First images with new camera

Over the last week or so I have got my hands on a second hand ASI120MC-S.
Designed for the sole purpose of producing solar, lunar and planetary images.

So far I have not had the best of seeing conditions but very happy with the initial images.

First lunar and planetary images

With the sky not really being dark enough for Deep sky imaging I thought I would take the opportunity to try out lunar and planetary imaging for the first time with this setup.
I managed to get another xbox live vision camera and removed the lens housing to expose the sensor. This was then attached to an old film canister to make a nose adaptor for the telescope.

My first target was  the moon. For this I used the camera without a barlow and attached it direct to the scope.
I took a quick look at the size of the image and decided to go for a complete mosaic, this was using 6 panels in total and 500 frames per panel.
Once all the panels had been completed I stacked them as individual panels and then brought them together in Microsoft ICE.

The second target I decided to have a go at was Jupiter.
This was taken using a 2x Celestron barlow. The imaging conditions happened to be less than ideal and seeing was terrible.
I managed to grab 500 frames in between clouds to make up the final image.
Seeing jupitor and its moons for the first time really was something special, I can that I am going to spend a lot more time on this.
first jupitorI am very happy with these images for a first attempt using the new setupand looking to get a better camera to aid in this type of imaging.

M81 and M82 (Bode and Cigar Galaxies)

Well last night I got my first image from the new setup.
After fine tuning a few settings I managed to get the guiding setup to a point where I was happy to start imaging for the first time.
There are a few bits to look at further and there is still room for improvement with my polar alignment.

The tool that I can honestly say is an absolute must have is the Bahtinov mask. this made focusing a lot easier. the idea being that once the centre spike is central then you are in focus.

Once I was in focus I set about dialing in the best exposure for the conditions.
The final image was taken using 24x180s exposures at ISO800, 8x Darks, 10x Flast and 10 Bias Frames.

M81 and M82 - Bode and Cigar Galaxies
M81 and M82 – Bode and Cigar Galaxies

Teething troubles and some DIY

Over the last week or so I have been taking another good look at the setup.
It started by taking another good look at my collimation. after using a combination of a home made eye piece from an old film canister and a Cheshire collimator I thought I had it pretty good. After coming across a video I was given an idea that would make life a whole lot easier.
I set about building a camera from an old webcam to make a camera that would aid in collimation.
After a little work I managed to get everything setup and managed to fine tune and tweak the collimation a little more than I could ever have done by eye.


I have been forced to take another look at my guiding setup and and think I may have found solutions to a lot of the issues that I have been faced with in my first few sessions.  Although I can see north, my eye sight is not 100% and the polar scope is very hard for me to see through.
I have set my self on using drift aligning to get a good alignment (better than I ever would by eye anyway).
My first few nights have been somewhat interesting. I had major issues at the start with calibration and then further issues with my drift alignment.
DSCF7551I got everything setup and seeing my first set of graphs I knew there was a problem. This I have since found to be a combination of things that I have set about putting right. Some are equipment related and some have been user related.
The graph and guiding really was all over the place, some of this I have put down to a combination of flex in my guide scope setup, some in various issues with my mount (Periodic error and backlash) and I have since found a lot also to do with the way that I am going about it.
One of the first things that I have done is strip the mount down and make take any play out of the worm gears and adjust everything.
This was not as bad as I thought but was worth doing to make sure nothing had moved during transit.
The next thing was address any possible flexure that I may have been having with my guide scope setup. This is something that I had been told about from the very beginning and though it was a good time to rectify the any possible issues that this may have been contributing to my problems.  A decent set of guide scope rings are not cheap and something I refused to pay that amount of money for.
I set about finding an alternative and came across a setup that looked to tick all the boxes. The setup involved a little DIY but has cost 1/10th of what it would have cost for a guide ring setup.

I am looking forward to getting out the next time and seeing just what a difference everything is going to make.
Going forward I am also going to be looking a better finder scope. the one that comes with the scope is fine but again due to my eye sight and using a full GEM trying to look through it can be taxing when the scope is in a number of positions