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Advice for a more mature Novice

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Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 12:57 on 2011 Feb 09

Hello Good Peoples :)I am a new member & total Novice, so please be patient with the undoubtably Dumb questions I'm probably going to ask now & then :)...I am at present looking to but a Reflector Telescope that is reasonably portable (will fit in boot of Puegeot 407) but one I can also use from home (connected to a computer) if possible.. I am a keen Photographer & so am also looking for a Telescope that I can attach my Panasonic DMC-FZ50(DSLR) to hopefully be able to take some Good Photo's of our very own Beautiful Moon, but also am hoping to be able to take some nice shots of the our other planets & deep space, Clusters,Nebula's E.t.c (not sure if on my budget I'll be able to get this though).I have been looking at three models of Telescopes at the moment & too help me decide wether I'm going in the right direction or I need to think again, I'm asking for Advice or knowledge known about thses particular models & wether they will be able to give me what I'm after?, IE: not only observing but taking of good photographs... It's one of reasons I picked these models as they say there is attachtment's for a Camera..The three models I've been looking at are :-SKYWATCHER EXPLORER 150PL (NEQ3 SynScan) longer focal length f/8SKYWATCHER EXPLORER 150P (NEQ3 SynScan) f/5SKYWATCHER EXPLORER 200P (EQ5 PRO) f/5 At present I'm favouring the 200P & at around £700 is pretty much my budget, but would appreciate anyone's Views or Advice before I spend that amount & not be able to do what I was hoping ;)..I'm sorry this has been such a long post & many questions, I've tried to keep it as short as I could but still give some reasonable info, but if you should need more info, please ask :)..Many thanks for your time, Take Care All :)Norman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Andrea Tasselli at 13:32 on 2011 Feb 09

Hi Norman,In terms of overall ability to take long exposures and overall decent telescope and mount I think the 200P the only one the fits the bill. This said I'm afraid you camera (which isn't a DSLR) won't be much of help as the lens can't be removed afaik. This said there are very cheap ways to accomplish at least some of what you're after by using a suitably and easily modified webcam (Philips SPC900) and taking short movies of the moon and the brighter planets. With further modification (less easily done) even the brighter and smaller of the deep sky objects are within reach.Going deeper and therefore fainter would require:1. A way to "guide" the main scope usually done using a smaller scope in parallel and another "guiding" camera to give the mount the correction in order to remove the small errors in tracking due to the mount main drive.2. A specialized astronomical camera of a true DSLR so that the lens can be removed from a the body and the telescope used in liue of said lens. The best camera for such a job appaear to be Canons and while they can be expensive older generation cmaeras such the D300 as still pretty good for astrophotography.Hope the answers above will help.Andrea T.

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 14:47 on 2011 Feb 09

Norman,Note that Philips SPC880 webcams (a SPC900 firmware upgrade is available free, or Morgans will do the firmware mod for you for £2.99) and adapter kits are being flogged by Morgans at the moment. Not as cheap as they were last year but still very reasonable. The SPC900s give very good results on the Moon using software and techniques readily (FREEly) available on the net, just google with somthing like Webcam Astronomy, SPC900, etc.I've not had a lot of success with planets. But others with more patience have. Just a couple of years ago they were state of the art at any (very amateur) price.see... http://www.morgancomputers.co.uk/shop/products2.asp?CategoryID=556The various (more info) buttons will lead you into a sea of information, I spent a happy couple of hours surfing this on Monday. Best of luck,Roy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 16:03 on 2011 Feb 09

Hiya & Thanks for the quick replies :)@ Andrea~~~ Thanks for those sugestions Andrea,Much appreciated :), You do realise I'm holding my head in my hands with shame now.... I forgot my Panasonic SLR didn't have a detachable Lens... What a Numpty I am.. Sorry about that.. I was thinking about my old 35mm camera which does have that.. Anyway.. many thanks. :)I've had alook around & although I can get hold of the Canon 300D I'm thinking of going with the Canon 1000D, simply because it's around 4 Megapixals larger than the 300D but only £60 dearer (for body only) & so i'm assuming I'll get a better image quality using the 1000D..I'm going to go with the 200P (I thought that would be the one as it has the 8") & gives me a better chance of catching some Half deccent Photo's.. Again thanks for your Advice on that also :)@ RoyThanks for your reply Roy & the link :).. Nice place lol.. Am thinking i'll get one of these as well for when I'm at home sitting at the computer Star Gazing...Will use the Canon 1000D for when I go out to the edge of Bodmin Moor running the Scope off the 12v from the car or bat pack...All the bestNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by TonyAngel at 17:23 on 2011 Feb 10

The Camera.You would need to have an adapter so that you could mount the camera on top of the telescope. You then use the telescope as the guide.The TelescopeI do not know the telescope but from the reviews it appears to be good value for money. The only comment I will make about it is that at F5 it is more suited to Deep Sky than Solar System objects. You may want to get a Telrad Finder. A lot easier to use when you are first starting out.Other things.A star atlasSome observing guides.A pair of 10x50 binos to help teach yourself how to get around the sky, (you will be surprised at what you can see in them)

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 18:01 on 2011 Feb 10

Hi TonyThanks very much for your input & advice, It's much appreciated :)I'd never heard of the Telrad Finder, but it does look to be a good buy for someone like myself just starting out.The adapter for the Scope is on order as is the Canon 1000D camera..I do want to Photograph deep sky as well as solar objects & was trying to pick something that would (with abit of maybe filtering or adding certain adapter lenses) that would as a starting point give me some, If not all of what i would like to picture.. But I do take on your advice, so many thanks again for that.Have been looking around for star maps/atlas's & guides, Doing a lot of reading up & beginning to get a very little grasp of things :). The welcome pack I recieved from BAA has come in very handy for finding information & links :).. Great pack I have to say..Thanks again for your Advice & TimeRegardsNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Graham Relf at 18:34 on 2011 Feb 10

The SkyWatcher telescopes are excellent. I have their 250 (10") f/4.8 Newtonian on an HEQ5 mount. The only bad aspect for me was a complete lack of any documentation. A Google search found a manual at http://www.skywatchertelescope.net/swtsupport/Instruction_Manuals/HEQ5an... but that still lacks a lot of important detail. I have therefore written a page about my own discoveries of how to use the various parts of the telescope: http://www.grelf.net/skywatcherdoc.html . (I am keen to encourage others to try astrophotography and that was the motivation for my web site.)You can avoid having to guide long exposures at all by taking a lot of short exposures and then using some software to align and stack them. That also has advantages for coping with light pollution and reducing overexposure of bright stars. I describe the procedure on my own site, and you can see some of my own results using an unmodified Canon DSLR without guiding: http://www.grelf.net/astrolatest.html. To use multiple 30-second exposures it is important to align the HEQ5 mount so that Polaris is within the small circle in the setting scope, as described in the PDF file from skywatchertelescope.net .

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 22:22 on 2011 Feb 10

Hi GrahamWOW!!!!! Thats a great site you have there, can see you spent alot of time & effort...Fantastic & Congratulations :)..You have wealth of imformation on there that relates to what I was hoping to do, albeit maybe not as clear as some of your images but gives a good idea of what I can get near to with a smaller Dia Mirror (8") on the SkyWatcher Explorer 200P EQ5 PRO SynScan 200mm Newtonian I have ordered & Canon 1000D @ 10megapixel.. :)..I shall enjoy reading through your very comprehensive & imformative pages while I wait for my scope to arrive sometime towards the end of the month.Do you believe that even with my smaller scope & camera that I will be able to achieve some good shots of not just Deep Sky but also Lunar & Planetary close ups?... With the help of your site of course :-)..Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post & help/advice that you provide... That goes to all of you....ThanksAll the bestNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Robin Vann at 09:02 on 2011 Feb 11

Here are a couple of book/atlas recommendations:'The Observer's Sky Atlas, 3rd. Ed.'; E. Karkoschka; Springer; New York; 2007.'Sky Atlas 2000.0 Field Laminated, 2nd. Ed.'; Wil Tirion & Roger W. Sinnott; Sky Publishing Corporation; Cambridge, MA; 1998.'Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion, 2nd. Ed.'; Robert A Strong & Roger W. Sinnott; Sky & Telescope Media; Cambridge, MA; 2008.The first is a small paperback and contains a catalogue of 250 deep sky observing projects along with photographs. It contains observing notes for the objects and the presentation is very concise. I would thoroughly recommend this.The second, in it's various forms (permutations of colour/black on white/white on black, paper/laminated) has become a standard. I have recommended the 'Field Laminated' edition which is white objects on a black background (to preserve night vision) on wiro-bound large plastic sheets.The acetate overlay supplied for measuring seperations also has 'Telrad' finder circles to match with a Telrad finder view should you invest in one.I find it useful to take a fairly hefty music stand into the garden to place the Sky Atlas on, along with my drawing pad (I'm a visual observer).I have also recommended the deep sky catalogue for this atlas (the publisher seem to have changed name) as it contains valuable observing notes. There are also catalogues of stars available for this but I feel they are of a less importance, details about stars being easily obtainable via the internet.Hope these recommendations are of interest.

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 15:29 on 2011 Feb 11

Hi RobinThanks for the list & info, much appreciated.. Looks like I'm going to be doing alot of reading & digesting of Information & instructions ;-)..Getting quite excited now I'm starting to get all the equipment & reading material together, Also seeing some of the images that others have got using similar equipment to me, is a real incentive.I know alot of those images are gotten so good with the help of using the "stacking" software on a computer, The computer side of things doesn't faze me at all as I have always built my own computers from many years back & my present computer which is Water cooled, overclocked & built for high graphics & heavy processing content, so am looking forward to working on my efforts when I get my scope hopefully by the end of the month :)All the BestNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 15:07 on 2011 Feb 12

Norman, since this thread has moved on to catalogs etc.If you've got a laptop the absolute best(IMHO) luna atlas is the "Virtual Moon Atlas" FREEly available on line (though the Pro version is a huge download).When using a web cam on the moon it's great to be able to show VMA and the webcam image side by side. With the small field of view of a webcam it is otherwise quite easy to get lost and end up snapping somthing entirly diferent to your target! I find the Expert Version entirly adequate for the purpose.Yes I know, I should learn my way round the moon a bit better, but with "Maturity" also comes a certain fuzzyness of the brain.Roy.

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 23:00 on 2011 Feb 12

Hi again Roy & thanks for the heads up on the "Virtual Moon Atlas", It's downloading now :)..I also found this site for TriStar Map Atlas I've downloaded them & am now in the process of printing them of, I will then Laminate them myself as I have the gear to do it (It saves me a few quid rather than buying ready laminated maps) :).... Also Thanks to Robin for pointing me in the direction of Star Maps, Although they do look pretty confusing to me at the moment. I'm going to look for a Total beginners guide to astronomy so I can start to get to terms with things, I really am that green ;-)... All I really know is when I look up to the night sky I can pick out some of the constellations, but thats about it!! So I have along way to go :)...I'm not put off in the least by all my confusion at the moment about knowing my way around the night sky, more, really excited about learning more & wanting to learn, also to have a better understanding of just whats out there.It's only now that I'm in a position where I can begin to spend the time & effort to Learn more about this fascinating subject after spending alot of my working life travelling to various places around the world & many of those in fairly hostile environments (worked on Land based Drilling rigs).It's mostly to do with my interest in photography & wanting to take pictures of the things in our night sky that I've often wondered what they look like if you could see them more clearly, Thats maybe the wrong reason by some peoples standards, but it's whats drawn me to look into it in more detail :).Sorry!!.... I've rambled on abit there, I'll stop now :-)...Thanks to everyone here that are trying to help me, it's really appreciated & my enthusiasm is going from strength to strength..Have a Good Weekend allNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Robin Vann at 06:51 on 2011 Feb 14

I'm sure you'll be 'hoovering' up information. That's what happened when I started.Do have a look for TriAtlas (http://www.uv.es/jrtorres/triatlas.html) before you commit to printing charts. There are three versions of increasing scale.Good luck,Robin

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by TonyAngel at 09:41 on 2011 Feb 14

They are very good. I have used them from when the first edition came out. His overall website is quite interesting.

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 09:47 on 2011 Feb 14

Hi RobinOhhhh Yes I'm 'Hoovering' up information alright :-)... It's fascinating stuff this. As for the 'Triatlas' (thats the 'Star Map Atlas' link from my last post) I've downloaded the charts & have printed off & laminated about 50% so far, It's quite an informative site, with some decent links also..I have also ordered the 'SPC880 Web Cam' (with the SPC900 Firmware Upgrade) from 'Morgan Computers' that Roy suggested from an earlier post.So things are beginning to come together now with the help & suggestions I've had from you good peoples here :-)..ThanksNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 09:54 on 2011 Feb 14

TonyAngel wrote:

They are very good. I have used them from when the first edition came out. His overall website is quite interesting.

Hi TonyYes it is a very informative & interesting site as you say. I can't believe just how much is on those maps!!.. It's staggering :-)...

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 12:18 on 2011 Feb 14

Norman,More on VMA. There is one problem I should have warned you about.The picture libraries (as downloaded) are so packed with information that your anti-virus software may report them to you as "Archive Bombs". AVG 11, took 7 hours (to do a previous 1.5 hour scan) before giving up and removing them to the sin bin. Once unpacked they should be OK though. If you want to keep a backup of the compressed libraries do what I did and burn yourself a DVD.Roy.

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 09:00 on 2011 Feb 15

Morning RoyThanks for the warning, I've downloaded the 'VMA' pack but haven't installed yet as I'm just putting the finishing touches to a purpose built PC for my Astrological Escapades too come :)..Norman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Robin Vann at 12:51 on 2011 Feb 15

Ah! I didn't pick up that your link was for TriAtlas. Apologies for recommending something you were already on to!

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 13:08 on 2011 Feb 15

Norman,One more note - watch out which set of instructions you follow when converting the webcam for basic astro use.http://www.orion-xt10.com/philips-spc900nc-webcam.html...and scroll down a lot(!) has a good explanation. You just need to unscrew the lens!The funny foot will just snap off (snap as in elastic not snap as in break).Some of the pages out there include the long exposure mod and start by ripping the case apart and you won't want this, at least not at first!Roy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 15:38 on 2011 Feb 15

Robin Vann wrote:

Ah! I didn't pick up that your link was for TriAtlas. Apologies for recommending something you were already on to!

Hi RobinPlease no Apologies needed, My fault for not specifying which Atlas I meant, I have rectified that now :)I'm just so very grateful & appreciative of all the Help, Advice & Time you are all giving me :)..Norman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 16:12 on 2011 Feb 15

Roy Hughes wrote:

Norman,One more note - watch out which set of instructions you follow when converting the webcam for basic astro use.http://www.orion-xt10.com/philips-spc900nc-webcam.html...and scroll down a lot(!) has a good explanation. You just need to unscrew the lens!The funny foot will just snap off (snap as in elastic not snap as in break).Some of the pages out there include the long exposure mod and start by ripping the case apart and you won't want this, at least not at first!Roy

RoyAgain, Thanks so much for the link & all the help your giving me. In fact the help I'm receiving from all of you is indispensable & I am truly grateful.As regards to the 'SPC900', It will only ever be used with the Explorer 200P Scope I have ordered, So my Webcam order consist of:-SPC880 (with firmware upgrade to SPC900)Philip's SPC880 1.25inch webcam adaptorIR/UV blocking filter 1.25inchSo the link you put up for me is just the order thanks :-)I had the 'Skywatcher EQ5 Polar Alignment Scope' & 'Light Pollution Filter' arrived today, the Canon 1000D (Body only & (spare battery & remote)) arrived on Saturday.So it's all beginning to come together now & as the main scope doesn't arrive until the end of the month it's giving me time to do alot of reading, printing, laminating & generally getting my head around things :-).The computer is pretty much ready also, so will be installing the OS & transferring all the links, software & info that everyone has given or linked to me..Thanks againNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 12:50 on 2011 Feb 18

Norman,Since you've homed in on the Canon DSLR you might find Michael Covington's site(s) useful.Start with... http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/dslr/index0.html and see what you think.(In the US of A the Canon models seem to carry the "Rebel" trade name, there are various sites with translation tables!)I've no personal experience with M. C. and Canons, but I have built (and modified) a couple of his projects and they worked out OK.See http://mizat.club24.co.uk/ if you are curious - I set this one up a a learning exercise in 2002. Then the ISP went belly up and I could no longer update it. So now its a read-only, orphan, page. I think the links still work.I think you said you have a 35mm SLR. Depending on make you may be able to use the lenses with the Canon as you do not need the auto fuctions for astro work. When I last looked on ebay there were a number of adapters for Nikon and other makes, mainly from Hong Kong. But see Michael's comments, you might need a support bar. [My SLRs are Nikon, and I was looking at Canon DSLRs too.]Roy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by TonyAngel at 13:09 on 2011 Feb 18

.....and do not forget the BAA book on DSLR Astrophotography by Tony Morris

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 15:32 on 2011 Feb 18

Thanks once again Chaps :)@ RoyI'll have a look at links & pages you've suggested, I will hang on for now before I download or order anymore gear, Until I receive my Scope & see just what I'm going to need or may require.Yes I do have an old 35mm Pentax SLR & would require some sort of adaptor to make the lenses fit the Canon 1000D, again I'll wait & see once I receive the scope to see which way I go on this one. I have a programmable remote for my 1000D 'LCD Timer Remote switch cord cable for Canon' which gives me many options for timed exposures of up too 100 hours, reviews from other users sound very promising. Thanks again for the links :)..@ TonyThanks Tony, I have the BAA book on DSLR Astrophotography & it was the source of where I got the advice about the remote *see above*, It's a good read & full of great tips & advice, so Thanks for your input :)..Just as a side note... I received the SPC880 (flashed to SPC900) webcam today & have taken the lens out and installed the adaptor & filter, so providing I get the time this weekend I will be installing the software onto my computer to give it test run in a dimly lite room, as it suggests, Although I realise the focusing will be non-plus until it's attached to the scope, but as they also sent me a second 'Un-flashed SPC880'(I only ordered one webcam?) will probably have more success with that one..Thanks again Gentlemen :)Norman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 14:34 on 2011 Feb 19

Norman,I've just flashed the SPC880 I bought as a back-up. No problems as I had a old XP machine [another one of my skip diving finds!]. Just read and follow the instructions VERY slowly and carefully.I looked up my old credit card statements and back in 2007 my original SPC900 set up cost me £48 for the camera, £20 for the adapter, £27 for the filter. That was a very good deal at the time, at the current price you got a real bargain.Roy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 18:20 on 2011 Feb 19

Hello RoyYes it certainly does seem I got a very good deal on the SPC880 NC,I paid £9.16 for the camera,£8.32 for the adapter, £10.82 for the filter & another £2.49 for them to flash the camera to SPC900. In Total with VAT it came to £39.28 + I got an extra SPC880 NC un-flashed into the bargain, so am well pleased...I downloaded some software dedicated to acquiring Astrophotography called, 'K3CCDTools' (got to run that in windows xp SP2 mode for it too work on Win 7 & will have to pay for this, around £35 if I use it after the 35 day trial) & 'WcCtrl Webcam control software' (this is free).The Flashed Webcam is working, although obviously the pics are very blurred as it's not on the scope yet & I don't know how to use these pieces of software yet :),Alot more reading to do yet lol, but it appears to be working fine after me adapting the lens E.t.c. Also I have loaded the 'VMA' you suggested onto my computer & all is well & it runs great :-), Thanks for the Advice on that one..I have installed 'DeepSkyStacker' that was suggested in the BAA Book 'Introduction to DSLR Astrophotography' It says in the book that I'll need an Image processing programme to get the best from it, at Present I use 'Photoshop Elements 6' do you think this will suffice or should I perhaps try the 'IRIS' Image processing package that is suggested in the book? it's a free download so nothing to loose I guess..Sorry for the Long post & Numpty questions, I know I'm trying to look at things without even having got the Scope yet & this is probably not the best way to go about things, Just trying to sort out the best software that will suit my needs if it's possible to do that without having all the necessary Equipment... Too Eager Huh ;-)...Thanks for all your time on this RoyRegardsNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 14:23 on 2011 Feb 20

Norman,I'm using WcCtrl for capture. There is a new kid on the block 'SharpCap' that looks to be better(?) and seems to have some aid to focusing built in. I've not tried it but it might be worth a look?Registax (free) works wonderfully on the moon for stacking the results - it appears to have been purposely designed to suit this particular task. There are tutorials out there on using it - most of it is over my head.The important step is the Registax, it's amazing to watch the rubbish moon video you take with the webcam being transformed into the gleaming sharp photo you really wanted all along.Final polishing can be done with almost anything. I'm using GIMP (there are some Astro plugins, that I can't quite see the utility of) but this is only 8 bit per colour depth. ULEAD Photo Impact 8 (old now - a covermount off a PC mag some years ago) and COREL something or other that came pre-installed on the laptop that I use to drive the webcam. All of which work well for me. Photoshop elements should do fine. I'm sure others with a more 'professional' interest will be able to suggest other choices. At this stage my gut instinct is to avoid splashing cash until you've at least tried the freeware options and software you've already got. Once you have a little practical experience then onwards and upwards is a reasonable option.One other thing.All the years I was using a SLR at the scope I was processing my own negatives & enlargements. Commercial processing cost a fortune and was hopeless for astronomical subjects. I took some digital moon photos taken with the webcam (Registaxed/Ulead polished) to Snappy Snaps on a stick and was amazed how good the prints were when I picked them up from my local shop. It seems that if you can get it looking right on screen they can print it. It's nice to have a real photo to pass round and the price was just pennies. Other outfits are probably just as good.Roy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 18:21 on 2011 Feb 20

Hi RoyMany thanks for another very informative reply.. Like you say, I don't really want to be 'splashing the cash' if I have no need to :)..I'll certainly give the 'Registax' a shot, as too begin with it'll more than likely be the moon that I will be experimenting with when I'm finally up & running, purely from the point of view that it's the easiest to see & learn to set things up on.I'll have a deco also at 'SharpCap', for now I think I'll stick with my 'Photoshop Elements' for final polishing & see how it goes once I have everything up & running, It's a fairly powerful piece of software & I already know my way around it to a certain degree, If it turns out not to be geared up for Astrophotography I can always try one of the other's as you suggest, Again this I will find out when I'm fully geared up myself :)..I already have a very decent Colour Printer E.t.c at home & plenty of various size Photo paper, Gloss & Matt finnish because like you ,It's nice to have actual Photo's to look at & pass around, I even have the Mount material & cutting gear for framing for the very best shots :)..It's probably been a good thing that I am unable to get my 'SkyWatcher Scope' until the end of the month, as I've had so much else to source & acquire, read & digest, that if I had gotten everything in one hit I think it would have given me a Brain overload lol.. OHHHH & the weather has been just awful down here in 'sunny Cornwall' the last couple of weeks ;)...I found I have an Astronomical Society very local to me at 'Calington' a mere 7 miles from me & will be getting in touch with them soon..Cheers once again Tony, you've been A great help :-)..Norman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 21:28 on 2011 Feb 20

Norman,one minor correction to my previous message.I'm actually using QCfocus to do capture, should have checked the laptop before writing, my memory is rubbish! I set the thing up ages ago and have had no reason to change it yet.Roy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 21:49 on 2011 Feb 21

RoyThats fine, no worries:).... The memory thing.......I have the same problem ;)..As it has come to mind that I will be using my Laptop for some Astrophotography (I say that a little tongue in cheek!!... As my laptop has a 18.4" screen & two high end graphics cards in SLi mode)) & was envisaging problems with the battery lasting longer than an hour & a half (at best) out in the field so to speak. I didn't want to go to the expense of getting another Lappy, I have purchased (at a very good price of only £40) a 500W Power Inverter I can run off my car battery (I already have a good outdoor (waterproof) 5m extension lead & USB lead.The idea being that I can run the Scope/Mount & also the Laptop using a 5m USB lead from the scope back to the car & power it all from the inverter Which should be ample to run both, Am hoping that the vehicle will be far enough away not too interfere with the scope?? will have to see how that all works out I know & that I may be barking mad for trying it... But ...Hey!! nothing ventured, nothing gained :)...My reason for this set-up is that I live Bang smack in the middle of town, so most of my work will be done out on the edge of Bodmin Moor, I also have a couple of relatives & friends back gardens out in the country that i can use on occasions, but I don't want to keep bothering them every time I have an opportunity or chance to go out Sky Watching E.t.c..Not sure if what I'm attempting is possible or advisable, But if it isn't then I'll have a re-think & come up with something else, but either way I will get to do some Astrophotography & Night Sky Watching :)...RegardsNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by TonyAngel at 09:09 on 2011 Feb 22

When I used to have to travel to get to a dark sky with my LX200 my son-in-law fixed a spare battery in the boot and this was wired into the car electronics in a way that emulated a caravan socket - that is to say that when my car ignition was off it stopped charging. I had this done because once I was nearly stranded after running down the main battery!

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 12:01 on 2011 Feb 22

Hi TonyThat was a good idea :)...I thought about the battery running flat & so my Idea was that if I had the scope on an extension lead (5m) from the car I could still run the car to keep the battery charged up & not have it interfering with the scope, Not sure if it will work set-up like that but thought it might be worth a try.The inverter will give a good constant power supply with no peaks or drop off of power & I know it will give me more than enough power to run the scope & BIG Laptop that i have..... Thats the theory anyway :)..I haven't heard from 'Harrisons Telescopes' yet about the delivery of the scope, but am still hopeful it will arrive for the end of the month & then the experimenting will begin.....Weather permitting :)..Norman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 15:30 on 2011 Feb 22

Norman,just make sure the car is behind you, pointing the scope over a hot engine is bound to be bad.If you have to make up any cables try to use white or bright yellow wire, in the dark even the orange cables just disapear into the grass - right up to the moment you trip over them! I speak from experience here - fortunatly I had friction fit plug/sockets on the scope and they just pulled out rather than topple anything. Nothing damaged but my ego.Roy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 16:39 on 2011 Feb 22

Hi RoyYep, I understand what you mean about the car being behind me & as it happens my leads are white so hopefully I shan't trip over them, but a good point, thanks :)..Norman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 14:14 on 2011 Feb 24

Just a quick up-date..Had the good news today from 'Harrison Telescopes' that my scope has been dispatched & should be with me tommorro..... The Excitement is now at fever pitch ;-)..Am looking forward to getting to grips with the learning of setting up & getting used to the scope & what I'm looking at before I go for the Photography part of things :-).....NormanEdit~ Scope arrived today & It's Beautiful :-)..... Was surprised how heavy the mount is after it's all put together, But I realise that is important & means it should be very Steady, The motors are beautifully smooth running & the whole thing seems very nicely put together...My only problem is that my Rather Large Laptop doesn't have a '6 pin Serial Com port' so I have to order an adapter from the '6 pin connector on the RS-232 Cable' to a USB connection so I can connect it up to my puter & use some auto guider software OHH & a Mains adapter to run from the Inverter (rather than using the cigarette lighter socket from the car)... So I'm well Pleased & am now looking forward to some better weather so I can at least get to learn how to set it up & begin Star Gazing :-)..N.

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Roy Hughes at 19:56 on 2011 Mar 02

Norman,I know this a bit off topic, but....if you are not all set up yet you might get a laugh trying something I just thought of (several years late!).Out of dumb curiosity I just put one of the webcams (with original lens) on a tripod hooked it to the laptop and shot a 20 secs. AVI of Orion from just outside the back door. Just made a guess at focussing, and let the camera use all its automatic settings.Slapped it into Registax which removed all the noise and an overflying aircraft. (I'm under the Heathrow flightpath.) Then into Corel Photobook to push the contrast a bit.From such a quick and dirty experiment I was quite surprised at the result. Certainly NOT a candidate for picture of the week but the constellation was recognisable and I think I can detect a bit of nebulosity in the sword.This is manifestly NOT what the cameras are best at... but still.BestRoy

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 19:51 on 2011 Mar 03

Hi RoyCrikey!! Thats amazing you got such clear pics just using a standard Webcam, Very interesting indeed,Just goes to show though, that you don't have to have alot of expensive gear to get to view & take pics of our Night sky's, Thanks for sharing :)..considering I got a spare SPC880 NC when I got the flashed one, It means I have an ever growing means of getting some pics & alot of experimenting to do on my part :)...I now have pretty much everything organized now, I'm going to be Collimating the Skywatcher this weekend, so am hoping for some good clear nights next week so I can get the hang of setting up the scope (First set up will be in day light on a distant object) & getting to terms with setting up on some night images, before I attempt any photo work with it. But am excited about getting to grips & learning about this fascinating subject..I've already Flashed the up-dates into the Synscan Handset & Motor Drives (had to get an adapter to go from the RS-232 cable that comes with the Synscan to a USB (my laptop doesn't have a Com port)) Hence why it's taken me until now before I've gone out with the scope, wanted to make sure I had everything up to date.... Although from what you achieved with just a normal Webcam, maybe I'm too over cautious ;-)....As I said, I'm hoping to be able to get out & about next week, Weather permitting & free time permitting :).... Will be going to Liverpool Next weekend to visit Son, so really want to get out & at least get the scope set-up & pear into the cosmos if only for a little while :)...All the BestNorman

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Re:Advice for a more mature Novice

Posted by Norman Morton at 15:03 on 2011 Apr 13