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#1    landscapecontractor

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 05:51 AM

Thought I'd say hi and show my (painfully obvious) amateur astrophotography pictures. I've been looking at the sky for some time but got into astro imagery just a couple years back. I took these with an old meade 10" starfinder on an EQ mount, roughly polar aligned, a meade DSI (deep sky imager)@prime. Recently I bought a new skywatcher w/synscan and auto guider which I havent mastered yet, next season should be a good one. I'm looking for some help with a new electric jmi focuser which I cant seem to get placed properly if anyone could help? Perhaps this isnt the place to ask? A link to a helpful telescope savy group would be appreciated wink2.gif
Anyway, here's the ones I've finished. Pardon the low quality and stardrift, yuk sad.gif  Like I said, my new mount fixes this original.gif however, some of these were my very first images. http://www.skyinsight.net/DeepSkyImager/gallery/DanBertucci
And this one was a three part fits image which I downloaded from ESA nasa and processed myself. I'm currently accessing the ESA archives, HUBBLE and MAST archives for my own hobby. Hopefully I can post some good ones sometime soon happy.gif
Anyway, this is the Eagle nebula. 3 fits images processed in fits liberator, slightly tweaked histogram and a little  photoshop for contrast and very light shadow enhance.. other than that its pretty raw original.gif
http://www.spacetelescope.org/projects/fit...bertucci_1.html
I hope this was the proper place to post this, its all I have for now wavey.gif

Edited by landscapecontractor, 16 December 2006 - 10:05 PM.

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"Man's greatest asset is the unsettled mind."  - Isaac Asimov

#2    explorer

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 07:56 AM



I'm impressed. Did you take those shots from an urban area. How much has your set up set you back? Who cares, you might just get a star named DanB.


#3    landscapecontractor

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 06:06 PM

Quote

I'm impressed. Did you take those shots from an urban area. How much has your set up set you back? Who cares, you might just get a star named DanB.

Actually those first pictures were taken with a lower end setup. The meade starfinder EQ 10" cost me around $500 used, the drive wasnt that great but still... Then if you ad the laptop which I use for my business (it doubles as my DSI camera platform) was $800 but many people already have that. The meade dsi camera which is capable of MUCH better shots than you saw on my page cost me $300.
I had the scope already so it all happened in smaller affordable chunks, but all in all I guess (minus the laptop) it only cost me about $800, however this could be done for cheaper with a smaller reflector scope. I guess it depends on how far you'd like to go with it.. I could easily spend 20,000.00 on this hobby, I just dont have the funds. The moon and the brighter planets could be imaged with little or no mount drive.
All the processing can be done on your laptop or desktop... If you have photoshop or similar then the FITS LIBERATOR software is free from ESA nasa page.
I just spent a bunch on a new mount which will widdle out the blurry stars which are mostly stardrift and periodical error due to a low end mount. The 10" scope/tube assembly now will go onto my new mount. So now, even with my brand new mount with drive and synscan/sky search, I'm still within $2,500.00 range.
All the images are backyard shots taken from bend oregon. Skies here are crisp when its clear. Its also very dry which helps seeing. I live somewhere between your standard trac home backyard and the country, we have some streetlights/porch lights but all in all, not too bad. I guess I'd say, some light pollution but not overly so hmm.gif
If I could spend 5 grand I'd be in astronomy heaven yes.gif

"Space travel is bunk!" - Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of Britain, 1957, two weeks before the launch of Sputnik!
"Man's greatest asset is the unsettled mind."  - Isaac Asimov

#4    landscapecontractor

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 10:06 PM

Sorry about that. it seems like that first link to skyinsight might have been goofed, anyway its fixed now unsure.gif

"Space travel is bunk!" - Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of Britain, 1957, two weeks before the launch of Sputnik!
"Man's greatest asset is the unsettled mind."  - Isaac Asimov

#5    frogfish

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 08:05 PM

Nice pics. Those are better than my. I only have a 8" Meade LXD-75. I also have the DSI, but for some reason it's not working.

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#6    girty1600

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 12:56 AM

Nice pics.  Welcome to UM.


#7    luminousphoenix

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 01:45 AM

Really cool!  thumbsup.gif


#8    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 01:53 AM

Nice pictures, and this is definitely the place for them.

I miss my 8" Celestron (the primary mirror needs some attention).

I never reached your standard of astrophotography. I also never used a CCD and relied on film. Living in the London suburbs doesn't really help, a lot of deep sky objects were out of my reach even with a sodium filter (I'm lucky if I can see the Milky Way more than 4 times a year).

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#9    landscapecontractor

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 07:44 AM

Quote

Nice pics. Those are better than my. I only have a 8" Meade LXD-75. I also have the DSI, but for some reason it's not working.

Thanks guys rolleyes.gif
Hang in there frogfish.. I may have an answer for you. I joined a DSI club on yahoo.com and it helped a lot. Also, make sure you have the update for autostar suite which makes it ver.4.

"Space travel is bunk!" - Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of Britain, 1957, two weeks before the launch of Sputnik!
"Man's greatest asset is the unsettled mind."  - Isaac Asimov

#10    landscapecontractor

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 08:59 AM

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Nice pics. Those are better than my. I only have a 8" Meade LXD-75. I also have the DSI, but for some reason it's not working.

OK, I'll assume you are familiar with FITS LIBERATOR, if not I'd highly suggest it, I could help you out. Get the software here: http://www.spacetelescope.org/projects/fit...wnload_v21.html (Its the same software the hubble people use, its free)
You do need photoshop which interfaces with fits liberator
If your already familiar, GREAT...
If you dont have this, or just dont want to mess with it thats ok, but you're stuck in BMP file format and its nowhere near the quality... assuming you're ok this far and not worried about the format or processing, I'll move to the procedure which works for me.

1. Fire up your system, scope and laptop early..atleast 1/2 hour before trying to image (some say more, some say less.. but this works for me). . Make sure to close all other running programs running by ctrl+alt+del  After you startup autostar suite and go to "live view" you can just walk away for a few....

2. Next choose from the image process menu "take darks". Also choose "auto align & combign" and on the right side of autostar window choose save process "save every composite image" and "save as FITS. (RGB is ok to, but not as good as fits). Check the "Dark subtracts" box. Check the "combine" box.

3. Take darks, the default settings are fine, let the "take darks" process finish completely. It will tell you to remove your lens cover. Sometimes I dont even have my camera attached yet, I'll take darks in a shoebox with the cap on the camera's lens.. It really doesnt matter where the camera is at this point, just that you do take darks before imaging.

4. I use my parafocal ring a lot to go back and forth between my eyepiece and my camera. I'll use my eyepiece to get my star or object close to centered on my FOV then I'll place my camera into the eyepiece holder.. the focus is different, YOU MUST focus again on your laptop screen for the camera. Sometimes you have to fine adjust the telescope to get the light centered in the middle of your laptop screen. It helps to run the "auto expose" first to. I usually roll the focuser back and forth untill I see starlight.. then back and forth until I get the best pinpoint of light I can get. Run auto focus again...

5. A bright object like the moon should image with the auto exposure settings. Usually I take between 20 and 60 images for one exposure of an object. You should faintly see on the screen what your imaging! If not play with the histo sliders to darken the background slightly.. be careful not ot darken too much. you can use the contrast if you uncheck the auto contrast.. but usually the auto setting is fine. Keep "gain" between 90 and 100 and offset at 50.. you can play with those later, for now you should get images of some sort of decent quality on your computer screen.
Moon pictures are quick sets. I'll take 20 to 50 exposures in somewhere around a minute.. my auto expose usually determines less than .5 second per exposure.. you can watch them stack in LIVE view, the picture gets better with every new image which automatically combines. Same goes for messier objects or deep sky stuff.. its just longer exposures which I usually bracket like in photography. I'll image orion at 2 seconds x 50 images, 3 seconds x 50 images, 4 seconds x 50 images etc, etc...
One possible reason you see gray images is your "process" which is setup initially? maybe you "save as all uncombined images", which is a more difficult process and gives you single uncombined grainy shots which need further manual work.
Check that initial setup and configuration.. run the camera for temperature acclaimation, then go. Like I said, you should see what you are imaging on your laptop, even if its faint. If your that far you're close. The combine process is needy if your not familiar.
This club helped me a lot:
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/DeepSkyImager/messages
It takes a little practice too, try lots of different settings once you find your getting close. You'll go through quite a few bad images before you get anywhwere.. join that yahoo group and read, it really did help a lot w00t.gif  gl, clear sky's!

"Space travel is bunk!" - Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of Britain, 1957, two weeks before the launch of Sputnik!
"Man's greatest asset is the unsettled mind."  - Isaac Asimov




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