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Canon DSLR with Liveview for outreach?

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#1 microstar

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 01:37 PM

I have a small observatory and about 3 times per year we have events where I do an astrophotography talk and visit to the observatory for friends/school kids/etc. I have them look through the telescopes, but looking through the telescope at faint fuzziness, especially after seeing colourful and detailed astrophotos, can be a bit deflating. It's ok for solar system objects, but it would be nice to have a video cam like the new MC Jr. Pro to show them dim objects but that's a sizeable $$ outlay for 2-3x per year.

Has anyone used a DSLR for outreach? Seems to me that you could use something like Nebulosity set to color jpg capture for camera control and take 30sec exposures at ISO1600 to display on the laptop screen. Should see enough detail for people to realize that there's more there than a fuzzy spot.

Any advice on this?
...Keith

#2 Tom and Beth

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 02:27 PM

Take a look through THIS THREAD

The only problem I see with it is that the sensor heats up in Live View mode. You can mitigate this by shooting snapshots which you show on your moniter, and let the camera cool down between images.

Then there are the Samsung and Super Circuits analog cameras you can usually find for $100 USD or so.

#3 microstar

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 02:59 PM

Thanks for the link Tom & Beth - that's just what I was looking for!

I've been playing around with Nebulosity and my XSi in my office and you can Frame and Focus without using Liveview and set the exposure time to whatever you want so it just keep cycling. Sounds like the real issue will be how long it takes to get a usable exposure on a f/5.3 system. I liked the idea though of using DSS Live to take that a bit farther by stacking the images. I'll give it a try when I have a clear night.
...Keith

#4 SDTopensied

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 02:02 PM

I frequently do this during outreach and have not had any problems...

That's a T3i with 10x zoom enabled on a TeleVue 4x Powermate in an Explore Scientific ED127 on a Celestron CGEM DX.

ISO 100, 1/6th second exposure.

Posted Image

#5 WillCarney

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 05:42 PM

While I have not used a DSLR I have used a Lodestar. During the Venus transit I had the lodestar taking pictures and showing it on the laptop. All most a live view but using a laptop.
William

#6 jgraham

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 05:58 PM

While I haven't used my DSLR for outreach, I do frequently use it for live viewing, though not with the camera's (Canon 550D) live view function. Instead, I use Backyard EOS which has a rich feature set for controling the camera and displaying the images in real time. It also includes it's own video modes such as a 5x live mode that works great on the moon and planets. Backyard EOS is a great tool that let's me switch seemlessly between observing and imaging modes and I believe that it would work very well as an outreach tool.

#7 microstar

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 06:50 PM

Thanks John, I have BYEOS and I hadn't thought of using that. If it works with a Lodestar William, I don't know why it wouldn't with a DSLR. And that's a pretty impressive Jupiter shot SDTopensied. Now if I ever get some clear nights I'll try the setup out.
Thanks, Keith

#8 SDTopensied

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 12:11 AM

I use BackyardEOS frequently, but not for outreach. I find that the addition of a laptop and additional power sources complicates things a bit too much.

In your case where then folks come to you, that might be a viable solution. BYE is a fantastic program with great support.

-Steve

#9 TechPan6415

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 06:00 PM

I think you should just show Hubble space photos on a 50" LCD TV about 300 feet away and point your scope in that direction, even better with binoviewers...:question:

I do a lot of outreach with the organization in my signature and I always show people a not over the top photo of the object *after* they see it with their own eyes, not before. Then I explain to them why we see less even with a telescope. The line for my scope is often much longer than the other people who resort to "Photoshopped Photons" because I am showing them more, teaching them more and they have the memory of seeing the object, not looking at a darn LCD...:crazyeyes:

Just a friendly suggestion, anything we can do to get people to get away from viewing all the world via an LCD is SUCH a good thing for humanity... :waytogo:

#10 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 04:04 AM

I have done this quite a few times and after a while I began to understand that while using my laptop to show groups of people some of the harder to see objects was great, it seems as though the majority of the people want to see objects through an eyepiece. I have since given up bringing my laptop and dslr to outreach events. Now I try to get set up early and nab one of the more interesting and easy to see objects like m42 or Jupiter and let the other telescopes fight for scraps.

#11 remuscj

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:00 PM

Liveview could be great for sharing the views of the moon craters and Jupiter, but found that the public still prefers to look through the eyepiece "for the real thing".

#12 Skylook123

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 12:01 PM

I've done public outreach for over 20 years, and personally am strictly an eyeball at the eyepiece observer. I do anywhere from four to ten or more events each month. Last February, I had an interesting experience. A young lady came to one of our events in a county park. We had four volunteer astronomers. Usually at least one of us would have had an SCT with a star diagonal that can be oriented to support the physically handicapped. As luck would have it, we all had big dobs. But this young woman, wheelchair bound but quite well educated in astronomy, could not get to the eyepieces so two friends supported her at my 18". By March, I was starting to learn to apply live video capabilities.

For the annular eclipse at the Grand Canyon, my wife had used her Canon EOS Rebel T3i screen with a Baader filter over the lens to take her own eclipse pictures, and had a crowd of over fifty watching over her shoulder despite our having 35 telescopes available.

In addition to supporting the mobility challenged, there are two more reasons I use live video nowadays. First, my wife taught astronomy for many years but has a folded membrane defect around her rod cells and cannot focus on eyepiece objects; she's never seen what she teaches. When I got The Ring for the first time in our back yard and called her out to see it in a 16" monitor, she gasped and said "Where has this been all my life?" and left in tears.

At the Grand Canyon Star Party this year, for the first time four of us out of 110 volunteer astronomers set up a video corner with two or three of us on any particular night. We averaged about four wheelchair visitors, a dozen or more others with walkers, uncountable children, and surprisingly several dozen with my wife's ailment each night. And our strongest support came from the normally gifted who thought what we were doing to share the night sky with those who could never see what we see in an eyepiece was a wonderful thing. On the last night, while I was inside the theater at sunset with the night speaker, my wife ran the scope and video on the first quarter moon. She had over four hundred visitors in two hours.

Finally, as children's visual processing ability matures, the processing of an image without context, like an eyepiece view compared to a naked eye panorama, does not mature in children's brains until between ages five and as late as age seven. We have them at our eyepieces, parents pressuring them to see something their brain is just not ready to process. A monitor changes all that.

If the public prefers to see "the real thing" in the eyepiece, and they are blessed with the ability we normally gifted take for granted, good for them. Let them go to the next person's scope and fall into the night sky, a truly wonderful experience for a first time viewer. But my experience this past year at GCSP does not fully support that generalization. At our two or three live video scopes, the largest being my 10", we always had a huge crowd despite half of the other scopes being 20" or larger. We had to keep shooing them to the rest of the scopes. Next to me was a 28" dob. Yet I had the crowd.

When visitors leave my display with a hug, and at times in tears, or a child jumps up and down and says "Mommy I can SEE it!" after no luck at other scopes, that to me is priceless.

Back on topic. The display in my wife's T3i without using Liveview but using a telephoto lens is very striking as well, either night views or especially watching and recording sun and moon risings and settings with geological features to accent the view. People stand around as a group and it enhances the experience as they talk about what they are watching.

Different horses for different courses.

#13 skyguy88

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 02:00 AM

Jim wrote, " People stand around as a group and it enhances the experience as they talk about what they are watching". That pretty well sums up my experience with video group observing featuring DSO's in their many forms.

Show a few galaxies, say NGC 253, 891, and M82, in good detail and lead the conversation to the number of galaxies out there and on to the HUDF. Or show M42, then M1 and you immediately have the makings of a stellar evolution discussion. Any of the bright teal colored planetary nebulae (M 27 is king)prompt a discussion of element formation.

Engaging visitors in this kind of in depth conversation is the best way that I know to develop enduring interest in the science. Video allows me the freedom to address these subjects in depth because I'm not busy coaching individuals as they try to adapt to an ep.

Whatever works for you.

Bill

#14 jgraham

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:55 PM

These are interesting times. It can be a tough call on what targets to show at an outreach event that won't leave visitors disappointed, particularly young children. So many objects are truly beautiful through the eyepiece, but seeing that beauty often takes time and a trained eye. I think that it would be very valuable to learn how to integrate modern technology into some types of outreach activities. The DSLR is particularly interesting in that they can be relatively affordable and easy to relate to. I think for young children the moon and planets will always be popular and leave a good impression, but for an older group a mix of old and new may be appropriate and effective.

#15 skyguy88

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:09 PM

Hi John,

I've had the good fortune of sharing video observing evenings with big crowds at Lowell observatory for the last few years. Lowell is a fully integrated venue, with large scopes, a few big dobs, a fascinating museum and an assortment of displays.

At other venues, there are always at least a few traditional scopes so visitors have options.

There is a wide range of subjects that many visitors are aware of but don't really understand. I think it's worth thinking about how to address subjects like the Milky Way, the expanding universe, black holes, dark matter and energy....Nothing that we can observe with visitors leads to these subjects. I think that setting up displays geared toward exploring these themes before darkness sets in could be effective.

Anything that increases awareness of the universe and this wonderful science is worth trying.

By the way, the cost of video systems is dropping significantly. You don't need full featured systems for outreach. There are always moderately bright targets that show well with 10-20 second exposures.

Bill

#16 Skylook123

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 02:35 AM

The operative term here is outreach. Just as in baseball, a good hitter can hit with a pool cue, and canoe paddle, or a broom if need be, a competent outreach practitioner can do wonders with the Hubble, or a DSLR, or a Mallincam, or a security camera, or a table top reflector, or just a laser pointer and a tour of the sky. We are talking nuances of the gifts a good demonstrator, which is the key element.

#17 2400baud

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 12:33 PM

I might be a little late on this thread, but one thing i do for outreach on full moon nights is bring out my li-ion powered pico projector hooked up to the HDMI out on my Canon T3I, I only have an AT72ED 430mm so the digital zoom on my camera is really helpful for showing people the details of the moon and sometimes even pretty decent views of jupiter and moons . I usually use the projector in a rear projection mode so there isn't a bright light shining directly at people if they inadvertently look into the lens, but i have also been known to cover it with a piece of red cellophane to further dim the light output. I set this "station" up away from the "general population" of telescopes so as to not disturb anyone, but people seem to love it and it's definitely something people are drawn to check out toward the end of the night when they are on their way out anyway and don't need their dark adapted vision. On full (or near full) moon nights, we're not too worried about dark adapted eyesight anyways , so it makes for a very exciting show and tell experience. the projector i use is rated to max of 95 lumens, but i never run it that bright, and i get about 2 hours of use. AAXA P4 P4X Pico Projector. It also allows input of USB drives, micro SD and slideshow file formats so it is also great for dusk presentations and/or solar observing/projections! just thought i'd share. Will post some pics sometime the next time i set it up.
Clear Skies,
Ryan






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