Monday, May 20, 2013

Messier 3 from April

One advantage of long periods of cloudy weather is the time it gives you to catch up on processing. I've had a shot of M3 sitting around for almost a month. I never processed it because it was an "end of the evening" afterthought. Low priority compared to getting my new planetary imager. Now that that's settled I took a look at it today. My first pass at processing it left it too yellow, and my in my second attempt I may have overcompensated.

Messier 3. Click image for full size.
Image details are here

The way things are going in terms of the weather I may not be able to resume my imaging Messier marathon project until the Wisconsin Observer's Weekend in early June.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Third Light with PGR Chameleon: Saturn

First light (5/12): I was using FlyCapture software distributed by Point Grey. The software behaved terribly, crashing repeatedly, but PG support was great in helping me to get the camera online. No .avi files were worth keeping.

Second light (5/13): Now using FireCapture software, which took some work to get going. The creator of the software is an active member of the FireCapture Yahoo group, and he responded to a question I posted almost immediately. Amazing support from both PG and FireCapture. Unfortunately, the night was really windy and the seeing was terrible. No .avi files worth keeping.

Third light (5/14--yes, three semi-clear nights in a row!): Everything was rolling, and the night was a little less windy. Seeing was still not at all good, but I did take some videos. Here's the "first light" f/20 image with my C925:

Saturn, the planet with those big bright rings
Awfully fuzzy, isn't it. And those rings look pretty shabby. Oh well, I'll blame the seeing.

And so another learning curve begins. I have a lot to learn about using FireCapture to optimize my imaging. So far Firecapture is far better than FlyCapture, Both in terms of stability and utility.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Point Grey Chameleon ready for action (clear skies?)

A long time between updates, but the weather has been incredibly awful. Clouds, Clouds, snow, Clouds.

But it was good for indoor activities like learning how to sell on eBay. My comic book sold for $300, and that along with other sales got me up to what I needed to get the Chameleon, a GSO Crayford focuser for my C925, and a nosepiece so that the Chameleon could use the focuser.

Getting the new camera to work was a brief bit of effort. The camera works well with FlyCapture software, also available from Point Grey. I made a mistake of downloading the latest beta of FlyCap, and it acted like a beta version: no video. As soon as I replaced that with the latest stable version everything worked great. The Crayford will give me zero image shift as I focus. Shift was obviously going to be a problem; the few times I tried video at f/20 it was hard to keep the target in the field of view.

Everything about Point Grey was superb. The camera was shipped via Fed Ex box in box in box; it works great, and when I wrote them asking for advice about the missing video their response was fast and professional.

Last night was the first one with the Chameleon under the stars. FlyCapture software is less than adequate, as it crashed repeatedly, and the GUI is clunky (in my opinion). I'm going to start searching for alternatives.