View Full Version here: : Test Session Debrief

10-10-2017, 10:27 PM
Today the weather in Melbourne was perfect! A nice 21 degrees and sunny during the day. While keeping an eye on the sky on the way home and on my way to squash it was super clear. Came home at 8 and after I had a shower and freshened up I decided to setup the scope and test out the new equipment I got and to make sure everything is ready by mid November for Snake Valley.

Things to test
- Weigh and balance the mount to achieve three different types of setups. This includes visual, CCD with filter wheel and DSLR (did this the other day and weight is perfect!) and + or - guidescope
- Setup autoguider with QHY and use PHD2
- StarryNight connection with ASCOM over Bluetooth
- How to do a star alignment with StarryNight using ASCOM over Bluetooth
- Attempt to capture Saturn with the Flea3 (no filter wheel)

What I achieved
- The connection with StarryNight worked a treat. Detected the scope through EQMOD
- The polar alignment was out by a lot so after finally finding Saturn (forgot to align the finderscope with the OTA so had to do this manually which took 15 minutes) I then synced it in StarryNight. After that I aligned Rigel and performed another sync. Once that was complete I slewed back and forth between those two objects and Saturn pretty much stayed centered so was very happy with that result. It can be refined further when out in the field but for home it's more than enough
- QHY talks to PHD2 perfectly

What I still need to test
- How to autoguide! Never done it before so a total beginner at it. I need to read up on how to use PHD2 and also learn about taking darks, flats, etc.
- The gamepad worked well at the start of the night but then it lost connection and stopped working. Looks like it's a driver issue so will need to test that out.
- DSLR with BackyardEOS

Questions of some confusing things!
- When trying to capture Saturn with my Flea3 it didn't seem very clear. It seemed to be lacking detail. Also I had to put my gain and exposure up almost max to see it. I don't remember having to do this with my other cameras I have had in the past. Also it was in focus but could it be weather related?
- I tried using the Flea3 and a Barlow without my diagonal but I couldn't get an image to show. Do you need a diagonal to get an image with any camera?

The mount seemed OK but does feel a little off. I did order the HEQ5 Pro belt mod upgrade kit as the crunching of the gears puts me off! Also after all the reviews I have read everyone is saying it's a mod well worth doing.

The light cloud cover ended the session however I do need to get up early for work tomorrow! Other than the possums making noises (which scares the crap out of me at night) and some bats in the distance it was a nice night. Temperature is good, had a few mozzies bite me at the beginning but they have now gone.


11-10-2017, 10:20 AM
Stefan, Saturn heads for the horizon pretty quickly at the moment so if it was getting a bit low that’d definitely make it more challenging.

PTGrey cameras are made for scientific applications so don’t necessarily feature as much gain as dedicated astro cameras.

What exposure length were you using?

11-10-2017, 10:32 AM
I was using Firecapture, cant remember off the top of my head but it was nearly max.

11-10-2017, 11:40 AM
Hi Stefan

I was also looking at Saturn last night, from between Dandenong and Cranbourne.

I think it was nice and sharp to start with, but, had gotten just a touch fuzzy by about 9:30. I suspect because it getting a bit low in the sky.

First time I was confident of seeing the Cassini division, and I am pretty sure I could see three moons.


11-10-2017, 11:51 AM
Yep by the time I chucked the camera in it was after 930.

I might try give it another go because Iíve seen what people have done with with the Flea3 and images of the planets that have been produced look really good.

There isnít much other content though online with that camera, I donít really want to get rid of it for a ZWO. I still need to try it on the Sun and Moon.

Paul Haese
11-10-2017, 06:21 PM

you can take good images with a flea3. I did for many years and these are just a few of them.

Saturn (http://paulhaese.net/Planets/Saturn17March2012.html) in 2012

Saturn (http://paulhaese.net/Planets/Saturn5April2013.html) in 2013

Mars (http://paulhaese.net/Planets/Mars17March2012.html) in 2012

Primarily you will need good seeing. Good seeing provides quite still conditions like those seen in this video (https://vimeo.com/229785537). If the seeing is not good it will be blurry.

If you are using a barlow then your image scale/focus will change and the gain/exposure settings will be too fast so you would not be able to see Saturn. You would need to up the gain/slow the exposure rate and look for Saturn which might well be out of focus a lot. Once you have the out of focus Saturn visible then you can focus and star working on exposure and gain.

I hope that helps.

11-10-2017, 07:58 PM
Woah those images look amazing! That has given me hope with what I can achieve with mine.

Thank you for that.

14-10-2017, 10:21 PM
Had a few more hours tonight.

Learnt how to use PHD2 as well as giving the DSLR a go with BackyardEOS. I was having some trouble focusing but I think a Batinov mask helps with this?

I gave my Flea3 another go but the detail just wasnít there again! I am not sure what I am doing wrong??? Maybe itís the seeing in Melbourne.

15-10-2017, 01:07 PM
Yeah a Bahtinov mask should get you focused :thumbsup:

If you're chasing gas giants at the moment, they're just not well placed. And like Paul says, it's all about the seeing...and there aren't enough nights when that's in our favour, on the east coast at least.

15-10-2017, 02:49 PM
Yep. Although the Flea3 looks like it will perform unfortunately not with my Lunt for solar :(