Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scopetronix Maxview DSLR II

I had the opportunity of grabbing a much-longed-for Scopetronix Maxview DSLR II 2" eyepiece projection adapter from Astromart over the weekend and it arrived last night.

What a beast! This is the biggest eyepiece projection adapter I've ever seen! In the picture above, you can see it beside my Canon 30D with my 17-85mm zoom. The 1.25" adapter sits to the left. It supposedly will hold a Nagler 31mm eyepiece without difficulty. I can imagine! It reminds me more of a World War I hand grenade more than anything else. 

I've owned the Scopetronix Maxview DSLR 1.25" version when I had my 20D. You can see pictures of it here. The "II" 2" version is significantly larger than the 1.25" "I" version!

I hope to be able to use it soon. The weather is not cooperating. Very cloudy and rain predicted for tonight and tomorrow here in Washington...


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Diversions Dance Company of Wales?

You're probably wondering what in the world Diversions, the Dance Company of Wales is doing in an Lunar and Astrophotography blog? :-)

Let me explain. A while back, I was contacted by Joe Fletcher who's the director of the company about using my "Full Moon at Perigee 12/12/08" photo for a backdrop to one of their performance pieces. I was thrilled and honored that one of my photos was selected. I just heard back from Joe that they started performing the piece, "Lunatics" a couple of weeks ago and that he will send me a DVD of the full performance once it comes out.

I received a care package with T-shirts for my girls last night and my daughter was very happy to wear it! Thanks Joe and Thanks Diversions!

Ambrose and

I haven't been out under the stars much the past few weeks and thought about what I should blog about. I came to this the topic in the title because I love these two web resources. My astronomy hobby would be unimaginably hindered without them. I have become huge fans of both services.

Let me start with's classifieds. Back in the Summer of 2007, before I purchased my first telescope, I did a lot of research on the web for telescopes and mounts. I quickly came to the conclusion that this astronomy hobby was going to be EXPENSIVE! How could I possibly get top quality equipment when the top quality scopes were very expensive?!?!?

Using Google, Astromart consistently popped up as a resource I should think about. Unbelievably, I was very hesitant to plunk down the $12 lifetime fee to get access to the listings! 

Astromart is very smart in some ways. They don't give you access to the prices that the sellers are asking without joining. This proved irresistible to me and so hesitatingly, I signed up and paid my $12 fee. 

It has been BY FAR, the best $12 I've ever spent. Astromart (AM) has given me discount prices and access to the top equipment and rock bottom prices. Not only is it a great resource for getting great equipment, it's also a way to "try before you buy." In other words, you can buy something (if you know that the price is good) and try it for a while and if you don't like it, turn it right back around and sell it again at virtually no cost to you if you price it about the same as youas what you paid.

I started off by researching small refractors and decided on an Astrotech AT66ED APO. I waited for a great deal to come along and about 2 weeks in, my dream scope appeared on AM. I was brand new to the hobby so needed everything along with the scope. The package deal I bought included a AT 2" 99% reflectivity dielectric diagonal and a Stellarvue multi-reticle red dot finder for a total of $350 shipped. At that time, the telescope was selling new for $329 alone. The 2" diagonal was listing new for $150 and the SV RDF was selling new for $58. I saved $188 on my first purchase alone!

It has been amazing ever since. I've bought and sold more items then I ever thought possible. I started with no name or big name (Meade, Celestron, Orion) eyepieces and have ended up with almost exclusively Televue eyepieces at this point! They're all Plossls but they're very good Plossls.

My total scope investment is around $1,500, yet I've bought and sold almost $5,000 worth of equipment. With a little bit of skill, I've also been able to make a bit of a profit on some of the items I've bought and have been able to upgrade gradually along the way.

Besides astronomy equipment, I've also purchased camera equipment and tripods from AM as well. I've found that astronomy buffs sell their camera equipment at better prices then camera enthusiasts do! I LOVE!

As for PayPal, PP has made using AM and other sights a total pleasure. After using AM for over a year by paying for things through postal money orders and personal checks, I've switched to an entirely PayPal system without investing an additional penny! I first sold a couple of items on AM to fund the PP coffers. Once I had a bit of money in PP, I then purchased and sold more items using the funds entirely from PP. It has sped up the time it takes to buy and sell equipment by 100 fold. I used to have to make a special trip to the post office after every purchase I made to buy a postal money order and mail it off to the seller. The seller would then wait until they received the postal money order until they shipped the item. This would generally take about a total of 2 weeks from the time I agreed to buy the item to the time that I actually received the item. 

Now with PP, I can buy and sell equipment at a lightning pace. If I'm buying an item, I send the user the funds through PayPal, then the seller generally puts the item in the mail the very same or very next day. I receive the items within 2 or 3 days!

If I'm selling, I generally conclude a sale within 24 hours of posting it on AM, have the funds in my account in that timeframe and have the item shipped the next day. 

All this without spending any additional personal money except the funds in PP. This happens becuase PP lets you buy and print US Postal Service services directly within PP. All I need to do when I sell something is to head down to the post office with the package and drop it off since it's already packaged and paid for. I know this may be old news to some of you but this is a world changing service that I am now finally enjoying (like just about everyone else in the world!).

Enough about my two favorite web services for now. Off to do more telescoping and photographing!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Full Moon 2-8-08

I was surprised by how rapidly the moon turned full this cycle. I thought it would be Monday or Tuesday, but it happened on Sunday the 8th. I quickly grabbed the Coulter and headed out to see if I could grab a couple of shots. I used my new technique of only taking a couple of shots. I used my new Canon Angle Finder C to zoom in on the image while focusing and it worked fairly well. Seeing conditions were not great though. This image was the best of the few that I took.

Televue Pronto and Ash Panoramic

I spotted a Televue Pronto for sale on my local Craigslist. I quickly contacted the seller and picked it up this past Sunday. It is my first Televue and it is built like a tank! I tried it out on Sunday night and the views through it are quite nice. At only 480mm, it doesn't quite have the reach of my Coulter which is 1,500mm but it's a nice widefield view. It also came with a Televue 20mm plossl and a Meade 20mm research grade ortho and a 7mm Meade research grade ortho. Lastly, it came with a Televue Ash Panoramic mount. The Ash Panoramic and TV Pronto work beautifully together.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quarter Moon February 3, 2009

Here's the best shot of the moon I took last night (February 3, 2009) from my back yard. I discovered something about my setup last night. I have been using my Canon 30D in high speed mode shooting roughly 20 frames at 5 frames per second. Looking at the photos today, I noticed that only the first one came out sharp out of the bunch of 20. I must be having some major mirror slap vibration issues. It couldn't be low shutter speed or motion blur since I was using a relatively fast 1/250th of a second and I wasn't touching the scope.

I will try reducing the frame rate to 3 fps to see if that makes a difference.

This shot was the best of the first shots I took. It look very clear and so I ran it through Registax's wavelet sharpening filters and it came out surprisingly well for a single exposure.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Venus dangling from the Moon 1-30-09

The moon was again was again forming a beautiful combination with Venus on the night of January 30, 2009. I went out with my Canon 30D and my 17-85mm IS lens to get this shot handheld. Again this shot doesn't really show how beautiful the two were that night. They sparkled and shone brilliantly.

Monday, February 2, 2009

One Third February 1 Moon

It was a relatively warm day and I was bored with the Super Bowl, although I got back to it before the fantastic finish, so I went out to the front yard and grabbed this shot of the moon with my Coulter Odyssey 13.1" Dob and my Canon 30D with a Baader UV/IR filter. This is my first post-processed shot so there will be more coming.