Sunday, October 8, 2017

Star Hop HR219 A Double in Cassiopeia

I am trying to learn how to start hop and use my equipment.  I have planned out a very simple hop, one I am sure I can do but the goal is to practice. I want to verify the field of view (FOV) that I generate with AstroPlanner.  The software is very powerful and has many options and it will probably take me some time to learn how to use it but the planning is probably the most important part.  

My first target is a double start in Cassiopeia, shown below. 

Below it the actual "hop" shown in green.  This is the view as it would look through my finder with a FOV of a little over 4 degrees.

To see the full plan see my OnNote page StarHop_HR219 

Monday, September 18, 2017


A few folks from work are going to join me for a small star party!  Here are the plans:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Epsilon Lyrae - ε Lyr - The Double Double

Yep, I have the Astro bug again thanks to Eclipse 2017 (see last post).  This time I decided to hold off on the imaging, that adds an extra level of competency and I think I need to cover the basics first.  With that in mind I decide star splitting would be a great way to learn.  

I set out to split “Epsilon Lyrae - ε Lyr - The Double Double” and to my delight, I was successful!

When I first heard about “star splitting” some time ago it sounded lame, but I will say I enjoyed it very much.  I was able to really see the difference between my long and short refactors.  That was the real goal, learning the limits of the equipment, understanding what equipment is the best for the task a hand and unexpectedly learning how to better use Stellarium so the ocular views are more realistic.

I did not take pics but here is a link to my planning and observing notes which shows what it looks like in Stellarium.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse 2017

The company I work for decide to have an outing with food and drink to watch the Eclipse.  The more I thought about it the more I realized how big of a deal this was so I thought I should try to pull out my telescope.  I haven't had it out in years but still I thought I would see what I could do.

All this was very last minute and I did not realize the entire country was out of solar filters.  Oh well, I took my scope anyway because our company ordered a package of viewing glasses and I was hoping they came with a small camera filter that I could somehow uses.  Well, no luck. I decided to use the only thing available, viewing glasses.  I cut the viewing glasses in half and cut a hole in the small center cap of my telescope lens cap and covered the hole with one eye piece, like a monocle for a telescope.  It was a inch hole over a three inch telescope but the Sun is very bright, I don't think it hurt at all. Actually it probably helped stomp down a bit and reduce the light.

It has been years since I had my telescope out and hooking up all the pieces was a challenge.  But I eventually got my mount setup, hooked up to my PC running with all the software for my camera and GO-TO mount.  Actually the GO-TO mount was not really necessary.   My homemade finder scope worked just fine and the RA tracking was all that I needed to track the Sun with a rough alignment.  Good thing because I have no idea how I would really align it during the day.

I pointed my mount roughly North, pointed the telescope at the Sun, hooked my Canon camera to the end of the telescope and wired it up to my PC and had a local "live stream" of the event for the folks at the outing.  I even took some pics.

It was much fun and I was very happy that it all worked.  I did almost no planning and before that day had never pointed my telescope at the Sun.  I am now getting excited about my Astronomy stuff, I think I got the bug again!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Finally a good night

It was a Tuesday night and the sky was clear. I decided to go for it even though I had work in the morning. I was eager to try out my coma corrector lens. Everyone on the forum told me that my 8 in astrograph reflector was my better telescope, I have been using my smaller 80mm (3in) refractor. I like my refactor but was having trouble with the very dim galaxies and on paper the 8in should do much better. However I was not having much luck with it. Well after asking around I figured out that I needed to buy a coma corrector lens. This is because the astrograph is very fast f/3.9 and the curved image on the flat DSLR sensor created stars that looked like little comets. The coma corrector fixed that as you can see in the pics for this post.

I did not have a target already selected because this was an unplanned night. I scanned down the list of targets and I had to decide. One targets with many subs, or several targets with much fewer subs? I decided I did not want to put all my eggs in one basket and went for several targets that night with the idea that I will select the best and delicate an entire night to re-image it later.

Well I am very happy with the results and I think I can still do better with the equipment I have. It is nice to see some progress finally!

M1 Crab-Nebula

M1 Crab Nebula
8in Astrograph reflector, guided
14 frames (ISO: 400) - total exposure: 28 mn 0 s
Dark: 10 frames (ISO: 400) exposure: 2 mn 0 s


8in Astrograph reflector, guided
22 frames (ISO: 400) - total exposure: 58 mn 40 s
Dark: 5 frames (ISO : 400) exposure: 2 mn 40 s


8in Astrograph reflector, guided
13 frames (ISO: 400) - total exposure: 34 mn 40 s
Dark: 5 frames (ISO : 400) exposure: 2 mn 40 s

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Travel rig for upcoming trip

This rig weighs in at about 30lbs, with a non-computerized astronomy mount fixed on top a traditional camera tripod. 
Travel rig with camera only.  This might be a more realistic setup for a trip to CA.

I am going to Las Vegas for a work conference and hope to stay a few extra days to do some star gazing. I went through my stuff and tried to come up with a rig small enough to pack in my carry-on luggage. The pictures above is what I came up with. I got lucky and was able to easly pop the head off of my camera tripod and attach the head from my pier extension. The skyview pro is perfect; it is light and only takes four D batteries to drive the RA. It is not computerized but I plan to do wide field stuff. I am hoping to go someplace dark enough to get a nice Milky Way picture with my camera’s telephoto lenses. At that wide of a view and with the skyview mount I should be able to expose for a min or so (not sure). This guess is based on the fact that I was able to take a good 30 second exposure with my Orion ED80 refactor telescope. If I can, with the help of my skyview mount, expose for 30 second with a telescope I assume I could get close to 60 seconds without. In the end, I may not need to expose that long anyway but I would like to know what to expect my maximum to be. I will try taking just a pic with my camera before I go and update this post but for now the Moon is bright in the night sky and I don’t feel like trying my telephoto lenses. I did however take a practice 30 exposure with my ED80 just to see if I would get star trails and the results were pretty good.

Test shot of random section of Orion. This is a 3X30sec subs taken to test tracking of my travel rig.  Not bad, no star trails!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Making the best of a bad night

The weather has been so bad for so long that I went ahead and did some imaging tonight even though conditions were not that great.  I started with M81 which is small and dim.  That was not going that well so I switch to M45 which is much brighter, but by that time that a thin fog like layer rolled in.  If you google images of M45 you will see just how poor my image is.  On the up side, I got a new guide scope and used the night to learn a little more about my tracking.  I just found that PHD has graphs that are better than the EQMOD guiding graph.  More on that later…

M81 and M82 - Mode's nebulae (Galaxy)
M81 is near the center towards the top (galaxy face on like a pancake)
M82 is in the upper left (galaxy edge on like a cigar)

M45 Pleiades
There are supposed to 7 bright stars with a lot of nebulosity but this just looks like a small "big dipper" :-)

Overall Summary

Target: M81
Type: Galaxy
Magnitude: 6.90
Size: 0 deg 25 min 42 sec

Target: M45
Type: Nebula


M81 and M82 - Mode's nebulae (Galaxy)
M45 Pleiades

Taken on my back patio in Powell Ohio.