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Old 01-11-2009, 10:10 AM
jase (Jason)
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Advanced Imaging Conference 2009

Well its that time of the year again for the astro imaging mecca that is AIC. Arrived Thursday and met the usual suspects, Adam Block, Tom Harrison, Warren Keller, Tony Hallas and others. Apologies, I haven't had time to provide updates until now. Too much good info.

Participant line up, presentations and vendor showcases have been sensational so far. Similar to last year (AIC2008), I'll try keep you posted with events and news. Again, if there is anyone else here from Oz, PM me and we'll catch up. Martin Pugh doesn't count anymore, but was good to catch up with him.

Attached is the agenda.
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File Type: pdf 2009_AIC_final_agenda.pdf (100.8 KB, 60 views)
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:16 AM
jase (Jason)
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SBIG News

For those considering the SBIG STX series, specifically with KAF-16803E chip, please be aware that you need new 65mm square filters in order to use the internal guide chip simultaneously. SBIG can provide a swap out 50mm square filter wheel for those using the remote guide head instead of the internal guide chip. Anyone who has researched the 50mm square filters will quickly realise these aren't cheap, but are progressively coming down.

Filter manufacturers have begin producing 65mm square filters. At the conference Astrodon has made the announcement of the new 65mm filters GenII HaLRGB at an introductory price US$2800.

SBIG have also advised that they are coming out with a ST-8300M and ST-8300C. They will start at US$1995. This is almost $2k cheaper than current competitors. Note these are based on the ST series, not STX. It will use new filter wheels CFW5-8300 US$600 and CFW9-8300 US$1100. The new filter wheel will use new filters which are 36mm, not 50mm. This requires new filters to be produced by the manufacturers. You will not find any info on SBIG's site as this was only announced a few hours ago.

Attached is a pic of the STX-16803 next to the STL series. Above is the new 65mm 5 position filter wheel.

UPDATE: I had a closer look at the 5 position 65mm filter wheel. The thing is massive, so much so that I would suggest it would come close to hitting mount/pier when imaging close to the zenith. SBIG have plans to produce an 8 position filter wheel, however it is suspected to be a different design such as a sliding window as a circular filter wheel will be too large.
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Last edited by jase; 01-11-2009 at 02:45 PM. Reason: UPDATE
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:20 AM
jase (Jason)
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Bisque News

Software Bisque, manufacturers of the Paramount ME are coming out with the smaller version of the PME. It will have 7.5" RA and DEC gear with 6" bearing. Similar software feature set as the MKS4000. I would suggest this is in competition with the AP Mach1 mount as their goal is for something more portable for field operations. No pictures to show for this.
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:24 AM
jase (Jason)
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Astrophysics

They decided to bring out the two prototypes;
305mm f12.5 Maksutov Cassegrain with Carbon Fiber Tube
305mm f3.8 Riccardi-Honders Astrograph
Mounted on the 3600GTO German Equatorial Mount with Servo Motor Drive - "el Capitan".

More pics and updates will follow assuming I have time.

Oh, Tony Hallas has released a set of processing DVD's and Adam Block has also released his 4th edition DVD which builds on his first 3.
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Last edited by jase; 01-11-2009 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:35 AM
jase (Jason)
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12" and 16" ASA's
Ceravolo Astrograph
Chronos mount with 16" Dreamscope
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  #6  
Old 01-11-2009, 12:08 PM
dpastern (Dave Pastern)
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Pity it's over in the US

Dave
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:58 PM
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Thanks Jase, that stuff is unreal, please post pics in my price range.

Leon
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  #8  
Old 01-11-2009, 02:19 PM
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telecasterguru (Frank)
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It is extraordinary what is now out there and what is going to be out there.

Frank
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  #9  
Old 01-11-2009, 02:39 PM
jase (Jason)
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Apologies for the small image sizes. I'm using MS Office Picture Manager which is lame. No choice as this is a work laptop.

Here are a few more pics;

Astrohaven dome - 7 foot.
Ceravolo300 astrograph kiosk
ACP kiosk with Bob Denny doing a demo
RCOS Kiosk with Military 24" RC and 14" RC on table
Apogee Kiosk with U16M w/DF9 cooling on display
Astrodon Kiosk - copious amounts of filters and moags on display
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:02 PM
jase (Jason)
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PlaneWave

These guys are out in force during the conference. The Ascension 200/HR mount was on display hosting their 20" instrument. The 17" and 12" were also present. Along with the new 28" truss. Which to say the least looks quite remarkable. The internal baffle rotates 180 degrees to align with either side of the scope (nasmyth focus).

Pics
From left to right - 12", 17" and 20"
Ascension 200 - 2 pics
28" truss on nasmyth focus fork - 2 pics. 28" mirror has not been coated.
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  #11  
Old 01-11-2009, 03:47 PM
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Think im going to come along next year... Hopefully anyway..

I was a bit bummed I couldn't organise myself to get there this year actually.. There was a few things being covered that I was really looking forward to seeing.. Ken Crawfords' talk about his 6 filter narrowband imaging technique would have been the highlight, but also the couple of photoshop workshops etc... Would be quite enlightening..
Oh, And the fact that I'm an insufferable tech-head and would love to be drooling over all the gear you've photographed! haha

Last edited by AlexN; 01-11-2009 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:08 PM
dpastern (Dave Pastern)
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Nice stuff, but way out of the price ability of the average person...you should see the looks on the guys faces @ work when I drop prices on the gear to some of them...it isn't pretty!

Dave
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:44 PM
Dennis
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Hi Jase

Thanks for posting the news and photos – I’m just so relieved that I’m in Oz with my credit card and not over there. I’d hate to think what damage I’d do to our finances otherwise!

There sure is some superb equipment out there and also looming on the horizon – inspirational stuff indeed.

I hope you enjoy the conference and your short stay over there.

Cheers

Dennis
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:57 PM
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Thanks for keeping us appraised Jase. Quite interesting.

I take it then that SBIG has finally sorted out the A to D convertor on the STX series? That Sensor is massive and I can see that the new large format STX series will be in the real of the rich. Do you know why they went back to the ST design with externalised filters? I think the STL series looks and is efficient. I guess the practice is quite different though.

Interesting new scopes, did you find something you liked?

Might have to do this one year myself. Not for some time yet I suspect.
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Old 01-11-2009, 07:03 PM
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Paul - There is some killer cameras in the STX lineup.. Optcorp have them on pre-order already, and they are actually quite reasonably priced.. They offer many advancements that will see STL owners moving up to the STX..

Granted, externalized filters adds cost to the overall setup, however its much easier to change filters and filter wheel carousels with an external wheel as opposed to the STL setup..

I've got my eye on the STX 10100C, Would prefer if they made a mono version of that sensor, but I'm definitely waiting to see the QE graphs..
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:54 AM
jase (Jason)
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No further issues on the STX A to D converter. There were a few problems with the filter wheel - specifically the filter sizes. The filter wheel assumes a 5mm thick filter, but no-one is actually producing 5mm thick 65mm or 50mm square filters as yet. So when you purchase the Astrodon's, I believe they're at 3mm thickness, hence you need spacers.

They kept the ST8300 without the integrated filter wheel (STL type) to keep the cost low. Obviously with the ST8300C you don't need a filter wheel as its a colour chip. Seriously, this chip is prosumer as Kodak supply a few camera manufacturers hence its mass produced, thus lower cost. This will be a logical step for many DSLR users wanting an entry level CCD system. I mention the intro price of US$2k, which is quite reasonable.

The STX line up as it stand today is with the 16803 chip - nothing else. The STX body can accommodate other chips of course, but nothing clearly planned as yet. It is expected the next chip that will hit the production run was the 6303 chip in the STX body. Cooling on the STX is far superior than the STL and ST series, but you pay a premium.

I didn't come here for the gear, thats just a bonus. I came to speak with others on what they're doing on the processing front. As many will know equipment is not my key interest, but the art of data processing given its at least 70% of the effort in producing an image.

I've got to jump on a connecting flight, will try post some more info when I get moment.
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:13 AM
jase (Jason)
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Officina Stellare

Officina Stellare appeared to be new comers to the field, however they have similar look as A&M so think its simply a spin off company. If there was a bit of gear that did impress me most was their rendition of the Riccardi Honders. As you'll note in the Astrophyics post, they too have produced an RH. The Officina Stellare kit is pictured below - Veloce RH300

300mm (12") F/3 astrograph. Flat 60mm image circle size. 900mm F/L in a very compact tube.
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:24 AM
jase (Jason)
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I think I may have a few other shots that I can offload from the camera shortly. I enjoyed Tony Hallas' presentation and workshop. He's quite laid back approach to processing which I felt appealing. Some go at it with a more mathematical approach. Tom Davis' approach was pretty cool. Really funny presentation using the basic Noel Carboni tools for his wide field work. Certainly no smoke and mirror magic work there.

All presentations from the sessions will be available in a few weeks time. Ken's six filter workshop .pdf will be approx 500mb in size due to embedded videos on clipping masks etc. Most of this information is readily known. If you're not using clipping masks in PS for narrowband imaging, you should be as the flexibility they bring is astonishing.

Seriously, there is too much information to relay online. If you have specific questions or want a higher resolution pic of anything that I've uploaded so far, just PM me.
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:13 AM
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i'm looking forward to kens pdf thats for sure, i do use clipping masks, but i'm sure there is more to his workflow than just masks to map the colour.. Did he go into the use of 6 filters? I think i'll be downloading as many of the tutorials as i can never get enough reference material when it comes to processing..
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:27 AM
jase (Jason)
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Indeed. Clipping masks for SII, Ha, OIII, R, G, B. The broadband data simply adds extra punch in certain areas. He also discussed synthetic luminance by combining SII, Ha and OIII, but Ha at a lower weighting so it does not dominate. If you've used CCDStack before, you'll understand that you can weight subs post normalisation. You would normally let the normalisation technique handle this, but it may not deliver the desirable result. Typically the reference normalisation sub should be average seeing, not that of exceptional seeing. Ken also makes reference to the PS plug-in known as focus magic. This is a essentially an alternate deconvolution method that you would use after using CCDstack's PC or MaxEnt deconvolution. Like any form of deconvolution, you need strong quality data. The general trend is to take 20+ hours of data, which is not difficult to achieve with a robotic set up.

I've got pages of notes, but most will be covered in the presentations when released.

Quite an interesting presentation by Tony Hallas around noise. In summary, he revealed an asymptote curve which displayed going beyond 16 subs will not reduce inherent noise any further and doesn't take more than 8 dark or bias frames. So in short, mega data doesn't equate to a noiseless image, there comes a point of diminishing returns.
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