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Astronomy in Winter is Fun!

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#1 DubbelDerp

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 03:12 PM

So I've been trying to keep a spot in my yard free of snow, so that I have a fairly solid place to set up my tripod. At this point, I have about 4' of snow surrounding my tripod, and have been raising the legs steadily to keep the tracker over the snow pack. Cables get pretty stiff but haven't been a problem yet. The mount has gotten sluggish, but seems to do ok if I wrap a heater strip around it. Batteries are not an option on clear nights here since it gets so cold, but running AC power to the camera and heater strips has been manageable. I did try a laptop the other night, but it only lasted about 15 minutes before the screen stopped working.

 

On the plus side, the camera runs really nicely, and other than freezing my berries, we can probably get a couple more feet of snow before I run out of adjustment on the tripod!

 

My set-up is pretty basic, with keeping equipment at a minimum. At some point I'd like to upgrade to a better system though, which has me worried about the elements. I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there imaging in deep snow... what tips and tricks do you have for dealing with the snow and elements?

 

(sorry about the rotated pictures...)

IMG_8852.jpg IMG_8860.jpg

 


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#2 Diomedes

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 03:22 PM

I agree, I rather be cold than hot. So I have been having a ton of fun out in the cold. Do you have any sample images captured with this setup? I'm considering a very similar setup. 



#3 DubbelDerp

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Posted 21 February 2020 - 03:29 PM

Sure! I'll upload some images as soon as I get back to my home workstation. I can assure you, the limiting factor is me, not the set-up. I can get up to 60-second exposures with my AT60ED on this little mount with decent stars, so as long as you keep in mind that this is a simple camera tracker and don't expect too much, it does work quite well for what it is.

 

This one in my gallery was shot through the AT60ED.. still getting the hang of the Rokinon lens:

M45 first attempt

 


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#4 Alen K

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 01:41 AM

I was just out for two hours last night and three hours tonight. Only 16 F last night and 24 F tonight, so not Polar temperatures (but then again, Polar temperatures ain't what they used to be). Still...brrrr. 



#5 JDShoots

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 02:18 AM

Wow, that sounds cold!   My rig has been out there  for 5 hours so far.   I lost a set of D batteries since it's so cold and the hand warmer on them ran out:)  I really need to find a good 6V source for this, and if it's AC about 300 feet of extension cord:)  But I also fight with focus with temps like this, 21°.  I even let the camera soak for an hour before I focused and started shooting.  Honestly on a clear single digit night a couple weeks ago, I bailed.   Anything sub 20 and my gear is hurting.   At least I don't have all that snow! 



#6 Diomedes

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 01:01 PM

looks amazing, this is the kind of shot I'm working towards. 

 

Sure! I'll upload some images as soon as I get back to my home workstation. I can assure you, the limiting factor is me, not the set-up. I can get up to 60-second exposures with my AT60ED on this little mount with decent stars, so as long as you keep in mind that this is a simple camera tracker and don't expect too much, it does work quite well for what it is.

 

This one in my gallery was shot through the AT60ED.. still getting the hang of the Rokinon lens:



#7 pejorde

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 03:38 AM

My imaging rig for the moment is a Takahashi FS-60 CB and Nikon D5300 (unmodded), riding on a Vixen GPD mount equipped with the Synscan EQ5 GOTO upgrade kit. I use a small guide telescope with the M-GEN II autoguider. This setup avoids the need for a computer in the snow and, since the M-GEN also controls the camera, allows me to take refugee indoors on cold nights. I use mains electricity for everything and have added a heat strap around the telescope front to avoid frost/dew on the objective. The image below was taken a few days ago and is a combination of several long (5 min) and short (5 sek) exposures.M42_rgb.jpg

 

Per Erik

 


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#8 DubbelDerp

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 02:51 PM

My imaging rig for the moment is a Takahashi FS-60 CB and Nikon D5300 (unmodded), riding on a Vixen GPD mount equipped with the Synscan EQ5 GOTO upgrade kit. I use a small guide telescope with the M-GEN II autoguider. This setup avoids the need for a computer in the snow and, since the M-GEN also controls the camera, allows me to take refugee indoors on cold nights. I use mains electricity for everything and have added a heat strap around the telescope front to avoid frost/dew on the objective. The image below was taken a few days ago and is a combination of several long (5 min) and short (5 sek) exposures.attachicon.gifM42_rgb.jpg

 

Per Erik

Thanks for the feedback! Nice M42 image.

 

I've looked at the M-GEN as an option for mount/camera control. It's a bit spendy, but looks like a good option to avoid issues of running a laptop in the snow.



#9 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 07:23 PM

So I've been trying to keep a spot in my yard free of snow, so that I have a fairly solid place to set up my tripod. At this point, I have about 4' of snow surrounding my tripod, and have been raising the legs steadily to keep the tracker over the snow pack. Cables get pretty stiff but haven't been a problem yet. The mount has gotten sluggish, but seems to do ok if I wrap a heater strip around it. Batteries are not an option on clear nights here since it gets so cold, but running AC power to the camera and heater strips has been manageable. I did try a laptop the other night, but it only lasted about 15 minutes before the screen stopped working.

 

On the plus side, the camera runs really nicely, and other than freezing my berries, we can probably get a couple more feet of snow before I run out of adjustment on the tripod!

 

My set-up is pretty basic, with keeping equipment at a minimum. At some point I'd like to upgrade to a better system though, which has me worried about the elements. I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there imaging in deep snow... what tips and tricks do you have for dealing with the snow and elements?

 

(sorry about the rotated pictures...)

attachicon.gifIMG_8852.jpgattachicon.gifIMG_8860.jpg

I believe you've got a bit more snow than what we are seeing in Northern Lower Michigan.  That is cool that you are still keeping at the hobby.

 

I have been finding the shooting opportunities to be rather limited.  I imagine lake effect has something to do with this.

 

Last weekend I had 1 night that I shot some photos at 18 degrees which is slightly over the manufacture suggested minimum for the SkyGuider Pro.  I didn't seem to have any issue with tracking at that temperature.  Personally though I don't think I would ever want to be outdoors anyways below the manufacturer specified 14 degrees.  I have however been considering a semi-permanent shelter for my equipment to speed up the setup process making cold setups a little less painful.

 

Looks like you've done well with your astrophotography.


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#10 Alen K

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 08:56 PM

My imaging rig for the moment is a Takahashi FS-60 CB and Nikon D5300 (unmodded), riding on a Vixen GPD mount equipped with the Synscan EQ5 GOTO upgrade kit. I use a small guide telescope with the M-GEN II autoguider. This setup avoids the need for a computer in the snow and, since the M-GEN also controls the camera, allows me to take refugee indoors on cold nights. I use mains electricity for everything and have added a heat strap around the telescope front to avoid frost/dew on the objective. The image below was taken a few days ago and is a combination of several long (5 min) and short (5 sek) exposures.

Nice. How many 5min exposures and how many 5 second exposures? And what kind of skies did you shoot in? No flattener?


Edited by Alen K, 27 February 2020 - 08:59 PM.


#11 pejorde

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 02:28 AM

Nice. How many 5min exposures and how many 5 second exposures? And what kind of skies did you shoot in? No flattener?

I took 12 x 5 min and 20 x 5 sec but had to abandon several because of satellite tracks.

This was with the new Takahashi FS/FC 1.04x multi flattener and corresponding CA ring.

SQM was 21.25.

 

Per Erik



#12 Alen K

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 09:55 AM

I took 12 x 5 min and 20 x 5 sec but had to abandon several because of satellite tracks.

This was with the new Takahashi FS/FC 1.04x multi flattener and corresponding CA ring.

SQM was 21.25.

Satellite tracks need not cause you to throw out a frame. You have more than enough frames to use Kappa-Sigma clipping (rejection) during stacking. 




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