Friday, August 3, 2018

The CLS-CCD Filter From Astro-Shop has Arrived!

I'm very happy to report the arrival of the CLS-CCD Filter, from Astro-Shop in Germany.
As is always the case, whenever a new piece of Astro equipment arrives, there has been nothing but cloudy skies & rain/thunderstorms. 
So, I've been unable to test it yet...
For now, I'll post some Pics I took of the filter - It arrived professionally packaged/well-protected (see below). It looks very promising, I'm looking forward to testing... 

The professionally packaged CLS-CCD Filter, by Astronomik on the right. The Optolong "CLS" version of it, on the left.

The Optolong "CLS" Filter

The Astronomik CLS-CCD Filter
The quick Pics above were taken of a ceiling fan, fitted with CFL (Compact Fluorescent Tube) bulbs; with a point & shoot camera. Consumer grade CFL bulbs are proposed to emit full-spectrum light.

As soon as I get a clear night, there will be more to report.

Clear skies!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Upcoming Product Review - The CLS-CCD Filter from Astro-Shop

The next product to be tested and reviewed here, will be the (original) CLS-CCD Filter (Clip-In for my Canon T5i).
Which can be seen Here from it's true place of origin.
(Site is in the German language, use Google Translate, if needed).

I'm looking forward to doing a shoot-out between the original, high-quality CLS filter and the inexpensive copy from Optolong...
I have a "CLS" clip-in filter from Optolong here, which I've been using...
I purchased it, used, via Cloudy Nights

And I've been assured, by a representative from Optolong, that the layers, optical coatings and etc. have remained unchanged 
for the past eight years.
So, in other words - There is no difference between an Optolong "CLS" filter purchased eight years ago, and one purchased today.

I'm really looking forward to the arrival of the CLS-CCD Clip-In Filter from Astro-Shop.

Clear skies!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Book Review: The Deep-sky Imaging Primer, 2nd Edition

I'm so glad to have found this book! It's definitely one of the best I've seen so far, on the subject of Astrophotography - And I wanted to share this discovery right away!

Here is the link to the book on Amazon, where I bought mine: 

The Deep-sky Imaging Primer, 2nd Edition

As received from Amazon, the book arrived sealed in a cardboard pouch. It is a softcover book and is a easily manageable, comfortable size.

Price - (at the time of this writing) is $42.70 U.S. Dollars.

The book's contents are very well arranged. 

This particular book would be ideal for someone who is interested in improving their understanding, as well as their skills in the art and science of Astrophotography.

I have purchased and read many books on the subject of Astrophotography, and Astronomy in general. And at some point, I will post reviews of all of them here.

But, this book has earned a place at the top of my list, along with only a couple of others.

Exemplary photos may be found throughout the book, as well as excellent screenshots from Astrophotography software. There are several before/after comparison shots of Astrophotography images throughout. 

This is only a partial review - I actually have a lot more to write and share about this book. But, I wanted to at least get the word out about this book (for now); and the sooner the better. Like most amateur astronomers, I tend to buy a lot of books on the subject. Especially the subject of Astrophotography, because I need all the help I can get! 

I've purchased more than my fair share of books which failed to impress me, many which were only marginally helpful, and several which were complete wastes of money.  So if I can save a few people some money, then let me go ahead and post about this excellent book right away. 

This book is wonderful - and will make a  great addition for many astrophotographers. It contains very useful and practical information - You won't be disappointed. 

Much more will be added to this review, in the near future! Stay tuned... 

Clear skies!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Few Of My Most Recent Images

I'm definitely overdue for the sharing of some images...
These are...Umm...not very good. But, they are the best I've been able to do for now.
They are the pics which I share with my friends and family, which is why I tend to label the objects. Well, I've come a long way from my film days.

Stack of 13 frames, less than 40" each.
You can see how my post-processing skills need a lot of work...

This is a stack of only 10, 20-second shots,

The North American nebula (NGC7000) Stack of 26 frames.

The above shots were made with an Astro-modified Canon T5i, using very inexpensive lenses, on the homemade, motorized barn door tracker.

Clear skies!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Finally! A Decent Lens For My Canon T5i 📷

To make a long story short, until now, the only 2 lenses I had for use with my (Astro-modified) Canon T5i were:

  • A very beat-up Canon 75-300mm with plenty of small scratches on the front element, and a missing AF/MF switch. However the seller was a very nice guy: He knew that I was pretty desperate to get a lens (any lens) just so I could start shooting right away. So he found it for me, and gave it to me for $20.
Sometime later, I got myself...
  • A new Yongnuo 50mm F/1.8 - Which has a housing made from plastic, and has lousy (soft) optical properties. Yes, I know, I know, it's only a $50 lens which was made in China.
I hope to post some of the resulting images from each of these two lenses very soon. I've finally managed some which aren't too awful...

And so, today, my new Opteka 85mm F/1.8 "portrait lens" arrived
I chose it, mainly because it was $99.95 - and I'm on a low budget.
Luckily, just about everything I'd read about it was positive.

Well, the lens arrived (from B&H) today, and it looks very promising. I'm very excited to try it out; but of course, I don't even have to mention what the weather will be like for the next few days, do I?

Well, I hope to add a bit more to this post later, and...write some new blog posts about some of the other things going on.
Oh, and books! ...A few short book reviews will be coming...

Clear skies!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Just Some Pics Of My (low-budget) Barn Door Tracker Mount.

This is my current, low-budget, tracking mount. It's a barn door tracker, which was made by another amateur astronomer. I got it from Astromart.

I made a few minor improvements, and I'm able to get up to 50" exposures (some times) without star trailing.
I'll add some more details to this post in the future...

Clear skies!


Friday, June 8, 2018

Nebulosity Software! And Some Links...

It's always neat to find out that your original software license is still valid :)

Check out Nebulosity, and the various other software at the Stark Labs Site

Here are some great DSLR-Astrophotography Links I just came across:   




Clear skies!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Back Into Astrophotography and 2 Great YouTube Channels

Well, I'm "officially" back into Astrophotography 📷
And I've never been more focused on trying to improve my captures, stacking, and results. As always, there is a lot more to learn...
Thanks to the generosity of a fellow named Sebastian, from the Cloudy Nights 🌙 community: I got a (motorized!) Barn door tracker. He only asked that I pay for Shipping.
I've actually owned a few different barn door trackers in the past... But this is the first time I've gotten one to work properly.

I assembled, tested, and adjusted the barn door tracker. And I got myself a (new) sturdy tripod, a good ball head mount, etc. And use it on every clear night now - It's like my best friend 👍

Since I can't see Polaris, from where I set-up (The Pantry Window Observatory): I'm getting up to about one minute exposures (without star trailing). I use a protractor for a (rough) polar alignment: Set altitude to 42° (here in NY) + an azimuth to true North (determined by compass, etc.). 
For me, it's magnetic North + 14° West. So, my alignment isn't perfect, of course... I begin to get egg shaped stars in my exposures when I go above a 135mm lens.
But, 30 seconds with a 100mm or 135mm lens makes me very happy! I hope to write more about this in a future post.

Barn Door Tracker in action

In any case, these are some of the realities of doing astrophotography on a low budget.  

View out of the Pantry Window Observatory

As for a future (dream) project, I'd like to hook up a one shot color CCD to a Canon lens 👍 I did it once, with a Meade DSI, years ago. It was fun; and some of the resulting images may be seen right on this blog (older posts). A low-cost achrochromtic (80mm) refractor would work as well. One with a fast F ratio, and a low price tag would be great...

I have recently discovered two great amateur astronomers, who actually discuss low budget astronomy equipment!
Many bloggers and YouTuber's claim to focus on affordable equipment...But these two gentleman are the only ones that I've found who do. I cannot recommend them highly enough!

I strongly urge all amateur astronomers to check out their YouTube channels:

There is a lot more that I'd like to write, but my chronic pain and Fibromyalgia has me stuck in bed today.

Clear skies!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What This Blog Is About

This Blog is about challenges. Or, more accurately, overcoming challenges. It's also about tolerance, and about patience

This Blog explores the hobby of amateur astronomy, as enjoyed by:

Those who live under severely light polluted, urban skies.


Have a very limited budget.

This particular blog is unique, because it deals with the existence of both of these conditions.

My hope, is to share as much useful information on this blog as I can. So that perhaps one day, this blog may also be considered a great resource, for those of us dealing with the same challenges.

Clear skies! 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Just An Old Pic I Found

...And this is what a well collimated reflector looks like:

Clear skies!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Electronically Assisted Astronomy...

I just stumbled upon this gentleman's site.
And absolutely love his work; especially his writing.

He very eloquently (and amusingly) describes the typical plight of urban amateur astronomers. I've recently become very interested in EAA, and just learned of the existence of this software.

He is the creator of AstroToaster - An extraordinary camera controlling application, that anyone interested in EAA will eventually discover. As for me, I'm very excited about it, and will be going back to that Site right now; to absorb everything I can about this (relatively) new method!

Much more to follow (when I'm on an actual keyboard).

Clear skies!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Inspiration For Urban Astronomers - Especially Astrophotographers!

My Brothers, Louis & John, sparked my interest in binoculars & telescopes at a young age. 
Later, my Brother John bought me my first telescope, I believe it was for my 14th birthday. It was a small refractor, and I've been lovin' Astronomy ever since. I'm 48 now.

I've never let the fact that I now live in an urban area stop me from enjoying Astronomy. Why should I?
I'll admit, I've become pretty frustrated in the past. Even took a hiatus from the hobby, several times. 
But the important thing is to keep coming back...

More to follow...

Clear skies!