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Electronically Enhanced Astronomy





I have been experimenting with AP and BYE for a while now with some good successes, but may have basically come to the end of the line with my Celestron 8se because of;


- vibrations in my concrete condominium deck

- light pollution

- the alt/az mount is limited to maximum exposure time of 25-30 seconds


I don't want to move, and I'm not going to buy an EQ mount, so maybe there's not much more I can do with this setup.


Recently I have been tempted by the idea of a Mallincam Junior Pro or Astro Video DSO-1 in an effort to see 'more'.  This would be meant to complement visual observing, not replace it.  I am still going to look through an eyepiece at least 50% of the time.  I understand the tradeoffs between image quality and exposure times using my 450D vs a high sensitivity webcam, but I am wondering whether I can accomplish 'almost live' using my current equipment.  I can and do monitor image folders and stack on the fly with DSS Live at the same time as capturing with BYE.


So my question is, what would the workflow/settings/exposure times look like, and what would the compromises be, to emulate EEA with a DSLR and BYE?  Do you think I can get similar results (although not as quickly) this way, or should I make a switch?  Please talk me out of this idea.


Thanks in advance,






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The terminology "EEA" - "Electronically Enhanced Astronomy" - is ambiguous since ALL Astro Imaging with modern Cameras is "Electronically Enhanced".


Long Exposure AP Imaging and Video AP Imaging (and Video AP "Observing") are somewhat different activities, with different approaches to what is usually different end criteria for the results.


It's difficult to decipher exactly what elements of which of these processes intrigues you, and which in your experience frustrate you, and what criteria you would apply in order to consider your efforts "a success".

It's also hard to guess at which types of AP Targets you prefer, and which you "expect" to be able to image with either DSLR or Video Camera.


You do describe a number of "handicaps" in terms of your Imaging Location and your Imaging Gear.  But you haven't described whether you've made efforts to mitigate them.


Concrete Condo Deck - have you tried alternative Imaging Locations ??  The Roof of you Building; a Local Astronomy Club's Star Party Site; a nearby State Park; I hesitate to suggest solo in a City Park - unfortunately most are far too Crime Plagued.

Vibrations - have you invested in Anti-Vibration Pads or other simple modifications to mitigate vibrations ??  Weighting the Tripod; Tripod Legs as short as possible; USB Extensions to remove yourself from the Balcony.

Light Pollution - have you tried a Light Pollution Filter ??  


Alt-AZ Mount - have you considered investing in an AutoGuider ??  Unfortunately they are nearly as expensive as the differential between a Celestron SE Mount and an Equatorial Mount such as the Celestron AVX.

Long Focal Length C8 SCT (2000mm) - have you tried an 0.7x Focal Reducer for your SCT ??  The shorter Focal Length will likely be the greater benefit than the faster Focal Ratio given your Light Pollution issues.  And a FR would mitigate Vibration and Tracking issues a bit.

Image Processing:

Quantity of Images to Stack - have you tried subscribing to a workflow that Stacks a Large Number of Shorter Exposure Images (50x at 15-30sec) ??

BYE Planetary mode Video Stacking - have you tried this mode of Image Capture for various Bright DSO Targets (as well as just Planets and Moon) and stacking in RegiStax6 or AutoStakkert2 ??


If your preference is for a more "Visual Observing"-like experience, rather than awaiting the results of an Image Processing workflow performed after-the-fact, then an actual Astronomy Video Camera might well be your better bet.  Current Video gear have evolved very good High Gain capabilities as well as Frame Accumulation that works akin to Image Stacking.  And you get to see the results in Real-Time, more like LiveView than Still Imaging.


However, realize that there is no "Magic Bullet".  Video Cameras will do nothing about your Vibration Issues, rather those small movements will be immediately felt in the reduced quality of the Image produced.  Video Cameras can likewise do nothing more about the Light Pollution, as the Photons from that LP are amplified right along with those from the Target.


My suggestion, if the switch to Video is intriguing, is to connect with some Video Imagers at a local Astronomy Club.  And, since Video Astronomy is more amenable to "live sharing", check out the various Night Sky Network and Google Groups broadcasts.  In either case, you should attempt to "see" what this alternative branch of Astro Imaging Can and Can't Do to alleviate your apparent frustrations with your current results.


And...  At the same time, consider whether there are additional actions that you can take to mitigate your current situation (such as the suggestions above).

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Hi s3igell,


Many thanks for your thoughtful reply - much appreciated.  Yes, I'm sure more detail from me would helpful in procuring an answer to my original question which is;


- what would my workflow/settings/exposure times look like and what would the compromises be in trying EAA with a DSLR and BYE?

- do you think I could get similar results as a video cam (although not as quickly) this way?


To address the specific questions you asked;


Yes I have tried alternative imaging locations.  I have several grab and go setups that I use for travel and away from home - my 8se is not one of them, and I would like to pursue some form of astronomy with a camera with this scope and from home.


Yes, I use Celestron anti-vibration pads every time I set up.


Yes, I hang a 10lb dumbbell from the center post of the tripod under the eyepiece tray.


USB extensions to get off the balcony entirely is a good idea, but usually I sit very still while the shutter is open.


LP Filters - yes.


Autoguiding with an 8se is not really an option - doesn't really work as Celestron would like us to believe.  They will also sell me a wedge for the 8se mount which I am not interested in either - I would rather buy an EQ mount at that point.


Yes I use a .63 reducer/corrector when the camera is attached, and sometimes for visual as well, depending on what I am looking at.


Yes. I have found the point of diminishing returns is about 50 stacked images.  Usually I take 75 and 20 darks, and stack the best 75% for my final image.


Yes, I have spent lots of time of time at Night Skies Network.


So... my question remains the same basically - can I simulate 'almost live' viewing using a DSLR and BYE - perhaps coupled with DSS Live?  What would the process look like?  Settings and exposure time recommendations or other suggestions very welcomed.  Any tips with workflow or software to augment my 8se, 450d camera, laptop with BYE and DSS in this effort would be much appreciated.  Or should I switch over to video?


Thanks again,









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Hi again,


I have asked this same on question on a couple of Astro Video forums and received all of the convincing arguments why I should switch to 'their' way of observing. What I am trying to accomplish in this forum, is to understand why I *shouldn't* switch.  Any thoughts would be most appreciated.


Thanks in advance,


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If I understand your question, you are basically asking if you can get near real-time images of the deep sky objects, similar to looking through an eyepiece, with your telescope, DSLR and BYE.


Even though Canon EOS DSLR cameras have LiveView.  This is not sensitive enough to display dim objects, at all.  It only shows the brightest stars, along with the moon and the brighter planets (Venus, Mars, Jupiter, & Saturn).


So then the answer depends on your definition of the meaning of "near real-time".  Certainly you can shoot a 30 second exposure and be looking at it 10 seconds later.  If this meets your criteria, then I believe that you can do what you want, or don't want, to do.

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I was going to chime in here about extended ISO (my t3i can go to 12800) but I see the 450D is limited to 1600. I do all my pre-viewing and plate solving at iso 128000, then image at 1600, but for "near realtime", as described in the above post, boosting the ISO would help. with a CLS filter under polluted skies I can see most objects with between 10 and 60 seconds exposure at iso 12800.


Re the iso limitation on the 450D I did find an interesting post here:




Now, this camera and its DiGiCIII processor do support raw-values multiplication, but such feature is dormant on the XSi/450D. 

If you want ISo 2000ec/2500ec/3200ec/4000ec/5000ec/6400ec (as close or identical as your camera would otherwise do it on-board), you will have to shoot at ISo1600, in .CR2 (RAW) and then convert with Canon's ZoomBrowser/RIT engine (bundled with your camera SW), and dial +0.30ec/+0.70ec/+1.00ec/+1.30ec/+1.70ec/+2.00ec (respectively) on the "Digital Exposure Compensation" slider, once Canon's RIT (Raw Image Task converter) screen appears.


Which makes it sound like you can simulate boosting the iso in software. We do have the histogram controls in the premium edition to stretch previews, but I'm wondering if "software iso expansion" is something you can do in DCRAW and would therefore be a viable feature request for BYEOS?



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