just think in my location it's partly trying to put a circular peg into a square, between light pollution and obstacles I only have 1 direction and that direction has 2 power lines about 1/2 way up... maybe it's just not meant to be at least from home, there is no dark area near me I am interested in but I might drop the LX200 off at my cabin up north and visit it a couple times a year...

I remember all to well now why I dumped the 10 and 12" LX200's... it was when I added a wedge to the mix so me and wedges just don't mix as I do not have the luxury of setting up 1 night and leaving it... I have to put everything up and take it down in the same night here which would not be bad if I ever had any luck...

As far as the journey... I will dabble still but I am more about the photo's than awe of the universe as I cannot visually observe so if I cannot take photo's then I really don't need a scope, but right now I am just extremely frustrated with it... I wish I could think of how many millions of years light took to get here and or how old things are, it really does not move me much especially sine it changes all the time, was not that long ago when we had stars older than the universe... so I am sure it will change again when someone else comes up with a new test and or wants to make a name for themselves... I just want to take pictures...

Tomorrow is another day and I am sure I will try and get frustrated again, eventually I will figure it out and or I will get some exercise taking a sledge hammer to the telescope... : )

#33 nitegeezer

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 10:30 AM

Don't take a sledge hammer to that scope, I know a better option!!

If you have to take everything down every night, that would be very frustrating and probably is a losing battle. It sounds like you should plan some trips to your cabin that are dedicated, especially if you can leave things set up for even a couple of days. A friend goes camping at a dark site when he wants to take pictures for the same reason you are having problems. In your situation, don't buy a GEM hoping it will solve your problems. It might be a little quicker to get aligned, but it will bring it's own issues with it.

I have been thinking a lot about your comment about paying for an automatic scope only to take those features away with a wedge. When I started out I did not know the sky at all, and really I still don't. All the automatic features allowed me to see objects that I would have never found with a manual scope. It is great for outreach programs as I can change object quickly, and it has greatly increased my interest in the hobby. Now I want to study a few objects in depth and that does require a wedge, but without the automatic features I would not have gotten to this point, and I think it is great that I can use the scope that I learned with even if some of the automatic features are gone, the goto still works, and I still need that.

While using a dark site is nice, staying set up is necessary. I hope you find a situation which works for you, I would hate to see you give up.

Good Luck

#34 tommax

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 12:33 PM

Thanks NG,

I would not literally take a SH to the scope, not that at times I don't want to but I think that is probably more common than many would like to admit!

I am not sure how to proceed so I am just going to pack the stuff up until next time...

I do think it might be helpful if I try to seek out someone who is familiar with the LX200 and is from the area and see if they will come over and tell me if it's even possible from my location because I am honestly starting to think / realize it just is not going to happen here unless I just want to stick to planets (which I don't)...

Worst case scenario is I just give up for now on imaging with the LX and would likely look for an ETX125 to goof around with at the cabin and around the house with planets and if sometime in the future I get a place where I can do more then I can get something then (LX600?)... who knows.

I am sure I will give a go a couple more times, then decide.

#35 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 12:53 PM

Tommax, et. al.,

Nitegeezer gave some great ideas and pep talk. Nothing to add there.

And Tommax I was in your situation a few years ago and feel your pain. I love my LX200, but when in Michigan it was a pain to use. Weather would never cooperate, bugs, COLD, humidity. I did put it to work though lugging it around, mostly on car-camping and scout treks. For the fun grab and go, I got an ETX-125. Great fun scope. If you want to get serious on AP though to take the good shots it is all about mass, stability and accuracy. I am in New Mexico now and observing is a whole different adventure....!

I wish I could help with your alignment issues. I get to Michigan occasionally, but still too far of a detour to swing by. But it should work - my LX200 lands the targets spot on almost every time. That is why I got it years ago.

LX600 is a great option - definitely a turnkey solution, great optics and easier to tote and break down.

One other option to consider (and I am ramping up to), is video Astronomy. All I can say is with the MallinCam I am seeing incredible DSO views live on my laptop - with mere seconds of exposure. If setup correctly you can hook up the MallinCam to a computer and route it to your TV for viewing in the comfort of your home! My rig is almost there - remote control of telescope via iPad/Mac, Mac control of MallinCam, link from outdoor computer to indoor computer, video feed from outdoor Mac to AppleTV to view results on big screen TV in a warm home. It really works!

There are options!

#36 tommax

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 01:25 PM

Thanks Andrew...

I am going to attach an image of what I have been up against and maybe I will at least get a c for effort...

I actually grew up in MI - Go Wings! (really Wings please get it going!).

I think I need to be realistic with myself and if I cannot image from home, then I must ask myself if I am willing to lug the 8", Wedge etc to a nearby better location and to honestly answer that would be a definite "NO", I don't mind setting it up here at home, but would not want to throw it in my truck and drive it somewhere, not often enough to make it worth while anyways...

So really the question I am asking myself is if there is even a decent enough setup I feel I would be happy with that I would be more inclined to drag out and take with to a better location and for that right now I don't have an answer...

Maybe my expectations are unrealistic? I have had these same issue's in the past, like many expecting to "buy" nice images... this time I did not think that and am trying to be patient, I know I have a challenging location, but thought as long as I have east, I can learn... I have M57, M51, M101, M3, M13 and around Aug/Sept M31 swings east for me... I do not expect great images I was hoping to nail the basics so when I did get to my cabin in dark skies I could get some images to be proud of... maybe this is not realistic expectations...

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#37 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 02:42 PM

Yikes,

That looks like the view from my home in Michigan. So basically limited visibility, but otherwise you need to travel to a dark sky location - and are you willing to do that. And alone it does suck.

I know that is what happened when I was in Michigan - to do effective viewing I had to lug my telescope around. Are you a part of an Astronomy Club? Might help with motivation to go out to their dark sky site.

Like I said, you may want to consider video Astronomy. It will work well from your home location. Consider this attached image. This is a LIVE view of M13 on my computer screen - with a bright Moon and in the city. No filter, no nothing. (And it looked amazing on the screen). It would work great for Alt-Az, but even more wonderful for wedge. I also bagged M51 with a LP filter in 30 sec. Nothing fancy, but it was clearly M51.

I think you might have options.

And yes, here in NM I can leave my telescope set up for days. Very dry air, high altitude, etc. It was like I got a new telescope. However I know your pain!

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#38 Mike7Mak

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 03:11 PM

I know I have a challenging location, but thought as long as I have east, I can learn... I have M57, M51, M101, M3, M13 and around Aug/Sept M31 swings east for me...

A couple hours either side of straight up is all you need. That's the best position for imaging anyway.

Instead of fixating on Messier objects out of your view use your planetarium program to search the piece of sky you have. There's plenty of stuff to shoot besides Messiers.

I'm not sure I get the 'total' loss of features due to the wedge. Aside from manually pointing the mount north at the correct elevation everything else works exactly the same. Sync on a couple stars just like you do in alt-az and go-to is ready. Accuracy might be low if polar alignment is way off but it still should put things in the finder.

If you can leave the tripod and wedge setup outside under a tarp (without it walking away) that would help cut setup time. If you're careful mounting/dismounting the scope the polar alignment should hold.

#39 tommax

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 04:01 PM

I don't thin leaving it out would be wise... there used to be a row of bushes between my place and my neighbors but a new family moved it, he has a landscaping service and they basically stripped the place and put in a gravel in their front yard so it's a big parking lot now, they have at least 12 people there all times of the day, coming and going... not that it matters nor do I care for the political discussion but hardly any of them speak English, I just know they come and go and it would seem a bunch of people live there for a couple of days here and there and then they are gone... we are thinking of putting a 8' tall fence up and a gate at the house a year ago I might have left it out there without worries but until we at least get a fence I don't leave a garden hose out there anymore...

#40 tommax

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 08:14 PM

MIke,

I don't think I said "total loss", yes the scope still has goto and tracking as does just about every other scope on the market today, the wedge does wipe some nice purpose built features that make setup much easier, I supposed if I had a permanent setup all this would be a mute point because in a night or 2 I would figure it out... soon enough it will be warm enough for festivals on the lakefront and I will lose the east most nights anyways...

#41 tommax

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 05:02 PM

I want to thank all who offered their opinions.

I apologize if my frustration spilled over as I know all are just are trying to help. It is indeed a hobby that can be frustrating.

I enjoy the hobby when using the LX200 in alt-az, but every time I add a wedge to the mix the hobby becomes much less fun, so if there is anyone in SE Wisconsin who knows LX200's and would like to come over and show me the wedge ropes.. I would be more than happy to pay for your gas, buy you beer / wine and dinner... other wise maybe I just try the GEM out and go that route, it is entirely possible that me and a wedge are just like water and oil...

If nothing else I am stubborn so I am sure I will beat my head against the wedge wall a few more times before getting rid of it...

Thanks again!

#42 Markigno

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:11 PM

Hi, as I mentioned in my previous posting, photography alt / az is possible, but it is expensive because it requires specific accessories in order to succeed. It all depends on how much you're willing to spend to get the convenience of alt / az long-exposure photography. I am years old I chose alt / az mode for astrophotography with my LX200 because it is much easier and faster to assemble and disassemble the equipment at all times. In this way I am ready to photograph in only 30 minutes. You also do not need make the meridian flip and you do not need make polar alignment. All this comfort to me is priceless!
For your information the following accessories are required:
1) de-rotator field very good (I have the Optec Pyxis 3")
1) adaptive optics (I using a AO7 for LX200 alt / az is better than AO-8)
1) MaximDL, is the only one able software to handle all the equipment togheter, to photograph in altazimuth mode.
And still for more information, in this session, almost one year ago I posted some tests that I made with the de-rotator field pyxis and the development of new management software of derotation field, explaining how it works and what results are obtainable.
Below I attach the latest pictures that I made in alt / az
The first is NGC3359, obtained with 20 subframes, from 10 minutes each
The second is M81, are 12 sub frame of 15 minutes each for luminance and 10 sub frame from 8 minutes for each color channel. My images are obtained from the city center, with high light pollution.
Marco

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#43 Markigno

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:11 PM

This is M81

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#44 nitegeezer

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:18 PM

Those photos are very impressive, even more so when you are not at a dark site. I hope that someday I have shots as good as these to show, I am not there yet and I do have a dark site. I have a lot to learn, but looking at shots such as these gives me a good source of encouragement.

#45 tommax

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:52 PM

Great Shots Markigno!

I would be happy if I could get 15 to 30 second exposures in Alt/Az, let alone 30 minutes!


I am considering the Meade de-rotator because honestly I do have fun with it in alt/az, it when I have to use the wedge given my limited sky, not to mention limited nights (1 or 2 a month to learn from between weather and schedule)... but I have not heard much good about it... as far as costs... well nothing in this hobby is cheap at all, it is about the most expensive hobby short of collecting art I can think of!

Attached is the best DSO (M51) I have been able to get in all my attempts. This was on a so-so night and I think the exposures were 1 to 3 seconds because that is all I have ever been able to get, this was with a Meade DSIv1 or DSI II I cannot remember. I spend a lot of time tweaking the exposure times to get even this...

Nowhere in your league yet I am afraid.

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#46 Markigno

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 07:47 AM

Hi nitegeezer, thank you for your kind comment.

Hi Tom, unfortunately with individual sub frame from 30 seconds you do not get good results on DSO. Exposure needs to be done a minimum of 2 minutes to begin to get some results. Since you've talked about Meade de rotator field, I can tell you something more about this accessory, because I have also the de-rotator field Meade #1220. This accessory works quite well only with Meade LX200 GPS unit and firmware 4.2g (with LX200 Classic not works). The de rotator field Meade, mechanically it is not of good quality, but it works. I have used this product for a while, then I decided to buy the Pyxis 3"(this is a work of art of mechanics). I Attach an old photograph of NGC6503 that I made using the de-rotator field Meade. In this photo I have not used the adaptive optics. Are all sub frame from 5 minutes each for each channel (LRGB) for 2,5 hours integration.
Marco

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#47 LoveChina61

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 09:50 AM

Marco, what was your experience with the Meade #1220 rotator like when using it on the LX200 Classic? I am considering the use of this de-rotator with my LX200 8" Classic but it sounds like you have had a bad experience combining the rotator with Classic LX200. Can you please provide more details? Thanks! :)

#48 Markigno

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:12 PM

Hi, my unit Meade #1220 has been tested on an LX200 classic of a friend of mine. Unfortunately, we have found that does not work. So I did some research to figure out why it does not work with the meade LX200classic. My research led me to discover that the previous firmware to 4.2g were not working correctly with the de-rotator meade for a few bugs. Many astroimager have noted this anomaly, and perhaps this was the reason for the failure of this unit on a commercial level. With the arrival of the units LX200 GPS and firmware 4.2g, Meade put things right, correcting bugs in the firmware and perhaps in the hardware of the telescope. Now the de-rotator field Meade, with these units work properly, even if derotator sends error beeps non-stop. In my de-rotator Meade, I removed error beep unit (it broke my ears), but it works properly.
Marco
P.S. Warning: if you buy a Meade #1220 make sure there's the original connecting cable because it has a special pin-out (with a wired cable type ST4, the de-rotator does not work).

#49 dmdouglass

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 03:12 PM

A word of caution on using De-Rotators...

First off... the cost !
The Optec Pyxis 3" is a discontinued item. However, there are other Optec rotators.. The cost about $2,000, but they do seem to have one model for about $600.

The Meade 1220 lists for, and is availabe for, about $600.

To image using a derotator, you still need to guide!
BUT... you must have the guide camera looking at the same FOV as the image camera... meaning that you MUST use an OAG device (off axis guider adapter). Not always an available option. Not in my case.

I have a Meade field derotator. I purchased it used. I was going to play around and try it out, until i found out about the OAG requirement. Now it just sits in a box.

I would be happy to sell it to any of you for $100 (pay/pal), and i will cover the shipping. If interested, send me a private message via CN messages.

#50 Markigno

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 04:29 PM

Hi David,
In all my interventions on this forum, for a long time, I have always stated that doing photography altazimuth is very expensive and very complex. It is not easy and is not for everyone. It is not a coincidence that there are very few people in the world who use this technique of shooting effectively. At the same time I find it distasteful give advice on products that you not know at all. The first thing is you should try them, the second thing is you should at least inform you properly before giving advice to others. I refer to your statements on Optec de rotator. In particular the Pyxis 3" which, contrary to what you say, is still in production and is the top model de Optec rotator. On the contrary the model of $ 600, you are referring to (Pyxis LE), is not capable of work as de rotator field, but only as a rotor of the camera. Instead the model Pyxis classic from 925 $, is able to function as de rotator field, such as the Pyxis 3 ", but with a lower resolution. If your intervention is focused on the sale of your Meade # 1220, then I understand. Too bad that I already possess it, because at $ 100 if well maintained, and working with the original cable, it would have to be taken with eyes closed. In the case of Tom, SBIG has a dual sensor, so the radial guide is ensured. Where there is someone who fails, there is someone else who can.
Marco






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