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Some clear honesty needed : Is Video Astronomy worth it?

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#1 FourOwls

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 07:46 PM

May I ask a very stupid but honest question? I have been given lots of great advice but I want to make something clear before investing in equipment. Now my question is this, is Video Astronomy worth it for my light polluted backyard? I am considering seriously investing in a GOTO 10" dob and camera, and just getting into it. I have been advised that for my live time V.A needs, this will increase my aperture about 3x and show me many objects I can't see visually. I needed help with this decision or seeking a clear mind as I was getting lost!! 

 

P.S After many great responses and guidance I did decide on a 10inch GOTO Dob for mainly just video astronomy (not imaging or long exposure images), just as close to real time as possible. I haven't chosen a camera yet but I have been given a few suggestions but feel free if you have some good ideas for video astronomy for a dob!!


Edited by FourOwls, 18 February 2019 - 04:41 AM.


#2 isogroup

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 07:54 PM

Start with a really good light pollution filter. In my light polluted skies the veil nebula was visible in a 12 inch dob, couldn't be seen without the filter. Same for a lot of deep sky objects.  I use a ZWO camera for video views of moon and planets because I am older and have lots of "floaters" in each eye.  Two eyes with binos or video screen save the day.

 

Rick

(2 cents of advice)


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#3 descott12

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:00 PM

I have seen more in my light-polluted suburban backyard in the last three months of doing EAA than I have seen in my entire life of doing visual observations with larger scopes and darker skies.

 

It is SO worth it. You will be amazed. A few examples are attached. Note the images are shrunken down and cropped and don't represent anything close to what I saw on my screen.  These image were from approximately 2 minute stacks so they are close to real-time viewing.

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#4 descott12

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:00 PM

A few more

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#5 FourOwls

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:10 PM

I have seen more in my light-polluted suburban backyard in the last three months of doing EAA than I have seen in my entire life of doing visual observations with larger scopes and darker skies.

 

It is SO worth it. You will be amazed. A few examples are attached. Note the images are shrunken down and cropped and don't represent anything close to what I saw on my screen.  These image were from approximately 2 minute stacks so they are close to real-time viewing.

Thanks so much for your response...and I guess I was just needing some confirmation. I remember getting a 16inch dob a few years back, and in my backyard I could still hardly see anything. I was gutted and thought that astronomy has nothing to offer a backyard viewer (also a newbie at the time, and probably still am if I am honest). I have always loved the idea of being able to see more and get the excitement back again! 



#6 zakry3323

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:10 PM

I have seen more in my light-polluted suburban backyard in the last three months of doing EAA than I have seen in my entire life of doing visual observations with larger scopes and darker skies.

 

It is SO worth it. You will be amazed. A few examples are attached. Note the images are shrunken down and cropped and don't represent anything close to what I saw on my screen.  These image were from approximately 2 minute stacks so they are close to real-time viewing.

It can be very shocking to see, especially in color, targets like the Horsehead Nebula for the first time using EAA- targets that are can be very difficult to see with larger aperture, dark skies, and various filters. 

I haven't used a dob for anything but visual, and can really only say that I've had many experiences using EAA with a refractor and an EQ mount. I'd highly recommend it to anyone, and use this setup regularly for outreach. 



#7 FourOwls

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:11 PM

Start with a really good light pollution filter. In my light polluted skies the veil nebula was visible in a 12 inch dob, couldn't be seen without the filter. Same for a lot of deep sky objects.  I use a ZWO camera for video views of moon and planets because I am older and have lots of "floaters" in each eye.  Two eyes with binos or video screen save the day.

 

Rick

(2 cents of advice)

Thanks Rick

The LP filter is something I haven't considered much to be honest and I really should. I have seen some ZWO products and they look amazing (although some are out of my reach financially!!)..



#8 Mark326

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:39 PM

Hooking up a camera to a telescope is going to show more detail and color than you will get visually.  Not just small improvement, stunning improvement.

 

With that said, Video Astronomy, EAA, AP can be a black hole for cost if you are the type that is not easily satisfied.   

 

This is like asking how fast do you want your car to go having a direct correlation to $$$.

 

The overwhelming concensus for starting to image is a smaller 80mm range refractor on best Equitorial Mount you can afford.  Read up in beginner  imaging forum.   Can you start with a big dobsonian? Sure but there are limits as to what it can achieve, maybe it will suit your needs, maybe not.  Need to have an idea of what types of targets interest you more, there is no one size fits all solution.

 

Lots to consider, good luck and Clear Skies.


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#9 CharlesC

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:48 PM

How light polluted is your location?  Find out here.

 

If you are in a red zone you can see many things with EAA.   If its a white zone consider getting something lightweight so you will be willing to travel to darker skies.  Darker skies are better for visual and EAA.  A 10" GOTO dob is more difficult to transport than a compact alt-az SCT.  You can do a lot with smaller scopes with EAA.  A 6" SCT /w EAA will outgun a visual 21" Dob at a dark site. 

 

Assuming you are healthy, the sweet spot is a Celestron Evolution mount with 8" SCT /w EAA for home and travel.  A 10" SCT is much heavier and less likely to be lugged out to a dark site.  A good budget starter camera is the ASI224, or go take the next big jump to an ASI294.


Edited by CharlesC, 17 February 2019 - 08:50 PM.


#10 WyattDavis

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 08:48 PM

Hi FourOwls,

 

I'm a visual observer who tried EAA and ended going back to visual. The quick answer to your question is "yes, you will see a lot more." I wouldn't tell anyone not to try EAA, but I will say that I found the amount of equipment/cables/screens/etc., to be a real barrier to enjoying being out under the stars. (And, yes, I find heavy light pollution to be a real barrier as well...). I also found the resolution of the resulting electronic images to be disappointing. I decided to go back to visual and just get to darker skies as often as possible.

 

I do agree with Mark326. I would start small/as simple as possible and see if you actually like it before going all in.

 

Good luck!


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#11 bobzeq25

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:12 PM

It's definitely "worth it".  You'll see far more and the equipment cost need not be huge.

 

Re post #8.  mark326 is a good man, but his post could be confusing.  With the 80mm refractor and GEM, he's referring to traditional long exposure imaging.  You certainly do not want an 80mm for EAA.  It can be used, but it's far from ideal for EAA.

 

Don't expect to see anything like those traditional long exposure images.  In terms of expense and complexity, traditional imaging is in a different league. 

 

#3, #4, and the EAA forum here will show you what you can expect from relatively short exposure EAA.  A big scope is very useful for EAA, and the demands on the mount are not great.


Edited by bobzeq25, 17 February 2019 - 09:17 PM.


#12 OleCuss

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:45 PM

I've no idea whether you will find it to be "worth it".  It depends on so many things.

 

Done reasonably well you will see more with the OAP rig than you will with the eyepiece, but the experience is very different.  I generally prefer the eyepiece but at this time I can't use the eyepiece as I once did so I'm limited to a binocular or to OAP for observing.

 

You'll need to consider when you get a GoTo Dobsonian that they are not really designed for AP of any sort.  That means you will have some difficulty when doing OAP at that focal length.  You'd also want to consider getting a good coma corrector (Paracorr is about the best).

 

Whether you would be happy with the system also depends somewhat on how you intend to view (tiny screen with low resolution, big screen with much resolution, close up, from quite a distance, etc.), and camera choice.



#13 descott12

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:57 PM

I was gutted and thought that astronomy has nothing to offer a backyard viewer (also a newbie at the time, and probably still am if I am honest). I have always loved the idea of being able to see more and get the excitement back again! 

I agree. Visual was always so disappointing. EAA is game-changer, at least for me.


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#14 Vondragonnoggin

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:58 PM

Astro Video Image Gallery

 

Browse through the posts to see what you might miss unassisted by electronics in light polluted skies.

 

waytogo.gif

 

Im not a camera user for EAA, but I get more tempted each year. Luckily I can do another form of EAA that works in light polluted skies with my small scopes.

 

Its not quite the regular eyepiece view, but the difference is seeing it or not seeing it at all unless I take a bigger scope for a 4+ hour drive to some very dark skies.

 

I am lazy and don’t want to have to drive that far to see things. Once in awhile it’s ok, but not much. I can see a ton from my backyard with EAA. That alone is 95% of why it’s worth it to me.

 

The other 5% is the technophile in me that loves the gear.  borg.gif



#15 FourOwls

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 10:04 PM

I agree. Visual was always so disappointing. EAA is game-changer, at least for me.

Thanks again, your posts are quite positive (although not all EAA people have had good experiences it turns out!). I don't expect NASA pics of course, and happy to view in monochrome is fine but just to be able to see anything more than visual....over time I can save up and get a good camera which may help and who knows with future developments!! Still wondering either a 8inch or 10inch dob (about $450AUD difference...and yes I already know I want the 10"!!)


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#16 Jeff Lee

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 10:19 PM

I was considering selling my scope because I had not viewed in 2 years. I found this forum and a member of my club posted some images taken with a RI on his 16" goto Dob. I tried a form of EAA with my M43 camera that can show an 8 second view on it's screen. Thought it was worth while, then I got a mount that can carry both my 8" SCT and 4" ES102. Added a ZWO224, a laptop, and SharpCap (lifetime version). Now I can run both scopes across wifi processing one camera on the -   laptop and transfer files to the watch folder on SharpCap on my desktop. With the use of focal reducers as well as barlow's I am seeing things I could never see in a friends 20" at a dark site with the 8" and amazing views from the 4" with what I guess a 12 or 16" at my yard would produce - perhaps even better.

 

It depends how much you want to spend and what your goals are. Because you exposure are so short, yes a 12' goto Dob would work for EAA - my friend in the club is using a large format camera and an Orion goto 16" and it is amazing.

 

The ability to wifi your scope also is a very useful thing. The images I get from my m43 Gx8 wifi to a SharpCap watch folder are amazing to see develop.

 

Yes I still like  to do some visual observing, but here in Oregon EAA keeps me viewing on most clear nights. I spent some additional one because I had very specific wants for my system, $2K well spent. My system because I use wifi and 2 computers is more complex than just using a scope and laptop for EAA. But a Laptop and a scope with SharpCap (takes care of any alignment problems in stacking) in light pollution is an amazing thing.        


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#17 OleCuss

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 10:47 PM

Thanks again, your posts are quite positive (although not all EAA people have had good experiences it turns out!). I don't expect NASA pics of course, and happy to view in monochrome is fine but just to be able to see anything more than visual....over time I can save up and get a good camera which may help and who knows with future developments!! Still wondering either a 8inch or 10inch dob (about $450AUD difference...and yes I already know I want the 10"!!)

I don't think it should be surprising that not all have had good experiences with OAP.

1.  Some did not choose equipment suitable to their targets and abilities.

2.  Their expectations may not have been appropriate.

3.  The OAP experience is very different from that of using the eyepiece.  I find that the eyepiece feeds my soul better - I'm experiencing the very photons emitted/reflected by a distant star or cloud years or millions of years earlier.  There is a sort of connection to the past in that I'm viewing these targets in a manner fairly similar to that which was done by some of the pioneers of astronomy.

 

The experience with the two methods is just very different.  One is not superior to the other but delights or disappoints based on multiple factors.

 

But one of the things to remember is that you don't actually see the target.  You are seeing a processed image of the target which is a product of your optics, camera, software/firmware, and display.

 

The various components of the OAP system also means that you can vary the view you are getting and that has a value all its own.  There is no way to duplicate these kinds of variations with the eyepiece.

 

I'd still mostly prefer the eyepiece if I could enjoy that right now.  But even if I didn't find viewing pleasure in OAP I'd still want to have some capability for outreach.  I think that OAP in the right venues is a great thing for outreach - and especially for folk with disabilities.



#18 Ptarmigan

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 12:10 AM

Video astronomy is worth it. Never looked back. Got me out with the telescope even with the Full Moon up. cool.gif


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#19 FourOwls

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 01:12 AM

Video astronomy is worth it. Never looked back. Got me out with the telescope even with the Full Moon up. cool.gif

Howdy from Australia!!

Brilliant, and after a lot of consideration, I have taken the plunge on a 10inch GOTO dob (F4.7) which I have been advised with short video astronomy purposes will do the job just fine, with decent enough aperture! Now to find the right camera.....hmmmmm!! I am happy with monochrome....another journey begins!!


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#20 Anduin

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 04:19 AM

If you live in a white zone like me , EAA is the only way to go for DSOs, no matter how big your telescope is. My advice, put your money in camera and filters first. Buy a Sharpcap pro license. I have fun with all types of telescopes and mounts C6, C8 evo, C9, hyperstar, and small refractor. But by far what gives me the most satisfaction is the small 71mm refractor in a equatorial mount with Sharpcap. So easy to setup and fantastic images.


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#21 FourOwls

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 04:28 AM

If you live in a white zone like me , EAA is the only way to go for DSOs, no matter how big your telescope is. My advice, put your money in camera and filters first. Buy a Sharpcap pro license. I have fun with all types of telescopes and mounts C6, C8 evo, C9, hyperstar, and small refractor. But by far what gives me the most satisfaction is the small 71mm refractor in a equatorial mount with Sharpcap. So easy to setup and fantastic images.


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Thanks Anduin 

I have settled on a 10inch GOTO Dob as my pure video astronomy platform and now trying to decide on a camera!! Actually I have no idea how to set up a GOTO dob!! LOL...oh lots to learn!


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#22 Gavster

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 08:22 AM

Hi FourOwls,

 

I'm a visual observer who tried EAA and ended going back to visual. The quick answer to your question is "yes, you will see a lot more." I wouldn't tell anyone not to try EAA, but I will say that I found the amount of equipment/cables/screens/etc., to be a real barrier to enjoying being out under the stars. (And, yes, I find heavy light pollution to be a real barrier as well...). I also found the resolution of the resulting electronic images to be disappointing. I decided to go back to visual and just get to darker skies as often as possible.

 

I do agree with Mark326. I would start small/as simple as possible and see if you actually like it before going all in.

 

Good luck!

That is one of the key advantages of using night vision monoculars imo - no cables, screens etc. Nv ‘feels’ very like to normal visual observing in practice and the real time resolution is very good as well.


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#23 Mark326

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 11:33 AM

Thanks Anduin 

I have settled on a 10inch GOTO Dob as my pure video astronomy platform and now trying to decide on a camera!! Actually I have no idea how to set up a GOTO dob!! LOL...oh lots to learn!

Reading back through thread, I take Bobs point, I presume too much... Starting down EAA path, the imaging bug bit me and found that my gear was not ideal for what I hoped to accomplish.  Too big a scope, too small a sensor, on a poor mount system.

 

CAMERA WISE, sticking with what I own,  The ASI224MC is excellent on Solar System objects (spring for the $22 buck IR/Cut filter), for DSOs the tiny sensor is less than ideal as it directly affects your FOV.  I have used this on a 10in Newtonian, nudge and bump to dob.  Achieving the required 55mm backfocus (inward focus travel) can be a challenge on some designs, something to research before commiting.

 

Unless your primarily focused on Planetary Id suggest a larger sensor, of course your available budget factors in here.   Software wise, the free versions of Sharpcap or FireCapture, will get you started.


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#24 Noah4x4

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 11:45 AM

Yes, EAA is worthwhile, but it can plunge you into a deep money pit...

 

First, you get the excitement of seeing stuff that you have never seen through an eyepiece. My seeing conditions are so bad (light pollution) I struggle to see the Orion Sword asterism with the naked eye. Not a hope of seeing the Horsehead even with a 8" SCT, yet I had it on screen inside a few minutes with a camera. Dave's images (Post #3 and #4) are typical, but I would need a remarkably good night to tease out that clarity of detail and I tend to 'observe' rather than 'image'. EAA will beat serious light pollution.

 

You then get sucked into the allure of sitting indoors in a warm 'mission control' remote controlling everything. The obvious solution is wireless, which is harder than you think with a high resolution camera. Then you fiddle with 'active' USB and find that distance is a problem. Then you try a dual computer wireless route. Then, you get obssesed by 4K UHD and end up with Cat6a cable. It can be a very deep money pit if motivated to find the ultimate solutions as I have been.

 

One thing I have learned as a technology fanatic. Sometimes, you need to arrest ambition until other technologies catch up. For example; in pursuit of the 4K UHD dream I spent big bucks and succeeded. It is wonderful to have the greater depth of zoom possible from higher resolutions, notably when using Hyperstar when you are 'observing'. But if you are an 'imager', why not simply 'observe' in 1080p and 'save' in your cameras native 4K UHD for later post processing of your region of interest? The reduction in system load possible by dropping from 4K UHD to 1080p is dramatic and that then makes WiFi connectivity possible and costs tumble steeply.

 

In summary, EAA is fantastic, but you need to make up your mind if you are primarily an 'observer' or an 'imager'. Once you have settled on the latter, DON'T (for example) pursue the 4k UHD dream. By 'observing' in 1080p even if you still 'save' in 4K UHD you will save enough cash on equipment for a holiday. But it is nice as an observer to have that extra level of zoom, but is it worth the serious extra expense, perhaps not.


Edited by Noah4x4, 18 February 2019 - 11:49 AM.

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#25 wargrafix

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 02:14 PM

For me, its been worth it. Showing my elderly parents Whirlpool galaxy was a highlight. No more fuzzy centers. Spiral arms and all.


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