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Posts Tagged 'astrophotography'

New additions to the MiniTrack family: the new LX Quattro NS

November 22 2021, Marcus Schenk

We’ve expanded our range and have welcomed a new member to the MiniTrack family: the MiniTrack LX Quattro NS. Unlike in most families, the new arrival is not the smallest member of the family, rather it is already fully grown. This means that our product developers were able to considerably improve the LX Quattro even more. But what exactly has changed?

MiniTrack, what is it?

The MiniTrack is a minute and fully mechanical travel mount (also known as an astrotracker) for astrophotography. You can use it to effortlessly produce images of the night sky. Cameras that are mounted on it follow the movement of the stars over a prolonged period. These photos often include the landscape of the night. This results in fascinatingly beautiful shots. It is also the perfect way to get into astrophotography.

 

 

The MiniTrack LX Quattro NS

LX Quattro stands for precision, increased power and a four-kilogram load capacity. The new MiniTrack combines all of this in one. Compared to the LX3, the load capacity is even higher. This means that you no longer need to avoid using your favourite lens, which was previously too heavy. Even with longer lenses, the MiniTrack takes things easily in its stride.

Tracking with the Quattro is extremely precise as a newly constructed needle bearing provides greatly improves this. This step was necessary to guarantee smooth tracking with heavy weights.

A brand new spring bar design provides better draft to move the load even more precisely. There is no longer any unilateral strain within the mechanical system. Yep, the Quattro simply has more oomph. An attractive side effect is that the MiniTrack is significantly more elegant and more user-friendly.

The MiniTrack LX Quattro is also a tracker for capturing the night sky using wide-angle and normal lenses. Anyone who has already gained a little experience can also treat themselves to a lightweight telephoto lens.

Overview of features:

  • 4kg load capacity for larger cameras or larger lenses
  • New and stronger spring system
  • Needle bearing for softer, precise movement
  • New, more stable CNC body – the Quattro should survive every night of observation with no scratches
  • Integrated Gp-style mounting as well as ¼“ und 3/8“ threads
  • Holiday anywhere now: usable beneath the northern and southern night skies.

You can find further information on the MiniTrack LX Quattro NS and its benefits on our product page. Furthermore,  this MiniTrack can be bought in a set with a ball head or with a ball head and polar wedge.

 

The other members of the MiniTrack family

What do you need to take beautiful photos? A MiniTrack alone is not quite enough. So we would like to introduce the other family members to you:

 

Omegon 32mm carbon tripod Thanks to the 32mm tripod legs, this tripod provides a sturdy foundation. Weighing only 2kg and with a length of 59cm, is it ideal for travel.

Stativ für die MiniTrack

Deluxe polar wedge: You can simply secure your Astrotracker to the tripod head. However, this is easier and more precise using a polar wedge. This enables you to precisely align the north celestial pole. The provides the benefit of providing a stable north orientation.

Polhöhenwiege Deluxe

Pole finder light: Being able to see the pole finder’s images in the night sky is a priceless advantage. At night you tend to have your hands full. It is good when you don’t need to use a lamp to complicatedly light up the polarscope. The pole finder light is convenient and evenly illuminates the images using a red LED.

Polsucherbeleuchtung MiniTrack

OM10 ball head Still don’t have a ball head? You need one to align your camera with areas of the night sky. The Omegon OM10 fits perfectly on the MiniTrack.

Kugelkopf für MiniTrack

MiniTrack LX3: The white version holds cameras up to 3kg in weight and contains an optical polarscope. To mount the LX3 on a polar wedge, you require the 55mm MiniPrismRails.

MiniTrack LX3

MiniTrack Essentials: Exceptionally good value and sufficient for getting started with wide-angle lenses. The MiniTrack Essentials contains a small polarscope that can be used to align the tracker with the Pole Star. This basic model can be upgraded at a later date.

MiniTrack Basis Version

Interested in taking your first images with the MiniTrack? You can find out how to do this in our step-by-step video “Astrophotos with the MiniTrack – a how-to guide”. Have fun observing and photographing.

Video: astrophotography with the Omegon MiniTrack

November 3 2021, Marcus Schenk

In this video, you will get to know the Omegon MiniTrack astrotracker. What equipment do you need for good landscape astrophotography? And what do you need to watch out for, adjust or activate once you’re outdoors?
We’ll take a step-by-step look at everything from set-up to capturing an image.
After the video, you’ll be ready to create your own beautiful pictures with the MiniTrack.

Hot off the press: we are also introducing the new MiniTrack LX Quattro!

Products used in the video:

Omegon MiniTrack LX3 mount set Product no.: 62037

Omegon MiniTrack LX Quattro NS mount Product no.: 69307

Omegon Deluxe polar wedge Product no.: 69370

Omegon Pro 32mm carbon tripod incl. ball head Product no.: 60251

Omegon polar finder light for MiniTrack LX 2 + 3 and EQ mounts with light unit Product no.: 69568

Omegon 55mm prism rail with screw Product no.: 64965

New version: the Polarie U star tracker mount from Vixen

October 28 2021, Stefan Taube

A few years ago, the Japanese manufacturer Vixen launched the Polarie, the first tracking unit for cameras that can fit in every photographer’s bag. The tracking device, also called a star tracker, compensates for the celestial rotation. With it, a camera remains aligned with a section of the night sky for many minutes, and can gather light from faint stars, the Milky Way and cosmic nebulae.

Vixen now offers a new version of its successful star tracker mount, the Polarie U Star Tracker.

Fotomontierung Vixen

Polarie U star tracker mount with camera and optional ball head

Compared to the classic Polarie, the new Polarie U is significantly lighter whilst at the same time having a higher load-bearing capacity. The distance between the two bearings supporting the rotating shaft is approximately four times that of its predecessor. This has led to a higher load-bearing capacity despite a 20% weight reduction. It can carry 2.5kg for wide-field astrophotography using lenses with a short focal length. The optional mounting accessories comprising a prism rail and counterweight can be used to increase the load capacity to 6.5kg, so that the star tracker mount can also carry cameras with large lenses.

In addition, the  Polarie U creates its own WLAN. You can connect your smartphone to the mount and control it using a free app. With a suitable cable release from the Polarie U accessory selection, you can also control the camera itself via the app, for example to set a series of exposures. This is not only convenient, but also very useful thanks to the hands-free operation.

The Polarie U can of course also be converted for use in the southern hemisphere. The lightweight mount is therefore ideal for your next expedition south of the equator.

POLARIE U Star Tracker Astrofoto-Montierung

New: Deluxe equatorial wedge for Omegon MiniTrack

August 27 2021, Marcus Schenk

Using the latest deluxe equatorial wedge, aligning the MiniTrack with the north celestial pole is easier than ever. The advantages? Spherical stars all night long.

How do you align your MiniTrack and other astrotrackers without an equatorial wedge? In theory, this is possible using a tripod head but the alignment and the fixed support sometimes resemble weather forecasting, in a word: uncertain. And yet, the photography session is meant to be a success.

The right tools for success

Thanks to the deluxe equatorial wedge, you can simply and precisely align your MiniTrack with the north celestial pole. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy!
A robust locking mechanism provides permanent polar alignment, even when you are continuously focusing your camera on new targets.

In our set-up, we use an Omegon 32mm carbon tripod, the deluxe equatorial wedge and a MiniTrack 3 with pole finder.

Simple installation on any tripod

Using the 3/8 inch thread, you can attach the polar wedge to any camera tripod. To do so, you simply need a mini Vixen-style rail, such as the Omegon 55mm prism rail, which can be used with the MiniTrack. You can then connect and align your astrotracker easily.

Quality made in Portugal

The equatorial wedge is manufactured to the highest quality and consists of CNC components and stainless-steel screws. It is produced in small batches in Portugal and checked for quality.

The ideal addition to your MiniTrack: view the Omegon Deluxe equatorial wedge in the shop now.

Explore Scientific: Guidescope and finderscope in one

February 9 2021, Stefan Taube

Small telescopes which are mounted parallel to the telescope fulfil two purposes: as a finderscope, they help the observer to navigate the night sky, whilst as a guidescope, they help with the astronomical mount’s precise tracking.

Explore Scientific Guidescope 8x50 Helikal

Explore Scientific 8×50 helical guidescope

The manufacturer, Explore Scientific, has produced two models which superbly meet the requirements for both of these:

Both scopes are equipped with a removable eyepiece. Without this eyepiece, they can be used as a guidescope with a helical focuser. They use a guiding camera with a mating dimension of 1.25”. With the aid of the guide sleeve clips, the guidescope can be aligned to a guide star. The camera keeps this firmly in view and corrects minute mount errors using drive pulses.

Using the eyepiece, small telescopes are converted into high-quality finderscopes, producing images vastly superior to standard finderscopes. The eyepiece is fitted with an illuminated crosshair.

Abnehmbare Okulareinheit

Removable eyepiece

Thanks to this practical solution provided by Explore Scientific an auxiliary telescope is only required for different applications.

New: StarAid Revolution standalone autoguider

January 21 2021, Stefan Taube

Autoguiding is understood to refer to the automatic monitoring of the tracking of astronomical mounts. This monitoring is required for astrophotography in order to keep the targeted object steady on the camera’s sensor.

There are a multitude of cameras available for autoguiding, however they require a laptop or PC and suitable software. Now, standalone solutions are coming out which do not require these supports. The latest innovation in this field is the StarAid Revolution autoguiding camera. Tracking monitoring is extremely simple using this!

StarAid-Kamera-Standalone-Autoguider-Revolution-Revision-B

StarAid Revolution standalone autoguider revision B

Plug & Guide: Connect the camera to your guide scope, connect it to your mount via the guide port, and voila! The camera kicks into action after around 30 seconds and sends corrective impulses to your mount’s motors.

But the StarAid Revolution can do even more: For example, polar alignment, the precise alignment of your mount with the Earth’s rotational axis. It is even possible to control the astronomical camera. An app is available for these additional options and also to monitor the tracking. In order to allow you to connect your smartphone to your autoguider, the StarAid Revolution creates its own WiFi network.

Revolution is a big word. Here, it really does apply!

Experience astrophotography with the Radian Raptor

November 3 2020, Jan Ströher

Under its own brand, Radian, the American telescope retailer OPT is now launching a high-performance, top-quality, and super-portable apochromat with triplet lens design, which has already created a great deal of enthusiastic anticipation among astrophotographers. The Radian Raptor is a light and compact photo machine which, with an aperture ratio of f/4.5, will, above all, ensure amazing deep sky images. With a shorter design and weighing just 1.8kg, the telescope can be attached to photographic tripods and travel mounts such as the Skywatcher Star Adventurer or the iOptron SkyGuide without any problem. This makes it a perfect travel companion that can be easily transported in the padded backpack supplied and fits in any hand luggage.

OPT has thought of everything you might need for successful astrophotography in this triplet apochromat:

A fast aperture ratio of f/4.5 allows short exposure times, ensuring that the Radian Raptor stands out as a fast wide-field device – ideal for images of emission nebulae, galaxies and star clusters.

The use of premium glass, coupled with multi-coated surfaces, results in this triplet apo’s colour-true, high-contrast and very sharp imaging capabilities. An already built-in corrector flattens the entire field of view, shows needle-sharp stars right up to the edges and so makes the use of full-frame sensors a pleasure. In addition, there is no need to purchase an additional flattener or reducer.

With a focal length of just 275mm, you have an ultra-compact telescope for extensive wide-field images: objects such as the Veil Nebula or the Horsehead Nebula in the constellation Orion fit completely into the field of view of a full-frame sensor. Here is an image of the California Nebula captured by the 61mm Radian Raptor:

A solid, rotatable 2.5″ rack and pinion focuser with a high load capacity and the 1:10 fine focusing ensure a stable connection to your camera and precise focusing. The hexagonal tube clamps have differently-threaded holes to attach various accessories and integrated cable channels in the clamps reduce cable clutter. Especially for astrophotography, other equipment such as guidescopes, dew heaters, control modules or remote controls are usually required in addition to the telescope itself. The Radian Raptor is designed by astrophotographers and takes all possible applications into account. The recommended back focus of 55mm can be achieved and precisely adjusted with the adapters included.

Another treat is the inclusion of two bars for attaching to your mount: a 4″ Vixen dovetail bar and a 6.5″ universal Losmandy bar with a correspondingly-wider surface area. Both bars also have threads to attach the Raptor to a photo mount. With these you have compatibility with all mounts/dovetail clamps.

Finally, you get a waterproof and padded backpack to safely store the Radian Raptor, which also offers space for a CMOS camera and other small items.

Experience a new chapter in astrophotography and optimise your equipment with the Radian Raptor**!

(**available from mid-November 2020 from us here at Astroshop!)

NBX – the new dual nebula filter from IDAS

October 19 2020, Jan Ströher

A new, high quality dual band filter has appeared on the market, in the form of the NBX nebula filter from Japanese company, IDAS.  It is especially efficient for nebula photography using fast optics, like the Celestron RASA, for example. Like the existing IDAS (Astro Hutech) nebula filters, the new NBX is of impeccable quality and workmanship.

The IGAD (Ion-Gun Assist Deposition) coating technology which has been specially applied to astronomical filters by the Japanese manufacturer, Astro Hutech, was originally developed for optical communication, where long-term stability (> 25 years) is required in rough field conditions.

IDAS NBX 48mm nebula filter

This leads to filters with robust coatings and durable spectral stability – even at extreme temperatures and humidity levels. This stability is especially important for bandpass curves with steep sides, such as H-alpha, LPS filters and other narrow band filters. Filters with IGAD coatings almost completely eliminate bandpass shifts of +/- 3 or 4nm, which are typical with standard filters.

The NBX is a dual filter which specifically focuses on OIII and H-alpha lines. The NBX‘s transmission curves in the H-alpha and OIII ranges are very clearly illustrated in these two figures:

Transmission curves in H-alpha

 

Transmission curves in OIII

 

You can see that the IDAS NBX filter primarily realises its full potential when used with very fast optical systems and astrographs, such as a Celestron RASA, especially fast Newtonian reflectors with f-numbers between f/2 and f/4 and special devices, such as the Officina Stellare Veloce RH 200 Mark II-AT (Riccardi-Honders).

The NGC 281 “Pacman” Nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia

This dramatically increases the contrast within emission nebulae, which predominantly consist of oxygen (OIII) or hydrogen compounds (H-alpha). Additionally, longer exposure times are no longer required, predominantly due to the use of the above-mentioned, extremely fast optics, but also due to the NBX filter’s special contrast effects. The filter is ideal for use with ‘one shot’ colour cameras and monochromatic CMOS cameras. An IR blocking filter is then no longer required. Additionally, the NBX is parfocal with other IDAS LPS nebula filters.

CEM70 with iGuider – the latest innovation from iOptron

September 23 2020, Jan Ströher

The American company iOptron, which has already built a good reputation for itself in recent years with innovative, efficient and quiet mounts, launched a worthy successor to the popular CEM60 in April this year: the CEM70.

The new CEM70 comes with the characteristic appearance of the proven CEM mounts. CEM stands for centre-balanced equatorial mount. This design allows a particularlyfavourable ratio of load capacity to actual mount weight. In the case of the CEM70, the ratio is 2.3. This means that the mount carries more than twice its own weight! So, the CEM70 is still suitable for mobile applications, but is also a very good mount for observatories.

The stepper motors and the toothed belt drive allow high pointing accuracy in GoTo operation, but most importantly, a very precise tracking accuracy with a periodic error of less than +/- 3.5 arc seconds. All this with the usual welcome quiet operation of all iOptron mounts.

Just like the CEM25P or the CEM60, the new model is perfectly suited for astrophotography. The highlight is a version which comes with iGuider, an integrated autoguider! In addition, both versions of the CEM70 have an ST4 interface, built-in GPS, a sturdy transport case, quiet stepper motors, the proven Go2Nova hand controller, as well as a dual mount saddle for Vixen and Losmandy dovetail plates.

With a maximum load capacity of 31kg, the CEM70 offers great flexibility for different telescopes and the appropriate photographic equipment. All in all, the new CEM70 is an even more portable mount with a wellthought-out design, useful functions and additional features, which also carries a higher instrument load even more safely, tracks quietly and precisely, and thus will never let you down during astrophotography! Both model versions can be found from us here at Astroshop.

MiniTrack with Polar Wedge: Photos made even easier.

May 6 2020, Marcus Schenk

Have you spent months marvelling at the photos of the night sky which your MiniTrack produces? Or have you often caught yourself thinking that you would like to take photos like these?

Today we would like to show you a combination which helps to make everything function even better.

MiniTrack mit Polhöhenwiege

A sample set-up for more professional photos: The Omegon MiniTrack with a camera and polarscope on the new polar wedge.

 

Picture this: It is dark, you can only just make out the outline of your MiniTrack and are kneeling in front of your tripod in order to line it up. You could say it is a bit of a test of your patience. Finally, you have to align the ball-head with the celestial pole. Ugh. If that doesn’t make you sweat at minus 5 degrees, nothing will.
Is there a simpler way? With more precision? Perhaps like you are accustomed to on big mounts?

A clever idea: now also for the MiniTrack.

Whether you have a MiniTrack LX2, an LX3 or the North and South variant: When combined with the compact Omegon pole height cradle, alignment with the north celestial pole is even more precise. Using adjusting screws for the azimuth and the polar height, you can set the required angle to the precise degree. This means you can work with your MiniTrack as easily as with any large mount. Due to the more precise setting, you can achieve exposures with fewer errors. This is indeed a clever addition which has been long awaited by many people.

 

How do you assemble your MiniTrack?

It’s simple: the polar wedge attaches to your tripod via a 3/8” thread. An integrated spirit level shows you when you have reached a level setting. Simply secure your MiniTrack using a standard Vixen-style dovetail bar. Your mount is then assembled and subsequently can be stowed away again in seconds, as usual.
Do you have a different manufacturer’s model instead of a MiniTrack? Of course, you can also use a different travel mount on the polar wedge.

Are you also inspired by the idea of creating better shots with the help of your MiniTrack? Then take a look at the Omegon Polar Wedge.

03.12.2021
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