Sunday, 28 April 2013

Saturn opposition 28th April

Officially this is the brightest appearance of Saturn on the night sky, so had some free time to try hunt it down on a nice picture

as it was captured

and in larger

Light at the end of tunnel

I must say slowly I began to understand what to do and how. Still a long long way to go, but signs of improvement tells me that it's getting better.
The photos below were taken during April, but Registax and Photoshop are a must to get a fine result.




Saturday, 27 April 2013

Registax 6 tutorial

I found this tutorial extremely straight forward, excellent explanation how to start with Registax once installed on your PC.
Click on link below to open the video

Fitting Skywatcher SynScan Goto Kit

bits and pieces (and grease in the little white tube)


R.A. axis before fitting

 R.A. motor fitted ( Dec Out and R.A. in ports)

 everything in it's right place

 motor controller and hand control

  motor controller

 Skywatcher Power Tank 7A

and a video of it's operation (no scope and counterweights on)

How to convert .mov file to .avi file for Registax

In this post I'll explain my experience and troubles with video files taken with my Canon 600D.
Let's start at the beginning.
I've done my research on how to do the best pictures of the planets and the moon in our solar system. Surprisingly it came out that taking HD video is a better way than an actual photography. Than I first meet the software Registax, one of the softwares on the market which offers a fairly easy way to use those the recorded high quality frames (mine does 25 fps), sort out the sharpest ones and stack them to create eventually one fine photo.
I'd like to say it isn't easy, there was a bit of struggling at the start. The program didn't do the right thing at all.
Than it came out, that the .mov file (my camera records in this format) needs to be converted to .avi file. But not any kind of .avi, a special type which later can be used by Registax (I kept trying in the wrong .avi format and Registax was freezing all the time).
So everyone with Canon models, please follow the link/video below. It probably saves you a whole lot of impatient moments and disappointment.
The link is :
The guy (Ano Nimo) explains what to download, where to download from and what to do with it. I've done the same as it is explained and it solved my problems straight away.

Briefly Virtual Dub is the software to convert the original .mov file to .avi. But it requires a special codec, which allows Virtual Dub to be able to handle that special type of .mov file (Codec called x264vfw - H264/MPEG-4 AVC).
Once you managed to insert the missing codec to Virtual Dub, do not forget to do the following setup everytime you'd like to convert a video from .mov to .avi.

Open Virtual Dub. From menu choose select "Video", and from the sub menu "Compression".

Than choose  x264vfw - H264/MPEG-4 AVC codec and click OK.

Now you can choose the file you need to convert. Eventually "File" and click to "Save as Avi", choose the folder you wish to save to and once it's done you are ready for Registaxing.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Progress is on

As you can see slowly I get it, how to shoot and process images, videos. Registax is a huge help, but it wasn't easy to find out how to make it work. Still no 100% confidence, but at least something happens.

So here is an attempt of the Jupiter on the 19th of April. Visibility wasn't superb...

This one was taken on the 23rd of April. Looks better.

And the marvellous Saturn on the 21st of April.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mount drive hopefully sorted

After a month of waiting finally I could manage to sort out the drive for my EQ5 mount.
I'd like to say first of all that the dual axis drive (picture showned in previous post) is rubbish, if you had a thought to buy them DON'T, forget it!!! The manufacturer said it only works from batteries, no way to use it from a powertank, even the powertank is being capable to supply 6V. They also said, every time you plug it to a powertank, there is a 50-50% chance to fry the motors. So if you want to save yourself from a confusing and annoying situation, forget the dual axis drive.
What else than? Well the only option without doing some DIY is the Goto drive from Skywatcher. It is more expensive, the dual axis drive was £99.99 and the Goto drive is £319.00. The price difference is significant, but after reading many astro-forums the performance  should be significantly better as well (couldn't try it myself yet).

My only worry at the moment, that I have an EQ5 mount. There is a different version of equatorial mount on the market, called HEQ5 mount (H stands for heavy or heavier). I am doing astro photography and the EQ5 mount might be a problem, because it can't carry as much weight as the HEQ5 mount (I mean the scope, counterweights, finderscope, eyepiece, adaptors, camera). Half of the opinions said it will be okey, near to it's limit but okey. The other half suggest to upgrade to HEQ5, but no way I begin that procedure. I'll try to maximize the performance of my current equipment, use what I can and if that's not convincing.... Well I leave that problem for another day than.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Unfortunately no news about the faulty dual axis drive yet, but luckily the yesterday sky gifted me with this nice opportunity.....

This was the first time I could assemble the camera, the eyepiece projection adapter with an eyepiece in it and the scope with positive outcome. It was just sunning. Jupiter was blocked by a tree, although I tried to capture something but eventually it wasn't really convincing. So Moon was a pretty obvious choice after all.
I've been told the circumstances were extremely nice, you can't really see much turbulence during the video (vibrating air the results distortion eventually). Also as small portion of the Moon can only be seen, there is a higher possibility to find the right balance in terms of focus, exposure time, contrast and the object has a much more spooky shadow.  I guess it was the beginner's luck, so looking forward for the next chance.

A photo of the Moon in prime focus (only the camera, T-ring and the scope).

And the same photo in close up

Friday, 12 April 2013

First planetary photo

The best news probably since this blog exists. Yesterday after a not really promising cloudy dawn the weather finally cleared up and I had a little chance to catch Jupiter.
This is a photo (not a processed video turned into a picture), only a 2* barlow lens used to catch Jupiter.
Later I'll explain the techincal improvement that happened to me recently, in terms of astro-accessories (eyepiece projection adapter, dual axis motor) and software (Registax).


Skywatcher 200 PDS scope with EQ5 mount

This the first footage of a planet

Monday, 1 April 2013

Ursa Major (latin Larger Bear) or the Plough


As many of us are a visual type, just like myself - always found easier to learn constellations with smartphone  apps where the lines can be seen. So once I've learned it, took a photo on a fairly clear night from my garden and thought to draw the Orion on it. It wasn't as easy as I first reckoned but needs some concentration that's it.
Unluckily the building blocks the full view, but now it looks like The Hunter rises from behind it. Little addition that the Jupiter still can be seen on the right top corner, the brightest object basically.

Dual Axis Motors - The Misery begins

It's the 1st of April and the weather still in winter hibernation, not just in London but all around Europe. Something is definitely wrong with it, so nothing left but patiently waiting for the better and warmer opportunities.
Great news that I got the dual axis motor drive for the EQ-5 mount and a 7Ah Skywatcher Powertank to supply the sufficient amount of electricity for the motors. I've been so happy, but for not so long.
Unfortunately I wasn't sure how to use it, both I could manage to fit onto the mount properly.
But I didn't take the volts seriously and connected to the 12V output from the powertank. Later on I did find out that it was probably a mistake. Because this and only this type of dual axis motor drive on the current market runs from 6V instead of 12V...... I know it is written on the controller, but when I brought the powertank, the seller wasn't even aware of the fact it runs from 6V too. You can say it is his mistake, but I'm sure they not selling  loads and loads of this exceptionally unique 6V model.
Nothing really happened, ever since. Even that I bought the center positive 2.5mm 6V Dc-Dc extention cable, no reaction whatsoever. As the controller can be seen below, when it is plugged the LED in the middle (of the direction buttons) suppose to be green and whenever any direction buttons are pressed, LED turns red. Well mine is constantly red and no motor movement when buttons are pressed. No reaction at all. Now I am waiting for the Easter to be gone and begin to sort out what is the actual problem. Motors can be damaged, or the controller, or both. But probably something was already wrong with the equipment, cos I found some complaint about the motor drives and the controller, being a bit doggy.
Whatever the problem is, I want to sort it out.
Shame but I calm myself with the fact that the weather is unsuitable for astronomy anyway....