I already blogged about the new Phone Skope adapter that I was able to review as a demo unit. On August 1st, I took it back out to see what I could get for Jupiter and Saturn. Between July 31st and August 1st outings (i.e., during the day on the 1st), I revisited online what various people were doing with different scopes and smartphones to get seemingly much more impressive results than I was. I knew, for example, that Andrew Symes used video, and I had experimented a bit with video, but without much luck.
But when I reviewed a whole bunch of posts online on Facebook, google images, and Cloudy Nights, I had a small eureka moment. Not only were all of them using video, they were all using WAY more power than I was. While I was going up to a 15mm Plossl on my scope, which gives me about 135x magnification, I was reluctant to go much higher at risk of introducing too much turbulence and noise in the images. » Read the rest
On July 31st, I did a full test of the Phone Skope adapter while imaging in my backyard (full review available at Review – Astrophotography using a Phone Skope adapter). The various pieces fit together nicely and it has much nicer weight than the Celestron NexYZ behemoth. However, while it was a great test of the adapter, I wouldn’t say I made great success on my imaging technique.
I got a couple of shots of Jupiter:
I relied heavily on digital zoom, and found one of the moons photobombing:
And Jupiter is great, but everyone wants to see Saturn, right?
I even managed a shot of Albireo, not that you can really tell that is what it is.
A good test of the demo adapter I borrowed from Phone Skope, and a couple of interesting images in there. But the digital zoom is too noisy and I still need to improve my focus. » Read the rest
Today I’ll be reviewing the Phone Skope smartphone adapter for astrophotography using an iPhone XS Max and a Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope. But before we get to the review, I’ll give you a bit of history and colour commentary for my limited background in astrophotography to help inform your understanding of my review.
Getting started with astronomy and dipping my toe in astrophotography waters
I bought my 8SE scope just over five years ago, and my primary interest is and always will be visual observing. I have a small interest in astrophotography, and early on I played with a NexImage 5 webcam just to see if it was something I would cotton to quickly and fall in love. I didn’t. One of the reasons I had chosen the 8SE in the first place with its alt-az mount and goto capabilities was that I hate setup time, I don’t have the patience for an equatorial mount (at least not in my current configuration where I need portability for viewing), and adding in cables, a laptop, etc., » Read the rest
Earlier I mentioned that when you’re doing your initial camera settings, you could see how good your hardware was by looking at the maximum resolution of long exposures. If it crunches it to a much smaller size than your max resolution for normal shots, you’re kind of hosed for astrophotography. Like me.
But, sure, you can go into program mode. Max out your ISO, boost your duration to 10s or longer (too long and in theory you’ll get star trails), and BAM, a long exposure shot.
Here’s what I get when I set my camera for 10s @ ISO 1600 while looking at M003:
Isn’t that amazing? The depth, the colour, it feels like I could just touch it. A solid black image of nothingness. My sensor will pick up bright single stars (like Spica or something), but it will NOT register a DSO. Most of the time, it won’t even TAKE a picture — it basically gives an error that no picture was recorded. » Read the rest
If you don’t have very good control over your manual settings, or you can’t get a lot of images to stack, one solution that a lot of people use is to say “screw it” and just take a video. Usually, the power of the camera drops somewhat by going to video, but what you lack in initial power, you make up for when you take a video. For the ISO comparison, I shot the moon. Some of the manual controls in Camera FV-5 were overriding each other, but still, one way around a lot of short burst images is to do a video. Since Camera FV-5 doesn’t support video directly, I used the companion app, Cinema FV-5.
I shot one of the moon for 90s, and then ran it through the PIPP processor plus Auto-Stakkert. Here is the result, compared with the original single-shot earlier:
Video processed and stacked
Obviously, something went wrong in the stacking process somewhere, which is part of the challenge of using videos — you have to convert them essentially into frames and then stack them one on top of another to get an image. » Read the rest