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52⁰ north: reality check - can things really get much better?

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#1 kevinbreen

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 02:26 PM

I'm a C11 owner and user/abuser, having graduated from an 8SE 2 year ago. My C11 was a CPC 1100 until I liberated it and showed it all things equatorial. Or, I tried to; my planetary results have been underwhelming and to be honest, while there have been notable improvements in my planetary images at various junctures, the reality is that none of the handful of decent images (in my opinion, anyway) come close to those who are fortunate to image from more amenable climes. Truth be told, I look in admiration but with a sense of despair at "small bore challenge" pics and note ruefully "I wish".I love my C11 and it brightens my day to think I have one of the most formidable planet-busting **** machines I could possibly be blessed with, and it is with great satisfaction that I can now collimate it and train it upon distant planets and their moons, something I had never thought feasible to me until recent years. 

 

 But lets get back to the results.

 

Lousy. And it's not my fault. The problem is where I live.

 

So I've been thinking of calling a spade a spade and changing things. Most times I can't even get near the focal ratio my "plancam" 224MC would love to capture at, in fact, more often than not, it's at native f/10, or worse, using a reducer, and then with some filter to cut through the crud with - in other words I'm using my scope at around 1/4 of it's resolution. So here's what I've been thinking - 

 

Get a "big" refractor, say 150mm aperture and barlow up according to the seeing when the planets are high and go with that. OK, I'd get a smaller image, but have you see some of my actual images? The smaller the better. 

Some have suggested already that I hyperstar the C11 and while it seems a good idea, I worry that my SW EQ6 mount and my polar aligning abilities would get in the way of the accuracy that the f/2 hyperstarred C11 would require.

 

Recently, deep sky imaging is something I'm getting very interested in and hence the lean towards a refractor. Don't get me wrong, planetary imaging is where I also love to be, but as I've said, it's not happening.

 

I know the planets are becoming more image-able now and things can only get better, right? But how much better? My question is

 

Have you thrown in the planetary towel and called it a day and if so, what did you decide to do?

 

(probably not the right forum to post this in, right? frown.gif )


Edited by kevinbreen, 07 April 2021 - 02:27 PM.

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#2 sg6

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 02:56 PM

All the planets are in a poor, really, really poor position. So in a way don't expect much at all for a while. Wait until around July - and those short nights, cannot win can you?

 

Think Jupiter and maybe Saturn are sort of visible in the early hours presently but still a poor aspect relative to earth. Try maybe June and see what transpires.

 

But Jupiter will be best around Aug 17(ish), Saturn actually a little earlier say 1 week earlier Aug 8(ish again).

 

My experience - visual - of an SCT has never been good. Although someone did on a CPC 925 produce the best Jupiter image I have seen.

 

A refractor might be good but you would again need a good refractor, and a 150mm ED or triplet is not going to be inexpensive, then comes the barlows/powermates to increase the apparent focal length and so image.

 

Can you determine if the resulting image from the 1100 has a reason for not being good? The standard arguement is collimation but never keen to give that as collimation gets blamed for just about everything.

Even at a native f/10 I would have expected something - no images added.

 

What was the details of processing?

Just wondering if a better result would have resulted if a lesser % of frames were stacked - basically only stack the good ones from the avi.


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#3 happylimpet

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 03:37 PM

I'll come over there and teach you a brutal lesson with that C11 if you dare try to sell it.

 

Dont see why the hyperstar shouldnt be a goer.

 

And I would really hesitate to geta  big 'frac, theres nothing they can do that a newt or mak cant for a fraction the price.

 

Stay with it. Im sure you'll crack it at some point. Jupiter will be a fair bit better this year. Listen, dont do anything for a few days and when Ive shifted this migraine i'll come back with a more reasoned argument.



#4 infamousnation

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 03:39 PM

Maybe nows not the time

E55C65D6 4702 4137 AA26 6A9DCE0C33DB


#5 KiwiRay

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 04:01 PM

Now isn't the time, but last year Kevin put a lot of work into imaging Mars while it was at a favourable elevation - it makes sense that he'd been wondering if his location would allow him to use his C11 to its full potential.

 

I don't know what to say, Kev. I understand why you'd be discouraged after last year, and it may be that very good seeing is fairly rare in your part of the world (your latitude is only part of it - people still get good images from other locations at similar latitudes). Do you know of other imagers in Ireland who have had better luck?

 

You've got a couple of years before Jupiter is high in the sky, so shifting your attention to some other aspect of backyard astronomy probably isn't a bad idea. Then in 2023 you can dust off the C11 and give it another try.

 

Ray


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#6 RedLionNJ

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 05:28 PM

Kev,

 

Totally been there, done that. Last year (and the previous year) was horrible for hi-res imaging of the planets from a location with a 12-degree latitude advantage over you!

 

I know it wasn't the scope, the methodology or anything like that, because, WHEN CONDITIONS PERMITTED, I could split really close doubles with a great degree of satisfaction.  But even on some of those same evenings, I pointed at Jupiter or Saturn and - massive disappointment.  I was able to get a few pleasing Mars images, but Mars significantly higher at the time.

 

So, I made the executive decision about a month ago - off comes the Meade 12" and on goes the WO GTF81. And that's the way things will remain for at least 2021, until I assess Jupiter in spring of 2022.

 

Here's my initial deep-sky rig (also usable for white-light solar and full-disk lunar). The Paramount MX+ has no issues with the F/4.7 APO. And I have a ton of cameras to try with it, depending on the target.

 

weefrac.jpg

 

Best Wishes!

 

Grant


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#7 Lacaille

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 09:15 PM

Hi Kevin,

 

Don't get rid of the C11 just yet.   You will eventually get planets at higher altitudes  - just play around with Stellarium and dream! But your major issue will perhaps remain cloud cover and a consequent reduced opportunity to build your skills. I visited the site of the huge telescope at Birr Castle a couple of years ago and I seem to recall that,  Lord Birr having employed an astronomer to run it, the poor chap had something like 5 clear nights in 3 years!    How about getting a nice small guided Mak Cass 5" - brilliant planetary scopes - and taking it on regular trips to S Europe for planetary imaging from time to time to build your skills and experience that way, when you can travel overseas again?  I used to have great fun with mine from the kitchen window of my apartment in NE France - think what you could do in Greece or Provence or the Canaries! 

 

Re Hyperstar with the C11, at f2 you can take much shorter exposures, of course, so guiding should be less of an issue, not more (getting sharp focus, on the other hand, requires more effort). You would need to get a DSO camera as the DSLR would be too blocky to fit on the front.

 

Best wishes

 

Mark


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#8 Tulloch

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 09:51 PM

I feel for you Kevin, and also feel really incredibly lucky to have decided to take up this hobby when I did, when the planets are in an ideal position in the sky at my location. Growing up I still remember poring over my Dad's National Geographic magazines in the 1980's containing the latest images from the Voyager missions, and never thought that one day I could take images of them from my back yard with the quality I can.

 

Sounds like you need a holiday - a nice long holiday to somewhere on the opposite side of the world that has a mild climate, plenty of open space, 240V power and where the planets are peaking at between 65-70* elevation when they both reach opposition in mid August. I don't know what's going to happen with COVID-19 and international travel in the coming months, but if you are lucky you might be able to itch that scratch you currently have without waiting 3-5 years for them to come to you.

 

Of course, this is an outrageous suggestion from someone who doesn't know your personal circumstances, or has any idea of how much it might cost or how long you might need to stay in hotel quarantine, however I'm just (gently) putting it out there hmm.gif . The planets will be in such a good position later in the year over here, it just seems a shame that not everyone gets to take advantage of it. flowerred.gif

 

Andrew


Edited by Tulloch, 07 April 2021 - 10:55 PM.

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#9 Tom Glenn

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 11:11 PM

Kevin, your altitude problems will be solved with time, but your weather will remain a challenge.  As for altitude, in 2024 Jupiter will be greater than +20 declination, which will place it over 60 degrees altitude for you.  This is plenty high in the sky to achieve outstanding results.  Unfortunately, Saturn will not reach that declination until another 10 years from now, but it too will eventually surpass 60 degrees altitude from your location.  However, your poor seeing conditions and clouds will always mean that only a fraction of your imaging sessions will produce satisfactory results.  This is true for everyone, of course, although the percentage of successful outings is directly tied to the seeing, such that people living in ideal climates can easily have more than 10x the success rate.  This won't prevent you from achieving good image outcomes, but it might mean that you only get one or two excellent images per season, whereas others may achieve the same level of images every week.  I wouldn't get rid of your C11 though, because Jupiter is on the rise.  Grant makes an excellent suggestion, however, of focusing on other types of imaging for the next several years, primarily for a morale boost.  


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#10 Kiwi Paul

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 03:12 AM

Hi Kevin,

 

Some great advice from the others here in response to your post. I wouldn't get rid of the C11. That would be a great scope to have.

 

I do sympathise will you and also identify with your situation. I also had rather few very good seeing nights during May to December in 2020. It is a function of latitude. I am at 41 degrees south and so outside of the summer and Autumn months, say January to May, we have travelling weather systems affecting our region. Many of these are travelling frontal rainbands with typically strong northwesterlies ahead of them and strong southwesterlies behind them. This means that the Jet Stream (JS) is running overhead. I have learned that strong winds at JS levels, and even worse, all the way down through the atmosphere, is bad news for seeing. The situation is aggravated if you are down wind of significant ranges as I am. During these periods, we occasionally get a more settled period of a few days under high pressure with colder temperatures and then, if you area lucky, the JS winds may have become lighter, but not always.

 

As the seasons change and we move into summer, the southern Subtropical high pressure belt located between about 30 to 35 degrees south, moves down over the country because of the change in the axial tilt of the earth relative to the sun. This means that the usual JS winds tend to be located further south and winds through the atmosphere are generally much lighter. This results in better seeing which I have noticed we have had here over the last 3 to 4 weeks (but alas I have no operational large scope, but should do so come the weekend). So this explains why our Aussie friends have better seeing more often and tropical locations even more so!

 

You are located at 53 degrees north and so you are subject to these same limitations with JS winds, but probably worse! There is a northern Subtropical high pressure belt, but for you being further north, it probably has less influence on your wind regimes. I don't have a feel for how it behaves like I do here in the Southern Hemisphere, but I would guess that you would get some relief during the summer and autumn months too.

Other issues such as the prevalence of low cloud in onshore flows off the Atlantic I have no feel for for where you are, and such conditions may also add to your woes. Ofcourse, there are other more local considerations affecting seeing, as you will be aware.

 

So generally, you may just have to bide your time for the planets. As others have said, your planetary conditions will improve over the next few years. In the meantime you may be able to do DSO or travel with a small scope?

 

All the while, I would keep an eye on two tools that can help you. www.windy.com is driven by the best global weather model in the world - the ECMWF running on a 9km grid for the whole globe. It is a very good tool for checking wind fields (you can generally take these as close enough to accurate), and looking at cloud fields. Use all three layers (low, medium and high), especially the high and low cloud layers. I always compare these fields to what you see on an IR satellite image at T+0 (now), and if it looks like the model represents them well, then you have more confidence in the future cloud field forecasts. I find the high cloud field for when the sky will cloud over after a period of blue skies is usually very good. 

 

The other tool is the Astronomical Seeing tool in Meteoblue. You will read all sorts of opinion on this from members on CN but the key is to watch what it tells you in the time leading up to an observing/imaging session. I only have experience with this one. You will see the three cloud fields on there and then the other forecast parameters. I find that when it points to poor seeing, it is usually correct (but I still check the sky on the night and since you have even more limited opportunities than I, you would probably want to too). When it forecasts good or better seeing, it is not always right, but if it is going for exceptional numbers (as it did here lately), then it is probably fairly accurate. Take note of trends in the numbers too. I can say more about the components if you are interested. 

 

Basically, these two tools can help you plan opportunities and make the most of them. You learn how they perform as you use them, but you have to give them a chance for them to be useful.

 

I hope this contributes to the discussion.

 

Cheers Paul


Edited by Kiwi Paul, 08 April 2021 - 03:20 AM.

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#11 BQ Octantis

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 03:26 AM

One word:

 

Hyperstar



#12 kevinbreen

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 06:52 AM

Thanks for all the feedback, much appreciated waytogo.gif

 

I don't think I'd ever consider parting company with the C11, because I know that I'd regret it, like how I now regret parting company with several guitars I sold down the years. So I don't think that's going to happen and besides the threat of Nick meting out his anger is too much to countenance lol.gif . I hope the migraine passes soon.

To answer Ray's question, I know of one other C11 user in Wicklow which is to my north and his planetary images are on a par with mine and his frustration is palpable. From what I can gather, most of the backyard astronomers in this country are deep sky imagers, and it's easy to understand why. 

As Paul, Andrew and Mark suggest, traveling is something I've been contemplating for a while now and we recently just bought a caravan, which, when this wretched covid situation allows, we intend taking initially around Ireland and then onto the continent. There is ample space to store scope and mount etc and that is something I am really looking forward to.

I've actually mirrored Grant's approach, in that my ED80 has been on the mount constantly, under wraps, "parked" and ready to use. Here it is at home, right now, as I see it from my workplace in town.

 

Untitled.jpg

 

BQ: I've seen workarounds with the hyperstar where a rounded cardboard "shoe" has been fitted around an attached dslr to reduce diffraction spikes, but it blocks so much light I think it's counter-productive. What camera would you recommend to use with hyperstar, one of those ZWO really expensive ASI1600MC Pros, right? And, I had worries about being able to find targets unless PA was spot-on, but looking now at astronomy.tools I can see that the hyperstar/zwo1600 FOV is comparable with that of the ED80/Canon combination. My hankering for a bigger refractor is due to wanting more reach, but I see now that the the hyperstar/1600 combo gives a wider FOV than the ED80. The ASI294 gives a FOV comparable to the ED80. There's no way to say increase the ratio to f/4, is there? (if you do get a chance to reply to this, maybe a pm would be better as this is a planetary forum?).

 

Thanks again, allflowerred.gif

 


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#13 dcaponeii

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 11:50 AM

Never give up never surrender!!  The reality is that you'll never achieve the same results as someone who has Jupiter above 70 degree (you know who you are).  BUT you will definitely improve over your initial results as time goes on. Once in a very great while the atmosphere will cooperate to give you the best results you can achieve at your latitude.  That's when you can kick back maybe and say you're done with planetary imaging but at least in my case I know I've got lots of room to improve.  Yesterday I was looking for a photo from 6 or 7 years ago that my builder needed and I knew I posted it on Facebook so I scrolled back through my posting history and my improvements were REALLY obvious.  I would accept the challenge and go for the best images you can achieve with your hardware and you location.



#14 Mirzam

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 11:51 AM

Another word: Barbados..

 

JimC


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#15 Tulloch

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 04:42 PM

Thanks for all the feedback, much appreciated waytogo.gif

 

...

 

The ASI294 gives a FOV comparable to the ED80. There's no way to say increase the ratio to f/4, is there? (if you do get a chance to reply to this, maybe a pm would be better as this is a planetary forum?).

I'm not sure if you've seen this thread about stacking f/6.3 reducers, but they seem to have made it work with a small sensor camera..

https://www.cloudyni...ith-a-lodestar/

 

Mind you, I haven't been able to achieve anything like their results when I've tried it on my ASI224MC, but I'm planning to give it another go ...



#16 kevinbreen

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 04:46 PM

I'm not sure if you've seen this thread about stacking f/6.3 reducers, but they seem to have made it work with a small sensor camera..
https://www.cloudyni...ith-a-lodestar/

Mind you, I haven't been able to achieve anything like their results when I've tried it on my ASI224MC, but I'm planning to give it another go ...


Hi Andrew

I meant increasing the f/2 of the hyperstar to f/4
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#17 Tulloch

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 05:07 PM

Hi Andrew

I meant increasing the f/2 of the hyperstar to f/4

Ah, sorry :)

 

Maybe you put a barlow in the holder lol.gif



#18 BQ Octantis

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 04:56 PM

BQ: I've seen workarounds with the hyperstar where a rounded cardboard "shoe" has been fitted around an attached dslr to reduce diffraction spikes, but it blocks so much light I think it's counter-productive. What camera would you recommend to use with hyperstar, one of those ZWO really expensive ASI1600MC Pros, right? And, I had worries about being able to find targets unless PA was spot-on, but looking now at astronomy.tools I can see that the hyperstar/zwo1600 FOV is comparable with that of the ED80/Canon combination. My hankering for a bigger refractor is due to wanting more reach, but I see now that the the hyperstar/1600 combo gives a wider FOV than the ED80. The ASI294 gives a FOV comparable to the ED80. There's no way to say increase the ratio to f/4, is there? (if you do get a chance to reply to this, maybe a pm would be better as this is a planetary forum?).

ASI183MC. smile.gif

 

PM sent!




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