Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Beginners Advice for Astrophotography - 15 Suggestions

Astrophotography Beginner Celestron DSLR Imaging Polar Alignment Software
  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#26 Tbear1

Tbear1

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 29
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2021

Posted 22 September 2021 - 08:58 PM

 

 

I spent far more money than thought I would, and have found even more satisfaction than I anticipated.

 

$$$  Hard to admit, but me too! However, its the most fun I have had since I learned how to play Pickleball 8 years ago ( which I now teach ).  ... ok, go ahead and google Pickleball! smile.gif

 

Tbear1



#27 rgsalinger

rgsalinger

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,829
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Carlsbad Ca

Posted 23 September 2021 - 12:44 AM

Odd. I can't even remember the last time I had to actually deal with the Windows operating system in a significant manner.

 

I've been troubleshooting my TV127is for tha past 4 nights and here's my "Windows" activity summary.

 

The only things that I've done in windows are:

 

1. I click on Icons to start programs

2. Technically I use the Explorer to save and load images  

3. I shut down the computer

 

Ninety nine percent of my time is spent in the SKYX (since I'm using an MYT) or in CCD Inspector since I'm analyzing things. I would not be able to use CCDI if I didn't use Windows. 

 

Oh, I did use Remote Desktop to access the computer at the mount from my comfortable home office.

 

I do understand that it's really nice to use something that you already know. However, what you really need to be an expert in is the imaging suite that you choose, the OS just disappears from site once you've got the computer set up and running. If you think that's a chore, get someone in your local club to show you. I think you'll find about 90 percent of the imagers are using Win 10 as their OS. If you use something else, good luck if you need help out in the field.  


  • jonnybravo0311 likes this

#28 unimatrix0

unimatrix0

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,137
  • Joined: 03 Jan 2021

Posted 23 September 2021 - 12:01 PM

I haven't had any major issues, but I didn't follow the online install guides for setting it up on a Raspberry Pi either, because they seemed a bit iffy. I just threw a standard Ubuntu 20.04 install on a Raspberry Pi 4, added in the Indi PPA, downloaded the QHY SDK, and installed it all. When I bought an EQ6-R it required a newer kernel for its USB interface, so I did an update to 21.04 via do-release-upgrade, and it all just worked. I think this kind of "vanilla Ubuntu" approach works pretty well, because it doesn't introduce extra complications and keeps things pretty close to what the developers are likely to be using.

 

However, I use Linux predominately anyway, so I'm a lot more comfortable setting it up when compared with Windows. If I was less familiar with Linux, I'd either go for Stellarmate (to get a packaged, supported solution on a standard environment), use NINA on a NUC, or if I was willing to go ZWO-exclusive, just get an ASIair.

 

Either way, some kind of software for doing three-point polar alignment, platesolving, controlling cameras, guiding, etc. really seems a no-brainer.

I think my issue is my lack of Linux experience. I used to be somewhat more literate about 25yrs ago, but that's history. When you say "EQ6R required a newer kernel" , because of USB interface, I'm already lost, because I don't even know how I would diagnose that issue. 
The other issue is driver support on Raspberry buster  OS is quite different and it requires different drivers than a standard ubuntu installation. 

Also PHD2 available but not fully supported by the makers on the PHD2 website, it says "make your own install from github",  I'm lost already again. 

 

I pointed out many times, that Kstars/Ekos in Linux requires a significant Linux user knowledge. I have no clue how to diagnose a USB conflict- for example, because I don't know where to look for that info in the OS.  You say the same thing in Windows, it takes me about 5 seconds to tell what's the issue and why. 
I also cannot diagnose why Kstars crashes, because I don't know how to read and frankly- no patience to browse through 3 pages of log info , it all looks like the Matrix computer screen for me, nothing particular telling me what causes the crashes, plus I feel like I'll be troubleshooting a software like a beta tester or developer,  that supposed to be working out of the box. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 23 September 2021 - 12:06 PM.


#29 unimatrix0

unimatrix0

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,137
  • Joined: 03 Jan 2021

Posted 23 September 2021 - 12:13 PM

Why are you doing that to yourself? If Windows software works for you and your equipment... why continue to struggle with another solution that causes nothing but pain, grief, frustration, etc? I mean, sure, I understand wanting to figure something out, but this is a hobby, not a job. Nobody's paying you to solve this problem. By your own admission, you've already burned more cash than it would have taken to pickup a nice little scope-side mini PC like a Beelink (and had some leftover). Not to mention all the time you've lost fighting with software/hardware. Start enjoying imaging instead of constantly fighting it smile.gif.

No worries, I have a Beelink already.  lol.gif   I also got 3 laptops including a macbook pro.  (fixed them all myself ) 
I guess you don't understand. My job is IT related, but i'm sort of half repair man and I deal with many sort of hardware problems , despite it's not in my job description, I self learned that. 
Not sure if it makes sense, but if something failing on me, while others enjoy using something and I can't make it work, it frustrates me - that's true , but also motivates me to further push on to learn it and fix it.  If someone tells me - for example with the raspberry pi -  they got such a wonderful time with it and it's all smooth going and a pleasure to use, while I can't even install a driver LOL- that is actually killing me inside.  I will literally just sit into it, deep dive into it, even if I have to go to the "Linux for dummies" approach and start learning commands and doing learning the alphabet from Linux 101, just so I can get to Ekos as the "end boss" and defeat it! smile.gif

Some of these times I'm not even approachable - ask my wife- better left alone in his "studies". Sometimes 5-6hrs a day. The whole world can go and have a nuclear winter outside, I'm  copy/pasting commands from the web and reading help files about Linux. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 23 September 2021 - 12:16 PM.


#30 jonnybravo0311

jonnybravo0311

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,951
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2020
  • Loc: NJ, US

Posted 23 September 2021 - 12:59 PM

No worries, I have a Beelink already.  lol.gif   I also got 3 laptops including a macbook pro.  (fixed them all myself ) 
I guess you don't understand. My job is IT related, but i'm sort of half repair man and I deal with many sort of hardware problems , despite it's not in my job description, I self learned that. 
Not sure if it makes sense, but if something failing on me, while others enjoy using something and I can't make it work, it frustrates me - that's true , but also motivates me to further push on to learn it and fix it.  If someone tells me - for example with the raspberry pi -  they got such a wonderful time with it and it's all smooth going and a pleasure to use, while I can't even install a driver LOL- that is actually killing me inside.  I will literally just sit into it, deep dive into it, even if I have to go to the "Linux for dummies" approach and start learning commands and doing learning the alphabet from Linux 101, just so I can get to Ekos as the "end boss" and defeat it! smile.gif

Some of these times I'm not even approachable - ask my wife- better left alone in his "studies". Sometimes 5-6hrs a day. The whole world can go and have a nuclear winter outside, I'm  copy/pasting commands from the web and reading help files about Linux. 

Well... that's an easy solve... just tell yourself all those people telling your they're having a wonderful time are lying to your face. They're all struggling at least as hard, but probably MUCH harder than you are and are secretly all using Windows  lol.gif



#31 oneredpanther

oneredpanther

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 19 Mar 2021

Posted 23 September 2021 - 03:43 PM

Someone's gotta say it: of this 15-item list, fully 9 of them can be replaced with "buy an ASIAIR" lol.gif

 

I used to drag the gear out, enter the coordinates and time, do a three-star align, fiddle with the hand controller in different slew rates, do it again because it didn't work, manually polar align it, open up Sharpcap, fiddle with that, fire up PHD2, fiddle with that, calibrate the guiding steps, solve the calibration issues because the star didn't move enough, find a guide star, open up EQMOD, connect all the things; diagnose some COM port error; connect it to Stellarium, figure out why the Sync wasn't working, restart everything, take some previews, get focused, plate solve in APT, find the target, frame the target, do some some more previews, create all the folders, set the directories; man the laptop all the time.... if I was lucky I could get capturing by 1am or 2am. 

 

Now I drag the gear out, turn on the ASIAIR, and I'm imaging within five minutes. 

 

I've never seen such a do-all workhorse. The OP will have their mind blown.


Edited by oneredpanther, 23 September 2021 - 03:51 PM.

  • drd715 and mariemarie like this

#32 jonnybravo0311

jonnybravo0311

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,951
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2020
  • Loc: NJ, US

Posted 23 September 2021 - 04:22 PM

Someone's gotta say it: of this 15-item list, fully 9 of them can be replaced with "buy an ASIAIR" lol.gif

 

I used to drag the gear out, enter the coordinates and time, do a three-star align, fiddle with the hand controller in different slew rates, do it again because it didn't work, manually polar align it, open up Sharpcap, fiddle with that, fire up PHD2, fiddle with that, calibrate the guiding steps, solve the calibration issues because the star didn't move enough, find a guide star, open up EQMOD, connect all the things; diagnose some COM port error; connect it to Stellarium, figure out why the Sync wasn't working, restart everything, take some previews, get focused, plate solve in APT, find the target, frame the target, do some some more previews, create all the folders, set the directories; man the laptop all the time.... if I was lucky I could get capturing by 1am or 2am. 

 

Now I drag the gear out, turn on the ASIAIR, and I'm imaging within five minutes. 

 

I've never seen such a do-all workhorse. The OP will have their mind blown.

Any properly setup automated imaging system provides this, not just the ASIAir.

 

For example, I run a Beelink scope-side. I drag the rig to the bottom of the driveway, connect the power source to the _one_ cable I have coming from the rig. I push the power button on the Beelink. I fire up the remote app (i.e. Remote Desktop) and double-click NINA. I run the polar alignment routine (3 point polar alignment plugin). Once I'm happy, I execute my sequence by clicking the start button. I'm also imaging in 5 minutes or less :).



#33 oneredpanther

oneredpanther

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 19 Mar 2021

Posted 23 September 2021 - 04:42 PM

Listen here buddy, I'm in the honeymoon phase. Don't spoil her for me with comparisons to other mistresses. 


  • JTank70, mariemarie, jonnybravo0311 and 1 other like this

#34 Tbear1

Tbear1

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 29
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2021

Posted 23 September 2021 - 06:44 PM

Someone's gotta say it: of this 15-item list, fully 9 of them can be replaced with "buy an ASIAIR" lol.gif

 

I used to drag the gear out, enter the coordinates and time, do a three-star align, fiddle with the hand controller in different slew rates, do it again because it didn't work, manually polar align it, open up Sharpcap, fiddle with that, fire up PHD2, fiddle with that, calibrate the guiding steps, solve the calibration issues because the star didn't move enough, find a guide star, open up EQMOD, connect all the things; diagnose some COM port error; connect it to Stellarium, figure out why the Sync wasn't working, restart everything, take some previews, get focused, plate solve in APT, find the target, frame the target, do some some more previews, create all the folders, set the directories; man the laptop all the time.... if I was lucky I could get capturing by 1am or 2am. 

 

Now I drag the gear out, turn on the ASIAIR, and I'm imaging within five minutes. 

 

I've never seen such a do-all workhorse. The OP will have their mind blown.

I can honestly say that nowadays I arrive at my observing site at sunset, takes me 20 minutes to take everything out of the car and set it up, about 5 minutes to polar align with PoleMaster (which sees Polaris before I can ), about 5 minutes for StarsSense  to plate solve ( it sees 100 stars when I can hardly see any yet ), skew to my Nebula of choice using CPWI or NINA, check my focus, lock on my guide star, and start imaging. The entire process for me from arriving is about 35 - 40 minutes. I seldom have any issues anymore. 
 

However, I do admit that I have experienced many of the hurdles you mentioned as I came up a steep learning curve. It’s for that reason, to help other beginners, that I started this thread so they can quickly get past all the gremlins that pop up when just beginning. For example, I wasted a lot of time the first night I used PoleMaster because I didn’t know it didn’t work with Windows 10 unless you ran an MP4 or SharpCap in the background.
 

Once my gear is set up, I can’t match your ‘ 5 minutes to imaging ‘ ; realistically it’s more like 15 to 20 minutes but for me that’s just fine!

 

Tbear1


Edited by Tbear1, 23 September 2021 - 06:47 PM.


#35 Jon_Doh

Jon_Doh

    Mercury-Atlas

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,662
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Just South of Pluto

Posted 24 September 2021 - 08:36 AM

Suggestion #16, chuck all the above and run, don't walk to your nearest internet astro provider and buy a Unistellar or Stellinal all in one system  lol.gif



#36 rgsalinger

rgsalinger

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,829
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Carlsbad Ca

Posted 24 September 2021 - 12:42 PM

Why bother with a "stellina" when you can just download finished images from the internet. Hobbies without effort seem pointless to me. Still, whatever floats your personal boat is what you should do. 

 

At the same time, it's fair to point out that there are many challenges in terms of getting going in astro-photography.

 

To me the number one thing to do is to join a club or find some people near you online who have an interest in getting together. That was, for me, the key to getting from frustration to enjoyment. Even one other person to image with makes an enormous difference. In this hobby two heads are vastly better than one.

 

It also really helps to do some reading - books like the deep sky imaging primer by bracken or the astrophotography manual by chris woodhouse. Those two books will be the best money you ever spend on your astrophotography hobby. 

 

If you have the 4k to buy a stellina, it's easy to configure a reliable system, that's the third thing that's helpful, have a realistic budget for what you want to do. If you already own a dslr, you can get a nice tracking mount. If you already own a nice alt/az system you can do planetary and lunar and solar imaging. Then, once money becomes available, you've learned a lot that applicable to DSO imaging. 

 

YMMV and IMHO apply here. 

 

Rgrds-Ross



#37 Tbear1

Tbear1

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 29
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2021

Posted 25 September 2021 - 07:31 PM

My suggestion....you went wrong before you ever got to #1 when you bought the SCT and Celestron mount. You could have avoided the other 90%  of your problems...

With over 7000 posts, you seem pretty opinionated about this. Could you elaborate on your dislike of SCTs for us?

 

Tbear1



#38 oneredpanther

oneredpanther

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 19 Mar 2021

Posted 26 September 2021 - 07:18 AM

Polar Alignment is easy and fun with ASIair, plate solving is magical, and you can sleep while it follows your multiple target plan, guides, focuses, and does a meridian flip. It won't make your morning coffee.

Wait, what? You'll have to explain this to me. 



#39 Alex McConahay

Alex McConahay

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,788
  • Joined: 11 Aug 2008
  • Loc: Moreno Valley, CA

Posted 26 September 2021 - 09:35 AM

Wait, what? You'll have to explain this to me. 

I assume you mean the boldfaced "multiple target plan" part.

 

Many of us use software that allows us to name multiple targets in a night. And the software takes care of one, then goes on to the next. And the next, And the next. No big deal. IT does not need us to finish a set of exposures, slew and center on the next object, focus, re-start the autoguider, and take another bunch of pictures.So, we sleep of push a Dob around.  

 

I do it in SGP.....I know many other programs have the same features. I do not know for sure which so I won't start naming names.

 

Are you asking how one does this?

What software are you using to run your session?

 

Alex



#40 oneredpanther

oneredpanther

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 19 Mar 2021

Posted 26 September 2021 - 10:00 AM

Nono, I know what sequencing is. But Tailspin45 indicated that he uses his ASIAIR to do multi-target sessions; but to my knowledge there is no option I can find in the ASIAIR to facilitate such a thing - so I was asking for clarification on whether he knows something I don't.



#41 Mystic38

Mystic38

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 9
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2021

Posted 06 October 2021 - 06:42 AM

I can't answer directly for Tbear1 however, a short refractor is easier to use in every single way vs an SCT, and given that there are plenty of wide field targets to capture, even if you started with an SCT you would end up with a wide field short refractor...so why not make life easier for yourself as there are so many steps to painfully go thru?

 

luckily, despite my desire for a "more poweerR Igor" mega-scope this was the one piece of advice i listened to and purchased an AT72EDii which was $450 and so left $$ for the (very much needed) guide scope & camera... little/no maintenance, easier load on a mount, more portable, wider field, brighter, etc etc.

 

just my 2c

 

With over 7000 posts, you seem pretty opinionated about this. Could you elaborate on your dislike of SCTs for us?

 

Tbear1



#42 je2000

je2000

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 205
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2016
  • Loc: Austin

Posted 06 October 2021 - 05:23 PM

My two cents worth (YMMV):

 

Astrophotography is all about data collection and processing. I spend more time with my computer than my telescope.

 

Start with the best mount you can afford, then match scope and camera based on what you want to image. Getting started, buy used. Needs/wants will change.

 

I didn't spend a fortune on scopes, but a good camera was expensive even used.

 

ASIair is the best astronomy development since the telescope for backyard astronomers.

 

Polar Alignment is easy and fun with ASIair, plate solving is magical, and you can sleep while it follows your multiple target plan, guides, focuses, and does a meridian flip. It won't make your morning coffee.

 

PixInsight is the standard for comparison but Astro Pixel Processor and StarTools got me 90% there with 10% of the aggravation and 50% of the cost.

 

Astrophotography is an incredibly knowledge-intensive, fiddly pass time. If you don't like learning and solving problems consider another hobby.

 

I spent far more money than thought I would, and have found even more satisfaction than I anticipated.

I must be the only person that hates ASIAir. It doesn't work. When it did it flipped N for S and wrapped the scope around and into the ground. Plate solve? Ha. I can't even get that to work in any software. It's a very expensive retro game emulator machine now. I tried ASIStudio for fun. That didn't work either. Completely bonkers icons and layout. Nothing connected nothing worked. Useless. I really don't know what I was thinking when I decided to add one of the things I dislike the most in this life to astrophotography - apps on mobile devices. Just no. 




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Astrophotography, Beginner, Celestron, DSLR, Imaging, Polar Alignment, Software



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics