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11/30/-1
    
Friday, March 6th, 2009
Tonight I tried the new William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD apo refractor - thought I'm using it as a guide scope. It did a great job and has a nice focal length at 388mm to guide the 800mm focal length R200SS.
In order to use the DSI with it I needed to either use a long extension tube or a star diagonal. Tonight I tried the diagonal, I'll try the extension tube next time.

Something that I found surprising was that the stars were quite dim compared to using the finder as a guide scope. I think this may be due to 2 things:
1) The f ratio of the finder is f/4 or so and the ZS66D is f/5.9
2) I was using a very cheap star diagonal which is likely losing some light

*UPDATE* I pulled the diagonal and went with an extension tube and the stars were immediately brighter. Cheap diagonals cause significant light loss.

So I'll need to continue to play with the settings and configuration until I really have it dialed in.

The moon was 3/4 full tonight, but in my test of the new guider and what guide settings work best with it, I shot M51 while I did so.

The clouds were coming and going and I only took 8 dark frames for 16 light frames (not a good ratio!) so the image is pretty poor, but it's here and I'm posting it anyway.

M51
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Baader MPCC
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 48 minutes - (16 x 180s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


Image Gallery For This Session
M51 Bad Night 48min New Set Up
   

M51-Bad_Night-48min.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
Brightness:
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Comments:
On 03/12/09 at 04:03am Neil Heacock wrote:
LOL.. yeah, the number of wires is ridiculous, but what FUN! I just uploaded a diagram of the setup for you (or anyone else interested) to see.

To answer your questions:
1) The camera is on the underside because it's perfectly balanced there for Dec balance.

2) The wide field camera is on a pretty heavy duty ball mount that is screwed into where the "toe saver" bolt goes and the camera becomes part of the counterweight system (rather then adding weight to the load - pretty sneaky eh?). The counter weight bar is shortened to bring RA into balance.

I can run both the scope camera and the wide field camera at the same time with the DSUSB and a DSUSB2. So now I can take a wide shot of, say, Rho Ophiuchi (only the most awesome wide field complex in the sky) and be zoomed in on M4 with the scope. Oh yeah baby!

On 03/08/09 at 08:20pm Jeff wrote:
Nice M51 Neil, I like that you included a shot of your setup. Man, thats a lot of wires. I see you have the camera and focuser on the underside of the tube, at least in the mounts home position. Is there a reason for that or is it because it makes mounting the guide scope easier. Also, thats a neat setup with the other camera hanging off the counter weights. Its hard to tell from the picture but it doesnt look like its attached to the counter weight shaft itself but somehow hanging off the counter weights themselves. Is that the case or just an illusion from the photo.

Jeff.



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