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semi-sentient
2004-May-04, 04:52 AM
After several months of crappy weather and an unfortunate schedule, I finally got a chance to setup my telescope properly and use my new toy: the Meade LPI Imager (http://www.meade.com/autostar/lpi.html). In the past I had only been able to set my telescope up on my balcony and couldn't really polar align it because my balcony faces SE, so it was difficult to use the camera and take decent pictures because I couldn't track anything. In addition, it seems that almost every weekend for the past several months has been cloudy. The pictures below were taken in the parking lot of where I work, and although there was significantly less light pollution than my apartment complex, I still had to deal with parking lot lights. This weekend there will be a Star Party about 30 miles outside of San Antonio in a very dark area, so hopefully the weather will be nice and I can give it another go. I haven't collimated my scope in a few months either, so that will probably bring out even more detail.

Anyway, here is my telescope (http://www.celestron.com/prod_pgs/tel/c10ngt.htm):
http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/my_telescope1.jpg http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/my_telescope2.jpg

Specifications:
- 254mm (10.0") Newtonian Reflector Optical Design
- 1200 mm f/4.7 Focal Length
- Adjustable 2" Steel Leg Tripod with Accessory Tray/Leg Brace
- Right Ascension and Declination Setting Circles
- Slow Motion Control Knobs on Both Axes
- 2" Rack & Pinion Focuser with 1-1/4" adapter
- Telescope Weight: 83 lb.
- Celestron Dual-Axis Motor Drive

The Moon: I took this picture as the Sun was setting because I wanted to spend the darker portion of the evening focusing on the planets. I didn't use the LPI for this one. Instead, I held my digital camera up to the eyepiece and took the picture without flash and on "night time" mode. I'm pretty happy with the results on this one and I think it was by far the best picture (quality) of the night.
http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/the_moon.jpg

Venus: I took this one with the LPI just after sunset. I knew that it would be difficult to get a good shot because Venus is so bright, but I thought I'd try anyway. I decreased the brightness slightly (using Fireworks) because there was too much glare. I tried playing with the contrast also, but no luck.
http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/venus.jpg

Jupiter: This is the planet that I was looking forward to "shooting" the most. As you can see, there isn't very much atmosphere detail at all. The reason is that I did not use any filters because, well, I'm a beginner and didn't know any better. Next time I will try both my red and blue filters and hopefully get better results. In fact, I'm quite sure I will. I was able to capture the Galilean moons, but I cropped them out because they were barely visible. I decreased the brightness on these slightly (using Fireworks) and it did bring out the atmospheric details just a little. I also used a 2x barlow when taking these.
http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/jupiter.jpg

Saturn: The surprise of the night! I think these images came out quite well, and I didn't even have to adjust the brightness/contrast on them. These were also taken with the LPI and without a filter. I will no doubt be trying out my yellow filter on Saturn in the coming weeks. The leftmost image was taken with only the LPI and the remaining were taken with the LPI and a 2x barlow.
http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/saturn.jpg http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/saturn_2x_barlow1.jpg http://www.dolem.com/images/first_light/saturn_2x_barlow2.jpg

...

And there you have it. For those out there who think "basic" astrophotography is difficult, you should definately give the Meade LPI a try. If an ignorant beginner such as myself can come up with these, I'm quite sure anyone else can as well. One thing I will note is that these are all single images, and not "stacked" images. I will try doing that this weekend as well and that will no doubt bring out some amazing detail. If anyone has any suggestions/recommendations/feedback, then I'd be glad to hear them.

\:D/

Musashi
2004-May-04, 05:04 AM
That is awesome! =D>

Wolverine
2004-May-04, 05:41 AM
Very cool! 8)

I'm very much looking forward to building up enough experience (and gear) to pursue astrophotography.

Lastnight, just for grins (and since the Moon was really wrecking my night otherwise), I thought I'd try to grab an image through my binos. While the detail isn't the greatest, I was rather surprised by the results from doing something so primitive as holding the camera lens up to a binocular eyepiece. :lol:

http://home.austin.rr.com/victorsvaliant/retouchedmoon.jpg

I cleaned it up a tad in PSP, perhaps a bit too much, but all I know is that I've really got the bug to do a whole lot more in the future, through actual gear. :)

AZgazer
2004-May-04, 05:50 AM
Very nice, very nice. :D
I currently can't take pics of my own so I will live vicariously through yours, so keep 'em coming!

AZgazer
2004-May-04, 05:52 AM
You too Wolverine!!! I haven't seen anything but clouds here in Champaign for a month, so I will take all the awesome pics I can get!

tlbs101
2004-May-04, 07:17 PM
Your picture of the moon is upside down. :o


Just kidding :wink: (I do know why.)

Those are pretty awesome pics for your first night out! Good job!

orangeSCT
2004-May-04, 10:22 PM
..........And Backwards :wink:


Great pics guys. Your luck with hand holding a digital camara to the eyepiece has been much better than mine. (Although I did get a couple of half way decent shots of Mars at the last opposition, you can kind of tell its the red planet :lol: )

semi-sentient
2004-May-05, 12:45 AM
Wolverine: Great shot! I had to take about 10 pictures with the digital camera until I finally got one that came out descent. It was difficult to hold the camera still, especially since the scope was in such an akward position at that point.

iFire
2004-May-05, 12:57 AM
I have tried to get pics through my scope with my digital... do you have any suggestions on distance from the eyepiece and stuff? (I have a Fujifilm S3000)

The Bad Astronomer
2004-May-05, 02:51 AM
Nice shots of Saturn! You can even see the Cassini division.

Wolverine, your Moon shot is very crisp given that you used binocs. It's crisp given any optics! This makes me wish I had a 'scope again. Worse, I'm going to RTMC (http://www.rtmcastronomyexpo.org/), where there will be zillions of amazing telescopes, and I'll want to get one. :cry:

jt-3d
2004-May-05, 04:51 AM
I tried some shots through my scope tonight. I list the effort in the Miserable Failure category.

Wolverine
2004-May-05, 11:06 AM
Wolverine: Great shot! I had to take about 10 pictures with the digital camera until I finally got one that came out descent. It was difficult to hold the camera still, especially since the scope was in such an akward position at that point.

Thanks!!!

I really appreciate the kind words from everyone, and MoMo, I wish I had your gear! It took me quite a while just to acquire my 15x80 binos, but someday I'll be 'scope-equipped like yourself. 8) (Man, this is gunna be an expensive hobby, lol)

In my case, I'm thinking I got lucky... the pic I posted above was the only shot of the Moon I managed to snap that night -- I literally did nothing more than adjust the exposure time as best I could, center the Moon in the rearward display, and snap the pic.... and the batteries went dead immediately thereafter. It was my first and only attempt.


Wolverine, your Moon shot is very crisp given that you used binocs. It's crisp given any optics!

:o Holy cow, does this mean I'll finally be getting my long-awaited key to the Paid NASA Debunker lounge/restroom? \:D/

Just kidding, of course -- however, I'm truly honored by your kind words. :)

Kaptain K
2004-May-05, 11:26 AM
Man, this is gunna be an expensive hobby, lol
All hobbies are expensive! :roll: Or at least, they can be. A hobby will suck up all the money you throw at it, and still there will always be something you really, really want that is just out of reach.

Wolverine
2004-May-05, 11:39 AM
Man, this is gunna be an expensive hobby, lol
All hobbies are expensive! :roll: Or at least, they can be. A hobby will suck up all the money you throw at it, and still there will always be something you really, really want that is just out of reach.

I'm a guitarist of 20 years. Now, what were you saying? :lol:

Kaptain K
2004-May-05, 04:58 PM
Man, this is gunna be an expensive hobby, lol
All hobbies are expensive! :roll: Or at least, they can be. A hobby will suck up all the money you throw at it, and still there will always be something you really, really want that is just out of reach.

I'm a guitarist of 20 years. Now, what were you saying? :lol:
I'm a (semi-retired) soundman of almost 30 years. It is one of the reasons I do not have a scope at present.

George
2004-May-05, 05:19 PM
And notice he just has "binos". :)

I have 3 guitars but no picture to add to this, apparently, Texas astrophoto treasures (and I have a scope).

BTW... Those shots are really cool! 8)

skrap1r0n
2004-May-05, 07:58 PM
Very cool! 8)

I'm very much looking forward to building up enough experience (and gear) to pursue astrophotography.

Lastnight, just for grins (and since the Moon was really wrecking my night otherwise), I thought I'd try to grab an image through my binos. While the detail isn't the greatest, I was rather surprised by the results from doing something so primitive as holding the camera lens up to a binocular eyepiece. :lol:

http://home.austin.rr.com/victorsvaliant/retouchedmoon.jpg

I cleaned it up a tad in PSP, perhaps a bit too much, but all I know is that I've really got the bug to do a whole lot more in the future, through actual gear. :)

:o :o :o

Ok well... pthphphph.

I didn't even THINK of holding the camera up to the lens, although I DID get a piece of paper and held it about a foot away from the pupils and focused a dual image of the moon on the paper.

Will have to try the hold the camera up to the pupil thing tonight, weather permitting. I wonder If I can get NEAT? would have to take a TON of Pics and stack them. I may try that tonight. Take 100 pics and stack them each with 1% alpha. hmmm...


Edit/
LOL Wolverine you play guitar TOO? sounds like we got LOTS in common, although I do not have 20 years under my belt.

Russ
2004-May-06, 08:38 PM
I was looking at the Sun yesterday through my scope and tried taking a picture throught the eyepiece. (there were a couple of cute sun spots) I couldn't get the image in focus. I used my eye to focus the scope and then tried to focus the camera on that. All I could see through the camera was an orange blur. I tried using my zoom (35-135mm) lens with a macro focus ring which allows focusing on really close things. I still flopped. I tried focusing at infinity, still an orange blur. I tried all of my various lenses, all Meade Super Plossles with and without a barlow. All got me the same blur.

WHAT AM I DOING WRONG????!!!!

Just for reference, I have:

Meade LX-200-10
f10
FL: 2500mm
Thousand Oaks Optical aluminized glass Solar filter
Eye Pieces: All Meade Super Plossle 40, 26, 9.7 mm
Barlow: Meade 2X


(edit to correct some really stupid typos)