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Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount
  
 
ghdarnell
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p.3 #1 · p.3 #1 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


I think I'm going to have to rent one of these for my trip to California! Would love to get some great night and milky way shots out in Utah and Colorado.


Feb 25, 2013 at 06:25 PM
DonH
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p.3 #2 · p.3 #2 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred wrote:
Curiously, the Canon 5D Mark III and 1DX have a built-in multiple exposure mode (not actually developed for this purpose). This mode could potentially be used to stack a maximum of 9 raw exposures into 1 raw file in-camera. (With the option to only save this resulting raw file). It seems to average the stacks increasing S/N ratio similarly to what Photoshop Stack Mode does. I will do more tests on this.


I see that the 6D also has this feature.



Feb 26, 2013 at 12:12 AM
MDBarrett
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p.3 #3 · p.3 #3 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Thanks for all the info. I have also been looking into this for quite some time and this thread helped me pull the trigger. I just ordered the iOptron SkyTracker and will be anxious to try it out on he next clear night. Looking forward to your blending tips Fred to help pull it all together!

Mike



Feb 26, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #4 · p.3 #4 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


blueimage wrote:
Wow Fred.....you're a quick study, and not shy about throwing on a 500mm to peak the challenge. Great results with the Astro, and I'm very interested in your impressions on the iOptron - it would be my choice for size/weight reasons, and it looks like you wouldn't need the geared head with it? Looking forward to your blending tutorial...thank you!

Jim


Thanks Jim!
My iOptron should be here in a few days. Once I get it, I will do some tests and post my first impressions.
Fred



Feb 26, 2013 at 08:43 AM
nburwell
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p.3 #5 · p.3 #5 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred Miranda wrote:
Thanks Jim!
My iOptron should be here in a few days. Once I get it, I will do some tests and post my first impressions.
Fred


I'll be interested to see your write up on it, Fred. I just ordered the iOptron last night from B&H. So I'm looking forward to getting out and testing it out when I receive it.

-Nick



Feb 26, 2013 at 03:02 PM
DonH
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p.3 #6 · p.3 #6 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Suggestion:

For those who will be ordering this, or any other gear, from B&H, go there through Fred's site here so that he can receive some monetary benefits from all his work for us. The link is at the top of each page "Search B&H Photo".



Feb 26, 2013 at 03:56 PM
dgdg
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p.3 #7 · p.3 #7 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred Miranda wrote:
Thanks Jim!
My iOptron should be here in a few days. Once I get it, I will do some tests and post my first impressions.
Fred


Wow, this is highly tempting.
The camera mount looks the same as the Vixen; I suspect it does not permit more weight but likely represents a more accurate specification.
The other shortcoming of the Vixen Polarie is that polar alignment with the much more accurate polar scope is done by inserting the polar alignment scope through the same port as the camera attachment. Obviously you cannot have both on at the same time. So if you fall out of polar alignment, off comes the camera to realign with polaris. This can be a pain. And wait, you touched the focus ring in the process and the socks with foot warmer packs around the lens end slid off (don't end your night early with dew!). Now I have to do live view infinity focus again. If you are doing some pure astro and trying to get something like andromeda, torque the system too much finding it, ugh.
Additionally, using the polar scope required some manual calculations and then aligning the dials on the scope like a combination safe lock. Although not beyond the capabilities of anyone here, it was cumbersome out in the dark and was tedious to repeat if you came out of alignment. That being said, the small package and results are a joy. Buy some pentax wp ii 10x50 binocs so you can see even more while you do a bunch of darks and lights of the amazing sky.



Feb 26, 2013 at 08:53 PM
JameelH
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p.3 #8 · p.3 #8 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Back to the astrotrac. Instead of the wedge, would a manfrotto 410 do the same job?


Feb 26, 2013 at 10:44 PM
harshaj1
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p.3 #9 · p.3 #9 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


JameelH wrote:
Back to the astrotrac. Instead of the wedge, would a manfrotto 410 do the same job?

According to OPT salespeople the answer is yes. What I don't know is if the wedge is better. than a gear head.
harsha



Feb 26, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #10 · p.3 #10 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


harshaj1 wrote:
According to OPT salespeople the answer is yes. What I don't know is if the wedge is better. than a gear head.
harsha


IMO, The Wedge is way better. I have tested the Astrotrac scope alignment using a RRS BH-55 ball-head, a Gitzo GH2720FQR Gear Head (better than the Manfrotto 410) and the Astrotrac Wedge. There is really no comparison here...

With a gear head or ball head, you get flexure. Meaning, when aiming Polaris to the etched mark, you have to aim it above the spot because once you lock it, the star will move down. After numerous attempts, you can get it reasonably aligned. For this task, a gear head is easier than a ball head but the Wedge is perfect because the movements are fine and precise. Once you align Polaris in the correct mark, you are done!
The 2-pound Wedge is also very stable supporting 15 times its own weight. (Over 30 pounds)

If shooting with a wide-angle lens, they will all work but if you intend to go beyond 300-400mm, alignment precision is a must. I will also get an auto-guiding device for the next new moon.

I'm very close to mod my Canon 6D replacing its IR filter with one transparent, increasing sensitivity of hydrogen-alpha.
As far as I know, it should not mess up the camera for normal shooting as long as you use custom white balance. (which I do anyways).
Talk me out of it. Please.



Feb 26, 2013 at 11:18 PM
 

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Sunny Sra
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p.3 #11 · p.3 #11 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred Miranda wrote:
I'm very close to mod my Canon 6D replacing its IR filter with one transparent, increasing sensitivity of hydrogen-alpha.
As far as I know, it should not mess up the camera for normal shooting as long as you use custom white balance. (which I do anyways).
Talk me out of it. Please.


Do it Fred..do it!!



Feb 26, 2013 at 11:39 PM
dgdg
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p.3 #12 · p.3 #12 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred Miranda wrote:
If shooting with a wide-angle lens, they will all work but if you intend to go beyond 300-400mm, alignment precision is a must. I will also get an auto-guiding device for the next new moon.

I'm very close to mod my Canon 6D replacing its IR filter with one transparent, increasing sensitivity of hydrogen-alpha.
As far as I know, it should not mess up the camera for normal shooting as long as you use custom white balance. (which I do anyways).
Talk me out of it. Please.


I have an astro modified rebel, and yes you can just adjust the white balance. Astro modified is great if you want to shoot a nebula, but o/w not so important. You can also buy filters that screw on the front of your lens that correct for the color balance of an astro modified camera. It would get you closer to begin with and maybe save you some pp time.
Keep in mind how far you want to go with more narrow fields. From what I read, the astrotrac autoguiding is in only one axis (RA), not declination. At some point a small goto mount could be a better option. It's kind of crazy when you look at what is available. You can go from looking at Vixen Polarie to a goto EQ mount, all in a few minutes.



Feb 27, 2013 at 02:11 AM
dennist
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p.3 #13 · p.3 #13 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


dgdg wrote:
You can go from looking at Vixen Polarie to a goto EQ mount, all in a few minutes.


Been there. I've looked at the Polarie, Skytracker and Astrotrac mentioned in this thread, as well as the Celestron CG-5 ($659), Celestron Advanced VX ($799) and the Orion Atlas EQ-6 ($1499), all of which are GoTo EQ mounts. the VX is a much improved version of the well liked CG-5. I believe the EQ-6 is the top of the entry level EQ mounts. I have heard that the CG-5 is not as accurate as the AstroTrac. I don't know about the VX and EQ-6 mounts. In addition to having the GoTo capability, the other nice thing about the EQ mounts is the payload capacity is much higher than the other trackers. More research to do.

This was one of my first attempts at shooting the night sky. No tracking on this one.

Dennis






Milky Way from Cumbres Pass, CO (10,000 ft)




Feb 27, 2013 at 04:57 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #14 · p.3 #14 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


This thread is getting interesting. Started with Steve's amazing article and now it's filled with great info.
We should have our own dedicated Nightscapes and Astrophotography board.



Feb 27, 2013 at 05:05 AM
lnorton
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p.3 #15 · p.3 #15 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred Miranda wrote:
This thread is getting interesting. Started with Steve's amazing article and now it's filled with great info.
We should have our own dedicated Nightscapes and Astrophotography board.


Yes please!

Seriously - this post (and subsequent responses including Fred's) inspired me to order the AstroTrac to give this a shot. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences & knowledge!



Feb 27, 2013 at 05:11 AM
blueimage
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p.3 #16 · p.3 #16 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


lnorton wrote:
Yes please!

Seriously - this post (and subsequent responses including Fred's) inspired me to order the AstroTrac to give this a shot. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences & knowledge!


Interesting indeed Fred, I think a new Astroscapes® board would blossom quickly. Steve's wonderful image and thoughtful write-up was very motivating...for many I'm sure.

I've ordered (2) Black iOptrons, actually 4, to hedge my bet on getting 2 before the end of the month. My safari clients have been looking forward to shooting the African night sky during the dark new moon...but having the trackers will add a whole new dimension. Having only one tracking head seamed very inadequate for a group, but with 2...everybody will come away with some experience, and images. Night time-lapses, star trails and still stars have been on my menu...the stills just got a big promotion by being tracked. Between the few reviews I dug up - and in talking with the good folks at iOptron, I'm confident the product will do well for my intended use...and save quite a few LBs over the other rigs. I may well get an AstroTrack down the road for heavier glass.

Thanks all for the inspiration!

Jim




Feb 27, 2013 at 07:15 AM
nburwell
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p.3 #17 · p.3 #17 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred Miranda wrote:
This thread is getting interesting. Started with Steve's amazing article and now it's filled with great info.
We should have our own dedicated Nightscapes and Astrophotography board.


I like your thinking! It would certainly be a way to share tips and advice for those of us interested in shooting the night skies.

-Nick



Feb 27, 2013 at 03:47 PM
dennist
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p.3 #18 · p.3 #18 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


I just had an interesting thought for the people who WANT star trails. If you have the Astrotrac and you are in the northern hemisphere, set it up for the southern hemisphere so it goes the opposite direction! Long star trails in half the time!

Dennis



Feb 27, 2013 at 04:08 PM
jsuro
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p.3 #19 · p.3 #19 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Here is an inexpensive mount that can be used with gear up to 4.4 pounds. It's small and packs easily:

http://www.thkphoto.com/kenko/products/astronomy/nanotracker/

Hutech has it for $299.00

http://www.sciencecenter.net/hutech/prices/mount.htm

Best,

Jose




Feb 27, 2013 at 04:09 PM
dgdg
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p.3 #20 · p.3 #20 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


jsuro wrote:
Here is an inexpensive mount that can be used with gear up to 4.4 pounds. It's small and packs easily:

http://www.thkphoto.com/kenko/products/astronomy/nanotracker/

Hutech has it for $299.00

http://www.sciencecenter.net/hutech/prices/mount.htm

Best,

Jose



that's a cool device too. Looks ok for wide angle, light loads. No way to polar align precisely (polar scope) is a tradeoff. For only $100 more you can get the ipotron with more payload and polar scope. On the surface, the ioptron seems a better deal.



Feb 27, 2013 at 04:23 PM
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