Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Imaging Source cameras (installation)

Installation procedure was pretty straightforward. First connect camera with USB cable. A note "New HW detected" will appear on screen. Also notification "Problem detected ... might not work properly" is seen, ignore this one. Start software installation from the disk supplied. First select "Install driver" -option, then continue with "Install IC Capture.AS". When software is started, the live image from camera shall be visible.
I used two "targets" for testing, sample grey card and a small stamp. Both were imaged with MF Nikkor 55/2.8 lens attached. I ajusted gray card exposure to get three "spikes" visible on histogram. I still need to play around with camera settings, to get a best estimate for first astro imaging session.

Camera is equipped with 1.25"/C -adapter. In my William Optics SCT grayford focuser 2"-1.25" adapters brass compression ring is bit too wide for 1.25"/C adapter. Hopefully this does not cause any problems "in the field". There is another ring (C/CS adapter?) also in camera, this I do not need in my imaging setup.

Now I only need clear skies, weather forecast looks a bit more promising. Clear skies were estimated at night between friday and saturday...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Imaging Source cameras (order completed)

Yesterday I have picked up my new planetary camera DMK31AU03 from local post office. It's meant to replace my SPC900NC -webcam.
The ordered package contains camera itself, software disks, USB cable, C->1.25" adapter and Baader 1.25" UV/IR blocking filter. Thanks to Ylva and Miikka for a good deal...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nikon EH-6 secrets, part 5

Here is the view to a bottom sticker at Nikon EH-6 power supply:Described are - input voltage range, ouput voltage and current (13.5V, 5A) and also pins of power connector.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Moon imaging

Image from the archives.... Soon after midnight at 4th September 2009, full moon was near enough for composing it with urban landscape (tower of local church).Clouds passed by occasionally, totally blocking visibility. I had to move my tripod to new position after few minutes. Attached frame was the best composition I got. Image was taken at Espoo, southern Finland.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nikon EH-6 secrets, part4

Recently Nikon annouced D3s digital SLR, with fast frame rate for pro users. Interesting camera, you can always dream of it :-) D3s is compatible with EH-6 external power supply.

Imaging Source cameras (order placed)

Last winter I got frustrated of fiddling with my SPC900NC. I did not get good combination to camera settings. In many occasions, strong banding interference was visible on raw video. After stacking it was awful to watch.

After considering choices between Lumenera, Imaging Source and Point Grey, I decided to go on with Imaging Source. Model I chose was DMK31AU03. For planets I would have had enough field of view with model DMK21AU04, but DMK31AU03 offers slightly wider field of view for sun and moon (used with C8 OTA). I now start without separate RGB filters, to get familiar with camera and it's controls. Hopefully the camera and software proves itself worth of investment. The camera (plus UV/IR block filter) should arrive soon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Evening rainbows

This week one evening rainshower offered a possibility to photography. FMI testbed map provided radar data to follow movement of rainshower, useful application indeed. Most importantly, it is free !

First image was taken with Sigma 4.5/2.8 lens, attached to Nikon D200. It was difficult to get the composition as you want it to be...
The image below, is taken with same D200 and diagonal fisheye (10.5mm/2.8 Nikon). This is the image I like most...
Soon the whole rainshower has passed by, and only parts of the bow are visible...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Nikon EH-6 secrets, part3

Status update: Nikon announced two new DSLR bodies, updated D300s and entry level D3000. Both of them are not compatible with EH-6 supply, instead EH-5 is required (4 pin connection to camera).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Atmospheric photos, exhibition at Tampere

Today I spend a warm summer day at Tampere -city. My main goal was to visit at Särkänniemi adventure park, to see what local photographers have collected for photo exhibition.

Nice images indeed, very nice... The bigger size in prints (usually above A3) makes a good photo, to really stand out from the mass. Intense noctilucent clouds on sky, calm water surface on lake. Contrast for every occasions.

If you have visit to near Tampere, I recommend to pop up at Särkänniemi, for this atmospheric photo exhibition. It is located there, in the hallway of the planetarium premises.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

EdgeHD: New SCT line from Celestron

Some preliminary information came into discussion forums already one month ago... Specs were not precisely published, by it now seems Celestron has added this EdgeHD line to their web pages.

Shortly, following changes have been done to redesigned tube:
-field flattener
-mirror locking
-tube vents
-white paint surface

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Full moon imaging

Yesterday was not a successful day, clouds blocked visibility at southern Finland. So no photographs then... Next possibility for full moon is on 6th August 2009.

Here's my last image of full moon at 9th May 2009. Moon is distorted by mirage effect (different temperatures at air layers). This I consider my best image of full moon.

In couple of weeks I should get some detailed explanation of this mirage effect, and some comments what I heard - it was not so typical to see distorted moon at relatively high altitudes like in this case. When I have feedback, I'll get back to this...

I made also a composite image, to clear out how moon shape was distorted. It was interesting to follow...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Saturn imaging (12th April 2009)

One image from the archives... I shot Saturn -at Vesanto in central Finland- with my C8 OTA & 2x Barlow lens. Used camera type was Philips SPC900NC. I had a lot of interference lines visible in stacked image. Periodic noise was needed to be removed with IRIS, postprocessing was done at Photoshop CS2.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Unsuccessfull moon imaging

This time I did not had a good luck... According to yellow almanac, full moon today was rising at 23:23 (in Helsinki region). I checked skies, but too much clouds on distant horizon to see the moon. I am going to attempt photography of "low moon" again, at 7th July 2009.

Friday, June 5, 2009

PC equipment updates

Since I will update my HEQ-5 mount to GoTo-option, I need a RS232 -serial connection to laptop. I have a already a USB-to-serial converter, but it only has a one serial port. So I have ordered DeLock PCMCIA -adapter card, providing 4 COM-ports. This would allow to connect a mount itself and two focusers -> one port would be still free.

Installation was pretty straightforward: plug in the card, select manually suitable drivers for win XP and final testing of card. To control panel, four COM -ports were added:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

HEQ5 mount Goto-kit

This I have put into order, from Telescope service. Estimated delivery would be approximately two weeks.

Main reason why a bought this, that in addition to planet photography I want to attempt autoguided exposures with Nikon D200 plus a short telelens -combination. I know there are many challenges in this world to come... Guider camera needs to be purchased also. Most propably I change my planetary camera to a certain monocrome model, from Imaging Source products. These models are also suitable for guiding cameras.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Equipment updates

Time to update my HEQ5 -mount... I was frustrated - especially in winter- when I hurt my fingers with original fixing screws on mount saddle (Vixen type). The separation is so small that it does not allow free thumbscrew rotation, without touching sharp surface of another screw.

So I have placed an order to ADM accessories, from their "D" -series:
-saddle adapter (EQG-SAD)
-two dovetail plates for C8 (DC8)
-dovetail plate adapter for camera head (DPA)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planet imaging - focusing methods

Couple of weeks ago I got my Bahtinov mask. It was laser-cut from approx 3mm thick black plastic sheet (thanks goes to Lauri K).

Purpose of this is to aid focusing, that can be pretty tricky sometimes. Mask is placed in front of C8 corrector cell. Then scope is pointed to bright star. Mask creates a visible diffraction pattern. Image on the webcam is followed, and focusing adjusted at the same time. When "line in the middle" crosses the intersection of "X-figure", focusing is correct. I was really suprised how simple and effective this tool is...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin)

I had a second planned attempt to visually observe and photograph this comet, at 15th March 2009. Skies were not clear, so that was it. Next opportunity, hopefully is at coming weekend (If skies are clear, that maybe would be 21st March).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin)

Today evening Espoo skies were not clear enough for photography, a layer of hazy clouds were on sky. I took a look at Lulin, with 15*70 binoculars. It was visible as a dim and fuzzy spot. Tomorrow I will check sky conditions again.

Comet is currently located at Leo -constellation. Comet brightness will decrease within next few weeks. Best information of this comet is on Seiichi Yoshida's pages.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Nikon D200 problems, part 2

Today I picked up my D200 camera from the service. It was a positive surprise to me... It has been repaired for free of charge.

Mirror mechanics had been replaced and adjusted. Also cleaning and camera final testing was included. Firmware was updated to version 2.00. When I looked the info leaflet, more was about to come... Also there was following items replaced, and again free of charge (!)

-grip rubber unit
-I/F side rubber unit
-bottom cover rubber unit
-front body unit
-rear rubber unit

During repairing, I told also to find out total shutter count. It was 3926 images, since I bought camera at 03/2006. Not very much... I should start using my camera more often.

Thanks goes to Nikon and JAS Tekniikka for a good service !

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Venus imaging

On second of February 2009 I had my C8 OTA collimated and ready for planet imaging. Venus was already too low on the sky, but I still was able to take an acceptable image. Below is one captured frame from video, showing clearly disturbances in the image.
Below is result of 219 stacked frames. Next time I need to do imaging, when Venus is higher on the sky. Focusing must be done more carefully, Bahtinov mask could help...
Additional information:
Date: 2.2.2009
Time: 20:17 (GMT+2)
Location: Karakallio, Espoo, Finland
Telescope: Celestron C8
Web camera: Philips SPC 900NC
Barlow: TeleVue 3x

Friday, February 6, 2009

Collimating C8 OTA

Couple of weeks ago I finished collimating my C8. I used previously built artificial fibre star and SPC900NC camera. I did collimation in the "basement premises", along the 25m long hallway. I also judged collimation with short focal length eyepiece. From my earlier planet images, I saw that the collimation was "way out" a lot... This causes loss of image details, and blurry edges to planets (like Mars).

I got a better collimation by ajusting one screw, approximately 1/5 turns. Images are taken without any barlow lens. Focus patterns - before collimation:
Focus patterns - after collimation:
In / out focus pattern is now much more symmetric and focused star appears without "comets tail" effect. When there is any need to tweak collimation, that is better to do "in the field"....

I also decided to make a test, is it possible to capture airy disk & diffraction rings. I got some... TeleVue 3x barlow was used. Image is stacked and resized to 400% of original size. Airy disk became visible, and first diffraction ring (although not uniformly). On some parts, there are traces of second diffraction ring (?) visible. The large faint disk around star, that I do not where it came from. If anyone knows, leave comments...
Two videos I also took of artificial star. Fist one with precise focusing (1) and second about disturbances in the video (2), caused by air movements.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Building artificial star

My C8 OTA needs a collimation process to be completed. I have seen some artificial stars usually made my pinching a small hole to a very thin metal foil.

I wanted to build a "prototype" of a artificial star, which had very small hole for light rays. I had some pieces of broken single mode fibre, which should be fine.

Both ends had a exposed connector (SC type if I correctly remember). Cable type designation was 10/125 - which means very thin core of optic cable. I put my small Maglite into other end of cable. With the beamwidth, I could adjust brightness of a artificial star.

I did not put all the things in enclosure. If have some extra time, maybe then...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nikon D200 problems, part1

Recently my Nikon D200 stopped to work. When exposing it for couple of hours to low temps, about -10C or colder, mirror does not return anymore into its original position. Another press of shutter returns mirror. No image was the saved to CF-card, upper LCD shows "Err" -text.

Today I finally had time to leave D200 to service at JAS-Tekniikka. Estimate of total service costs, that made 39 euros. More on that, at next week...