Experiences

Since I bought my first telescope at the end of 2020, my knowledge about the hobby “astronomy” expanded enormously. My interest was actually on observation of celestial objects. The first view through the eyepiece of the telescope fell on the moon. It was incomprehensibly beautiful and until today always interesting. Then with a zoom eyepiece I was able to see even more detail on the moon. When I met with Kevin to give him a look through the telescope, he was also infected by the hobby. At this meeting we also saw the Andromeda galaxy for the first time. What we saw was unfortunately a bit disappointing. We saw from the galaxy only a light spot. Nevertheless we were really excited. I could see the Orion Nebula well through the eyepiece and photograph it even better. The enthusiasm for astrophotography was awakened. Also the sun became the target of my observation (only with solar filter in front of the telescope).

Unfortunately, I had not exactly the best experience with he AZ-GTi. The focusing jerked in a certain time cycle, as if the gears did not grip properly. This could be seen very well when filming the moon. I then decided to open the mount and found that a gear inside the mount was grinding on the housing. Unfortunately this did not fix the jerking. But the AZ-GTi ran a little more quietly. Thus I lived with the jerks. To be able to make better long time photos, I converted the mount to the EQ mode and played a new firmware into the AZ-GTi, which also supported the EQ mode. Despite correct alignment, the approach of the objects did not work optimally. One night the approach worked reasonably well (still had to adjust manually) and another night it didn’t work at all. Eventually I got a Raspberry Pi with an Astroimage and connected it to the ÁZ-GTi with a cable. I quickly realized that, in my opinion, the MC 102/1300 telescope is actually more suitable for the Moon, Sun and planets and not for deep sky objects.

The decision whether you need a refracting telescope, newton telescope, reflecting telescopes or solar telescopes, depends in my opinion on the application, for what you want to use it and also what preferences you have. After thinking back and forth for a while, Kevin and I made an appointment at a specialty store we trust. I decided on the Sky-Watcher N150/750PDS with an EQ6-R Pro. I have not regretted this decision until today. When I set up and aligned the telescope for the first time, I realized that the purchase had been worth it. Without readjustment I got to see the Ring Nebula directly in the eyepiece. I was out of my mind and could hardly contain myself that night. I went to other objects and all of them were on target. The enthusiasm took no end. Before loud enthusiasm I did not even come to photograph. In the next days and nights I tried to deal with the telescope more deeply. The now without problems controlled objects I could photograph now also with GoTo by long time exposure well. With the purchase of a mini PC stick and the programs N.I.N.A., PHP2, Plate Solving and SharpCap I went now a further step. Again nights followed in which nothing worked. But from night to night it worked better and better. I am now so far that I set up the telescope and align with the polar finder already once roughly. Afterwards I take a more exact polar alignment with SharpCap. Now I started N.I.N.A. and Stellarium. My equipment (camera, telescope and guiding) is started via N.I.N.A.. Select object in Stellarium and transfer it to N.I.N.A.. Plate solving was done via N.I.N.A. and then guiding. Plate Solving with ASTAP still caused some problems. ASTAP recognized my 200mm Guidingscope not as 200mm but as a 183mm Guidingscope. As soon as I changed the focal length in N.I.N.A. to 183mm, the plate solving worked correctly. Once the guiding started, I was able to control my camera to the sequence entered using the EQ6-R Pro hand control. Currently, I was using a somewhat exotic “full spectrum modified” Olympus E-M5 camera for astrophotography, which is also not controllable via N.I.N.A.. This is also the reason why I use 2x Guidingscope. One is for guiding and the other is for plate solving. You can see my self made photos under “Photos”. They are not perfect yet, but for the beginning they are quite good. So if you want to do astrophotography, you should also think about a suitable astro camera. In my opinion you can’t avoid an astro camera sooner or later. Now it went nevertheless faster as thought. At the beginning of 2022 my equipment extended now by an astro camera (Omegon veTEC571C). With the new camera I could remove a Guidingscope from the telescope. The handling with the new camera has become much easier. Everything works without problems. I could already take photos with the new camera. The result (M106) is really good.
My colleague Kevin fixed me with his 3D project “Autofocuser”. To be able to do such a project I got myself a 3D printer. The Autofocuser was another quantum leap in my astrophotography.

My current procedure is as follows:
I set up the telescope at a suitable position and align it roughly to north.
I perform the polar alignment with SharpCap. Now I start Stellarium and select the object to be imaged. With N.I.N.A. under “Framing” the data are taken over from Stellarium. Now this can be taken over into the sequencer and possibly further recording objects can be added (planned). These planned objects can now also be saved, so that they can be inserted the next time without Stellarium. Next I start the sequence which cools down the camera to the set temperature. After that the telescope is tilted to the object to be captured and centered by “ASTAP (Plate Solve)”. If the telescope is aligned correctly, PHD2 is started for guiding. As soon as the guiding is started, the focusing of the object is done. Once this is done, the light acquisition will start. If the meridian is exceeded, N.I.N.A. automatically initiates the meridian flip, so that the telescope does not hit the tripod. Through all the automatic, you can now photograph the whole night without problems.

My next destination is a small apochromatic refractor, which can also be easily taken on vacation. Other destination: To have fun on many clear nights observing and photographing to be able to create beautiful photos as well.

So far my coldest night (-14°C). Telescope and all power packs have survived the night brilliantly. No mirror and no lens has tarnished.