new posts coming soon!
How I keep my astro images organized
Astrophotography is a pretty data-heavy hobby. One night of imaging can result in
dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of images. In this post I’ll go over my plans
to keep them organized, especially now that I’m starting to image remotely.
New name, new posts, new plans
If you’ve been following us you’ve likely noticed that we’ve changed our name
and URL, we’re now simply theAstroShed.com. The
near-term plan is to be able to image remotely. The weather that we’ve been
having lately has been very flaky, often not worth the 45-minute drive
(especially in the summer, when it feels like there’s only a few hours of
Out with the old (pier).
New camera and filter wheel
Undersampling: that’s what happens when the camera you use has pixels that are too
big for your focal length and seeing conditions. It’s also something that can
cause soft images.
I have a porch!
One issue that I had early on was getting to the astroshed. Not the drive (well,
the South Carolina roads do leave a bit to be desired). No, it was the little OSB
Messier Marathon, take one
A beautiful night at the Astro Shed. The plan? Image as many of the Messier objects as I can.
Introducing The Astro Shed
With the Astroshed nearly complete I thought that it was time to post some pictures of the progress and what all has gone into this project.
Groundbreaking! Building the Astro Shed
This post isn’t about astrophotography, but rather a place to do it from. My yard is pretty much out of the question, trees all around, with only a view of the northern sky. You know what else is north? Uptown Charlotte. I was thrilled when I learned that our local astronomy club had an observatory with much darker skies than I have.
Finally got back out under the stars
It’s been quite a while since I was able to get out to the observatory and actually manage to capture some photons.
First Light with the Takahashi FSQ-106EDX4, Paramount MyT, and Atik 16200 Mono
After waiting so long for the equipment, I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle. Miraculously, the first Saturday (July 14, 2018) after finally getting the last piece (another counterweight) it was clear with a fairly new moon. I packed up the family truckster with my stuff (I really should take pictures along the way!) and headed out to the observatory.
The Mount: Paramount MyT
I ordered pretty much the entire rig at the same time– the mount, OTA, camera, filter wheel, filters, guide camera, tripod, and an extra 10 lb weight for good measure. I already had a guide scope that I planned to use. About half of the equipment was in stock when I ordered, but I was aware that my mount wasn’t going to arrive at the same time as everything else; it was quoted as about a six-week lead time.
Power, Control, and Dew, oh my!
The last chunk of stuff from the initial bullet list (see “Pulled the trigger…”) I want to talk about together.
I needed a way to control all of this stuff
I needed a way to power all of this stuff
And definitely needed a way to prevent dew from wreaking havoc on everything
The Filter Wheel: Atik EFW3 and the case of the missing Astrodons
As far as the filter wheel is concerned, the frontrunner was actually one by FLI (I read several reports of folks having trouble with Atik’s EFW2). After talking with Larry at OPT I learned that Atik released a new filter wheel, specifically for the the 16200, the EFW3. That made the choice easy. I was quite glad that he mentioned it, since it wasn’t yet on OPT’s website. It’s really good to have someone help you with this process!
The Cameras: Atik 16200 Mono & ZWO ASI290 Mini Mono
After selecting the telescope other things started clicking into place. I had a telescope with a huge image circle, I needed to use it. When it came to selecting the camera there really weren’t many choices– I started with a pretty short list. Initially I was looking at at the QSIs - in particular, the QSI 683wsg-8, an 8.3 megapixel (3326 x 2507) KAF-8300 sensor with 5.4 micrometer pixels, also sporting a built-in, 8-position filter wheel for 1.25-inch filters. Unfortunately, a death in the family put QSIs in limbo for quite some time. I believe that Atik as helped ramp back up operations, but I haven’t looked into availability.
The Telescope: Takahashi FSQ-106EDX4
This post goes over my my thoughts when selecting the telescope for my imaging rig.
Trying to follow the advice of the masses, my requirements for the telescope were:
Small(ish) refractor, preferably apochromatic, either with a flat field, or a flattener available. Bonus points if the system allows threaded (vs compression) connections in the imaging train.
Pulled the trigger on the dream rig
That brings us to today.
Like many aspiring astrophotographers, I had my dream setup planned out. Like many plans, it was somewhat “fluid”.