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Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount
  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.4 #1 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


dennist wrote:
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


That is a great tip!! Thanks for posting it.



Feb 27, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Sunny Sra
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p.4 #2 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


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


Feb 27, 2013 at 06:37 PM
wlpelzmann
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p.4 #3 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Thanks for all the great info guys.

When I first heard of the Vixen Polarie last year, I thought is was a great concept for those of us that are interested primarily in "starscapes". I never cared much for star trail images. But I felt there were issues and features that required more research. This thread really helped me define the critical questions and understand the tradeoffs.

The Astrotrac with wedge is exactly what I was looking for.
Fred, your 500mm shot sold me on the wedge. I never considered 500mm as an option for any of the trackers.

So, I placed my order today. Unfortunately all of the US shops were out of one or more components, so I'll be waiting a couple of weeks for the backorder.

YES, I think a separate astro-nightsky forum is an excellent idea.



Feb 27, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.4 #4 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


I got a couple requests to show pictures of the set-up I am using:

Gitzo GT3541GL tripod,
Astrotrac mount,
Astrotrac Wedge,
RRS BH-55 ball head,
Astrotrac scope and
500mm lens.

PS: Note the scope is upside down. As Steve mentioned on his article, the polar scope is susceptible to fall. Once I polar align it, I usually reverse its position. (as shown on the pictures)






















Feb 27, 2013 at 08:17 PM
dennist
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p.4 #5 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred,

The Astrotrac Wedge you mentioned is the "Portable Pier Wedge" correct?

Dennis



Feb 27, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.4 #6 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


dennist wrote:
Fred,

The Astrotrac Wedge you mentioned is the "Portable Pier Wedge" correct?

Dennis


It's this one: http://www.astrotrac.com/Default.aspx?p=wedge

It can be used on a regular tripod (like my Gitzo) or the Astrotrac Pier.



Feb 27, 2013 at 08:44 PM
dennist
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p.4 #7 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


That's the same one. OPT called it the Portable Pier Wedge.


Feb 27, 2013 at 08:55 PM
Sunny Sra
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p.4 #8 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Need to put together a shopping list...


Feb 27, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Todd
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p.4 #9 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Fred Miranda wrote:
I got a couple requests to show pictures of the set-up I am using:

Gitzo GT3541GL tripod,
Astrotrac mount,
Astrotrac Wedge,
RRS BH-55 ball head,
Astrotrac scope and
500mm lens.

PS: Note the scope is upside down. As Steve mentioned on his article, the polar scope is susceptible to fall. Once I polar align it, I usually reverse its position. (as shown on the pictures)



Yeah Fred, I think I need to buy one of those wedges for the stability. Looks great! How does the AstroTrac do with guiding that 500mm? How long of an exposure have you taken at that focal length?

I tested the multiple exposure setting on my D800 tonight, but for some reason each image shifts to the right but a long exposure does not move. These were two minute exposures totaling four shots. It simulated star trails or made it look like the AstroTrac was not tracking. The noise was gone though....

I was testing my new Nikon 70-200mm AF-sG VRII lens on it (basically a star test) to see if there was any CA at f/4, there was none. Awesome lens. Very little coma at the corners. I'll go out again saturday night before the moon comes up to get more Orion shots....

Todd



Feb 28, 2013 at 05:21 AM
tkhasawinah
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p.4 #10 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Does anyone here have the AstroTrac mount with the wedge setup plus the following:

Nikon V2
Nikon FT-1 F-Mount Adapter
Nikon TC-20E III AF-S 2x Teleconverter
Nikon 600mm f/4.0G ED VR II AF-S SWM Super Telephoto Lens

The effective focal length would be 3240mm with f/8.0 aperture!!! If anyone has the setup, please post some photos of the distant galaxies. Thanks.



Feb 28, 2013 at 10:07 AM
 

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jsuro
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p.4 #11 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Here's a couple of my mounts:













In my experience the AstroTrac and Gitzo combination looks way too light for telephoto work. It might work under ideal conditions but even the slightest amount of wind would ruin the images. Even with the above mounts I will not shoot with a 650mm FL if the wind is higher than ~10 MPH. Then there are the mount induced errors that have to be handled in software. Small imperfections in the gears and polar alignment will show as oblong stars. There is software that we use to measure the periodic error in the gears and compensate for that. For slight polar alignment error we use a second camera to track a "guide" star.

Best,

Jose



Feb 28, 2013 at 10:43 AM
Klaus Priebe
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p.4 #12 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Really nice setup Jose and I sure like that AP mount!
Very true about the light astrotrac mount. Just a little breeze with a long FL lens will give you less than desirable results.
I really like the Takahashi P2Z mount for astro-imaging out in the field. The polar scope is one of the best and the tracking on these mounts are wonderful. It may be a little less portable but the results with it are amazing. IMHO the Astrotrac is the best of the small portable camera mounts out there. You don't get the bad PE as other tracking mounts have due to its large effective 24" worm gear with 6000 teeth. A big plus for long exposure imaging.
Below is an image of the summer Milky Way from the Double cluster to the south end of Cygnus with M31 in there as well.




Summer Milky Way Widefield




Feb 28, 2013 at 12:23 PM
EL_PIC
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p.4 #13 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


jsuro wrote:
...
In my experience the AstroTrac and Gitzo combination looks way too light for telephoto work. It might work under ideal conditions but even the slightest amount of wind would ruin the images. Even with the above mounts I will not shoot with a 650mm FL if the wind is higher than ~10 MPH. Then there are the mount induced errors that have to be handled in software. Small imperfections in the gears and polar alignment will show as oblong stars. There is software that we use to measure the periodic error in the gears and compensate for that. For slight
...Show more

True.
Vibrations Kill.
Even more with larger format cameras.
A. Adams said the best tripod is a ton of granite with a screw in it...
Words of wisdom no doubt.
How effective is IS and LENR (state which software) on these kind of exposures
What does IS do with a moving mount



Feb 28, 2013 at 03:37 PM
ghdarnell
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p.4 #14 · 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 YES YES YES! I remember the "post your best nightscape" thread from a few years ago when people asked for their own Nightscapes and Astro board. I still look at it. I don't know if it would be possible to add that, but it would be a GREAT idea.



Feb 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM
astro-ep
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p.4 #15 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


ghdarnell wrote:
YES YES YES YES! I remember the "post your best nightscape" thread from a few years ago when people asked for their own Nightscapes and Astro board. I still look at it. I don't know if it would be possible to add that, but it would be a GREAT idea.


+1 , on the Nightscape board

Eric



Feb 28, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Sunny Sra
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p.4 #16 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


+2


Feb 28, 2013 at 04:41 PM
ben egbert
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p.4 #17 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


I can see where this is headed. Like when I got a 400f5.6 to do BIF and escalated to a 500f4. But the stakes keep rising, you need a 1DX with a 800f5.6 and a full Wimberly not to mention access to birds.

Here we start with a $500 to $1000 starter gear and once hooked buy dedicated astrophotography gear for costs I can't even guess.

I already know from Tuesday night that when it is dark, about 9 degrees and your tripod wants to sink into the 2 feet of snow and so do your feet, I am not going to be able to adjust this gear. Heck, I can barely get the remote plugged in or turn on my headlamp with frozen fingers.


+3 on the astro forum. It is still very interesting.



Feb 28, 2013 at 05:12 PM
astro-ep
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p.4 #18 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


ben egbert wrote:
Here we start with a $500 to $1000 starter gear and once hooked buy dedicated astrophotography gear for costs I can't even guess.



You hit the nail on the head with that concept. But I suppose it's all relative to your level of addiction (I'm a full fledged addict ). I thought I had a lot invested, but regularly run into folk that would consider my set-up a starter system. These folks have more invested than I paid for my house.

Another concept that's difficult to grasp are the wait lists for some of the premium equipment. I own a Takahashi FSQ-106ED imaging refractor. These are readily available (or may sometimes require a short wait). Some manufacturers may require waits of a year or so for high-end scopes. AstroPhysics, a US premium astronomy equipment builder, has weight lists that are more than a decade-long, for some of their larger refractors.

Eric



Feb 28, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Steve Perry
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p.4 #19 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


@ Ben & Eric - Yup, I thought I was done with most of the expense till this thread started. The Astro Track is going to get a wedge pretty soon and I'll probably break down and get a dedicated tripod for it. Excuse me, I think I hear my wallet cryin'

~Steve



Feb 28, 2013 at 07:14 PM
jsuro
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p.4 #20 · Nightscapes using AstroTrac Tracking Mount


Klaus Priebe wrote:
Really nice setup Jose and I sure like that AP mount!
Very true about the light astrotrac mount. Just a little breeze with a long FL lens will give you less than desirable results.
I really like the Takahashi P2Z mount for astro-imaging out in the field. The polar scope is one of the best and the tracking on these mounts are wonderful. It may be a little less portable but the results with it are amazing. IMHO the Astrotrac is the best of the small portable camera mounts out there. You don't get the bad PE as other tracking
...Show more

Beautiful image Klaus!! What camera/telescope combo?

Best,

Jose

Ps.

Here is one I made with the first setup above (TMB 650, SBIG Camera and Astro Physics Mount):








Feb 28, 2013 at 08:08 PM
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