Saturday, December 22, 2012

TMB Planetary II

Ordered three TMB Planetary II eyepiece with relatively long eye-relief, adjustable eye-cup and also wider than standard field of view, the quality is very nice!

Actually, what I really want is the 4mm to be used with my Ranger for planets and moon.  The 7mm and the 9mm will be up for sales very soon, expect good pricing like $50 USD shipped.

New in box.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012-10-24 Sun

I've sold my NGF-CM recently and also my only 2" eyepiece, so I am falling back to 1.25" built-in focuser of my Ranger, doing manual focusing as well.

taken at prime focus, using ebay CaK filter together with Baader 3.8.  This filter is sold soon after this shot was taken.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Using a Lumenera with a camera lens

I have an adapter on hand and why not give it a trial?


 So, here is the result:

So a camera lens can do pretty good, and it may even serves as a telescope in that case.

Monday, September 03, 2012

2012-09-03 Sun

20120903, 1411 (GMT+8), ebay CaK filter, Baader 3.8, Lumenera Lu070M, Ranger at prime focus.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

20120714 Sun

Lumenera Lu070M, ebay CaK filter used, Ranger with original focuser, mounted on Gitzo G106 with Manfrotto 410 head, no tracking.

Prime focus (1519 GMT+8):-

With 2x barlows, (1521 GMT+8):-

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A new small adapter: camera lens as telescope

It allows us to connect an eyepiece, or a CCD camera to a camera lens.

For the eyepiece end, it features a nice thumb-screw with compression ring.

And for the camera side, it has a standard Canon EF/EF-S mount. 

I've tested it straight through with an eyepiece, and it reaches infinity focus without problem.  If a star diagonal is used, one must insert an 2x Barlows in front of the diagonal.

When used with my Canon 200mm f2.8L, it works as a rich field scope in the straight through configuration.  With a diagonal is inserted together with a 2x Barlows, it works as a nice medium power 70mm refractor.

I can offer these small adapters at $49 USD each airmail shipped.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cabinet clearing sales

Package deal: $500 HKD takes them all! 

Individual items price reduced, all reasonable offer will be entertained, just don't want to waste all these stuff.

Canon EOS to 1.25" nosepiece adapter, bought from ScopeStuff, ask for $180 HKD, connect your Canon DSLR with a telescope with 1.25" focuser.

SkyAtlas 2000.0 Deluxe Version, ask for $180:-

And the inside, a pen is placed along side to see the size, it's really a good visual reference!

Next is a 70mm doublet (f=500mm) mounted and with 77mm thread, suitable for macro imaging which brings the closest focusing distance down to less than 500mm. Ask for $100 HKD.

Celestron Nexstar mount parts, the gears were still available at $80 HKD as shown below, the bigger one was about 6" in diameter and the smaller one was 5".  Someone said they have "24 pitch teeth".  The bigger one has 288 teeth and the smaller one has 240 teeth. The central bore is 22mm. (SOLD)

Another custom machined 2" to 1.25" adapter, it's pretty heavy and could be good for balancing light weight 1.25" eyepiece and heavier 2" eyepiece. With two locking screws for added security.  Ask for $50 HKD.

Originally for my Gitzo G1415 when I lost one of the spikes on the legs, so I still have two remain. I've sold my G1415 and now they're sitting idle... very hard to find in Hong Kong and even the distributor refused to order them for me. Ask for $100 HKD.







Friday, June 08, 2012

2012/06/06 Venus Transit


1. Canon 450D + Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L, (Kenko 2x sometimes used) with Baader 3.8
2. Lumenera Lu070M + Tele Vue Ranger + Thousand Oaks Type 2+
3. Gitzo G160 + GOTO Mark-X with DIY motor and mounting accessories

Location: Nam Cheong Playground (南昌公園)

First up is one of those earlier shots, taken with the Ranger setup, the focus is less than perfect since I found that I've to push up the brightness of the display in order to show clearly under strong sunshine despite I was already using an umbrella.  Battery life was greatly reduced in that case, so I'd rather save the energy for 3rd and 4th contact.

2. So we did a fast forward and now it's close to 3rd contact, I've fine tuned the focus this time.

3. This is just a hair before 3rd contact and there is no obvious black drop effect.  I would say black drop effect is not a must and it's probably a combination of suboptimal optics, atmospheric issue (seeing), less than perfect focus, etc.  Even with only 70mm of aperture, the thin line between the planet disc and the solar disc was resolved nicely.

4. This is the 3rd contact.

5. The moment passed 3rd contact, notice that the atmosphere of planet Venus was shown protruding outside the solar disc, I've pushed up the exposure to make it clearer.

6. Venus was getting out further, the atmosphere arc was shown better.

7. The moment just before the 4th contact, I have to add an arrow in order to see the last trace of transit.

8. This is the 4th contact, but it's virtually the same as if there is no more transit, since this is the moment when the planet disc was completely out of the surface of the solar disc.

Second set was taken with my Canon 450D setup, and it's less than perfect as expected.  I should have used the Thousand Oaks filter with this setup in order to optimize the Ranger setup, but I was not smart enough to do so.

1. This is the earliest one, even earlier than the Ranger setup since I can do it handheld without much setup. 

2. Cloud kept rolling in briefly and away, and it's not too bad to have cloud around especially when it's just oh-so-hot!

3. For most of the time it was boring so I've skipped those moments and let's go to where it's closer to 3rd contact.

4. Black drop effect is about to appear...

5. The infamous black drop effect!  I believe it's not the quality of the optics for this particular case, but stacking actually help to eliminate the effect of atmospheric seeing!  That's why those images taken with the Ranger setup is sharper.  Day time seeing is even more unstable.

6. Planet disc was getting away...

7. The moment just before 4th contact.

Finally, I include a few snapshots so as to remind me of the hot moments under the strong sunshine.

There are over 30 passerby who observed and chatted with me on topics like simple planet knowledge, solar physics, cosmology, politics, education system, eschatology, camera, old days of Hong Kong, etc.  Around 5 people spent more than half an hour with me, and 10 of them came back periodically to check up the moment of Venus!

World without strangers for astronomy!

The ballhead side of the Mark-X is not easy to use for 400mm shots, so I will have to re-center it periodically and it's not a good exercise, so I pull it off and use it handheld with a Kenko 2x, since I'm using Baader 3.8 and the sunshine is strong enough even at f/11 with ISO 100, at faster than 1/2000s shutter, handheld is never an issue.

For those who are careful enough, you will see now I've a bigger umbrella and a piece of paper on the floor.  Those were given by those passerby to me!  

 My legs were darkened afterward and it's a nice morning indeed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Venus Transit Observation Plan

Observation Plan:

1st contact: 0611
2nd contact: 0629
3rd contact: 1231
4th contact: 1249

1. due to the high potential of poor weather during the 1st and 2nd contacts, I will skip that.  Also, if I were to do high power imaging, it could be hard to point at exactly the right point given my manual mount.

2. I will go to a nearby location to capture the rest of the transit until the 3rd and 4th contact, and since the dark shadow of Venus will be already in the view, it would be easy to point at exactly the right point even with a manual mount

3. I should be there before 9:00


1. Baader 3.8 + CaK + Ranger + Lu070M with netbook: this will only be used when it was close to 3rd and 4th contact, I will record that for half an hour... like from 1225 to 1255, a 2x barlows should be used.

2. Canon 450D + Canon 100-400mm + Thousand Oaks: this will be used all the time, maybe used with a time lapse cable at 5 minutes interval

Things to note:

1. Fully charged netbook
2. Fully charged batteries
3. All sorts of cables, in particular for the Lumenera, power, etc
4. Mark-X tracking mount with a ball head and slow motion control
5. Umbrella + water

Monday, June 04, 2012

20120604 Sun

Cheapy CaK with Baader 3.8, Ranger with 2x barlows, no tracking.

Full disc mosaic, 1454 (GMT+8):

With 2x barlows, drift and expand stacking, 1455 (GMT+8):-

With 2x barlows, drift and expand stacking, 1456 (GMT+8):-

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Annular Eclipse Planning and Execution

Transportation: N216 Overnight bus

Target location: Tsim Sha Tsui (Star Avenue)

The sun will be going up with the moon at 5:41, so I should better get there before 5:30 since I will need some time to setup my tripod.  And if I want to take along with my EQ mount, I will need even earlier.

Going out before 5:00 seems a must.

Annular eclipse would be from 6:06 to 6:10am

Eclipse ends at 7:16am when the sun is hanging at around 20 degrees.


Canon 100-400mm with 450D on a fixed tripod, Baader 3.8

If there is a high chance for cloud penetrating shot, the Canon 200mm f2.8 might be good.

For landscape shots, my kit lens might be nice too?  Fisheye seems too wide to see the eclipsed sun?


Weather very bad, extremely windy but no rain.

I think of a modified quote:

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Skill will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Equipment will not; the world is full of powerful idling equipments.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

You know why?  It's very real especially when the key is about timing, or in Chinese: 時不利兮。

Monday, May 14, 2012

20120514 Sun

1443-1444 (GMT+8), mosaic of two, taken at prime focus of Ranger, ebay CaK filter:

1446 (GMT+8), With 2x barlows:-

With 2x barlows, b/w version of the above:-

Monday, May 07, 2012

2012-05-07 Sun with ebay CaK

All in false color:-

Full disc in CaK, with Baader 3.8, Ranger, Lumenera 070M:

With 2x barlows:


Again with 2x barlows: