Afocal Astrophotography on LightBridge

The first step on astrophotography on the LightBridge was to attempt an afocal setup using a Canon PowerShot SD780 IS point-and-shot camera.  After the counterweight issue was resolved, the next issue was to get the camera into position using the Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount.  The SteadyPix was completely adjustable but also made it more confusing to get everything to align but finally I did. 

One problem was getting the image to look centered in the camera and also not have random spots displayed.  I zoomed in a little and that fixed the issue.

Once the image looked good, I experimented with camera settings.  I switched to the P mode manual option.  I then set the ISO to either 1600 or 800.  I changed the metering to “spot” but left it on Auto White Balance (AWB).  I set it to the highest resolution JPG files.  I turned off all flash settings.  Lastly, I set the self-timer to 2 seconds to avoid any motion after clicking the shutter.

I took some test shots of an electrical pole in the distance.  Overall, the images were fine though not as focused as looking through the eyepiece but the next step will be to try with astronomy objects.

Overall, the setup was fine but the SteadyPix was a little too complicated to get everything set.  I had to remove the camera a number of times to remove the SD card to check the results on my computer.  That wasn’t really the fault of the SteadyPix but made the overall configuration less than ideal. 

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Counterweight for LightBridge

When I started testing my point-and-shot camera doing afocal photography, I added an Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount.  However, when I pointed the LightBridge at a telephone pole in the distance for testing, the LightBridge tube was too top heavy.

I did some research and one common solution was to add some magnets.  Though it wasn’t as easy to purchase some magnets that also had some weight, I eventually found enough and they acted as a counter-balance.  It was nice in the end to have a number of smaller magnets because I could remove them if needed.  I also got some felt to prevent any scratching.

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Observing Session-July 23, 2016

I was hoping to get a chance to try out the Lightbridge on Jupiter which was in the west sky.  But, a few clouds were always in the way and Jupiter would set below the horizon.  But, Saturday night was a clear sky.  I tried a couple of eyepieces and was amazed to actually be able to see some of the cloud bands on Jupiter.  This got me all excited that the Lightbridge finally amazed me.  I tried to get some photos through the eyepiece with my iPhone but it wouldn’t focus.  Oh well, more things to research.

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LightBridge accessories

I wanted to purchase a 1.25” to 2” eyepiece adapter.  I was going to purchase Meade version but then noticed a similar one by Orion Telescopes.  They also had a more expensive version that was better centered called the Precision Centering Adapter.  I decided to order that one.

I also decided to get a collimator.  Again, I was thinking of going with the Meade model especially since it has an adapter too.  But, again I went with a Orion version called LaserMate Deluxe II Telescope Laser Collimator.

Finally, I decided to get a case to hold all these accessories.  The carrying case for the ETX had spots for many things but figured another one would be nice to have.  I went with a Orion Large Deluxe Accessory Case.

In the future, I will get a light shroud and a cover to leave the telescope out at night to cool down.

I also wanted some option to store the telescope.  Due to its size, I figured a case would be too expensive assuming anyone even made one.  But, then I found forum post that mentioned using a Dewalt tool case.  I got one of those and will now be able to store it safely and without worry about dust.

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Observing Session–June 18, 2016

The eyepiece adapter arrived so decided to try again to see Saturn.  The adapter worked fine and Saturn was bigger but still a little disappointing.  I figured I should work on collimating next.  But, the moon was out so looked at that.  Wow, that was very cool to see it up close.  I decided to try taking some photos using the iPhone through the eyepiece.  Definitely need to do some more research but some images did come out.  I posted them on the wiki under observing sessions.

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Meade LightBridge 10”

Since I own the Meade ETX-90EC, I was thinking my next telescope would be Dobsonian.  This was mainly because of the cheap price for the large mirror.  I decided to get the Orion SkyQuest XT8 Plus.  I figured 8” was a good step up and liked the accessories this model had.  So, it was on my purchase list but something else always came up in the budget.

But, I was also monitoring Craigslist for any used telescopes.  Most were cheap models or really expensive ones.  I figured if I was going to spend a few thousand dollars, I might as well purchase new.  But, a used Meade LightBridge 10” went up for sale.  The owner said it was used once and wanted $400.  I confirmed the new price was $700.  I was a little concerned if there might be something wrong with the mirror since used and not sure how to check it out.  But, figured worse the risk.  I meet the seller and everything looked okay through it was still in parts from his last move.  I purchased it.

I got it home and that weekend, unpacked it and reviewed the manual from Meade’s website.  The assemble wasn’t bad and the initial assemble of the device was already done.  In addition to the included accessories, there was a zoom eyepiece and an extension.  There was a moon filter too.  But, the 1.25” to 2” eyepiece adapter was missing along with a cover for the eyepiece holder.  But, in general it all looked fine for a used device.

I did have some issues getting the red dot viewfinder to align.  I had a hard time figuring out how it was supposed to work.  Finally, it starting moving.

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