There are some cameras essentially born planet killers equipped with high fps and good sensitivity image sensors. ZWO is familiar name among these. As people have already shown the deep sky shooting potential with these, Khagol Mandal’s ANURAG SHEVDE was desperate to know how it is helped by having much awaited cooling. he was fortunate enough to get one such cool camera ZWO ASI224MC.
His excitement in his Own Words.
We see lots of results with C14 & large aperture or well-fortified setups and only handful of trials by small aperture regime. Thus I always asked Sam Wen of ZWO regarding how things will turn out with small amateur scopes or the people willing to get results without much complications or obscene investments into AP. Now is the time to test it myself!
• Deep sky Objects hiding behind glare of bright stars
• Fine details in nebulae
• Details in core of bright galaxies
• Dust lanes in edge-on galaxies
• Tiny planetaries (of all brightness range)
• Faint objects demanding lots of integration
• Narrowband trials (despite having color sensor)
• EAA from city and good sky. (I do a lot of outreach events)
• Experimental trial with combo of standard 0.5x focal reducers and Paracorr2 (keen to know experience if anyone has done that for uncooled version or any other sensor)
• Performance with Canon/Nikon lenses
• CCTV lens for wide angle patrol during Geminids
Setup with AT66 & de facto astronomer present during every imaging run
Of course how can I miss planets and moon…after all its already superb ability should get enhanced for faint end of things. May be fainter satellites? Let us see. Test Setup – AT66, 6″ f/4 Newt & 10″ f/4 newt to begin with. Ha, OIII filters, reducers & correctors, Eq3 & LXD75 mount, also keen to test many more setups of imaging buddies. Software – APT, Firecapture, Sharpcap, Pixinsight, Photoshop
Since the camera is sensitive having very low read noise, I intended to go beyond conventional unguided focal length limits for DSO as shown by many others over the CN imaging forums. And of course guided long subs in dark sky conditions can also be tried.
Unfortunately I’ve been victim of bad weather like never before with arrival of this new test cam. Pollution post Diwali festival fireworks, clouds, rain, fog, power outages, security at site, other workload; you name it & it’s been there as a wall preventing imaging runs. Moreover Last weekend was also spoiled by rainforest like weather pattern of clear during day, evening rains spoiling observing site into mud laden field and fully cloudy up to midnight and foggy post that up to sunrise! If onset of bad conditions attracted as new equipment curse could be the gauge to how precious equipment is, then this one will top anything I’ve ever received for astronomy!
Night was cloudy. Pole star was invisible. Essentially mag 1.5-2 city sky typical in the suburbs of Mumbai.
Yet managed to shoot beloved M42. I don’t know how many times with how many cameras I’ve shot this object. But it’s like going for it like a curious kid all over again!
Here is single 0.5sec sub. To see trapezium region clearly, 1200 such subs totaling just 10min could be taken before conditions again became murky. I gave a try with sharpcap for camera control.
Next Target: B33 The Horsehead nebula
To combat bad sky, I put in 7nm H alpha filter to see what happens. Well, nothing encouraging at sane gain. Out goes the gain slider straight to 500!
Yes. Then there was something looking like the horse head. I took in 30sec at 500 gain which was frankly too much to boot and avoided if you can give much longer guided exposures. There are other mono sensors if NB is the aim. But the color camera can also do it was satisfying and lot more data in NB & some broadband can be added later at dark sky site.
This one is result of just 20min total imaging time!
In the meantime, the frustration of bad sky was channeled constructively. Or should i say, destructively with a brute force into making EOS adapter for the camera. I had old defunct Canon 400D camera in closet. Salvaged EOS ring and plastic housing that could not be dislodged easily. Focuser to 2″ ring of suitable length was found (we do get lot of things for DIY in our own adapter museum don’t we?) Also looking for sub 1.4 aperture CCTV lens with suitable adapter.
With 6” f/4 telescope at otherwise mag 5.5 sky site, the nights were washed out by weather. But here is only one I got with partially cloudy sky in 8sec subs totaling 30 minutes and throwing away half of them during processing. Pardon the star shapes. I was too lazy to recheck collimation after bumpy ride to field.