Archive for October, 2014

On the evening of the 27th October 2014 I spent the first two hours of darkness aligning the 3 Sky 90s to look at the same region of sky, and then focus training Sky 90(2) and Sky 90(3).

After the initial set up (a little more still needs to be done to get the chips on cameras 2 & 3 nicely flat) I managed to get some imaging done.

Due to its position in the sky, the Tarazed region was looking pretty good so I grabbed 15 x 15-minute subs on Tarazed and Barnard’s “E”.  Below is the result.  75-minutes of real imaging time or 3 hours and 45-minutes of effective imaging time.

Comments No Comments »

The missus kindly held up a piece of A4 paper this lunch time outside in a howling gale so I could project an image of the Sun onto it.

An 80mm refractor with a 5X Barlow was used.  Yes the image is upside-down just as it came out of the refractor 🙂

Comments No Comments »

On the evening of the 19th October I got a couple of clear hours before it clouded over.  Enough time to set up the Hyperstar and get an hour (4 x 15-minute subs) on the California nebula.  I had forgotten just how fast the Hyperstar is – a total of 1-hour’s exposure time only, but that is equal to five hours on a Sky 90 at f#4.5 I suppose.  Still, the Hyperstar is FAST 🙂

Comments No Comments »

Got today’s EPOD with the huge wide field of Altair and Barnard’s “E”.

Thank you Jim for continuing to publish our work 🙂


Comments No Comments »

You have GOT to laugh at our present pathetic Tory government here in the UK – well either laugh or cry buckets – it’s up to you.
I have just this minute seen on the TV a promise of putting “hit squads” in to sort out failing schools in the south – IF they are voted in at the next election.
This is to go along with giving us an “in-out” EU referendum – IF they are voted in at the next election.
And this also goes with building at least 100,000 new homes – IF they are voted in at the next election.
I’m sure there’s at least another half dozen promises – IF they are voted in at the next election.

OK I think we’ve got the message guys. You think we’ve all just got off the boat and you are pretty damn sure you are going to do dismally at the next election (so are we by the way).

Why not cut through the crap and just come clean??  
If you want to impress the hell out of us – AND stand a chance at the next election – rather than just talking about it, and promising us jam tomorrow, why not get on with the bloody job?

Comments No Comments »

The 3rd (and final) Sky 90 has been fitted to the mini-WASP array 🙂
I will now be able to get 12-hours of data at f#4.5 in a typical 4-hour imaging session.

Provided that I get 4-hours of clear Moonless skies of course.  Certainly won’t be tonight.


Comments No Comments »

It is possible to get perfect stars right across the diagonal of an APS-size chip such as the Starlight Xpress M25C or M26C – but only if your Hyperstar imaging system is in very good collimation.  Getting good collimation is not a trivial exercise, but once you have it set up then it only becomes a matter of very small tweaks if any mirror movement requires re-collimation.


The very first thing you must do is make sure that your imaging chip is perfectly normal to the optical axis.  For the Starlight Xpress cameras mentioned above there are adjustment screws to move the camera chip with respect to the front plate which connects to your OTA.  Starlight give a method here for getting the chip flat using a laser pen.  I have found that this method works extremely well and you can get precise chip flatness very quickly and easily once you have gone through the process a couple of times.  The only change I made to the Starlight setup was that I work in a vertical plane with the laser pen pointing upwards from the ground as using this geometry you don’t have the camera mounted sideways against gravity.  Being vertically mounted makes it a lot easier to maintain the camera flat against whatever rotation holder you use.


With the camera chip perfectly flat to the front plate, fix the camera to the Hyperstar and get a good focus.  I recommend the electric MicroFocuser and MicroTouch software for all your focusing.  You can do it manually, but it takes much longer using that route.  Get a good focus and take a 20-second image.


Unless you are extremely lucky you will find that stars towards the centre of the image look pretty good, but stars out towards the edge are “tailed” like comets – and this is the collimation needing adjusting.  You will need the program CCDInspector to get really good collimation, and to get a numerical feedback that your collimation is good – but the initial “rough” collimation is done by eye by referring to the image on the monitor.


Pick any one of the Hyperstar collimation adjusters and move it either in or out a touch, where a touch is no more than a quarter of a turn.  Retake the image and note the result on the outermost stars.  It will soon become obvious which adjustments “push the tail” of the stars up into the main star until you end up with a decent looking round star.  With the collimation adjustments made so that you can see you have decent round stars in all 4 corners, you are good to go, and you will get extremely good results from your Hyperstar – but you can fine tweak things a little better than your eye can pick up just looking at the monitor – and this is where CCDInspector comes in.


Take a 20-second image of a star field preferably without galaxies or nebulae in the field as these can “throw” the CCDInspector values out.  Put CCDInspector into arc seconds mode rather than giving “pixels” output, as this gives you more accuracy in the next part of the setup.  You will see values for the tilt in the X and Y directions, and the aim now is to get the smallest value you can for these.  The next adjustments of the collimation screws on the Hyperstar are TINY, no big movements or you will throw away all your hard work so far.  You now need to make tiny adjustments of the collimation screws on the Hyperstar and note their effect on the tilt X and Y values as you adjust them.  You will need to write these figures down as relying on memory alone, especially if you are working out in the freezing cold, simply doesn’t work.  You will also need to re-focus after each adjustment and this is why it is a very good idea to have computer-controlled focusing, otherwise this step will simply take far too long.  Make adjustments to the collimation screws to get the smallest values you can for the tilt in X and Y in CCDInspector, and don’t forget to refocus after each adjustment.  You will see that a natural by-product of small X and Y tilt values is a small value for the collimation and for the field curvature.  Proceed iteratively until you get the smallest X and Y values possible.


Finally, when you have managed to get the Hyperstar collimated as best you can, it is a good idea to then re-run all your V-curves for FocusMax so that they apply to your new, nicely collimated system.


That’s all there is to it – Happy Imaging J

Comments 17 Comments »

I have completed the initial experiments with the Canon 200mm lens piggy-backed on the C11, so yesterday I removed the kludge on the back of the C11 and re-instated the Hyperstar III – just in time for all the winter goodies.

The 200mm lens will go on the top plate of the mini-WASP with the other 200mm lens.  One lens will have an M26C attached, the other will use the Canon 5D MkII – all bases covered.

Cloud last night meant I couldn’t focus train and collimate the Hyperstar III – but from the images I did download I could see there wasn’t too much sorting out to do.

So final steps before we’re up and running again, focus train using FocusMax and collimate the Hyperstar using CCDInspector.

Then image the goodies 🙂

Comments No Comments »

There are 5 very nice Carbon stars in Andromeda that I would like to bag this month and this is the first I’ve caught – UY Andromedae with some nice faint fuzzies, and a couple of not so faint fuzzies.  Nice area of Andromeda, worth visiting with a decent telescope for a browse around.

Comments No Comments »

The mini-WASP array was again put into commission taking half hour subs of the Navi region of Cassiopeia – Navi is the central star in this image.  Nearby lies Gamma Cassiopeiae and its associated nebulosity.

Comments No Comments »