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Visual or Video astronomy for large groups?

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#1 Dave_L

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 03:02 AM

Hello all! I do some astronomy programs for the public in a nature area. I am well versed in visual astronomy, but inexperienced as a video astronomer. Group sizes have been around 30 people but crowds are getting big (42 last time). Last program was great with the public getting amazing views of Saturn, Jupiter, Albireo, Butterfly Cluster etc. I was thinking it would be great to project this stuff onto a screen instead having a line of 40 people waiting for a turn at the eyepiece. We use a Celestron CPC 1100 XLT in a place with really dark skies. I have a Mallincam Hyper Plus color available but I am unsure how to use it! The prospect of projecting the telescope image onto a screen is really attractive because it would eliminate the line of 40+ people waiting a turn at the eyepiece... But there is a drawback.... there is an argument that there is no real substitute for observing in real time through a telescope and also, what is the point of a really dark night sky if you put the audience in front of a bright screen and artificial light source?  Any thoughts? Does anyone have experience with Mallincam devices?



#2 sg6

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 03:44 AM

I would say video is going to be the best if the only instrument you have is a choice of either eyepiece or video.

 

Best I have seen and very successful is scope to camera/video THEN the video output to a projector and the projected image on a hardboard screen.

 

Means people stand looking at the screen not standing around and likely crowded around a video screen - video screens are not exactly big. The camera video is displayed on a laptop screen along the route, people running the set up want to see the camera video to know what is going through. So the video is dispalyed but with the additional attachment of a projector.

 

Outreach numbers are generally up at the 200 mark, and there are a series of "normal" visual scopes around. However the system operates very well indeed. Think budget outdoor cinema

 

Likely your biggest "problem" would be the screen - reasonable idea that someone would have a suitable projector to take the video. Ah, mains power required? One thinking of uses a full size sheet of hardboard painted matt white - white primer actually.

 

Suspect the factor for consideration is the number of attendees. Video screen viewing is fine for 20-40 but at 120-200 it fails and the "cinema" approach is required.



#3 Jeff Struve

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 12:11 PM

The large screen kinda ruined seeing when we tried that route. We still do EAA, but on laptop monitors... generally we have 1 EAA rig set up for each 2 visual scopes set up. Gives folks something to do while they wait in line. The EAA also gives folks an idea as to what the faint fuzzy kinda looks like before going to the eyepiece.



#4 Dave_L

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 12:40 PM

Thanks for the feedback! Does anyone have experience using a Mallincam device? What we have is a little bit older Hyper Plus model.



#5 Jeff Struve

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 12:45 PM

I've used my Xtreme... my Rev2 was easier... and we've used ZWO ASI120... and some sort of QHY...



#6 barbarosa

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 05:49 PM

If you get the hint about CMOS I think you will find the that a CMOS camera and some free software will give you more and better options than in the days of the Mallincam square stars video rigs when a CRT had the best image, no matter how good it looks in memory.

 

You can go from essentially standard definition or a bit better to HD or UHD end to end. Some of the popular cameras such as those using the 294 sensor are sensitive, fast and have more pixels than a UHD display. You can scale the output to an HD laptop display or large flat screen or project with an inexpensive projector onto a handy wall or bed sheet. You can have large and bright or large and not so bright\, what ever suits, for smaller and larger groups.

 

SharpCap or ASICAP or similar freeware can manage camera and image settings.

 

I am looking at this post on an HD (1080p) 60" plasma display set to a theater mode. Jupiter or M20 they all look sharp, smooth and no macro-blocking or pixelation and big. I am starting to look at UHD displays.



#7 jgraham

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 09:38 PM

I do all outreach using a Revolution Imager 2 on a dedicated 8" f/2.4 SCT. (A Meade 8" f/6.3 wide field LX200GPS fitted with a focal reducer.) I specialize in outreach for families with young children, but this setup works great with all age groups. It works paricularly well when we have a group with several telescopes set up for visual as well.



#8 izar187

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 12:03 AM

Hello all! I do some astronomy programs for the public in a nature area. I am well versed in visual astronomy, but inexperienced as a video astronomer. Group sizes have been around 30 people but crowds are getting big (42 last time). Last program was great with the public getting amazing views of Saturn, Jupiter, Albireo, Butterfly Cluster etc. I was thinking it would be great to project this stuff onto a screen instead having a line of 40 people waiting for a turn at the eyepiece. We use a Celestron CPC 1100 XLT in a place with really dark skies. I have a Mallincam Hyper Plus color available but I am unsure how to use it! The prospect of projecting the telescope image onto a screen is really attractive because it would eliminate the line of 40+ people waiting a turn at the eyepiece... But there is a drawback.... there is an argument that there is no real substitute for observing in real time through a telescope and also, what is the point of a really dark night sky if you put the audience in front of a bright screen and artificial light source?  Any thoughts? Does anyone have experience with Mallincam devices?

Thoughts?

Yes.

More telescopes, of a few different sizes.

With each targeting different objects, appropriate for their aperture, magnification range and mount type.

 

BTW that Celestron is a really nice scope!

Yet also significantly beyond the means of many just starting out.

A few different kinds of scopes, if at all possible, will demonstrate both the night sky and alternate options to see it.




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