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Newbie questions about EAA equipment.

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#1 Grumpa

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 07:57 AM

Hi All,

Let me first thank all of the folks that offer their knowledge to the clueless like myself. My Evolution 8 was delivered about a month ago and my son and I would like to get into EAA. We only have what came with the scope and are ready to pull the trigger on some new purchases. We are thinking of getting the following:

ASI294MC (non cooled)

f/6.3 reducer (any suggestions on which one would be appreciated)

Tele Vue 2x Powermate  ( 2.5x if we go with 1.25" optics)

UV-IR Cut Filter

 

Now to the questions. Would it be better to go with 2" over 1.25" for the optics? Would that work better for this size camera sensor or is the 1.25" fine? If the 2" is the way to go I would also add a Baader star diagonal for visual imaging as I understand you don't want extra optics in the way of the camera as well as the back focus issue it would cause. Would I also need the 2x powermate T ring adapter to be able to attach the powermate to the OTA? Would a f/3.3 reducer work with this sensor? Any other suggestion on what we should or shouldn't get, I am all ears. In the future we will probably pick up a ASI385MC for better planetary imaging. Thanks!


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#2 GaryShaw

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 08:11 AM

Hi

If you know what your observing interests and goals are, it would be good to state them. This would allow folks to better advise you. Also, are you interested in pursuing EAA mainly for  enhanced ‘observing’ or as a form of ‘AP Lite’ with the main focus on pictures?

Gary


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#3 GazingOli

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 08:18 AM

Hi,

 

first: planetary imaging is not for EAA, you will not get good results, just blurry images.

 

If you want to go for DSO live stacking, then you are in the right place. For the C8 you will need the (x6.3) forcal reducer / corrector and a camera. The ASI 294 is a good choice, however the ASI 533 would be better for EAA even though it is only available in the cooled version. I personally am working with an ASI 178 MM (mono) with the C8, which also gives me very good results on galaxies.

 

I do not know how much space there is at the Evolution mount, but at the CPC I do not need to use a diagonal to adapt the camera. Just some spacers.

 

20210109_213925resized.jpg

 

Leave away the filters, when doing galaxies. You will block light that you would need. For emission nebulae filtes can be usefull. There are threads about this subject.

 

CS.Oli


Edited by GazingOli, 10 April 2021 - 08:22 AM.

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#4 Grumpa

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 09:05 AM

Gary,

Having only looked through cheap little scopes in the past and only seeing dots when looking at planets. We were very excited to view the Orion Nebula (even without color). We are interested in viewing both DSO and Planetary/Lunar. For now EAA is defiantly for enhanced observation. Maybe when we are more comfortable in our knowledge of what we are doing we may move towards "AP lite". Right now we want to see cool stuff and not have to look through a lens. This is more my sons interest that mine, I am just along for the ride.

 

Grumpa


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#5 Broglock

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 10:18 AM

Hello and Welcome Grumpa,I have both the cameras you speak of as well as the asi533MC Pro that GazingOli mentions, and I have viewed planets and DSO's using both an 8" and 9.25" w/ 0.63 and 0.7 reducers and Hyperstar, without blury images either one shot photos or videos. I believe what GazingOli and many others when referring to blurry images is if one tries stacking and streching images of planets, this will only yield you blurry images of the Moon and planets. I have not bothered to set up a gallery as of yet and hope to do so shortly to demonstrate, as I have some great videos and pictures of the most recent Super Moon. Perhaps if I take time I'll try to post a couple here just as an example.

 

That being said you will enjoy using the asi294MC (I use the cooled version) as you will be able to frame the Moon quite well with your setup and an F/3.3 reducer would only help to improve this as well as your DSO viewing. I do have both the asi294MC Pro and the asi385MC, however I believe you will find the asi294MC sufficient for both your viewing. If you do not already have software programs for stacking and streching your images this will be necessary for your best viewing of DSO's as well as being able to capture one shot photos and videos. There are several such as SharpCap, ZWO's (proprietary/works with thier cameras), and this may all be redundant to you just mentioning it.

 

The diagonal will make physical viewing that much more enjoyable as well as the 2" (IMHO), however 1.25" is a little more economical. I only had an Alt/Az mount for a short time and as I was trying to use the Canon DSLR was having difficulty, so therefore now use the GEM mounts. Otherwise the Alt/Az mount (especially with the larger type Evolution tripod) will work.

 

Filters I have not used, although they are in my arsenal. They will be beneficial for certain nebula and depending on the degree of light pollution may or may not be needed. There are great threads here on CN covering the use of filters and I highly recommend them.

 

Just to recap for you. Definetely get the F/6.3reducer, which you will be able to use for visual as well as EAA. The F/3.3's I am not familar with, however I am almost sure they are strictly for camera use. Either the asi294MC or the asi533MC pro are great EAA cameras, however a cooled camera is not necessary for EAA. The Powermate may be useful for EAA I have several Barlows/Focal Extenders and have better luck with them visually than with EAA. There are settings within SharpCap as well as the Zoom feature that I use in ShapCap that I have not really felt the need to use one of the Barlows or focal extenders.

 

Welcome again! May you and your son have fun and enjoy the skies! 


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#6 alphatripleplus

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 11:04 AM

Gary,

Having only looked through cheap little scopes in the past and only seeing dots when looking at planets. We were very excited to view the Orion Nebula (even without color). We are interested in viewing both DSO and Planetary/Lunar. For now EAA is defiantly for enhanced observation. Maybe when we are more comfortable in our knowledge of what we are doing we may move towards "AP lite". Right now we want to see cool stuff and not have to look through a lens. This is more my sons interest that mine, I am just along for the ride.

 

Grumpa

We can help you with capturing DSOs using EAA tools in this forum. However, as noted above if you are interested in planetary imaging, you should start a topic in the appropriate imaging forum. EAA captures of the planets tend to be blurry, as the sharper pics of planets benefit from post-processing software that is beyond the scope of this forum.



#7 Grumpa

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 09:11 PM

GazingOli/Broglock

 

Thank you for the info. I don't know much(anything) about SharpCap other than what I have read on CN. Its good to hear about the zoom feature. I also didn't realize that planetary and EAA don't work very well. I think we will stick with the non cooled ASI294 for now and see how that works for us. A quick question about your cooled cameras- how do you power them? I assume a battery and what else? 



#8 Noah4x4

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 12:38 AM

GazingOli/Broglock
 
Thank you for the info. I don't know much(anything) about SharpCap other than what I have read on CN. Its good to hear about the zoom feature. I also didn't realize that planetary and EAA don't work very well. I think we will stick with the non cooled ASI294 for now and see how that works for us. A quick question about your cooled cameras- how do you power them? I assume a battery and what else?


I think the comments so far, albeit correct, might have slightly confused you. Your choice of telescope and camera is good for either planets or DSOs. The difference is software, techniques and focal reduction/magnification.. But Planets do tend to be blurred unless using different techniques and frame stacking techniques need modification.

Planets are small bright objects whilst DSOs are large and dim. For planets you need magnification, but fortunately at f/10 your scope in its native configeration will be good. But for DSOs, f/6.3 or faster will be better.

Live Stacking of DSOs works well at f/6.3. For planets, I instead create an AVI movie at much faster frame rates and then post process the stacking steps. By definition, the latter isn't EAA as it involves post processing. But your chosen kit will be fine. However, there are different forums for planetary imaging and for EAA.

EDIT
Forgot your question. Most ZWO non-cooled cameras draw power through the single USB cable to laptop. However, if cooled they require additional 12v DC power. I have access to mains AC/DC power at home, but in the field would use a 12v LiPo battery. You will find numerous threads about power options.

Edited by Noah4x4, 11 April 2021 - 12:53 AM.

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#9 Jeff Lee

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 01:23 AM

FR3.3 is only for small sensor cameras

#10 dcweaver

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 03:09 AM

Grumpa (love the name),

   

You are on the right track.  The equipment you describe would do well for a wide spectrum of objects.  I actually found a Barlow was not needed for live observations of planets.  I just use the zoom feature in SharpCap.  With the atmosphere causing significant blur anyway, live views of planets fall into the "good enough" category using the zoom feature.  If however, you intend to use eyepieces to view planets, or do post processing with something like AutoStakkert, a Barlow could be useful.

   

This is in contrast to deep sky objects (DSO).  A Barlow is not particularly useful for those.  It increases the image scale (long focal length) at the expense of spreading light across a bigger viewing area (big f/ratio).  This results in a dimmer view for a given exposure.  Now, before all of the people with PhD's in optical physics jump all over this, be aware that it is a complicated interplay between how fast you collect signal and how fast you collect noise.  Assuming the goal is to expose just long enough to beat down the camera read noise to a point where sky noise dominates, and you need to keep exposure times down to mitigate tracking errors, you can use focal ratio as a guidepost for chasing DSO.  Use of a reducer to get lower f/ratios like 2, 4, and 6.  Those are common for EAA of DSO.  They allow use of mounts like the Nexstar EVO vs. mounts costing many hundreds or thousands more.

   

Two inch vs. 1-1/4 inch won't make much difference for planets or anything requiring a Barlow.  Those things are very small to start with and don't need a big field of view (except to find them).  If you do a lot of eyepiece viewing or EAA of large objects, two inch fittings would benefit a large sensor like the ASI294 and would help with large DSO like the Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, or Pleiades.

   

I don't think you will encounter any backfocus issues with an 8" SCT.  They are pretty robust in that regard.  You just want to get as close to the specified backfocus needs of your particular optical train to keep any wide field views as "flat" as possible.  I forget what the spec backfocus is for an SCT, but there is lots of literature you can consult for that.  The HD version of the scope seems to be particular about having that distance within a few millimeters of the spec value.

   

I have not tried a UV-IR cut filter yet, but it's next on my list.  I understand they help sharpen things up quite a bit by eliminating the IR light, which you can't see with your eye, but the camera sees very well.  It does not come to focus very well with the red, green, and blue, and is better off being eliminated, unless you intend to view the IR specifically.  In that case, you would use a filter to cut the red, green, and blue, leaving only the IR.

   

Good luck!


Edited by dcweaver, 11 April 2021 - 09:45 AM.

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#11 Broglock

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:06 AM

GazingOli/Broglock

 

Thank you for the info. I don't know much(anything) about SharpCap other than what I have read on CN. Its good to hear about the zoom feature. I also didn't realize that planetary and EAA don't work very well. I think we will stick with the non cooled ASI294 for now and see how that works for us. A quick question about your cooled cameras- how do you power them? I assume a battery and what else? 

The cooled camera as Noah4x4 has answered do require an additional power source only for cooling. I have used both cooled cameras with only the usb hooked up just not cooled and for EAA it is not necessary. Yes, at home I use house current in the field I use LiPo battery and that is for all power needs at the telescope.

 

Your equipment is perfectly fine for planets, galaxies, nebulas, and anything else you would like to star gaze at. Enjoy!


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#12 Andrew Brown

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:13 AM

OK so this is just another astrophotography forum?



#13 dcweaver

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:26 AM

Andrew,

 

As someone who predominantly posts on the EAA forum, I'd like to understand your question better.  Reading the posts in this thread, there is a predominance of information aimed at live viewing with a camera.  I don't see any dialog about how to approach long exposures or post processing techniques.  What specifically drives you to believe the thread has diverged to a discussion of long exposure astrophotography.


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#14 alphatripleplus

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:00 AM

OK so this is just another astrophotography forum?

As noted in my earlier post, the scope of the EAA Forum does not extend to post-processing techniques used in AP  - either planetary AP or AP for DSOs. The guidelines for this forum are in the pinned thread here. Thanks.



#15 John Miele

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 03:43 PM

I just posted a new thread on a similar topic. But as I am looking around this forum, I am becoming worried that EAA cannot really be done without a computer. Is that true?


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#16 GaryShaw

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 10:27 PM

Correct.
Unless you want to use an older analog camera similar to the Revolution Imager. If you’re serious about EAA observing though, I wouldn’t bother. Just get a simple ZWO mono camera to start with- like the ASI183mm or ASI178mm. If you don’t have a pc, buy a used i5 grade laptop, download Sharpcap Pro for 15 usd/ year and you’re set for the adventure to begin.

Gary 


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#17 Stargazer3236

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 10:38 PM

I use a Nexstar 8SE OTA, usually mounted on my iOptron ZEQ25, equatorial mount. I just about always use my Meade F/6.3 Focal Reducer/Corrector. I never use a barlow, unless I am imaging the planets in which case I do use a 2X or 3X barlow, but that is for another topic on another forum.

 

You do not need to power your ASI294MC camera. The power is supplied by your laptop computer, if you plan on using a laptop. If you bought the ASI294MC Pro, then you would need power if you want to cool the camera, otherwise not powering it, it will work just like an ordinary 294MC un-cooled.

 

If you want to EAA observe galaxies, you do not use a filter. If you want to look at emission nebula or planetary nebula, use an Optolong L-eNhance filter. As you get deeper into the EAA rabbit hole, you might want to specialize into narrower filters like a pure Ha (Hydrogen Alpha) 7nm filter or OIII (Oxygen 3) 7nm filter. The Optolong L-eNhance filter is a dual filter, letting in both Ha and OIII, with a little bit of Hb (Hydrogen Beta) and a touch of NII (Nitrogen 2) or SII (Sulfur 2).

 

In my setup, I run with my F/6.3 reducer/corrector attached to the threads on the back of the scope. Next comes a 2" visual back and into the visual back, I insert my ZWO EFW (electronic filter wheel) that I can adjust when moving from object to object using the built in ASCOM software in SharpCap 3.2 Pro, and attached to the back end of the filter wheel is my ASI294MC camera or ASI183MM camera. My focuser uses the JMI Motofocus electronic focuser, that I run a long cable from to use the Motofocus at a distance.

 

Typically, in the cooler/cold weather, I sit in my SUV with my laptop on a custom laptop table attached the the floor. I then run the mount hand controller on a 25 foot 6p6C length of cable, a 16 foot audio cable that controls the focuser and a 16 foot USB 3.0 cable with a 4-port USB hub attached to the telescope. I plug in the filter wheel, my ASI294MC camera and my ASI290MM E-Finder into the 4 port hub. That USB 3.0 cable, the hand controller cable and the Audio cable from the Motofocuser are routed into my car window and connected to the laptop. I now have a semi-remote set up that I can enjoy in my car, with the heat on and the tunes playing, while I EAA observe/capture the objects that I want to see that night. I usually go out for 5+ hours at a time, sometimes staying out for 6 or more hours.

 

As you progress in your hunt for more elusive deep sky objects, you may want more aperture, I know I do as I will be soon buying a 14" Skywatcher Goto telescope. You may want to try out different cameras, I use a Celestron Neximage 5 (5 megapixel camera) to image the planets and for DSO's, I can use my ASI290MM, ASI294MC or my ASI183MM camera. I hope to be buying the ASI533MC camera soon.

 

So as you can see, it is a deep rabbit hole that you are getting yourself into, but the rewards are awesome if you keep your interest on high!


Edited by Stargazer3236, 12 April 2021 - 10:41 PM.

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#18 bips3453

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 11:49 AM

I just posted a new thread on a similar topic. But as I am looking around this forum, I am becoming worried that EAA cannot really be done without a computer. Is that true?

ASI Air pro would be another option, which again is a computer in a slightly different form factor/configuration. 




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