SharpCap settings for ZWO AS103MC and Lunt LS50THA

In preparing for the solar eclipse, I experimented with different SharpCap settings.  I settled on these settings:

  • Exposure – 1 ms
  • Gain – 45
  • Gamma – 25
  • Brightness – 0

Those settings resulted in the image below.  I also added the full listing of settings after taking the image.


Output Format=AVI files (*.avi)
Capture Area=728×512
Colour Space=RGB24
Discard Split Frames=Off
Turbo USB=80
Frame Rate Limit=Maximum
Timestamp Frames=Off
White Bal (B)=78
White Bal (R)=1
Auto Exp Max Gain=50
Auto Exp Max Exp=30
Auto Exp Max Brightness=100
Mono Bin=Off
Apply Flat=None
Subtract Dark=None
Display Brightness=1
Display Contrast=1
Display Gamma=1

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Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017

I went to Madras, Oregon to view the total solar eclipse at Oregon Solarfest

I setup a couple of cameras.  The first was using a solar filter over a telephoto lens on my Canon.  I took a couple of shots during the first contact phase.  The main effort was using the Lunt and ZWO to try to capture totality.  The last was using the Canon to record a video during the event pointed at the horizon.  The results are located in the articles wiki for astrophotography events for the total solar eclipse

The video of using the Lunt and ZWO didn’t turn out.  The still images are great but the video needed some different type of exposure settings.  The view from the Canon was fine but the video of the event using the Canon was great.  Like I read, it was great to record the surroundings and our reactions to the event.

The total solar eclipse itself was incredible to see with my own eyes.  I am sure with more practice I could figure out the exposure settings but it was just incredible to experience though way too short.  I was also amazed by the temperature change.  Didn’t expect that.

Lastly, here are some news videos for the place we camped and nearby:

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Focus ZWO AS103MC on Lunt LS50THA

I connected the ZWO camera into the Lunt eyepiece holder but I wasn’t able to get it to focus.  So, did some research on the Internet.  The trick is to unscrew the eyepiece holder and screw the ZWO camera directly into the diagonal.  The pull the diagonal back from the telescope to get it close to focus.  Then use the focuser to fine tune.



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ZWO ASI034MC Initial Setup

ClearSkyTonight_ZWO_2ClearSkyTonight_ZWO_1The initial setup was very easy.  The camera was a basically one piece.  I screwed in the eyepiece adapter and put on the cover.  I was going to use it as a guider so was only interested in the USB cable.

There was a small CD with drivers and a manual.  I read the manual and it said to install the driver and then test via some included software.  That all seemed to work fine.

Next, I looked for updated drivers.  The driver was to download the existing one and it removed the included software also.  But, I figured the new drivers were probably better.  I also found an updated manual

The manual suggested downloading SharpCap and FireCapture.  I downloaded and installed both.  They both seemed to connect to the camera and something was displayed though without being in a telescope and preview image was just a solid color.

But everything seemed to be working and ready to try in a telescope.


Why ZWO camera

It has been on my plan to get an USB camera for the next step in astrophotography after trying afocal.  However, in planning for the solar eclipse, I thought it would be better if I had a live image on the laptop screen then to have the family take turns looking through the eyepiece of the Lunt telescope. 

I had seen a lot of postings about ZWO cameras so did some research into the models.  I was thinking about maybe getting something in the $300 range but then decide to get the entry-level model for around $100 figured it would be fine for solar viewing and wouldn’t have to worry if I picked the wrong model.

I selected the ASI034MC