Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Daylight Moon and Camera Test

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, I decided I would "play" with a recently acquired camera in daylight.  I wanted to see what I was doing...good or bad.

The camera is a MallinCam SkyRaider AG1.2c (you can find info on it here).  The scope I selected (not that I have that many scopes) was the Meade ETX-80.  I considered using the ETX-125, but laziness made the decision for me...the -80 was in a better position to remove from the storage room.

Since it was a rather nice day with very few clouds in the sky and an almost quarter moon hanging at about 11 o'clock in the east, I decided to practice on it.

After doing a simple solar system alignment of the scope and inputting the moon on the GOTO, I centered the moon in the view of the 26 mm Super Plossl and made sure I had good focus in the eyepiece.  I observed for a short period through several of my eyepieces (all Plossls if you are wondering) and decided I would attempt eyepiece projection and see if I could obtain an image using that system with my Canon EOS 60D.

After striping down all the "not-really-needed" heavy objects on the camera, I slipped the 17 mm eyepiece into the adapter.  The 26 mm was a bit long and protruded into the camera's mirror area and I didn't want to take the chance of damaging the camera, so I used the lowest power eyepiece I had which didn't cause me alarm...which turned out to be the 17 mm.

Sliding the outfit into the eyepiece holder after making sure the moon was still centered in the view, I turned on Live View and attempted to obtain focus.  It never happened.  I'm not sure why I couldn't obtain focus.  As a matter of fact, I saw nothing on the camera's LCD which indicated any light source.  So I removed the Canon camera setup and decided to try the MallinCam SkyRaider.

After starting the laptop (actually, it was a netbook which came with the camera) and making sure the MallinCam software saw the camera, I switched to live view and there was the moon on the screen of the netbook.  However, it was out of focus.  I attempted to get good focus, but found a problem with a daylight test...the sun washed out the netbook screen and I could only tell when the moon was way out of focus.

Since the object of the adventure was to test the camera (and learn how to use it), I began recording what was being shown on the LCD.  Since I couldn't see to focus well, I decided to slowing move focus up and down the scale, stopping for a few seconds after making a slight adjustment in the hopes of getting at least one decent image.  After about one minute of recording, I shut everything down and took everything inside.

Anxious to see what the video looked like, I found where it was saved and doubled clicked it to begin play.  I got a box stating Windows didn't know how to open the file.  I checked to see what type of video file I had created and noticed it was a .ser file.  What in the world is a .ser file I said to no one.

I now know what a .ser file is and after checking the net, found a number of utilities to help process the files, and most importantly, view the files outside of the camera software.

One thing I noticed immediately, was the view of the moon as seen by the camera appeared much larger than it did through the eyepiece alone.  Centering whatever I plan to image will need to be very well done.  Although the moon was poorly centered in most of the frames, I still found a few which were decent enough to show here.  

After picking the best one, I did a bit of sharpening with Faststone's Image Viewer, then converted it to grayscale.  I also cropped it from 1280 x 960 to 900 x 900.

I have a lot to learn about astrophotography, but I like the way this image came out.  By the way, the reason I converted the image to grayscale was because I did not like the color of the sky.  It was a strange blue-green color and I couldn't figure out how to make it more closely match the color of the daytime sky...so I went with grayscale.

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