Archive for the “Articles” Category

A few posts below I gave a procedure on collimating your imaging camera to a Hyperstar III.  On reflection I thought that this could be considered as so much “hot air” without results to prove the procedure actually works.  So a few nights ago I fired up the Hyperstar III and ran through the collimation procedure with a nicely flattened M25C OSC CCD.  I flattened the M25C chip using the procedure described on the Starlight Xpress web site.  The results of around 45-minutes of collimation adjustments are given below, and the results speak for themselves :)

A larger view of the results can be seen here:

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I am in the final stages of setting up a new imaging system based on a Canon 200mm prime lens with M25C OSC imager and a 52 mm IDAS filter on the front of the lens giving me f#3.85 and spikeless images :)  As it is that time of the year an obvious target for testing out the star imaging qualities of the rig is the Double Cluster.  With a horrendous sampling of 7.97 arcseconds per pixel it makes you wonder how it can even resolve stars – but clearly it does :)  Above the Double Cluster we see the rarely images Stock 2 open cluster, which looks like a stick man on his side.  And at the very top/left you can just see the edges of the Heart & Soul nebulae.

Only 16 x 5-minute subs for this one, and very misty conditions too, a LOT of water vapour in the air – however, as a bonus, there was no Moon.

I think this is going to make a good rig for those BIG winter nebulae.  It is NOT a good rig for those single bright star shots as there are terrible ghost flares from very bright stars, probably resulting from all that glass in the 200mm lens.  Well you can’t have it all I guess.

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A friend on one of the astronomy forums asked me if these would be any good for taking flats:

Any good?  They are utterly superb!!!!!!!!!!!!  AND they are cheap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AND you can get an A3 or even an A2 panel (also CHEAP) if you have a large aperture scope.

I think these guys may find they have an unknown market out there for their drawing light boxes :)

 

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In putting together the next book “Experimental Photography” I came across some unprocessed data from a while back.  It was Carbon star V623 Cassiopeiae or SAO23858 – a very nice Carbon star lying just below Pazmino’s cluster in the constellation Cassiopeia.

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I had an electric focuser lying around so with a pulley and timing belt from Radiospares I put together an electric focuser rig for the Canon 5D MkII and the 100mm macro lens that took the mega-wide-field Virgo/Coma galaxies shot.  If I find there’s mileage in this approach I will invest in a prime 200mm Canon lens which has a 72mm diameter lens (and I have an IDAS filter for this lens size).

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Simon Parkin and the Meridian Weather film team – together with satellite transmission van – did a live broadcast from the New Forest Observatory on 15/02/2013, the evening of the near miss flyby of the asteroid.  Here are a couple of stills from just before the live transmission.

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I ordered a Robofocus unit for the TS 80mm triplet APO last Friday after lunch – and it arrived at 2:00 p.m. today (Monday) – and that’s all the way from the States!!  Unbelievable speed of delivery – well done Technical Innovations Inc. that really is impressive.

So I knocked up an adapter to connect the Robofocus to the 11:1 fine adjustment knob on the TS 80 refractor – calibrated the Robofocus for the full length of travel – and I’m now ready to go.  Next clear night it will be fire up FocusMax to focus train the TS 80 :)

 

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Well I don’t think there is going to be much let up in the rain for a good few months now – I have just received a new camera for the Hyperstar III.  For quite a while now I have used the faithful Starlight Xpress M25C one-shot colour CCD on the HSIII – 6-Megapixels and 2.85 arc seconds per pixel sampling – it has performed flawlessly and provided some superb images.  BUT – there’s always developmental improvements at Starlight Xpress and as I now have quite a bit of experience using the new M26C cameras on the mini-WASP array, it became clear that this should be the new camera for the HSIII.  So I’ve leapt up from 6-Megapixels to 10-Megapixels and my sampling has gone up from 2.85 arc seconds per pixel to 2.1 arc seconds per pixel.  The Hyperstar III and the M26C are going to be a formidable combination.  Last night I managed to get all the software working with the new camera and the next job is to focus train the new system using Starizona’s Microfocuser system and FocusMax.  With the system focus trained for the new camera it’s then a matter of flattening and collimating the camera using CCDInspector (and FocusMax) – and then I’ll be all set for imaging again.  Really looking forward to putting the new combo through its paces :)  Guess I also now need to create a new Category for this web site – Hyperstar III and M26C CCD images.

 

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I was sitting at the computer yesterday (Saturday) typing out some rubbish or the other when for some unknown reason I suddenly twigged how those “Little Planet” images are taken.  So I grabbed the Canon 5D MkII and a fish eye lens and ran outdoors (between the heavy showers) and took this “Little Planet” view of the New Forest Observatories.  So the idea that just suddenly jumped into my head (from the aether) worked!!  How peculiar :)

I shall now overdo it of course and start taking “Little Planet” images of just about anything I can find.

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A number of people have asked me how many stars appear in the Cocoon nebula 3-frame mosaic.  I use a program called Registar to link separate frames together so I can see how they all fit – and Registar will also do a “star count” for the stars in the image (I don’t think it is accurate to the level of a star :) )  Anyway – Registar says there are 68,200 in this image – always turns out to be a LOT less than you would guess.

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