What's New

Big Changes Are Coming!

January 2023

I have been imaging exclusively from New Mexico Skies for over 5 years now. Lately, I have not been 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 am getting tired of the remote set up and the narrow FOV. I am tired of 10-20 minute subs with 7 different filters. Oh, and I’m tired of CCD technology with its low QE and slow download speeds. And 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 have shut down my NMSkies operation. Mike and Lynn Rice and their team are all fantastic, but it is time to move on;
  • I sold my entire NMSkies system. Just too big for what I am looking to explore next;
  • I am dusting 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 will be running everything with a new 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;
  • I am abandoning CCD technology, it is old, finicky and has too many quirks, like low QE. It is time to adopt 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 am parking my old SBIGs and switching to the ZWO ASI 2600 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, on an alternate rig, using an Askar ACL200 f4 lens. For planetary imaging, I will be using a mono CMOS with RGB filters on the Sharpstar SCA260 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, Askar 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 will also not need a permanent setup but will instead be imaging from my deck or yard;
  • One of the things I am most looking forward to is the fact that I will be able to run everything through my IPad. That will be a nice simplifying change;
  • I have got some new learnings to incorporate which I hope to share as I go along, with lots of pictures as I progress with the changes (and maybe a bit of YouTube, which is an intriguing option I want to explore as a supplement to this website).
I do LOVE this hobby! What a way to spend my retirement years.

Also, I have been Updating my CDK17 image sets

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.