Summer Challenges and Project Updates

As if this hobby isn’t hard enough by itself, sky conditions in the Midwest are rarely ideal for imaging. This past Summer was the hottest and most humid on record in the Chicago area. Despite a stretch of nearly a month without rain, consistently humid conditions left much to be desired in sky transparency. Along with a break in the heat came consistent rain and clouds, followed by smoke in the atmosphere covering almost all of the US and much of Canada from the devastating fires in California and Oregon. I’ve been able to image one night out of the last 30. There is a long stretch of clear nights ahead, but we’ll see if the smoke persists. I do have a couple updates.

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New Projects Coming!!

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve been able to post anything, but I have a couple projects in the works!

  1. A belt drive on a Meade LX85 mount with all parts ordered on Amazon Prime for less that $25! Update: This is cancelled, but look for a video coming for why this isn’t as practical as it first seemed.
  2. A full review and workup on the OPT Radian Ultra Qaudband filter. Is it worth the price?
  3. And… do you really need that $2500 mount for your 80mm refractor?
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Astrophotgraphy Filters for Imaging with a One Shot Color Camera (OSC) in Severe Light Pollution

That’s a really long title for a post, but the issue at hand is very specific, yet very common. Most of us don’t live in the mountains, or on a farm, or have the time to travel to a dark-site. We’re close to towns and cities spewing light into the sky. We have families and jobs and responsibilities.

In the worst cases of light pollution, narrowband imaging with a mono camera seems like your only option. That’s a heavy investment for a dad with a mortgage and three kids in dance. So a filtered One-Shot Color Camera is it for me…. but what filter? Check out the video below for the filters I use and the situations for them.

Read below after the jump for some more examples and a closer look at the transmission profile of the Optolong L-Pro and Hutech NB1 filters.

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Meade Series 6000 80mm APO Refractor

From the time I started observing the sky, outside of a cheap department store refractor, I’ve only used Newtonian reflectors or a variant of one. This is my first refractor, and for wide-field imaging, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to reflectors.

While the price can be significantly more than a reflector, I haven’t found any other downside. The Meade 80mm Triplet APO doesn’t disappoint. Check out the video for details.

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I Imaged During a Full Moon Right Next to LED Christmas Lights with a One Shot Color Camera…. and this is what happened.

Clear nights are few and far between in the Midwest throughout Winter. When they come along, I just want to get out and image. This night was no exception. So I decided to do a little experiment to see how the IDAS NB1 filter by Hutech would perform in the most impossible conditions.

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Meade LX85 Mount First Impressions

I’d been wanting to upgrade/update my old LXD75 mount for quite some time. The old horse has been tracking great, but I really want to take my imaging to the next level, and I had an opportunity for a package deal with an Meade 80mm triplet refractor that I couldn’t pass up. You can check out the video below, and/or read on for some first impressions.

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Stand Out

How to Differentiate Yourself in a Sea of M42’s

It’s the Orion time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. Images of the Great Nebula in Orion and the Horsehead and Flame nebulae litter Instagram and Astrobin on a daily basis. Images with great detail and small round stars look great, and really do stand on their own, but do they stand out? Can the average person who isn’t an astro-imager really appreciate the difference? Are you happy with our little astrophotography community appreciating your pictures, or do you have bigger aspirations of bringing the magic of space to the world through imaging and art?

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Is Astrophotragphy Getting Too Easy?

Everybody should be able to take pictures of space without having an astronomy degree, IT background, or having to take out a second mortgage. A lot of us like to think our little club is exclusive, but I think it should be more inclusive. I talk a lot about how hard and frustrating this hobby is on someone starting out, so I’m all for technology making things easier on us. But are these new phone image sensors and software all they’re advertised to be? And is an upcoming all-in-one scope, mount and imager misunderstood? Is imaging space getting too easy?

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Are we Living in the Greatest Time in Astrophysics?

You wouldn’t know it if you watch the news.

Stories about immigration, impeachment, sanctions, political investigations, attacks on oil fields and the like litter the headlines daily. These are deeply important to some, while others are more content to obsess over what celebrity did what to who, or who was airbrushed in what magazine. In the reality of the Universe, none of it matters. The celebrity with the DUI, the world leader threatening nukes. Even the events we view as the most important in human history are all pointless.

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