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Deep Dive into the Black Hole of AP

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#1 pclevel1

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:23 AM

I decided to go all-in for my entry of AP. I've been a photographer for many years, both leisurely and professionally. Always been interested in AP, but never really pulled the trigger until I started looking into it more over the six months or so. Now that I'm retired from the Aviation Industry, I have alot more time on mine hands and appears I'm gonna need it. I just received most of the setup yesterday, though had the Askar V for about a week now. I've got a lot to learn and certainly look forward to it. Hopefully this will last a few years before I want another setup. Soon I'll be getting the mount pillar extension and a dew heater(s). I also welcome all advice and recommendations, been watching many YT videos for reviews and setup.

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#2 DanMiller

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:31 AM

I am far from being knowledgable on equipment.  But looking at your setup, I think you chose wisely.  That is a 80mm OTA refractor?  Everything I see here sugests starting out with something like that.  I see you have an auto focuser, you will love that.  I never used the AsiAir, but it will definately help you with automation and make things a lot easier for you.  And the 533 color camera.  Everyone here sugests that specific camera, which I hope to get soon.

 

Nice setup, I think you did an execelent job of choosing your equipment.

 

Good luck, and I wish you nothing but clear skies.

 

Dan

 

Edited to add: I just looked up your OTA. Triplet, good choice. I love my doublet, but a triplet will give you much better stars.  Again, nice setup.  I think your choices of equipment was well thought out.


Edited by DanMiller, 30 May 2024 - 09:33 AM.

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#3 Zambiadarkskies

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:39 AM

Congratulations and nice choices.  I have been very happy with the performance of my AM5 and 533mc pro.  


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#4 afd33

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:40 AM

That scope was tempting for the versatility it should provide. Definitely a pretty good set up. The only thing I probably would have done differently is using a guide scope instead of an OAG just for a bit of simplicity and more stars to guide on. The OAG should work just fine though. Once you get it all dialed in the real hard part starts. Processing!


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#5 JEPott

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:41 AM

I have nearly the identical setup.  I too just completed it and I'm excited to see what you're able to capture in the weeks and months to come!

I have the AM3 mount and and a AT72ED-II scope instead, but the guide and main camera's are the same as yours.  EAF is soon to be added.

Wishing you all the best as you start out!!

 

~J


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#6 pclevel1

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:44 AM

I decided on the Askar V because of the various focal lengths I can get with it. I kind of went with my photography equipment thought, having different sizes in lenses and FL. I can remove the 80mm and attach a 60mm. FL can be obtained from 270-600mm depending on the attachments. I've read good and bad about the Askar setup, but decided on it none the less. I'll see if I made a good choice. Lol


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#7 DanMiller

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:49 AM

I decided on the Askar V because of the various focal lengths I can get with it. I kind of went with my photography equipment thought, having different sizes in lenses and FL. I can remove the 80mm and attach a 60mm. FL can be obtained from 270-600mm depending on the attachments. I've read good and bad about the Askar setup, but decided on it none the less. I'll see if I made a good choice. Lol

I really never read anything  bad about Askar.  That is the OTA I wanted, for exactly the same reason.  Different focal lengths.  That gives you the wide angle view needed on large nebula, but a decent focal length for galaxies.  If I remember correctly, you do not have to worry about a flattener. 

 

Again, very nice setup.

 

Dan



#8 pclevel1

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:50 AM

That scope was tempting for the versatility it should provide. Definitely a pretty good set up. The only thing I probably would have done differently is using a guide scope instead of an OAG just for a bit of simplicity and more stars to guide on. The OAG should work just fine though. Once you get it all dialed in the real hard part starts. Processing!

I liked the idea of getting whats projected thru the scope with the oag, but I figure I can change that. Not many clear skies around here to get dialed in, that gives me time to learn some of these programs. I've done Photoshop for years though I have version 11 which is way outdated. I don't want to pay a now monthly fee for the latest.



#9 Sheridan

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:54 AM

That rig will serve you well for years to come. Acquisition is only half of the formula.  What software have you chosen for the post processing? Are you jumping into Pixinsight or going with the free stuff such as Siril and Affinity Photo 2?



#10 pclevel1

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 10:10 AM

That rig will serve you well for years to come. Acquisition is only half of the formula.  What software have you chosen for the post processing? Are you jumping into Pixinsight or going with the free stuff such as Siril and Affinity Photo 2?

I'm leaning towards the free stuff and maybe investing in Pixinsight later. At the moment I have Siril installed on this mac mini. Haven't checked out Affinity yet.

I also have windows desktop behind me I can use, though the new windows update been messing with my WIFI disconnecting (not sure why). Using mac more lately.


Edited by pclevel1, 30 May 2024 - 10:10 AM.

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#11 BlueMoon

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 10:42 AM

Another suggestion for free software would be ZWO ASI Studio. While I use Siril for my final processing work, ASI Studio has some nice features for using ZWO exclusive gear such as you have. Here's an info page: https://astronomy-im...an-it-bring-us/

 

There are Windows, Mac and Linux version available. Cheers.



#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 10:52 AM

Advice.

 

Start out with the 60 and the reducer.  It will make things significantly easier as you start out on your journey of LEARNING this oh so complicated and wickedly unintuitive hobby.  At this stage, the easier the setup is to use, the better.  That leaves you more time and energy to deal with stuff.  Ignore the "what do you want to image?" comments or internal thoughts.  It will be a good decision.

 

Get this essential book, you could never learn enough from short posts here.

 

https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/0999470949

 

Use the processing software you want to use.  But, using cost as a decision factor is not a good idea.  You have maybe $5000 invested in hardware.  Processing is half the deal.  Or MORE.  Worrying about spending 5% of your budget on processing software is not a good idea.   I suggest.  Getting one program that does it all, calibrate/stack/process, avoiding complications.  The usual suspects are Siril, Astro Pixel Processor (my recommendation) or PixInsight.  The actual cost of PI is NOT the paltry 250 dollars, it's your time and effort.  Did I mention that, right now, easy is good?  <smile>

 

The not so hidden secret about PI (which is what I now use).  PI does not magically process better.  It provides you with an unmatched collection of highly adjustable toola, so that you can process better.  If you know which to use when, and how.

 

This is the essential book for learning that.

 

https://www.amazon.c...g=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

It will get you started, but it's not anywhere near comprehensive.  Not because it's older (don't worry about that), but because there's only so much you can do with PI in 400 pages.

 

I'm not kidding.  <smile>  It's truthfully said that, if there are two ways to do something, PI has five.  That "you have to know which to use when and how" deal.


Edited by bobzeq25, 30 May 2024 - 10:53 AM.

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#13 pclevel1

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:38 AM

Another suggestion for free software would be ZWO ASI Studio. While I use Siril for my final processing work, ASI Studio has some nice features for using ZWO exclusive gear such as you have. Here's an info page: https://astronomy-im...an-it-bring-us/

 

There are Windows, Mac and Linux version available. Cheers.

I started using the ZWO apps that I downloaded to get setup, and like you will use Siril.



#14 pclevel1

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:40 AM

Advice.

 

Start out with the 60 and the reducer.  It will make things significantly easier as you start out on your journey of LEARNING this oh so complicated and wickedly unintuitive hobby.  At this stage, the easier the setup is to use, the better.  That leaves you more time and energy to deal with stuff.  Ignore the "what do you want to image?" comments or internal thoughts.  It will be a good decision.

 

Get this essential book, you could never learn enough from short posts here.

 

https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/0999470949

 

Use the processing software you want to use.  But, using cost as a decision factor is not a good idea.  You have maybe $5000 invested in hardware.  Processing is half the deal.  Or MORE.  Worrying about spending 5% of your budget on processing software is not a good idea.   I suggest.  Getting one program that does it all, calibrate/stack/process, avoiding complications.  The usual suspects are Siril, Astro Pixel Processor (my recommendation) or PixInsight.  The actual cost of PI is NOT the paltry 250 dollars, it's your time and effort.  Did I mention that, right now, easy is good?  <smile>

 

The not so hidden secret about PI (which is what I now use).  PI does not magically process better.  It provides you with an unmatched collection of highly adjustable toola, so that you can process better.  If you know which to use when, and how.

 

This is the essential book for learning that.

 

https://www.amazon.c...g=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

It will get you started, but it's not anywhere near comprehensive.  Not because it's older (don't worry about that), but because there's only so much you can do with PI in 400 pages.

 

I'm not kidding.  <smile>  It's truthfully said that, if there are two ways to do something, PI has five.  That "you have to know which to use when and how" deal.

Certainly appreciate your input, you just made me a little smarter. I'll also check out the links you have there.


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#15 GoldSpider

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 02:28 PM

You won't regret going heavier on the mount.  The only suggestion I have is to find some way to secure the tripod in some way or add some weight to it.  It all looks a little top-heavy for my taste!



#16 ShiftSix

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 02:45 PM

Went to a smaller setup myself and jumped on the AM3 as well. 

Finally got it all setup and under some clear skies and holy cow its amazing how much easier the ASIAir, AM3, and their ASI cameras work together.  First time out and going in blind I think I got the cameras focused, mount polar aligned, guiding calibrated and imaging started in under an hour while still being completely unfamiliar with the app or where stuff was located.  

 

I was too excited to let it sit on one target for long so I only grabbed a few images on each, but it was a fantastic night and test of it all.  (of course its been 2 weeks of cloud cover since) 

 

53757200647_37ab8db750_c.jpg

 

OP, do be careful.  I need a pier extension for mine, I do believe I could run the camera into the tripod leg if I'm not careful.   You might be in a similar boat and need to add the pier extension, so don't leave it unattended if you're not sure. 

 

Screenshots from the ipad. 

53758286993_0759e5e503_c.jpg

 

53758286283_d2683310d7_c.jpg

 

I have nearly the identical setup.  I too just completed it and I'm excited to see what you're able to capture in the weeks and months to come!

I have the AM3 mount and and a AT72ED-II scope instead, but the guide and main camera's are the same as yours.  EAF is soon to be added.

Wishing you all the best as you start out!!

 

~J


Edited by ShiftSix, 30 May 2024 - 02:51 PM.

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#17 pclevel1

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 03:17 PM

Went to a smaller setup myself and jumped on the AM3 as well. 

Finally got it all setup and under some clear skies and holy cow its amazing how much easier the ASIAir, AM3, and their ASI cameras work together.  First time out and going in blind I think I got the cameras focused, mount polar aligned, guiding calibrated and imaging started in under an hour while still being completely unfamiliar with the app or where stuff was located.  

 

I was too excited to let it sit on one target for long so I only grabbed a few images on each, but it was a fantastic night and test of it all.  (of course its been 2 weeks of cloud cover since) 

 

53757200647_37ab8db750_c.jpg

 

OP, do be careful.  I need a pier extension for mine, I do believe I could run the camera into the tripod leg if I'm not careful.   You might be in a similar boat and need to add the pier extension, so don't leave it unattended if you're not sure.  Looking at the pier extension, possibly the pillar opposed to the cylinder. 

 

Screenshots from the ipad. 

53758286993_0759e5e503_c.jpg

 

53758286283_d2683310d7_c.jpg

Nice... You are much further ahead than me. I was Polar aligning and trying it out last night, but the clouds got in the way. Not clear at all here in the FL Panhandle. Detected stars, no plate solving though


Edited by pclevel1, 30 May 2024 - 03:19 PM.


#18 JEPott

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Posted 31 May 2024 - 06:49 AM

Went to a smaller setup myself and jumped on the AM3 as well. 

Finally got it all setup and under some clear skies and holy cow its amazing how much easier the ASIAir, AM3, and their ASI cameras work together.  First time out and going in blind I think I got the cameras focused, mount polar aligned, guiding calibrated and imaging started in under an hour while still being completely unfamiliar with the app or where stuff was located.  

 

I was too excited to let it sit on one target for long so I only grabbed a few images on each, but it was a fantastic night and test of it all.  (of course its been 2 weeks of cloud cover since) 

 

53757200647_37ab8db750_c.jpg

 

OP, do be careful.  I need a pier extension for mine, I do believe I could run the camera into the tripod leg if I'm not careful.   You might be in a similar boat and need to add the pier extension, so don't leave it unattended if you're not sure. 

 

Screenshots from the ipad. 

53758286993_0759e5e503_c.jpg

 

53758286283_d2683310d7_c.jpg

Agreed, very easy to set up and use, even when not familiar with the app.  I had everything up and working on mine in about 45 minutes and was able to start imaging - just running a few tests.  Last night I did notice that my main camera was running VERY close to one of the tripod legs and this morning I ordered a pier extension - Seems to be a necessity on this setup.

 

Here's a shot of my setup before my first polar align and test run.

 

Setup

 

Hoping for more clear skies!!



#19 pclevel1

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Posted 31 May 2024 - 09:40 AM

I used my backyard shed last night to get familiar with my new setup. Had to run an extension cord out there, but it worked for a direct line to Polaris. Eventually I'll be positioning some concrete pads for the tripod legs outside. My house also blocks most of the light pollution from the street lamp. The clouds cleared enough that I was able to PA and autorun the system. Hopefully I'll get electric out to the shed in the next month or so for imaging when I'm home.

IMG_3290.jpg


Edited by pclevel1, 31 May 2024 - 10:19 AM.

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