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Mark and Nigel Stronge Astrophotography

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November 2002

Hi, Mark and Nigel Stronge here with our first effort at astrophotography. The telescope we use is a Meade LX90. This is a 8inch SCT equipped with Autostar. The photos were taken using eyepiece projection with a 2x Barlow and a 26mm Plossl using a Digi-T adapter from Scopetronix to mount a Minolta Dimage 7 digital camera. We were experimenting with various techniques of taking photos.  We are still experimenting to see what techniques give the best performance but so far the atmospheric conditions have been our hindrance. These were the first photos that we have tried to take with the telescope. We are finding it difficult to focus using eyepiece projection and we may also try using a webcam as suggested in October's "Sky At Night".

 

Saturn 2020-11-12
Jupiter 2020-11-12
1st image of moon
Our 1st Saturn photo above was taken using the Dimage 7 movie mode for 60 seconds and then the frames from this were stacked using Registax software.
Our very 1st Jupiter photo shown above was taken using 3 single exposures of f3.5 1/10sec and then stacked in Registax.
Again, this was taken using the Dimage 7 with 5 images stacked in Registax. Notice the vignetting due to the large lens size of the camera. The large crater near the center is Bullialdus.

 

December 2002

We received our Philips TouCam Pro web camera (ordered from E-bay) and have found that it is very quick and easy to achieve good results with a minimal outlay. For more information on webcam astro-imaging, click here.

As our scope is a Schmitt Cassegrain, collimation is critical and over this month we have been adjusting and fine tuning the 3 knobs on the front of the SCT. If you think that your scope is collimated, then it isn't and you need to do it. As you can see from the images below, collimation has made a huge difference to our imaging. We are in the process of receiving an artificial star which will mean that we will be able to collimate without the hindrance of atmospheric conditions. One of the first things we got for the LX90 was a set of three collimation screws - these are thumb screws which remove the need of using an Allen key anywhere near the corrector lens.

2nd Wide field moon  

The large crater near the centre of the image is called Schickard and is about 134 miles in diameter, one of the biggest on the moon, beside it is the lava filled plateau called Wargentin which is about 55 miles across and rising to 1400 feet about the outer surface! Schiller is the long crater near the bottom, it is 112 miles in length and 60 miles wide.

(Thanks to John McC for his in depth knowledge of the moon).

 
Saturn 7
  10th image of Saturn
Good image of Saturn taken December 5th with the 8" SCT LX90, 2x Barlow, 500 frames recorded using a Philips TouCam Pro webcam using prime focus and then aligned, stacked and processed in Registax and adjusted colours in Paint Shop Pro.   Now, we are really getting into using the scope. After some excellent collimation work by Nigel, the scope's optics are showing what can be achieved. Seeing that night was quite good with little or no wind.

 

January 2003

Steady skies are now more important than ever and we found that out on Saturday 12th January. There was a huge halo around the moon but John asked us to try for Plato as it was at the terminator. We couldn't use a Barlow, focusing was nearly impossible and the whole image was like looking underwater. Nevertheless, we imaged at lower magnifications and had quite pleasing results.

To see what the moon looked like on 7th January through our telescope click here - just for fun.

Wide Field Plato
 
Jupiter 4th Jan,2003
You have got a lovely shot of Plato with the long shadows coming from the mountain Pico on the mare just below Plato, which rises to about 8,000 feet. The Alpine Valley also shows well to the bottom right. Also nicely visible are the "ridges" on the mare forming a rough square. JC   Our image of Jupiter above taken on the 4th January with good seeing is certainly better than before, but there is room for improvement. You can just see the GRS coming into view on the lower edge of the planet.
Our best Saturn yet
 

M42 - the Orion Nebula

Click Here for a larger version of the image

Good seeing helped us capture this image of Saturn and we are starting to see hints of the Enke division. This image was recently featured on the Metcheck astronomy page.

Below is a reprocessed image of the video avi using Registax version 2.1 beta. This software is going from strength to strength and is completely free!

This is our first attempt at deep sky. We purchased a MaxView40mm lens from Scopetronix which is specifically designed for larger aperture digital cameras like our Minolta Dimage 7. Tracking was not good as we are just learning how to get accurate polar alignment and the focusing wasn't good either. After using the MaxView40 during the day, we found out that we were not achieving optimum focus or minimum vignetting.
   

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Nigel and Mark with their sister Esther

Clear Skies
Nigel, Esther and Mark Stronge

If you have any photos or video of the sky at night that you would like shown on the EAAS website please get in touch using the e-mail below:

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