Thursday, December 05, 2013

20131205 Moon and Venus

They got really close, a 55mm lens in APS-C format:

Up close with my Ranger at prime focus, 1853 (GMT+8):

Overexposed to bring out the darker side, 1855 (GMT+8), 1/7.5s maximum gain:

Vertical artifacts could be seen easily.

I have shared the eyepiece view with my kids, they were amazed.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Getting back into the game!

I guess I will take the plunge to get back into the game, this is the plan in my mind.

First of all, I will do H-alpha solar imaging again by getting a filter set for my Ranger.  I will also need to get back myself with a JMI motorized focuser both for better focusing and more in-travel to allow the use of a reducer lens for full disc image.  Adapter has to be made to fit the Solarmax with my Ranger.

Secondly, I will need to optimize my Mark-X to get two scope/camera at the same time, or a counter weight on the other side.  A Vixen GP photo guider like adapter should be made, one side for the slow motion adapter and another side for a ball head.

Finally, I will be looking for a 100mm class ED refractor for visual observation.  This is the last step and I shall wait for good deal.  It will allow me to do better white light sun, some wide field night time observation, and visual planet or lunar observation or imaging.

That's above what I could do to sustain and remain myself in the hobby.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

20131203 Venus

With 5x Powermate, seeing worsen compared with yesterday.

Taken at 1811 (GMT+8).

Monday, December 02, 2013

20131202 Sun and Venus

Plenty of sunshine these days, and the sun is pretty active too.  Seeing becomes a little bit more stable and I would rate it as 3/10, transparency on the high side at 6-7/10.

Prime focus, taken at 1257 (GMT+8):-

With 5x Powermate, 1302 (GMT+8) and 1304 (GMT+8):-

Finally, I pulled out my 4mm to have a look.

And later on the same day, I take a look with Venus together with my family members and then took the following:-

Again with a 5x Powermate, 1817 (GMT+8).

The Mark-X tracks really well for over half an hour at 120x, still dead center.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

20131130 Sun

Call me a fool, I tried to overexpose the sun to scan around to see if I could detect ISON... of course I couldn't, but there is no harm and no cost.

The side effect was a sun image at prime focus:

Taken at 1224 (GMT+8).

Friday, November 22, 2013

Alternative power for my GOTO Mark-X

I've made a USB power interface with a broken extensible mouse cable previously:

And it works so far.  Under strong sun light, however, the solar battery will deliver from the solar panel directly and the current is not stable for that case.  Also, I found the solar battery might actually drain itself when the ambient light level is insufficient for charging!  Therefore, I want an alternative power supply.

For that matter, I've bought a couple of 18650 Lithium battery.  When two of them are connected in series, we have 7.4V which is enough to drive the system.  At 2400mm, this is more than enough for a whole night of tracking with just two.  And I've bought four of them, so it's more than enough!

The USB solution was kept in place.

And the dual 18650 batteries were sneaked at the back of the hand controller.

After testing, one set of batteries (i.e. two of them) could last for over 20 hours.  I've four on hand and thus it is sufficient for any purpose.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

20131118 Sun

Tele Vue Ranger, Baader 3.8 with Generic Green filter, tracked with GOTO Mark-X.

At prime focus, 1600 (GMT+8):-

With 5x, 1613 (GMT+8):-

With 5x, 1616 (GMT+8):-

My Lumenera Lu070M is dusty.  I looked at the sun briefly with the 4mm at 120x, not bad.

Friday, November 15, 2013

20131114 Moon

Tele Vue Ranger with 2x or 5x, Lumenera Lu070M at low gain.  Transparency 7/10, seeing 2-3/10, tracked with GOTO Mark-X.

Two frames stitched using autostitch, 2344 (GMT+8), with 2x barlows:

One more taken with 5x at 2348 (GMT+8), picked ~700 frames out of 3000, pushing gain to medium to allow faster speed to freeze seeing, most detail were still washed out:

I've pulled out my 4mm to watch for a while, the adjustable eye-cup is effective.  This is not an easy to use eyepiece, however, but not a problem to experienced observer.

Monday, October 28, 2013

20131028 Sun (and an accidental finding)

Plenty of sunshine today but we have cloud scattered around, visual observation is okay but imaging is an nightmare, I've to wait until clear moments.  Seeing, however, does not change and remain bad.  I would rate transparency at 6/10 and seeing at 3/10.

Imaging without barlows is easy, since moving cloud would be averaged out, taken at 1550 (GMT+8):-

With 5x powermate, AR1884 and 1885, taken at 1602 (GMT+8):-

With 5x powermate, AR1873 and 1875, taken at 1604 (GMT+8):-

All taken with my only telescope, Ranger with Baader 3.8 and a generic green filter, Lumenera LU070M, around 1/100s exposure with very low gain.

And I found the DIY DEC body manual slow control knob of my Mark-X could be used with a broken microwave oven switch!

 And I guess it will spend more of its life with the microwave oven than under the starry sky!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Garage sales continues

Package deal: $399 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 $200 HKD, connect your Canon DSLR with a telescope with 1.25" focuser.

SkyAtlas 2000.0 Deluxe Version, ask for $200:-

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

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.

Free stuff when purchase all:

One of those screw type cases was sent as free gift already, so two eyepiece boxes and a simple tripod is still available as bundled free gift:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

20131020 Venus

Thank you indeed, since you're still reading this.

I've given up most of my hobby by selling most of my stuff to support my life as a full time pastor.  I will not give it up, however.

After a whole day of services, I woke up after an involuntary afternoon nap and to my surprise, I saw a bright object outside.  I verified it to be Venus with my Zopo mobile phone.

I pulled out my Ranger, set it up on my Mark-X, with rough polar alignment, tracking at 2400mm (480mm with 5x Powermate) is simple.  Insert the Lumenera Lu070M, centering and focusing is hard but not impossible.  Manual focusing with the aged helical is a hard exercise.  Centering the object with eyepiece and replace with the Lumenera is not easy either.

Anyway, I got it...  fast shutter plus high gain to freeze seeing:

Taken at 1838 (GMT+8), I enjoy capturing this featureless venus with its beautiful phase.  I've viewed through the 4mm eyepiece for sure.

BTW, I've sold my Canon 100-400mm a few days ago. I will miss it forever, just like my H-alpha filter set.

Monday, September 09, 2013

20130909 White Light Sun

Tele Vue Ranger with Baader 3.8, green filter, Lumenear LU075M, tracked with Mark-X.

Only a tiny sunspot available.

Long time didn't setup my gear.

Monday, July 01, 2013

20130701 Cheung Chau, using a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L as a telescope

Visual observation basically,except I helped some of my friends to take images of the Milky-way area with the help of a tripod.

This is a camping event with the youngsters from the church.  This time I brought my Canon 100-400mm and used it as both a camera lens and telescope!  If we treat it as a telescope, it's just very compact and extremely portable, and it allows zoom. 

In order to use it with a diagonal, I've added a Tele Vue 2x barlows in front of the diagonal so as to give enough focus travel.  Given its 4x zoom range, it's versatile enough with just a single 20mm Widescan Type III.  Actually, I also had a 4mm TMB planetary with me, but I was too lazy to pull it out.  Before I went for this observation, I tried these combinations at home at terrestrial objects to make sure infinity focus is alright with certain image clarity.

Conventional estimation gives 3x in such a configurations of barlows and diagonal, so I have 15x with a real field like 5 degrees and it is huge!  Searching for target is rather easy, but I didn't bring any finder or zero power sight devices, so I need some scanning which is not exactly enjoyable with my 410 head.  Maybe due to the complex lens configurations, the view is rather dim at its widest.  Also, notice that the Canon 100-400mm has f4.5 effective focal ratio at 100mm, therefore, the effective aperture is just 22mm!  So technically speaking, it is a stronger reason why it was so dim.

Stars were basically pinpoint across most of the huge 80 degrees field, open clusters were well resolved but again, it's dim.  Pushing up the magnification does not give dimmer image  since it has more than 70mm effective aperture at 400mm.  Swinging it to Saturn reveals it's oval shape even at 15x, by pushing up to 400mm, we have 60x which has its ring resolved very nicely!

Conclusion: given its small effective aperture at 100mm, it is not really a wide field instrument but its wide field capability could make it serve as a finder of its own.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

20130618 Moon with Canon 100-400mm f5.6L with 5x powermate

Good transparent at 7/10, seeing 2/10, moving cloud.

Focus was off, since the computer screen was rather far away from my lens so I cannot adjust really accurately.

The shadow like double image was a result of such focusing inaccuracy, will do it again soon!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm dreaming...

I didn't come back for several months because I never had my hands on my telescope for some time.  Night time traveling could be quite difficult right now and day time observation is very limited, too.

Now, I wanted to buy a H-alpha solar filter for myself again.  Any good suggestions?

I've a single requirement: cheap, I don't need something powerful.

I don't mind 2nd hand, DIY, hacking or whatever.

Monday, January 28, 2013

20130128 Sun

1457 (GMT+8), taken with Ranger at prime focus.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013-01-21 Sun

Again prime focus and 5x:

1547 (GMT+8):-

1549 (GMT+8):-

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013-01-14 Jupiter

Didn't do planet for very long, especially now I only got a 70mm refractor.  But I asked myself, my hobby started with this 70mm refractor anyway, and that's also why I'm addicted, so here we go!

Armed with my Mark-X, I walked down stair to a nearby playground where I have some more skies.  Inside home for this particular season, I couldn't have Jupiter in a good viewing angle.  That's why I have to go out.  Now, I only got a Lu070M so I couldn't do color easily without a filter wheel, so why not just go monochrome?

So here is my setup, my trusty Tele Vue Ranger with its original focuser, with a 5x Tele Vue Powermate.  Tracking done with my GOTO Mark-X using a self hacked Tele Vue System mount motor.

My Asus Eee PC has its hard drive broken a few months ago and after replacement, I haven't run K3CCD on it yet so the initial setup wasted me like 10 minutes or so.  Cloud rolled in and I nearly missed the capturing chance!

I've viewed through it with my Widescan Type III 20mm which yields 120x, and I guess I should have brought my 4mm TMB with me!  Anyway, the disc is big enough for me, the purple fringing is okay, not too annoying.

Taken at 2331 (GMT+8, the left one), and 2333 (GMT+8, the right one), not bad indeed... I enjoy!

2013-01-14 Sun

Again at prime focus and 5x Powermate respectively:-

1637 (GMT+8):-

 1641 (GMT+8):-

2013-01-09 Sun

No time to process until today, first shot is at prime focus and the second one is with a 5x Powermate.

1550 (GMT+8):-

1555 (GMT+8):-

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2013-01-02 Sun

Continuing my solar imaging, first up is at prime focus, 1557 (GMT+8):-

Next two were taken with 5x Powermate, 1605 (GMT+8):

1607 (GMT+8):-

Finally, I pulled out my new acquired TMB Planetary II 4mm to have a look, very nice and contrasty, easy to view through with a wide apparent field of view!  The eye cup is very nicely designed (not good looking, however, a bit thin) for shielding out light easy at day time, eye relief is plenty. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013-01-01 New Year Sun

My Ranger has gone back to its original shape, the NGF-CM was sold earlier last year.  Solar imaging has been going back to basic in white light with Baader film, and cheap green 1.25" filter from China.

The first one was taken at 1454 (GMT+8) at prime focus:-

And the next one was taken with a 2x barlows, 1457 (GMT+8):-

These shots were taken with my Mark-X using a hacked Tele Vue System mount motor driven by a solar battery.  It's nice to harvest solar energy to do solar imaging:

 Lastly, happy new year!