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Help Getting Started Please

astrophotography imaging planet solar
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#1 David Rosenthal

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:20 AM

Good Morning CN'ers!

 

A dear friend of mine, and fellow astropotagrapher, Dave Trapani (http://www.metropolitanskies.com), recently passed away and bequeathed me all of his astrophotography gear.  Part of this lot included some things to get into Planetary and Solar imaging.  I just do not know where to start really.  So far I have downloaded FireCapture and AS!3.

 

The scope I will be using for planetary is a Edge 11 HD

The scope I will be using for Solar is a SolarMax 60 II DS with a BF15

 

The camera to use is a bit confusing because he left me so many and I do not really know much about ASI Cameras:

 

ASI174MM

ASI183MM Pro

ASI183MC Pro
ASI294MC Pro
ASI071MC Pro
ASI120MC-S

 

Which of these would be good?

My research led me to using the 174 for solar and the 120 for planetary but I am not really sure?

 

I also have a PowerMate 2, PowerMate 5 and a UV/IR cut that I can use and a thousand various adapters.  I was planning on starting simple for planetary and using a color chip, which is why I thought the 120 would be good.  It does have a really small sensor though.  I will be using this on a Takahashi EM200 which has deadly accurate pointing, so,  the small chip may not be al that big of a deal.

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  

His wife is looking forward to seeing my work through his equipment and I really want to produce something she will Love and be able to display to remember him by.

 

Thanks,

 

David



#2 mrlovt

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 11:15 AM

I'm sorry your friend passed.  How kind of him to leave you with his equipment.  

 

I'd choose the same, 174MM for solar and 120MC for planetary.  I don't have any experience with solar, though, so that's just an educated guess.  The small sensor size is an advantage in planetary imaging, as the target is also tiny.  You can use higher magnification and crop to ROI to increase the size of the planet in the frame and attain very high frame rates.

 

I've used both mono and color cameras for planetary.  You can get pretty pictures either way.  I always got better results with color, but probably because I enjoy the capture more than the processing.

 

Random suggestions:

  1. Seeing is everything.  On rare nights when seeing is great, get as many frames as you can.  Bad seeing absolutely kills planetary imaging, especially with an 11" aperture.
  2. I like SharpCap for image capture, but FireCapture works equally well.
  3. Stack with Autostakkert, then use Registrax for wavelet sharpening.  
  4. Get an electronic focuser if you don't already use one. It won't completely eliminate focus shift in the SCT, but it will help.
  5. Learn what good focus on the planet looks like.  While you can focus on a nearby star and then slew over to the planet, it can save you a lot of grief to be able to recognize good/bad focus (and good/bad seeing) when the image is on the screen.
  6. On nights when seeing is good, you might want to use something between your 2x and 5x.
  7. An ADC is helpful when the planets are low in the sky.
  8. Check out Christopher Go on planetary imaging Part 1 and Part 2.

 

Keep us posted on your progress!



#3 RedLionNJ

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 01:37 PM

I would start out (with the above equipment) with just the Edge11, the IR/UV cut filter and the ASI183MC.  And maybe an ADC if you can get your hands on one.

 

This will give you a relatively large field which you can then reduce to an ROI (Region of Interest) from FireCapture.

 

It's ok to rough-focus on a nearby star, but the primary purpose of that should be for collimation adjustment, not focus.

 

Once you're happy the scope is collimated optimally, slew to the planet and refocus. This is definitely easier with an electric, Crayford-style focuser. Hands-off is all-important here.

 

Reduce your ROI as much as you can - this will increase your potential fps.

 

And hit Record. Try to get a few thousand frames and keep at least two thousand during stacking.



#4 David Rosenthal

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Posted 26 January 2021 - 07:43 PM

Thanks for the feedback RedLion and mlovt.

 

I do indeed have a FeatherTouch motorized Crayford. FocusBoss II controller that I will be using once the C11 adapter comes in!

I absolutely plan on rough focusing, locking the primary and using the Crayford to focus using a star and my b-mask.

Then I will learn what good focus looks like on the planets.  I imagine this will take a bunch of time to realize.

 

I am looking forward to using this equipment to capture some half way decent results!!!


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#5 Kokatha man

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Posted 31 January 2021 - 06:31 PM

Thanks for the feedback RedLion and mlovt.

 

I do indeed have a FeatherTouch motorized Crayford. FocusBoss II controller that I will be using once the C11 adapter comes in!

I absolutely plan on rough focusing, locking the primary and using the Crayford to focus using a star and my b-mask.

Then I will learn what good focus looks like on the planets.  I imagine this will take a bunch of time to realize.

 

I am looking forward to using this equipment to capture some half way decent results!!!

Yes, learning the indicators of good focus (in good seeing with a well-collimated SCT at thermal equilibrium) is indeed an acquired skill...but if you really want to progress that aspect get rid of the Bahtinov mask & learn what to focus on onscreen with each planet, using your eyes - I list some of the indicators for various planets in those parts of my website that are linked to in my signature below. 

 

You appear to have everything you require equipment-wise.....good luck, I hope you & your late friend's wife get satisfaction from all this when the planets present themselves favourably! waytogo.gif


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#6 David Rosenthal

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 02:11 PM

Well I had a crack at imaging through the Coronado SolarMax II Double Stack and man is this thing hard to tune.  I think I was close to focus, but not really, and seeing was horrible.  This is what I ended up with.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Sun_142106_F001-050.jpg

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#7 David Rosenthal

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 05:48 PM

I think I did not get as much detail as I’d hoped is not entirely due to the seeing. I think I’m under sampled with the 174. If I use a 2X PowerMate before it should be much better.

Is that a reasonable expectation?


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