After finding out the other day that my ZWO 174 camera doesn’t seem to work anymore, I decided to hang my Canon EOD 450D onto the back of my 8″ Celestron SCT to grab some snaps of Orion while the weather was good (yes, that day really did happen!!)
I was quite pleased with this one although I can’t remember how to get a resizable image onto the blog
My camera’s gone back to 365 Astronomy and they are sending it back to ZWO for replacement (I hope)
Ed Mann and I attended again the Astrofest amateur Astronomy conference in Kensington, London. As usual the talks were fantastic covering a wide range from being part of an astronaut rexperience in the antarctic to a review of Cassini and Juno to SETI, the radio universe, dark energy, Victorian amateurs by Allan Chapman, Libyan desert glass, New Horizons at Pluto and beyond and a range of others. One other attendee told memthat in her opinion the talks were betterthanb last year. I am not able to judge myself as they’re great every year in my opinion.
There were also plenty of visitors – this conference appears to be doing better than IAS in this respect. The final session was sold out.
However, the exhibitors were limited with virtually no bargains, hardly any stock and a generally depressive attitude which was a shame. Sadly this year this conference was not the place to come to find a wide range of kit.
Overall still an enjoyable experience and worth coming.
Andy and Ed
Video from Astrofest 2018 in London:
Andy tries to dock with the ISS on a Soyuz simulator:
In my typical fashion, the most ridiculous thing happened to me whilst operating this simulator. I gave up just before the end, believing I would not succeed. I got up and then my educator suddenly shouted, “I have never seen that!” After I let go of the controls, the simulated Soyuz spacecraft drifted sideways to a perfect docking! I don’t think I would have succeeded in doing this had I carried on trying to dock the thing……so I ended up with a certificate of successful docking!!
Allen Chapman talks about Victorian grand amateurs in the lecture theatre:
Photos from some of other talks:
Dallas Campbell, TV presenter from Stargazing Live and Gadget show, with Andrew (below) :
Dallas Campbell talks to Astrofest:
The only stuff I bought from Astrofest this year – truly! Two mission patches for Tim Peake’s mission to ISS – one for me and one for Damien.
I’ve been experimenting with the All Sky camera setup to try and extend the total exposure time for an exposure. One limiting factor is the camera firmware which limits exposure to 1 second.
The way that iSpy gets the images from the camera is using a combination of RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol). The command line for that is the funny string of characters you entered when first setting up the camera (rtsp://admin:@192.168.1.253:554/mpeg4)
This is then passed into iSpy via FFMPEG software, which is basically a communications interface. Here’s where I’ve made a discovery. I can change the command line to allow frame integration of 2,4 or 16 frames i.e. 2s, 4s, 16s exposure.
I still have a little more playing about to do before I release the command line but it looks promising. The FFMPEG documentation is a nightmare but it’s incredibly powerful
Some of you may remember that I picked up a Baader 8-24 zoom lens from Astrofest a couple of years ago for £60. It was complete but the mechanism was a bit crunchy and sticking. Eventually it packed up completely. This left me with two choices, abandon it, or to attempt a very complicated and almost impossible rebuild.
Anyone who knows me would guess that I went for the second option!! So, heart in mouth, I went for it
I would immediately stress that, unless you are very technical, or completely mad (like me), **** DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ****. There are lots of tiny screws, lenses and spacers and plenty of grease.
The problem I found was that there are three rollers/ guides that run in a helical groove. See the screwhead to the left of the 20 in the first picture. If you look at the second picture you can see there is no roller. The screw of that, and the third roller , had sheared. These screws are tiny M1.8 x 4mm screws.
This is where the fun part/ insanity started, as I had to either extract the sheared screws or drill them out with a 1.3mm drill. It wasn’t possible to extract them so I had do some very nervous and careful drilling. This also involved a complete stripdown to clean everything. I mentioned plenty of grease … it was everywhere!!!
I gave everything a good clean and (eventually) got it all back together, and IT WORKED!! Yayyyy . I now have two working zoom lenses
At IAS this year, Paddy Gilliand gave a fantastic talk on picture processing. He showed an example where the original image looks virtually washed out. By careful splitting of the image into different exposures, he managed to recreate something that I think is pretty damn good.
Look at the section on Manual HDR. It looks like a good process, and very effective. The link to the slides is below:-
Damian and I arrived at 09:15 at Stoneleigh Park south of Coventry for day 2 of the International Astronomy Show (IAS). We arrived at the same time as Terry and met Ed as we went around. Damian’s enthusiasm was infectious and we enjoyed a fantastic day in which we went to every store and explored every nock and cranny! We spoke to exhibitors, learnt about new products, discussed advances in amateur astronomy and the problems of selling astro equipment in a post-Brexit, poorer UK. I learnt some important information from Gary Palmer on using my Daystar Calcium Quark filter, we saw mounts with direct drives, large beautiful mounts that could be assembled and dissembled in < 3 minutes (each of assembly or disassembly), large scopes, small scopes, filters, power supplies, solar scopes, observatory automation equipment, observatory domes, mounting accessories, flat field plates, telescope storage bags, astronomy art, remote observatory rental companies, astronomy holidays, local astronomy societies, history of astronomy, second hand books, binoculars, more binoculars, bigger binoculars, enormous binoculars, refractors, reflectors, Cassegrains, Dobsonians, cameras – tony, larger, and enormous, connecting leads, dew heaters and bands, eyepieces, filter changers, eyepiece turrets, finder scopes, and even a microscope, amongst others. There was so much to see that Damian and I never got to see a lecture today!
Terry made up his mind and purchased an absolute bargain of a scope – a Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 and Sky-Watcher 80 ED scope with all necessary accessories – I think he found the bargain of the show! Well done to him and to everyone who found what they wanted or just enjoyed the day!
In the evening many members of RAG enjoyed a fantastic meal at Pizza by Goli in Lichfield.