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First time out WOW what a lot to learn :-)

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#1 goldtr8

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 07:38 AM

So I finally had a chance to get the new AVX mount and ZWO 294MC outside to look at the skies.   There was a lot to do and I measured success based on first could I get a polar alignment and even find stuff with the full moon.   Second would I even get SharpCap to show me anything on the screen.    

 

Equipment 8" SCT, AVX mount first time out,  ZWO 294MC first time out,  CPWI software to control mount first time out, SharpCap Pro first time out, Celestron Starsense and finally a home made cart to to roll it all out site.

 

So simply the alignment worked, CWPI works, Starsense worked, the cart is awesome and Sharpcap captured some stuff.   So overall success but not so hot on Sharpcap here is were it broke down.

 

I have my first picture of a star that I saved, guess it was before I got it in focus. But believe me that is VEGA in the view.

 

Then I went to Arcturus then to M57 and tried to get the stacking and alignment in Sharpcap going.   Simply stated I got m57 in the view but completely failed on getting frames to stack and align.   I did stumble into turning the alignment off and then I got a stack and was able to save it.   I think the save was also an accident.   So simply I got it in the view, tracking with a poor alignment was acceptably for this first time out, but I am clueless on using Sharpcapmand camera settings.   However, I had not really did any dry pictures with the system during the day time to get knowledge of the system for more than two months.   

 

So here are the results from the backyard last night from the FITS files that were saved on the computer and they are very representative on what I viewed on the computer screen.   Guess my next efforts are reading that manual.   Note in the m57 picture there are some smudges that showed up and then I looked at the collector plate and it was full of dew, I forgot to connect the dew heaters so that was the end of the night.     Also the M57 picture has elongated stars as this was a 5 stack with alignment turned off as that was the only way I could get it to stack.   It just would not find stars to align on and I had no idea how to fix it.    Anyway I am where I am and that is further than I was 24 hours ago.

 

Note I added the camera settings for the M57 green image a couple of posts down.   It was 9 frames at 15 sec each for 135 total seconds with alignment of frames turned off.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • first ever non focus.jpg
  • m57.jpg

Edited by goldtr8, 19 May 2019 - 12:44 PM.

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#2 Eddie_42

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 08:32 AM

Welcome to the adventure.

 

First nights are a hodge podge of activity. Im still in that phase myself. Did I plug it in? where is _____?  Oh ya, gotta do Y before X.

 

Learning is half the fun for me, if were plug and play, what would i do while the Sun is up?

 

From your two images, it looks like there is a focus issue. The Collimation looks spot on though smile.gif   Do you have a Bahtinov mask? They are well recommended for focus, I find it really easy to use (though i dont have an SCT which is an odd focus type)  Its possible the focus issue is what caused the stacker program to fail, since it was finding donuts, and not points.....maybe?

 

Keep up the good fight. One victory at a time

 

P.S. - I found this thread because its in the "new posts" section, might get some added help in the Beginner Imaging forums too. Lots of good folk around.


Edited by Eddie_42, 19 May 2019 - 08:34 AM.


#3 Cobalt5120

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 09:21 AM

It's going to be fun seeing your pictures at the end of summer, or heck, even in a couple weeks and seeing the vast improvement.  My guess is I am going to be in a month or so where you were last night.  Your progress will be interesting to follow..



#4 goldtr8

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 12:41 PM

I thought I had already added this information.   Its the camera log for the M57 stack.  

 

[ZWO ASI294MC]
Debayer Preview=On
Pan=0
Tilt=0
Output Format=FITS files (*.fits)
Binning=1
Capture Area=4144x2822
Colour Space=RAW16
Temperature=18.3
High Speed Mode=Off
Turbo USB=45
Flip=None
Frame Rate Limit=Maximum
Gain=200
Exposure=15
Timestamp Frames=Off
White Bal (B)=50
White Bal ®=50
Brightness=4
Auto Exp Max Gain=285
Auto Exp Max Exp M S=30000
Auto Exp Target Brightness=100
Mono Bin=Off
Banding Threshold=35
Banding Suppression=0
Apply Flat=None
Subtract Dark=None
#Black Point
Display Black Point=0.04296875
#MidTone Point
Display MidTone Point=0.05296875
#White Point
Display White Point=0.1875
TimeStamp=2019-05-19T03:44:22.2257769Z
SharpCapVersion=3.2.6020.0
TotalExposure(s)=135
StackedFrames=9



#5 chilldaddy

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 05:54 PM

Welcome goldtr8,

 

That is definitely a lot of new all at one time!  Keep taking it step by step and you'll learn something new each time out.  I spent a lot of time with my new scope before adding the camera component and it was very helpful.  You should probably start with the basics of getting familiar with using your mount and getting good polar alignment. (Sharpcap has a tool for that though I've not used it since I have an Alt/Az mount) You will be frustrated with stacking and your images if you're not tracking well.

 

When comfortable with that I too highly recommend a Bahtinov mask as well as the Bahtinov focusing tool in Sharpcap.  (It assists with the process rather than replacing it.)  The Sharpcap manual is very well written and worth reading in its entirety.   I have it open all the time. You can also play with the demo images loaded in Sharpcap to get a feel for what does what.   

 

Alignment can be tricky when not enough stars are detected so play with the digital gain settings, 2x or 4x are usually enough and 8x can sometimes be too much but give it a try too.  Ideally, you'll shoot for 50-100 stars to be detected but sometimes I'm doing well just to get 10.  It's very easy to get enough stars with a globular cluster so give one of those a try first.  They are also bright and are pretty easy to image/view.  Also, try bumping up your gain from 200 to maybe 300-350.  I'm using a different camera so I don't know what's best for the 294 but that too will help with star detection.  Work on getting alignment so you can stack since that is where the magic happens with EAA.

 

Use the auto color balance (the lightning bolt icon next to the color adjustment tool) to get a basic color setting.  I like to adjust the Red and Blue sliders in the image controls section to make the main histogram peaks line up then adjust the black level to be just left of the peak.  I leave the white level to the far right and then move the Mid level to the left to see details come out.  It's a trade off between detail and grainy so play with it to find something you like.  This is the fun part as you are then able to work on getting images to look good instead of fighting the mount, stacking and focus.

 

Just remember to build a good foundation with the basics, learn your equipment, read and reread the Sharpcap manual, start with easy objects and get good focus.  You can then learn the camera which is an excellent camera by the way!  I hope to add on to my tool box.

 

Also, you can learn a lot by looking at what settings others are using and watching video of people using Sharpcap.  Take a look at nightskiesnetwork.com some evening and you can watch other people using the software live.  It's a great way to learn.  Most of all, have fun!  EAA really is an amazing way to enjoy the skies, especially from light polluted areas.

 

Best of luck to you!

 

Greg

 

BTW, the "smudges" look like dust bunnies to me.  Be sure to clean any filters, focal reducers etc.  Down the road, you can use flats to address those.

 

 



#6 goldtr8

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 08:18 PM

 

BTW, the "smudges" look like dust bunnies to me.  Be sure to clean any filters, focal reducers etc.  Down the road, you can use flats to address those.

I was playing with flats and the dust bunnies were there.   I was able to blow them off the camera glass plate and I was able to get all but one very small one gone.   Its another cloudy night so I figure at least I can at least play with stuff and be more familiar with controls. 

 

I also just played with histogram settings by just pointing the scope at a tree far away.   I learned some things about setting the colors and stretching.

 

I also stumbled into having CPWI software communicate the SharpCap so the telescope control will be easier.   

 

So much to learn, but its fun because I want to do not because I have to do it.

 

Cheers & Beers

Don



#7 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 11:41 AM

I was playing with flats and the dust bunnies were there.   I was able to blow them off the camera glass plate and I was able to get all but one very small one gone.   Its another cloudy night so I figure at least I can at least play with stuff and be more familiar with controls. 

 

I also just played with histogram settings by just pointing the scope at a tree far away.   I learned some things about setting the colors and stretching.

 

I also stumbled into having CPWI software communicate the SharpCap so the telescope control will be easier.   

 

So much to learn, but its fun because I want to do not because I have to do it.

 

Cheers & Beers

Don

Is this a none cooled 294 since your temp was at 18.3? Color balance using the R & B sliders.

 

Steve



#8 goldtr8

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 07:20 AM

Is this a none cooled 294 since your temp was at 18.3? Color balance using the R & B sliders.

 

Steve

Yes this is a non-cooled camera.




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