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Video Astronomy General Questions

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#1 Dhibbits

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 03:55 PM

Hello everyone , I'm new to this website and this form of astronomy as well. I typically just do visual observing with my 8" SCT. I've been seeing some videos and post about Video astronomy and i found them very interesting , yet they lack information. I was wondering if all the great people on cloudy nights could help me out. I've combed through the post looking for information but haven't found any that will help get started. From my understanding its basically just 1 minute subs that get taken and sent to a viewing monitor from the camera to give you near real time viewing experience . My questions would be what is the quality of the images with say something like the mallincam cameras like the xtreme models? What other models of cameras produce good images? Does anyone here practice this type of astronomy as opposed to regular astrophotography ? 


Edited by Dhibbits, 09 October 2019 - 03:55 PM.


#2 mashirts

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 04:21 PM

If on a budget look up/Google SCB2000 or SCB4000 and video astronomy. Those are low light inexpensive video cameras..

#3 nic35

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 04:38 PM

D:

 

Does anyone here practice this type of astronomy as opposed to regular astrophotography ?

 

This whole forum is about nothing but this type of astronomy.

 

To get a sense of what's possible, look at the astro video image gallery - https://www.cloudyni...allery/page-304.  start at the end and work backwards, otherwise you'll be seeing technology that is very old - and this EAA has been changing rapidly in the past few years.

 

You can search  the gallery for various camera makers - Mallincam, ZWO, QHY, etc.

 

The options have become somewhat overwhelming - so be prepared for a fair amount of research.

 

A lot of folks  (me being one) started with a low cost kit like this one from Orange County Telescopes https://www.revoluti...cts/products/r2

 

And then if they like this approach they then move on to bigger and better cameras, accessories, etc.  All the while draining the bank balance in the process.

 

In my case, I had given up on observing because it became impossible to see anything in my Bortle 6/7 skies, and I got too old, infirm and cranky to drive to dark sky sites.  Now I observe in the coldest of months, sitting inside observing while sipping wine.  The scope is outside, freezing !  

 

To see some of my observations, check out https://www.cloudyni...er/31278-nic35/.  These are mostly 10-20 minutes of stacking with 10 minutes of processing in startools.  I watch the details build while the stacking is going on.

 

enjoy

 

john


Edited by nic35, 09 October 2019 - 04:43 PM.

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#4 sg6

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 05:00 PM

Like everything fairly straight forward if you have some idea and apply some thought and time.

 

You are basically just getting a video as if of planetary imaging.

 

So SCT and video camera at the right position - not the same position as an eyepiece sits. If you have a small lather or know someone that has suggest you get a cheap wide eyepiece and have a small spacer/adaptor made so that you can drop eyepiece+Spacer in and "see" the same as the camera would. Really helps finding things. A rod of black nylon say 1.5" diameter should do. Even just a lump of dowel - paint it black after.

 

For what you are thinking you would connect camera to a laptop and view on some software viewer.

 

The sample period is going to trial and error. Video for imaging id 30fps, you likely want say 5 second sampling. In effect buiild up an exposure to 5 seconds and display. Reasonably real time.

 

It is trial and error, think a club here uses 2 seconds but they are experienced and may change period depending on target. M42 and M57 probably need different.

 

Maybe worst thing is matching sensor size with focal length and cost.

For an idea think of M42 and M45 as 1 degree and therefore what that means with a focal length of your scope. Just over 35mm sensor. Could need a focal reducer I suspect and if you do not have one it's more cost.

 

Maybe determine size with the native focal length of a frw galaxies and globular clusters to find appropriate sensors.



#5 GaryShaw

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:17 AM

Hello everyone , I'm new to this website and this form of astronomy as well. I typically just do visual observing with my 8" SCT. I've been seeing some videos and post about Video astronomy and i found them very interesting , yet they lack information. I was wondering if all the great people on cloudy nights could help me out. I've combed through the post looking for information but haven't found any that will help get started. From my understanding its basically just 1 minute subs that get taken and sent to a viewing monitor from the camera to give you near real time viewing experience . My questions would be what is the quality of the images with say something like the mallincam cameras like the xtreme models? What other models of cameras produce good images? Does anyone here practice this type of astronomy as opposed to regular astrophotography ? 

Hi and welcome to the EAA Forum where everything here is about various aspects of live viewing, primarily of Deep Sky Objects DSOs. There are lots of topics and threads and discussions listed at the top Forum Level that can get you started on the right path. Nic35 also offered some helpful advice and example images to get you started. Things are not as confusing as some other posts might convey but there is a lot to learn.

 

I’ve provided some links to topic discussions in this forum that you might read through to get a better understanding of what EAA is all about, what you need to learn more about and what equipment is necessary to get started...it’s not really that difficult once you do some homework. Once you’ve become a bit more educated about all this, you could post a new topic question to the CN EAA Community listing things you still don’t fully understand and folks will respond and help get you rolling. Start with these links and then find others that relate to ‘newbie’ EAA topics....have fun.

 

https://www.cloudyni...a/#entry9598600

 

https://www.cloudyni...s/#entry9693808

 

https://www.cloudyni...s/#entry9656936

 

https://www.cloudyni...o-have-eaa-fun/

 

There are many other topics but the above will give you a decent starting overview of the issues and equipment. There’s no comprehensive guide for the EAA beginner but the following are, in my humble opinion(IMHO), the first level and key aspects of EAA that you need to begin with:

 

- understanding that EAA is live computer screen viewing of DSO’s and is NOT astrophotography

- EAA requires a telescope ( learn about the options and pros/cons) and a decent Goto Altazimuth Mount. German equatorials are great but are not needed for EAA and add more complexity than a beginner needs. Typical exposures are usually 2-10 seconds so the mount and tracking does not need to be highly accurate.

- a CMOS digital camera ( ZWO brand would be a good start) with usb 3 connection to PC laptop which also needs usb 3. The usb from the camera is the only connection needed to the laptop. I’d avoid wasting learning time with the Revolution Imager analog camera. It’s fine as a computerized ‘eyepiece’ but inadequate and confusing to use for serious EAA - IMO.

- you need Sharpcap 3.2, a program (PC only) used to control your camera and provide the images you’ll obtain and refine as you image an object. It’s free but later on you’d want a better version thats available for peanuts per year and helps support Robin Glover, it’s creator.

 

Assuming you’re starting from scratch, your initial buys involve deciding on a telescope, goto mount, camera and laptop.  Later on you’ll get into filters, batteries, dew control, and other things that improve your images or make life a bit easier.  Reading lots more in the topics listed above, and others p, will help you decide which products mentioned above would be best for your initial budget and observing goals. Start with the reading and studying product options and then come back here to ask questions about things that are still unclear. You’ll get a lot of support from the CN EAA community! Good luck.


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#6 GaryShaw

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 04:14 PM

Hello everyone , I'm new to this website and this form of astronomy as well. I typically just do visual observing with my 8" SCT. I've been seeing some videos and post about Video astronomy and i found them very interesting , yet they lack information. I was wondering if all the great people on cloudy nights could help me out. I've combed through the post looking for information but haven't found any that will help get started. From my understanding its basically just 1 minute subs that get taken and sent to a viewing monitor from the camera to give you near real time viewing experience . My questions would be what is the quality of the images with say something like the mallincam cameras like the xtreme models? What other models of cameras produce good images? Does anyone here practice this type of astronomy as opposed to regular astrophotography ? 

Here's a link to a pretty comprehensive overview of EAA intended for someone just starting out.

 

https://www.cloudyni...x4#entry9087753



#7 Noah4x4

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 03:13 AM

 

 

In my case, I had given up on observing because it became impossible to see anything in my Bortle 6/7 skies, and I got too old, infirm and cranky to drive to dark sky sites.  Now I observe in the coldest of months, sitting inside observing while sipping wine.  The scope is outside, freezing !  

 

 

john

This comment from John perfectly sums up my own destiny. However, how I got there was a long and expensive journey. EAA isn't cheap (no astronomy is) but it only becomes super expensive if you become confused by the challenges.

 

Ignore much that you might read in Visual and Astrophotography threads. I have boxes full of expensive, now redundant eyepieces and kit I no longer need/use. With EAA, Short camera exposures are possible (even more so on Hyperstar) and you don't need that expensive GEM mount. But better kit inevitably offers benefits, but sometimes the advantage is marginal. For example, I would recommend Hyperstar above almost any other device. Extreme short exposures at f/2 overcomes many challenges. However, you can have fun with merely a decent camera and scope under urban light polluted skies as the camera will reveal much more colour and detail than any eyepiece. 

 

The next phase, remote control, indoors (wine optional) then isn't just for arthritic, myopic, old codgers. It's simply how modern urban astronomy is evolving driven by light pollution. I now wirelessly transmit 4k UHD images from outdoor scope to indoor mission control and view the skies on a large 4K UHD monitor. On Hyperstar, the field of view is vast, so I can fly around and explore the sky with mere pan, tilt zoom of the camera/mount. The experience is immersive in a sort of Buck Rogers "chocks away" manner. 

 

Hopefully, you will find all you need in this Forum. But folk here are very friendly and pleased to answer any questions. Enjoy!


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#8 Matt Harmston

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 04:02 PM

Going along with some already shared excellent suggestions, I wanted to add a couple of points.  First, video astronomy need not be uber expensive if you already have some gear and just want to get your toes wet.  For instance, if your SCT has a tracking mount and you have a relatively new computer running Windows 7 or higher, you can have a lot of fun with an inexpensive camera such as the MallinCam DS287c and a focal reducer...a reasonable initial outlay.  Cameras like this have small chips, but are very sensitive. You'll be limited to smaller objects with such a small chip, but be able to see faint detail fairly quickly and dabble in lunar/planetary views as well. Granted...cameras such as the DS287c are designed for more live viewing than AP-level imagery, but they can be a lot of fun.  Other CMOS cameras will cost more, but can give some beautiful imagery in the hands of experienced users.

 

Second, I found it very helpful upon starting out to join some of the online message boards, as well as to watch folks demonstrate techniques live or on Youtube video.  I have far more experience with MallinCam videos and http://nightskiesnetwork.ca, but similar excellent resources related to other brands are out there as well.  These types of resources, support within the VA community, and Q and A on Cloudynights have been instrumental for my personal learning curve.

 

Good luck!

Matt



#9 bikerdib

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 05:09 PM

You have already gotten some links to more info about EAA so I can't add much there.  You asked too if anyone does EAA.  You have gotten responses there too so I'll add my experience.  I've been doing visual astronomy since the mid 1970s.   Back then I played with film astrophotography a bit but it was just too much of a risk if you would get good results or not.

 

Fast forward to a few years ago and my equipment has evolved to what it is now and I live in a Bortle 4 zone and own a weekend/dark sky property that is Bortle 2/3.  So visual is still pretty doable for me.  But, even under pristine dark skies, some objects are still just a smudge in an eyepiece and generally only a gray one at that.  That is why I decided to try EAA or in my case Real Time Imaging since some hard core EAA folks limit the time allowed for stacking.  Real Time Imaging does pretty much the same process but does not limit the time of individual frame or of total stacked data. I use Sharpcap and save most of the stacks "as viewed" and then do just a little color correction and contrast boosting as post processing the next day.

 

I started with the original Revolution Imager but quickly moved up to the Atik Infinity color.  I then briefly used a ZWO 224 but wanted a larger sensor so I now have the ZWO ASI 294 PRO.

 

The Atik Infinity was a very helpful stepping stone for me because their software made the learning curve much easier than jumping straight to Sharpcap.  I will say however, the developer of Sharpcap has made improvements in the program that makes it pretty powerful as a full AP program but it can also do lots of auto functions for EAA.


Edited by bikerdib, 15 October 2019 - 05:16 PM.


#10 Atik Cameras

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Posted Yesterday, 07:02 AM

Hello Dennis,

 

It is good to hear you found the Infinity software helpful, I'll pass it onto our software engineer who wrote the software.

 

Best regards

Vince


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#11 bikerdib

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Posted Yesterday, 08:28 AM

Hello Dennis,

 

It is good to hear you found the Infinity software helpful, I'll pass it onto our software engineer who wrote the software.

 

Best regards

Vince

Please do, Vince.  If the Horizon camera had been available when I upgraded to the ASI 294 PRO, I would have bought the Horizon.


Edited by bikerdib, Yesterday, 08:29 AM.



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