Ed Mann

All Sky Camera update – Long exposure/ Frame integration

Hi Folks

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

Watch this space……………….

Be afraid, be very afraid!!! – Baader 8-24 Zoom lens stripdown

Hi folks

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

Manual HDR post-processing of astro images

HI Folks,

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:-

IAS 2017 V1.2

Cheers

International Astronomy Show Day 2

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.

Click on this link to download documents from the show (copy of the conference brochure with speaker information, vendor’s address cards and information about products)

Andy

Thanks to Ed Mann for the panoramas – other photos taken by myself or Damian:

 

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International Astronomy Show 2017 Day 1

Back again at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry, this show provides a relatively local chance to listen to some excellent talks and go to stands from virtually every astronomy retailer in the UK. Much cheaper than Astrofest in London due to not needing to book hotels or train tickets.

Today, Peter Hill, Ed, Terry, Paul Simpkins and Pete Simpkin and myself arrived early to get the most out of the day.

Terry was attracted to a discounted Celestron Nextar 8 but we needed to wait and see if he buys it! He then expressed ibterest in a Donsonian mount with digital setting circles. He is keen to find an effective useful GOTO scope for hinself to use.

For myself I purchased a small meteorite as demonstrator for my talks on meteorite petrology and microscopy – I don’t intend to get into meteorite collecting. Financial ruin lies that way!

I also bought a book for a fiver, but nothing else has taken my fancy so far. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The talks differ from Astrofest in that at IAS they are 1 hour in length rather than the Astrofest 30 ninutes. This alllows much nore detailsd exploration of a topic. For me, this is one of the particularly positive aspects of IS. The first talk on the sun was excelkent. Starting simply, it built up to in-depth discussion on composition of Sun as found by spectroscopy. Brilliant stuff. Other talks turned out to be equally as good. Terry, Peter, Ed and I also attended talks on dark matter.

Stands are really interesting – even if I am not in buying mood. I enclose some photos below.

Andy

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Rosliston Science Discovery Day 7/10/2017

Thanks to Peter (Hill), Ed, Bob, Roger, Geoff, Terry, Heather and Damian, who along with myself talked to 50+ members of the public about astronomy at the science discovery day today at Rosliston Forestry Centre.

The weather remained dry although persistent cloud meant that solar observing was limited to a few precious moments in the first hour. I ought along my LOMO polarising microscope and folks were excited to look at the birefrigement colour patterns on meteor thin microscope sections and at microfossils in thin sections of fossil-containing rock. Problems with my power inverter left my laptop out of action but Ed’s battery saved the day for the microscope illuminator so that the public could continue to look through the microscope!

Andy

 

The picture below was taken today through the LOMO microscope using my Bresser MikrOkular camera – it shows microfossils in rock thin section. Birefringence in the crystals of minerals in the fossil-bearing rock is evident: