How to Image on a shoestring budget

24858 views
42 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    October, 2010
Posted by BAZ PEARCE on Thursday, April 28, 2011 3:29 PM

Hi John,

My setup consists of 5 separate buys.

1. Celestron Astromaster 130 EQ MD telescope, with 10 +25mm EPs and a Moon filter. The shop also added a free 15mm Celestron Omni Plossl EP (its the best 1 i have so far. The red dot finder is useless so it was removed, but it's mounting makes a great place to secure my solar filter so it cant blow off, The motor drive needs a new battery almost straight away.

Cost £140.

2. An LP filter, 6X20mm finder and a cleaning kit containing brush/ air blower, lens cleaning fluid and tissues.

Cost £30.

3. Starter scope EP upgrade kit, containing a 2X Barlow, Meade MA20 +12mm, and a Kellner 6mm EPs. The 6mm isnt very good at all, even on daytime terrestrial targets.

Cost £30.

4. A4 sheet of Baader solar filter film. Enough to make a full aperture solar filter, also some for my 12X50 binos. Some insulation tape, gluesticks and new scissors.

Cost £20.

5. Philips SP880NC webcam + adapter for prime focus imaging. Tested the A-focal image today on a mill a couple of miles away today and got a very good picture just holding the cam to the 20mm eyepiece. Worth a try at Saturn later with it taped to the 15mm. It can also fit to the piggy back mount on my tube rings.

Cost £32.

Adding £25 for 2 sets of cheap binoculars and £8 for another standard webcam to experiment with. The total cost is so far £285. However i'm not finshed yet, I need a set of planetary filters, and a hydrogen-Alpha. A Celestron Omni 32mm plossl EP, an 8-24mm zoom EP, a better 2X Barlow and a 3X too. They in total will cost around £240. I also want a laptop to get out to darker skies for imaging.

I used the Moon filter to reduce the glare of the Sun further than the solar filter to bring out the spots on screen and aid focussing and the barlow lens for double Magnification. Camera was set with lowered brightness, and very little gain. Exposure was at 1/250th, frame rate seemed unimportant but had it on 30fps. I would line the scope up then let the Sunspots drift through the FOV whilst recording. With Registax i would throw out anything less than 50% quality, once aligned, optimised and stacked. Under the wavelet tab, i raised layer 1 to 100% 6 at 60% and 2-5 staggerred in between 1 and 6 which sharpened up the image very well. Under the final tab, i used the HSL settings to bring out more contrast, lowering the brightness and saturation. Finally i resized the image to 200% and saved as a TIF file. 

The whole process took about 25-30 minutes in total.

Hope this will be of use to anyone starting out with a small budget.

All the best,

Baz.

  

 

British weather don't half suck!

Celestron Astromaster 130 EQ, 80mm utilityscope.

6mm K, Celestron 10mm, 15mm OMNI, 12, 20, 25mm Meade MA EPs. APO 3 speed Barlow lens.

Solar, Light pollution, 11, 12, 23A ,82A Baader ir/uv cut filters.

Philips SPC880NC webam with 1.25" adapter, 0.6 reducer 10X50, 12X50 (BAK-4) sports bino

  • Member since
    November, 2009
Posted by Poppa Chris on Thursday, April 28, 2011 3:43 PM

johnjohnson

Another way to check to see how the Sun will fit in the FOV is to go out on a full Moon night and zoom on it with the camera and 250mm lens. The Sun and Moon cover the same arc minutes of sky. If the Moon frames well at 250mm the the Sun will also.

I did some daylight shots of the Moon awhile back (they're posted around here somewhere) so I can look at them to check image size.  I guess I could always crop the image and expand the final photo size a bit, as long as I don't overdo it and start losing sharpness and detail.

 

---Poppa Chris---

Denham Springs, Louisiana USA

"Second star to the right - Then straight on until morning!" - Peter Pan

Celestron CPC1100GPS (XLT) - 279mm aperature, 2800mm Focal length. (f10) Celestron Ultima LX (70deg AFOV) Eyepieces 32mm thru 5mm, Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, Backyard EOS imaging software, Orion Star Shoot Planetary Imager IV, Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars

 

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Eastern SD.
Posted by johnjohnson on Wednesday, May 04, 2011 9:23 AM

Baz

Thanks for the exceptional break down on your equipment investments.That sort of information will certainly help other imagers get off to a good start and what they can expect of their equipment.

JJ

20" F5 Obsession, OMI mirror .987 Strehl. 10" F4.7 reflector. 6" F5 ST reflector. 120mm F7.5 EON. 80mm F11.3 guide scope. SkyWatcher EQ-6 Hyper Tuned.   Flicker Astro Site   More Astro Images

  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • From: Vancouver, WA
Posted by WABarry on Friday, May 06, 2011 10:31 PM

Your 6" reflector, a Sky View Pro mount and the Canon camera are all you need to take reasonably good deep sky photos.   The secret is longer exposures.....and longer total exposure time. 

I have not used the Sky View Pro (or a clone) but I suspect if you took some extra time to get it as precisely POLOR ALIGNED as possible, you could increase your exposure times to somewhere close to 60 seconds and still get round stars.   I use a Celestron CG5, which is no great mount.  Properly polar aligned I can sometimes get 2 minute exposures without guiding.....always at least one minute.

Really good polar alignment should greatly improve, if not cure drifting issues, and oblong stars.  Not sure if the Sky View Pro has a place for a polar alignment scope.   If so, they are relatively cheap and something you will use for years and years.

Not a thing wrong with your top photo that more time wouldn't fix.   Try doing 3 sequences of 20 x 30 seconds......giving you an hour of exposure time.   Deep Sky Stacker is free, and it will adjust for rotation.  Be sure to give them each a different file name.....m31 a, m31 b, m31 c, etc.   Then load them all into your stacking program.

I managed to get pretty good photos with a cheapo Orion ST80mm and a Canon XT....no guiding....but despite it's bright center, M31 needs time.....at least an hour from an urban site.

10 inch classic Dobsonian, Orion 150mm f/5 imaging Newtonian,  Celestron Nexstar 4se OTA,  Orion 80mm short tube refractor,  Celestron CG5 GoTo mount,  Canon 350D DSLR (unmodified),  ToUcam pro II 840k,  Orion Starshoot II color,  Orion 9x63 binoculars

  • Member since
    June, 2010
Posted by attheeyepiece on Thursday, July 07, 2011 12:00 AM

Super Shot!

John

John K. - Meade LS 8 ACF, Orion XT6i, Celeston Ultima 8 PEC

At The Eyepiece - Talk Radio for Backyard Stargazers!

At The Eyepiece - My Blog

  • Member since
    March, 2010
Posted by shstar56 on Friday, July 15, 2011 6:32 PM

 

Thanks much, JJ, and again, I forgot to click on the "notify me" button....geez....I'll get it right yet...

Donna

DONNA

Nextar SE 8

Neximage

Eye Pieces: Celstron PLOSSL 2X barlow, 6 8 13 17 25 32 Orion 20mm Illuminated Centering Eyepiece

 Meade F 6.3 focal reducer

Filters O-III moon 21 56 58 80A 12 25 

Meade DSI II Color Imager

 

 


  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Eastern SD.
Posted by johnjohnson on Tuesday, January 03, 2012 5:45 PM

An update on the 6" ST imaging scope. It's been awhile since I have done any imaging but got a chance on Christmas day 2011. Here is a link to the report.

More Imaging with the 6" ST reflector

JJ

20" F5 Obsession, OMI mirror .987 Strehl. 10" F4.7 reflector. 6" F5 ST reflector. 120mm F7.5 EON. 80mm F11.3 guide scope. SkyWatcher EQ-6 Hyper Tuned.   Flicker Astro Site   More Astro Images

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Eastern SD.
Posted by johnjohnson on Sunday, February 05, 2012 3:02 AM

This has really nothing to do with Imaging..but it was bugging the heck out of me. Got tired of looking at that stupid Celestron NexStar SLT Beige paint on the guide scope.

I removed the dovetail and plugged the holes and painted it with gloss black epoxy paint. Looks much better to me.

The mount might get some black epoxy next!

JJ

20" F5 Obsession, OMI mirror .987 Strehl. 10" F4.7 reflector. 6" F5 ST reflector. 120mm F7.5 EON. 80mm F11.3 guide scope. SkyWatcher EQ-6 Hyper Tuned.   Flicker Astro Site   More Astro Images

Moderator
  • Member since
    January, 2006
Posted by Kevin Bozard on Tuesday, February 07, 2012 9:22 AM

A nice looking setup John, it looks a lot better without the beige. Smile

"Good friends are like stars, you don't always see them, but you know they're always there."

kevinbozard.com

Equipment (so far): C6R-GT, C 80ED, Orion XT8, Orion XT10, Coronado PST, Zhumell 20x80 Binos

  • Member since
    January, 2004
Posted by tkerr on Tuesday, February 07, 2012 10:28 AM

Kevin Bozard

A nice looking setup John, it looks a lot better without the beige. Smile

 

Ditto,,   I bet it works better outdoors too. Smile, Wink & Grin

Have A Nice ...
Find me on Google Plus
Equipment: Orion XT10 Classic, Celestron C6 R-GT (CG5 GT mount), C80ED Canon EOS 350D, Canon EOS 50D, Meade DSI II Color CCD, Phillips SPC900NC

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Eastern SD.
Posted by johnjohnson on Wednesday, December 25, 2013 2:14 AM

I recently purchased a new Canon EF 75-300mm III lens and tried it out on my economy Vixen great polaris clone mount. This inexpensive lens ($200) looked very promising. I tested it out by taking 30 subframes of M31 unguided, but tracking, at 30 seconds each. The result was OK.

M31 ISO 12800 30 sub 30 sec. ea:

I now wanted to try this lens out but wanted to extend my exposure time into the minutes rather than the seconds. This would require that I guide the camera. I didn't want to piggy back the camera as I wanted to keep this set up as light and portable as possible. I had several parts laying around and didn't want to spend $150 or more on a side by side set up. So I had an extra dovetail, some rings, an extra tripod camera shoe and miscellaneous hardware. Using a few pieces of 1" X 1/4" thick aluminum bar I concocked this little contraption.

Side by side camera and guider bracket Top View:

The Bottom View:

A Side View:

With Camera and Guide Scope mounted:

Attached to the Mount showing clearances:

And a couple of shots showing the set up on the mount.:

Now I am ready to test this set up out while guiding. Hopefully I will be able to get 2 or 3 minute subs out of this old mount as it has been modified with an ST-4 guide port. The whole bracket assembly with cameras and lenses weighs about 5 pounds.

I hope the images are pretty explanitory if you are interested in whipping one of these up for yourself. Now if it would only warm up and clear up! More images to come soon (I Hope).

 

JJ

Links for parts:

Shoe

Dovetail

Rings

Ace hardware for aluminum stock and assorted brass, stainless steel nuts bolts and plastic caps.

20" F5 Obsession, OMI mirror .987 Strehl. 10" F4.7 reflector. 6" F5 ST reflector. 120mm F7.5 EON. 80mm F11.3 guide scope. SkyWatcher EQ-6 Hyper Tuned.   Flicker Astro Site   More Astro Images

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Eastern SD.
Posted by johnjohnson on Saturday, December 28, 2013 6:09 AM

Got a chance to try out the new guide scope and camera bracket on 12-26-13. Due to the location I shot from I started out shooting M45 near Zenith. Things went real well...so I thought. The mount guided flawlessly. PHD never complained once. I made some bone head errors though. First I forgot to set my ISO back down from 6400 (used to focus) to 800! I had also forgotten to check my white balance from the last time I had used the camera. It was set for shade instead of auto. The camera and lens had been out side in 20 degree weather for about an hour before I began shooting subs. Somewhere along the way of the imaging session it hit dew point. Not realizing this I pressed on with my shooting. I started out with 1 minute subs. Then 2 minute and 3 minute. I took 30 subs for the 1 minute and 2 minute groups and 15 subs for the 3 minute. I noticed about 3/4 of the way through the first sub group that I needed to refocus the lens so I did, never once glancing at it. Refocus seemed ok, so I pressed on. I did not realize that a thin layer of frost covered the primary lens.

Here is what I could salvage of a wasted night of imaging and all that could go wrong. These images look over processed as I did my best to get rid of the huge circle of disspersion caused by the frost. It is 22 subs of 1 minute each at ISO 6400 for both. I went back and forth with Photo Shop and Canon Digital Photo Professional, even tried some Gimp in there also. I was trying to process out Frost, incorrect white balance, and high ISO for the objects I was shooting! The Stars are large and bloated due to the frost, Color is off due to the white balance and star cores are totaly saturated due to the high ISO.

I was shooting M42 when I realized the camera lens was frosted over! I wish you all could have seen the look on my face when I first saw it as it was priceless! I won't quote the explitives I used at the time.

Here are the results after many hours of stacking and restacking and processing.

M45

M42

JJ

20" F5 Obsession, OMI mirror .987 Strehl. 10" F4.7 reflector. 6" F5 ST reflector. 120mm F7.5 EON. 80mm F11.3 guide scope. SkyWatcher EQ-6 Hyper Tuned.   Flicker Astro Site   More Astro Images

  • Member since
    November, 2009
Posted by Poppa Chris on Saturday, December 28, 2013 9:21 AM

Set side by side setup looks pretty much like "piggy-backing" to me.  Just without the main scope.   Nice use of odds and ends! Thumbs UpThumbs Up 

---Poppa Chris---

Denham Springs, Louisiana USA

"Second star to the right - Then straight on until morning!" - Peter Pan

Celestron CPC1100GPS (XLT) - 279mm aperature, 2800mm Focal length. (f10) Celestron Ultima LX (70deg AFOV) Eyepieces 32mm thru 5mm, Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, Backyard EOS imaging software, Orion Star Shoot Planetary Imager IV, Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars

 

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook

Loading...