What's New

Big Changes Are Here!

May 2024

Well, I tried the side by side thing and my two scopes come in at just under 50lbs, which is well over the AM5's limit of 44lbs. So until ZWO builds a new mount with carrying capacity in excess of 50lbs, I will be going a different way (abandoning ZWO and going back to my MyT mount is not in the works since that means going back to running things from a compouter, which I am trying to avoid at all costs). But I have hit on a semi-novel solution to make things easier. My e130D and the FRA600 w/Reducer have almost exactly the same FOV. That opens up lots of flexibility. Current plan which I am about to put into place, is to use the e130D with the ASI2600MM and no filter. That will allow me to capture a bit of near IR light as well as visible light. That would be problematic for a refractor, but there are no issues if you are using a mirrored system, such as the e130D. So that is my Luminance setup. For color, I will mount the ASI2600MC onto the FRA600R and include a filter drawer spacer so that I can either insert an IR Cut filter (definitely needed with the FRA600R) or a dual band HA/OIII filter into the image train. Depending on the target, I can then shoot Luminance frames of 5 minutes or more and get all my color data with much shorter exposures. I will be inserting an OAG into each image train as well, which solves another problem I was experiencing. I added a new focuser to the e130D which solved a bunch of problems, but introduced a new one, namely to fact that it doesn't rotate the FOV. However, by inserting the Celestron OAG, I regain rotation since it is built into the design. So issue solved! Now I just need to put the two image trains together and get back to imaging.

February 2024

I had been imaging exclusively from New Mexico Skies until 2022. However, I was not thrilled with the quality of my images since I switched to a 16803 chip. The FLI had a bad line right in the middle of the sensor, and when I switched to an Apogee Aspen, there were all kinds of line issues that compromised most of the 2x2 binned stuff and the narrowband images, as well as all shorter exposures. And I got tired of the remote set up and the narrow FOV. I was tired of 10-20 minute subs with 7 different filters. Oh, and I had it with CCD technology with its low QE and slow download speeds. I also want to get into planetary imaging in addition to deep sky. At the same time, having to set up every time, freezing my butt or getting eaten by bugs, staying up all night in the field, is not overly appealing. Been there, done that, got several tee shirts. So what to do to fix all that? Obviously, it is time for a whole host of changes and new ways of doing things. These include:

  • I sold my entire NMSkies system. Just too big for what I am looking to explore next;
  • I have dusted off my Takahashi e130 with a focal ratio of 3.3, and adding a 10.25 inch Sharpstar SCA260 at f5, compared to 6.8 for the Planewave CDK 17. And the SCA260, using the ASI2600 and its 3.76 micron pixels, has the same resolution of the CDK with the various 9 micron CCDs I used with it;
  • I have also added an Askar ACL200mm f4 lens and an Askar FRA600 with the optional 0.7 focal reducer;
  • I am now running everything with an ASIAir Plus, tied to a new ASI 5MT Mount and the EAF focuser controller;
  • ASIAir Plus offers an all in one solution for running all three of my systems, mount, camera, focuser, and guidescope (actually I have also moved to an OAG for guiding);
  • I am abandoning CCD technology, it is old, finicky and has too many quirks, like low QE. So I have adopted the new CMOS technology, which is finally coming of age. CMOS has QE as high as 90+%, fast download speeds, and now includes 16 bit technology and they have cured the old issues with lamp glow. So I have parked my old SBIGs and switched to the ZWO ASI2600 and its APS-C sized chip (for planetary imaging I will be using a ZWO planetary CMOS, the ASI174MM, with a super-fast frame rate);
  • I have purchased both a color and mono ASI2600. Color avoids RGB filters but you surrender resolution. Mono requires those damned filters. But I just can’t give up on the resolution provided by separate filters. At least on the larger scopes. The color 2600 has found a home, though, with the Askar ACL200, combined with a Radian Triad Ultra quadband filter. For planetary imaging, I will be using a mono CMOS with RGB filters on a used Celestron C11 I picked up to maximize resolution, though I also have a color planetary camera for learning planetary techniques;
  • Put those cameras with the fast focal ratios of my e130D, Askars and Sharpstar and subs can be 5 minutes and less, often way less (and for planetary, the frames rates are in the 130 frames per sec range);
  • Given the light weight of these systems, I also have no need of a permanent setup but instead image from my deck or yard. I had a glitchy focuser on the Takahashi and have now replaced it with a version that racks much more smoothly.
  • So far I have imaged with the ACL200-2600MC system, the e130D-2600MM system and the FRA600-2600MM system;
  • One of the things I love most is the fact that I am able to run everything through my IPad. That greatly simplifies everything about these changes;
  • I have already learned a lot about how to use this system effectively, which I will be sharing as I go along, with lots of pictures as I progress with these updates
  • One thing I am currently working to set up is a side by side system, with the e130D-2600MM and the FRA600-2600MC system mounted together. With the FRA600's focal reducer, the e130 D and FRA600 have almost identical FOVs. Therefore, I can shoot luminance frames with the e130D and RGB with the FRA600 (any narrowband imaging will be with the e130D
  • Also, I have been Updating my CDK17 image sets and processing a number of them ignored until now.

    I do LOVE this hobby! What a way to spend my retirement years.

    September 2016

    First images from New Mexico Skies!


    December 2015

    New Session Notes, new images from Takahashi e130D - STT8300 System combination, and musings on Time & Distance.


    October 2015

    Joined Astrobin. Find me there under Jim Morse.


    July 2015

    New Session Notes and new images from Takahashi e130D-STF8300 combination.


    February 2015

    New Session Notes and images


    September, 1014

    Major update with new content and images.


    March 12, 2013

    New image set loaded in Gallery - First images with CDK12.5 - STF8300 combination


    March 9, 2013

    1. New session notes from March 7-9;

    2. Rebuilt banner with new image of M104 completed in session.