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Posts Tagged 'astrophotography'

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.

It’s finally here! The Unistellar eVscope is now available.

April 24 2020, Elias Erdnüß

The Unistellar eVscope is a computer-assisted Newtonian telescope on an altazimuth GoTo mount.

 

After years of development, the eagerly-awaited eVscope from Unistellar, a French start-up company, is now finally in stock.  Until now it was only available to early supporters of the successful Kickstarter campaign, but now you can also buy it from Astroshop.

The eVscope simplifies the operation and extends the functionality of a classic telescope. It ensures that getting started in the fascinating hobby of astronomy is made as easy as possible.

Thanks to live stacking, the eVscope displays the structures and colours of nebulae and galaxies.

 

Unlike a classic telescope, the image is not generated directly, but instead is captured by a highly sensitive sensor. The image is then processed by an integrated computer, and projected through an eyepiece to the observer’s eye by means of a high-contrast OLED screen. The telescope can collect light over a long period of time (live stacking) and process the image in such a way that enables the structures and colours of faint nebulae and galaxies to be clearly visible! These details are usually not visible with purely optical telescopes of this size.

With an eVscope, a sensor takes an image of the night sky. This image can be viewed on a smartphone or via a live projection system using a high contrast OLED display.

 

In addition, the integrated computer makes operating the eVscope very easy: using visible stars the telescope calculates its exact position (plate solving). Then the built-in motors can accurately point to any selected observing target. Unlike conventional GoTo telescopes, you are spared the cumbersome input of GPS coordinates and the time, as well as star alignment which, for beginners, is thoroughly confusing. Simply switch on and get going!

You control the eVscope using a smartphone app. You can find more information here!

The SkyGuider Pro camera mount from iOptron is now available with an electronic polar finder

January 8 2020, Stefan Taube

The SkyGuider Pro is a very light mount on which you can set up a camera with interchangeable lenses or a small telescope. This approach allows longer exposure times and so you can create fascinating wide-angle shots of the night sky.

iOptron Montierung SkyGuider Pro iPolar Set

iOptron Mount SkyGuider Pro iPolar Set

The SkyGuider Pro is now also available as a set together with the iPolar electronic polar finder, which has been built into the mount. With this accessory, you can easily and very precisely polar-align your mount.

The electronic finder has a built-in camera. This shows the position of the northern celestial pole and the location that the polar axis of the mount is pointing at, on your laptop. Simply bring the two points together by turning the adjustment screws for the azimuth and altitude axes of the mount – and you’re done!

SkyGuider Pro mit iPolar

SkyGuider Pro with iPolar

The location of the celestial north pole differs somewhat from the location of the Pole Star. The electronics calculate the exact position using the date and time. Thanks to the sensitivity of the camera and the large field of view, this so-called polar alignment is successful even when the mount has been only roughly positioned. This also works in the southern hemisphere and even takes into account atmospheric refraction at low latitudes!

If want to do without iPolar, you can of course still purchase the SkyGuider Pro mount without the electronic polar finder here.

Now in stock: The Vaonis STELLINA smart telescope!

November 6 2019, Elias Erdnüß

Vaonis STELLINA: innovative control, top-quality design, high-tech

Observing the starry sky through a telescope is an unmatchable experience. However, observing some targets can be an anti-climax or even a disappointment: faint nebulae and galaxies are often only visible as shadowy undefined spots of light.

Beautiful details and colours are usually only possible with the help of astrophotography, where the light captured by the telescope is collected and accumulated over long periods of time, creating stunning images of these faint deep sky objects.

Astrophotography however is a hobby with an extremely steep learning curve. For a beginner it can be many months before the first beautiful picture is produced. Even after mastering the first steps in astrophotography, it takes many hours of processing the images before the nebula or galaxy is revealed in all its beauty.

The fully automatic STELLINA smart telescope from the French start-up company  Vaonis  promises to combine the advantages of astrophotography with the direct experience of live observing. This is done in as user-friendly a way as possible since the telescope has no eyepiece, but instead has an integrated camera. This means that images are continually being collected and processed. Using a smartphone or tablet you can watch live as, over the course of a few minutes, more and more details of the target become visible.

The control and operation of the telescope is revolutionary and simple. At the push of a button, STELLINA orients itself completely independently using visible stars. The desired observing target is then selected using a smartphone or tablet. The telescope travels to the correct location in the sky – that’s it!

M83, the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy – with STELLINA, details and colours are clearly visible in the spiral arms.

Of course we at Astroshop were also curious whether  STELLINA  actually keeps its promises. Luckily, we have already been able to test it. As a matter of fact, we have never seen a GoTo telescope that can be controlled so intuitively and easily without prior experience. Even after a short time, the resulting pictures show an incredible amount of detail compared to what is expected from a conventional telescope. Although the quality of the images is not quite comparable to those from a professional astrophotographer, (here an automatic process can’t yet replace the expert), the images are almost immediately visible, not only after hours of processing. Therefore STELLINA is perfect for shared observing with friends and acquaintances.

Until now this telescope was only available by pre-order. From now on  Vaonis STELLINA is in stock and directly available. The ideal high-end Christmas gift!

Tip: A guide for photographers on how to get started with simple astrophotography. Read also the article „A Beginners Guide to Astrophotography“ on the pixpa blog.

ASIAIR – astrophotography has never been so easy!

December 17 2018, Elias Erdnüß

The brand ZWO is, especially thanks to its powerful and user-friendly CMOS astrocameras, a frequently heard name in amateur astronomy.

With the ASIAIR control unit, ZWO now promises to fundamentally change the astrophotography scene! It’s a compact computer (Raspberry Pi), that is secured to the telescope of the mount. The device can do everything you expect a computerised telescope system of the 21st century to do!

Mount, camera, filter wheel, and autoguider are connected with the ASIAIR. Via an app for Android or iOS, everything can be controlled centrally and wirelessly via WLAN from the smartphone or tablet. You’ll no longer need to take your laptop with you to autoguide and to use cooled astrocameras. There are also advanced functions such as plate solving at the press of a button.

 

 

ASIASI communicates with the telescope mounts via the instrument neutral distributed interface (INDI) and so is compatible with most available GoTo mounts. The only snag: The device only supports ZWO cameras, autoguiders and filter wheels.

Other manufacturers like PrimaLuceLab with the EAGLE 2 are following similar approaches to computerisation. This one may feature higher performance and a wider range of functions, but there’s also the user-friendly ASIAIR for just a fraction of the price.

New, high-performance astrophotography computer, the EAGLE series

April 10 2018, Elias Erdnüß

With the brand-new models, EAGLE 2 and EAGLE 2 Pro, as well as with the upgraded EAGLE CORE, the innovative Italian company, PrimaLuceLab, is taking astrophotography into the 21st century.


Many astrophotographers use a laptop: to control the wide range of camera equipment, autoguiders and filter wheels and to save the shots you take, a portable computer is essential. All devices must be connected separately to the battery and be connected to each other properly. It takes times and you end up with cables all over the place. When using heater bands, you need ever more controls, and this creates even more cable chaos. This hardly bothers those who have their own small observatory: All the equipment can remain permanently and perfectly set up with ideal cable routes and cable ties, and everything is controlled via a PC that is installed in the observatory.

EAGLE 2 makes this comfort also available to astrophotographers without an observatory! The EAGLE 2 computers are full, high-performance Windows 10 computers on which you can install any software, just like a PC. Using USB connectors, cameras, mounts and autoguiders can be connected to the EAGLE 2, and it also features 12V outputs to supply the power for mounts, camera cooling systems and heating bands. The power supply of all the equipment operates like that via EAGLE 2 and can be set and controlled. A compact battery with just one single 12V direct current output is now all that’s needed! The EAGLE 2 is not just another device that takes up extra time every night to set up and for all the cables to be connected. It has many mechanical connection possibilities so it can be permanently connected to your equipment. The idea is to set up the optimum mechanical connection and perfect cabling once, and then carry it as a whole without stumbling or getting tangled up.

The greatest highlight of the entire system is, however, the Wifi capability of the EAGLE 2. From any terminal you want, whether it be your smartphone, tablet and even a Mac, you can control the EAGLE 2 remotely and wirelessly. On the terminal, you’ll see the familiar Windows 10 interface of the EAGLE 2 and can use it like any normal PC.

The pro version of the EAGLE 2 computer is fitted with more working memory, a more powerful processor and a larger hard drive. It is perfectly suited to more CPU-intensive image processing or other advanced application that go beyond simple telescope and camera control. The inexpensive small brother is the EAGLE CORE. There’s no Windows 10 running on this; instead, it has special software for controlling DSLR cameras and autoguiding equipment. So, the EAGLE CORE is the right choice for DSLR astrophotographers who want to use an autoguider without having to take an extra laptop with them.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a new laptop for astrophotography for a while, you really ought to consider the EAGLE 2 computer as an alternative. A permanently installed solution, no messy cables, no problems with power supply and comfortable wireless remote control all speak for themselves!

Lunar photography with a smartphone: the Omegon Easypic smartphone adapter

April 27 2017, Marcus Schenk

In the past, taking a photo of the Moon required quite some effort. Take the pictures, develop the film and hope for sharp images. And then came the disappointment if the Moon appeared blurred. This became considerably easier with digital and mobile phone cameras.

In the meantime, smartphone cameras have reached an outstanding level of quality. Which is a good tool for Moon photos, provided that we can tightly mount the phone to the telescope.

Let’s have a look to see how everyone can take a photo of the Moon through a telescope.

The Moon – shot with an Easypic adapter, an Omegon 8″ Dobson with Redline eyepiece and an iPhone.

Der Mond - aufgenommen mit einem Easypic Adapter, einem Omegon 8" Dobson und einem iPhone.

The difference to other adapters

The Easypic universal smartphone adapter follows a different route to his competitors. Most adapters have a clip that closes around a 1.25 inch eyepiece. The mobile phone is then separately held by a clamp and needs to be correctly positioned above the eyepiece. In itself this is a quite good system but needs quite a lot of experience on the part of the photographer. And in the end, everything must sit tightly in place.

Now the night is not always the right place for patience. And it is pitch black!

Is there no easier way? Yes, sure there is! With self-centring.

Here is how to prepare the adapter

With the Moon in the sky, you direct your telescope to Earth’s satellite. It is already nicely visible through the eyepiece. Now your smartphone and the Easypic adapter are going to play their role.

On the back of the adapter, loosen the small screw for the holding clamps. Pull the holding clamps fully to the outside. Then place your mobile phone with its camera lens directly over the central hole. Slide the holding clamps back against your phone and tighten the screw again. Check that the clamps fit tightly so that your mobile will not come loose.

Here is how to connect the adapter to the eyepiece

Now to the easy part! Hold the adapter with the smartphone to the eyepiece, making sure it has direct contact. Then turn the big screw on the side. This allows the movement of three bolts, which accurately clamp around the eyepiece at the same time. This way the adapter centres and fastens automatically around your eyepiece. The camera lens of the smartphone is perfectly aligned with the middle of the eyepiece.

For you this self-centring means: more focus on your object and less worry with technical details.

All done.

So sieht es aus: Das Smartphone am Teleskop und der Mond im Zentrum.

The photoshoot: The Moon in your smartphone

If your camera app has been switched on, you should now see the Moon in your display. Correct the focus once again and everything is ready for taking the photo.

These steps are necessary:
•    Switch off the flash
•    Activate the timer
•    Adapt the exposure time, if necessary and possible

Now press the trigger as usual and take a photo. This image of the Moon was taken with an Easypic universal smartphone adapter and an Omegon 8 inch Dobson telescope.

Using neutral density filters to reduce brightness

In most cases adjusting the correct exposure time is enough for successful Moon images. However, planets like Venus or Jupiter very often appear too bright in an image. They are over-exposed. The planet discs appear burned out. The solution: neutral density filters and variable polarising filters. This is our trick to be able to show the details of the planets.

Conclusion:

A smartphone in combination with an Easypic universal smartphone adapter allows you to take quick photos of the Moon and planets. You don’t have to be an expert: even connecting to the eyepiece is child’s play. All you need to do is position the adapter correctly. The smartphone takes photos of the Moon with outstanding sharpness. A fact that all of us could only dream about a few years ago.

17.01.2021
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