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

SeeStar (and others) for solar timelapse

  • Please log in to reply
88 replies to this topic

#1 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 09 December 2023 - 02:43 PM

With the upcoming solar Eclipse in April of 2024, now is good time to start to think about equipment for taking pictures of the moon moving across the sun.

 

In the smart telescope offerings, the SeeStar in one candidate since it can take a timelapse video while in solar mode.

 

Note that it will typically take the sun 2 and half hours from the first contact where the moon first starts to cut into the sun until the last contact where the moon totally exists the sun so a time-lapse that covers this entire period would need to go for at least 2.5 hours.

 

As a first experiment, today I set-up my SeeStar on the sun and did a time-lapse for around 2 hours with taking an image every 60 seconds.  

This resulted in a 4-second video with 30 frames/sec.  The video would have been longer with more frames if I had chosen to take the images after fewer seconds.

 

You can see the video at this link..

 

During the time of this video, a bunch of clouds moved in and also the sun was getting behind some tree branches.

 

One issue is that the SeeStar did not track the sun very well and it started to go out of the FOV.  This will be frustrating for the actual eclipse.

 

Has anyone tried this?   I'm wondering if I am doing something wrong or not optimally setting things up.  

 

Or would the SeeStar simply not have the tracking precision needed to keep the sun in the FOV for such a long time-lapse?

 

The sun was too far down to try my Dwarf2 after the above experiment but with some indoor testing I did have have some success with first getting into video mode and initiate tracking on my face and then switch over to time-lapse mode and started a time-lapse and it continued to track my face as I slowly moved around.

I will try the same on the sun tomorrow for a couple hours if the weather cooperates to see if the Dwarf2 will track the sun this way in time-lapse-mode.


Edited by jprideaux, 09 December 2023 - 03:32 PM.

  • GSBass likes this

#2 elbee

elbee

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 808
  • Joined: 02 May 2009
  • Loc: Arizona

Posted 09 December 2023 - 05:03 PM

this is something i plan to do during the 2024 eclipse, as well.  i will be manually photographing through a "regular" telescope setup but planned to just let the Seestar "do it's thing".  it tracked the moon very well for a 90 minute time lapse recently.  i will be trying this soon with the sun and let you know how it goes.  this may be a dumb question, but did you turn on solar tracking before you began the time-lapse?  the icon is on the middle right side of the screen that when activated displays a green dot.

 

the seestar should be interesting to capture the full eclipse time lapse, but i don't expect  the corona effect to be very detailed.   from my photos in 2017 i took exposures between 1/80 and 1/4000s (every stop) during totality (no filter) to see the full corona effect as well as solar prominences. 

 


  • jprideaux likes this

#3 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 09 December 2023 - 07:07 PM

this is something i plan to do during the 2024 eclipse, as well.  i will be manually photographing through a "regular" telescope setup but planned to just let the Seestar "do it's thing".  it tracked the moon very well for a 90 minute time lapse recently.  i will be trying this soon with the sun and let you know how it goes.  this may be a dumb question, but did you turn on solar tracking before you began the time-lapse?  the icon is on the middle right side of the screen that when activated displays a green dot.

 

the seestar should be interesting to capture the full eclipse time lapse, but i don't expect  the corona effect to be very detailed.   from my photos in 2017 i took exposures between 1/80 and 1/4000s (every stop) during totality (no filter) to see the full corona effect as well as solar prominences. 

It is quite possible that I didn't activate the tracking.  I will definitely be trying again to rule out user-error.

 

I also look forward to you trying it and getting good practice results.

 

It is encouraging that you were successfully able to do a long time-lapse of the moon.

 

Of course with the solar filter in place, the SeeStar won't see anything during totality.  I don't want to mess with taking that solar filter off so I would probably just use the SeeStar to capture the total eclipse first-contact to last contact and use a different telescope for the totality part (diamond ring to diamond ring).



#4 elbee

elbee

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 808
  • Joined: 02 May 2009
  • Loc: Arizona

Posted 10 December 2023 - 05:54 PM

i did a time-lapse today for 2h 6m (30s  interval).  tracked very well, i thought. (some light wind)

 

https://lbuckphotos....S50/i-WKJR8Qm/A

 

be sure to turn on the "centering" option before starting the video (or time lapse).  some field rotation evident by movement of the sun spots. 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • solar tracking for timelapse.jpg

  • saguaro, roelb and jprideaux like this

#5 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 10 December 2023 - 10:01 PM

i did a time-lapse today for 2h 6m (30s interval). tracked very well, i thought. (some light wind)

https://lbuckphotos....S50/i-WKJR8Qm/A

be sure to turn on the "centering" option before starting the video (or time lapse). some field rotation evident by movement of the sun spots.


Thanks for the tip with the arrow!

Do you know if any software that will register the frames to take the jiggle out of the Timelapse movie?

#6 roelb

roelb

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,460
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 11 December 2023 - 05:52 PM

Perhaps you can try this using SharpCapture V.4.1 (https://www.sharpcap...rpcap/downloads):

Camera > Test Camera 2 (High Speed)

Testing Controls > Browse > All Files > select your ser or avi

Tools > Live Planetary Stacking/Enhancement (Experimental) > Time Lapse

!!! don't select: "Apply Display Histogram Stretch to saved timelapse images"

I tested it with a Jupiter ser file. Don't known if the enhancements can be done for the sun.

Worth to try.



#7 tbhausen

tbhausen

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2022

Posted 12 December 2023 - 12:09 AM

I’ll join you guys in this endeavor, as I receive my SeeStar today. I plan to make a time lapse of the eclipse from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Will the telescope continue to be able to track the sun even if it can’t see it during totality?



#8 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 12 December 2023 - 08:03 AM

I’ll join you guys in this endeavor, as I receive my SeeStar today. I plan to make a time lapse of the eclipse from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Will the telescope continue to be able to track the sun even if it can’t see it during totality?


To “try it” a possibility is to get it tracking in Timelapse for a while and then for about 4 minutes, put some physical object in the way blocking the sun. Then after 4 minutes let it continue with the Timelapse for another extended time. We should all try that experiment and report back here!
  • oneuke likes this

#9 tbhausen

tbhausen

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2022

Posted 12 December 2023 - 08:38 AM

To “try it” a possibility is to get it tracking in Timelapse for a while and then for about 4 minutes, put some physical object in the way blocking the sun. Then after 4 minutes let it continue with the Timelapse for another extended time. We should all try that experiment and report back here!

Exactly along the lines I was thinking... I'll get the feel of a few successful time-lapses first, then give this a go.



#10 dbowlin

dbowlin

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 546
  • Joined: 03 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Littleton, Colorado

Posted 12 December 2023 - 11:11 AM

Practice makes perfect. If you want to know if the s50 will track the during totality: just set up and than hold a piece of card board over the front to black out the sun for 4 minutes or so. Than remove cardboard and see if the sun is centered.

However during totality you will need to remove the solar filter, this alone could nock off your tracking, if want to continue taking pics.

i am thinking I may use my DLSR during totality or set up a different scope and camera set up.

If this is your first solar eclipse, the last thing you want to do is mess with photo equipment.

lots of time to practice, for now.

dale


  • tbhausen likes this

#11 elbee

elbee

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 808
  • Joined: 02 May 2009
  • Loc: Arizona

Posted 12 December 2023 - 11:37 AM

Do you know if any software that will register the frames to take the jiggle out of the Timelapse movie?

i used Adobe Premier Pro "warp stabilize" effect to remove much of the jitter.  i didn't mess with it too much but definitely improved.

 

https://lbuckphotos....S50/i-Q6MqLR2/A


  • jprideaux likes this

#12 nicknacknock

nicknacknock

    In search of a village...

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 19,942
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2012
  • Loc: Nicosia, Cyprus

Posted 12 December 2023 - 10:29 PM

Thanks for the tip with the arrow!

Do you know if any software that will register the frames to take the jiggle out of the Timelapse movie?

Use PIPP. It will align frames.


  • rkayakr and jprideaux like this

#13 photon08

photon08

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2020

Posted 22 December 2023 - 06:44 PM

When the half of the sun is blocked by tree branches, the sun tends to drift away. Otherwise, it's pretty good at keeping the sun in the center of the fov. So, I'm afraid that even before/after the totality I may have a trouble tracking the sun. I wonder if this is also the experience of others.

If that's the case, I hope ZWO will be able to improve the tracking of the eclipsed sun before April. I can have an alternative set up (as I did in October when I didn't have my Seestar, yet), but I hope I won't have to.

#14 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 23 December 2023 - 02:06 AM

When the half of the sun is blocked by tree branches, the sun tends to drift away. Otherwise, it's pretty good at keeping the sun in the center of the fov. So, I'm afraid that even before/after the totality I may have a trouble tracking the sun. I wonder if this is also the experience of others.

If that's the case, I hope ZWO will be able to improve the tracking of the eclipsed sun before April. I can have an alternative set up (as I did in October when I didn't have my Seestar, yet), but I hope I won't have to.


I will see if I can find a location where the sun will pass behind a tree trunk as it either rises or sets and try a time-lapse. That should simulate an eclipse. Or build an object to simulate the obstruction.

#15 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 25 December 2023 - 11:31 PM

I did a little experiment the other day with placing my SeeStar in the path of a garden statue shadow that was going to move across the area.  I put my SeeStar in solar mode and initiated a time-lapse taking one picture every 30 seconds and let it run for an hour or so.  I made sure that the icon to keep the sun centered was activated.

 

This would not be a realistic solar eclipse simulation test because the statue shadow swept across the sun much faster since the stature was stationary and the moon would be moving in its own orbit (not stationary).  

The time-lapse video (slowed down a bit) can be seen at this link.  

 

I did spatially crop the video but all the frames are there in the original temporal order.

 

The jittery motion is due to the SeeStar not keeping the sun exactly in the same place.

Some people mentioned that it would be possible to use PIPP to stabilize the jittering but I could not figure out the PIPP settings to do that without having it reject frames I did not want rejected.

 

For the simulation that I did, it was able to still have the sun in the FOV after the shadow went through but I also noticed that the frames just after the shadow went through had the sun off-center quite a bit so in the real case of the moon moving more slowly, it might be the case that the sun would be too far off for the centering algorithm to re-center.  

 

Sometime in the coming days if it is sunny, I may try a new experiment where I can control both the shape of the shadow as well as the rate in which it moves to give a better approximation of the actual eclipse.  My fear is that the SeeStar will work for a time-lapse up to the point of total eclipse but then may lose the sun afterwards.   

 

I also plan on trying a similar experiment with my Dwarf2.  

 

I probably will be flying to a location to see the eclipse and will only be taking one smart-telescope with me.  I'm just trying to figure out which one will work better for a time-lapse start to finish.  I don't think I want to fool with removing the solar filter during totality.  I think the act of removing the filter may mess where the scope is pointed and there is also the chance that I might not get the solar filter put back on in time and fry the sensor.


  • Psion, roelb, photon08 and 2 others like this

#16 tbhausen

tbhausen

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 585
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2022

Posted 26 December 2023 - 08:11 AM

@jprideaux I appreciate your work on this.



#17 photon08

photon08

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2020

Posted 26 December 2023 - 07:12 PM

Thank you, @jprideaux, for testing.    

 

BTW, another worry is that Seestar's automatic exposure may not keep the 'color' of the sun 'constant' as the eclipse progresses.  If I remember correctly, the sun's image got brighter when it's obscured by tree branches. If there's a way to 'lock' the exposure, that'd be handy. 



#18 QAVA1960

QAVA1960

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: 13 Nov 2020

Posted 28 December 2023 - 03:01 PM

I was just playing with this over lunch. I just did a 5 minute regular video placing a card over the lens for 30 seconds. I then removed the card quickly and the exposure was way to bright but only for 0.03 seconds. I will try again with a manual exposure and see if it does better.    


Edited by QAVA1960, 28 December 2023 - 03:02 PM.


#19 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 30 December 2023 - 03:19 PM

I did some more experiments with taking a time-lapse of the sun with the SeeStar with artificially making a "total eclipse".

 

See this link for a You-tube video of the experiments.

 

I was taking one image every 20 seconds and using just the automatic exposures that the SeeStar does by default.

 

The take-home message is that I found that the SeeStar CAN tolerate a 4 minute total eclipse and still be able to find the sun after totality (at least in the way I did the experiments).

There is the issue of the SeeStar's automatic exposure setting.  It would be better to manually set the exposure settings and have that not change during the time-lapse.

 

I have not yet played with manual exposure settings. If that is possible in solar mode, that will need to be some future experiments.

 

I also wanted to repeat these experiments with my Dwarf2 but clouds moved in so I was not able to do that today.  Perhaps on a future day.

 


  • dbowlin, roelb, photon08 and 2 others like this

#20 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 31 December 2023 - 10:03 AM

I did an experiment this morning with my Dwarf2 of taking a time-lapse of the sun and blocking the telescope for 4 minutes 20 seconds and then uncovering the telescope again.

 

Like what I did with the SeeStar, the time-lapse had one image every 20 seconds and my playback was 5 frames/sec.

 

You can see the video at this link.

 

The sun stayed in the FOV.

 

The Dwarf2 does let you set the exposure and gain.  

I still need to see if the SeeStar will let you do that for solar.

 

One negative with the Dwarf2 is that there is no feedback during the time-lapse of its progress (in number of frames or the total time so far).  

 

But bottom, line, it seems either will work for a time-lapse of the full eclipse - first contact to final contact.  Just be sure to use an external battery.  Especially for the Dwarf2.  


  • roelb and GSBass like this

#21 GSBass

GSBass

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8,265
  • Joined: 21 May 2020
  • Loc: South Carolina

Posted 01 January 2024 - 09:47 AM

Nice, you should send a note to them, not sure they will be able to implement by the eclipse but it would be nice for the exposure to provide some feedback on frames/time…good to see it works

I did an experiment this morning with my Dwarf2 of taking a time-lapse of the sun and blocking the telescope for 4 minutes 20 seconds and then uncovering the telescope again.

 

Like what I did with the SeeStar, the time-lapse had one image every 20 seconds and my playback was 5 frames/sec.

 

You can see the video at this link.

 

The sun stayed in the FOV.

 

The Dwarf2 does let you set the exposure and gain.  

I still need to see if the SeeStar will let you do that for solar.

 

One negative with the Dwarf2 is that there is no feedback during the time-lapse of its progress (in number of frames or the total time so far).  

 

But bottom, line, it seems either will work for a time-lapse of the full eclipse - first contact to final contact.  Just be sure to use an external battery.  Especially for the Dwarf2.  



#22 photon08

photon08

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2020

Posted 15 January 2024 - 04:59 AM

Thanks a lot for the experiments and videos,  jprideaux !!

 

BTW, I filed a feature request about the manual exposure or 'feature-only metering' at https://www.youtube....h?v=Fx0G81EbYlU

 

If you don't mind, I'll link your YT video to the bug above.  



#23 photon08

photon08

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 157
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2020

Posted 17 January 2024 - 02:18 AM

Thanks a lot for the experiments and videos,  jprideaux !!

 

BTW, I filed a feature request about the manual exposure or 'feature-only metering' at https://www.youtube....h?v=Fx0G81EbYlU

 

If you don't mind, I'll link your YT video to the bug above.  

The FR I filed is here



#24 jprideaux

jprideaux

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,429
  • Joined: 06 May 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 17 January 2024 - 04:29 AM

Thanks a lot for the experiments and videos, jprideaux !!

BTW, I filed a feature request about the manual exposure or 'feature-only metering' at https://www.youtube....h?v=Fx0G81EbYlU .

If you don't mind, I'll link your YT video to the bug above.


You can certainly link my video to your bug/feature request.

#25 davidgmd

davidgmd

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,329
  • Joined: 24 Dec 2020
  • Loc: Maryland

Posted 10 February 2024 - 04:07 PM

Hi all,

  

New Seestar user, came here looking to see how to do a time lapse for the April total eclipse. Lo and behold, CNers have it all figured out. Tried it yesterday and it worked! I have some questions about intervals and file types. I know almost nothing about imaging or video.

  

I got a really short video out of a half hour time lapse with 15-second intervals. That gave me 120 exposures. Looks like the playback speed of the resulting mp4 file is about 30 fps. Does that sound right?

  
Where I’ll be, the eclipse will last 2 hrs and 40 minutes from C1 to C4. Say 2:45, or 9900 seconds. At 15 second intervals, that would result in 660 images and 22 seconds of video at 30 fps. At 10 second intervals, 990 images and 33 seconds of video. Double that for 5 second intervals. Any thoughts on what might work best? Is more always better? Guess I should do a few trial runs the next sunny day.

  
That got me thinking about storage space on the Seestar. I just did a 1-sec time lapse for 99 images in RAW. The resulting file size was 5.3 MB. Is it accurate to project that a 990 image file would be 53 MB? Twice as many images would be 106 MB? With 50 GB onboard storage, there should be plenty of room either way.

  

Do RAW files result in a higher resolution mp4? Or is the advantage solely in more post-processing flexibility? Seems wise to capture in RAW even though I have zero experience with image processing. I can learn the software but without the RAW data I’d be limited.

  
Finally, battery capacity. Seems like 3 hours will be no problem as long as it’s not too cold, which seems unlikely in TX in April. I’ll take a Talent cell along just in case.


  • Defy Gravity likes this


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






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics