Astrophotography at

Posted by XTSee on 17th June , 2008

A friend of mine (James Billings) who is also into astronomy, has some pages on his web site dedicated to his telescope and astrophotography. He uses a TAL-2M telescope (solid Russian build) on an equatorial mount, and a webcam and a DSLR camera for his pictures. James has been doing astronomy a couple of years longer than me, and has some interesting shots of Saturn over the years, and also a transit of Venus, amongst other things like the Aurora, Moon, Jupiter, comets and so on.

You can find them on his Astrophotography pictures with a webcam and DSLR pages.

And click here if you want to read about his TAL-2M 6 inch Equatorial Mount Newtonian Reflector Telescope.

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Problems using a webcam for astrophotography

Posted by XTSee on 17th June , 2008

Another interesting email I received recently, which may provide some answers to other folk:-

I too am new to astronomy and bought a 8″ Orion SkyQuest XT8. I’ve been playing around some old webcams but am only able to get an image using an eyepiece and leaving the lens on the webcam. Am I missing something here? I don’t see anyway its going to focus without an eyepiece. I can project an image on to a piece of paper but have had no luck projecting directly onto the camera chip without the lens. Any suggestions?

In theory you should be able to use your webcam at “prime focus”, i.e. with no eyepiece, and with the webcams lens removed, but with a nosepiece adaptor attached (this is what I have).

The nosepiece obviously gives the required 1.25inch fitting to go into the eyepiece holder, and it should also provide a screw fit for a UV/Infra-red filter to screw into (because usually the IR filter included as part of the webcam standard lens is not very good for astronomy). Also the interior of the nosepiece should be “baffled” (stepped) to reduce reflections.

More importantly the nosepiece adaptor adds sufficient distance between the webcam and the eyepiece holder to achieve correct focusing. (The filter plays no part in focusing). You may need to search carefully for the correct nosepiece adaptor for your particular webcam, i.e. correct diameter and length of thread, to go into the webcam. The first adaptor I got was the wrong thread length!

How far away do you have to hold the piece of paper? That should give the clue as to the required distance to form a focused image on the CCD chip (I guess you’re looking at something easy/obvious like the moon?). I believe you can also get extenders (basically a hollow tube used to push eyepieces, etc further out of the holder so they can achieve focus).

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The Orion XT10i in terms of Astrophotography

Posted by XTSee on 8th June , 2008

Someone emailed me about how well the XT10i fares for astrophotography, and I thought our email conversation might be useful to other people considering the XT10.

Hi James, I am currently looking into re-starting my astro hobby (I used to have a - self built 15cm F/5 newton) and while binoculars are nice, I am looking into something bigger.
So, I bumped into your site after searching for more info about the XT10i. I’m very tempted by it. But there’s a big but here.. I am also a photographer, and “
dobsons are useless for astrophotography”, as everyone says. Now, your site is the first where I see a mention of astrophotography combined with a dobson.. unfortunately no samples.. have you tried anything yet? I’m very curious which subjects are doable.. I understand deepsky long exposures will be tricky/impossible, but personally I think planets/moon should at least be possible? > > Anyway, you’re now in my bookmarks.. well, your site is, keep up the good work.
Marco, Netherlands -

Hi Marco,

The XT8 / XT10i certainly seems to be a favourite amongst people looking at getting a new telescope. That certainly was the impression I got while researching before buying mine. And making the decision was very tough, but based upon getting the best light-gathering scope I could for the money, plus the computerisation of the Intelliscope.

I am just about to start work on the XT10i Astrophotography section of the site.

My initial attempts are very basic. The Moon, Mars and Saturn. Unfortunately the English weather this year has been so terrible since I got the scope that I have had very few opportunities to try out my webcam, and so my pics so far have been afocal using both my little Pentax Optio L30, Pentax Optio L30 and my JVC GR-DX300EK video camera, although some of the results have been not too bad.

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Orion XT10 Astronomy Blog now LIVE!

Posted by XTSee on 29th May , 2008

Tonight I have added this excellent blog theme called Dark Planet to my blog, and have made the blog live via links from my main Orion XT10 website.

This blog (much like all blogs I suppose) is initially intended simply as a personal reminder of what I have done and when, in relation to my astronomy hobby. The blog will allow me to make quick posts, since creating new pages or sections in the main web site is usually more time consuming and requires a little more planning.

Sometimes I just want to quickly “jot down” notes from a nights observing session, etc. So if anyone finds it useful also, thats a plus! In which case I hope you enjoy my musings :o)

Comments are welcome (except spammers!), so please feel free to let me know your opinion.


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Moon and Galaxies in Ursa Major

Posted by XTSee on 10th May , 2008

Moon Spotting

Today was a nice warm, spring day, and the evening was quite mild. Ideal to get the XT10 out for some viewing. Stars weren’t particularly bright tonight, but the scope soon revealed quite a reasonable amount of depth.

Tonight I wanted to focus on observing the Moon, which is 5 days into new moon, and also I wanted to get better acquainted with its features, in conjunction with the laptop running Virtual Moon Atlas which I downloaded and installed earlier this week.

I started with my 13mm Hyperion with both 14mm and 28mm fine tuning rings, plus 2xBarlow to give a good close view, and started to use VMA to show points of interest along the terminator.

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New Orion XT10 Assembly section complete

Posted by XTSee on 9th May , 2008

I have just finished the assembly section of my Orion XT10 web site. This new section has about 15 topics covering the construction of the Orion Skyquest XT10 Newtonian Reflector telescope from start to finish. There are many pictures providing good detail, and various tips and advice for anyone who plans to purchase this astronomy telescope. My new web site also provides a full review of the Orion XT10i Intelliscope.

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