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What got you into EAA?

26 May, 2019 18:47
I was (and still am) a visual observer for many years using an 8-inch and 14-inch SCT. Even under my relatively dark skies (Bortle 4), I found myself wanting to see more color and detail in the "faint fuzzies". Since I live in Tucson, home of Starizona, I saw many folks using the Hyperstar for imaging at F/2 with an SCT. I found myself wondering about using "live stacking" with a Hyperstar to observe color and faint detail in DSO's in near-real-time, and observe DSO's with a camera instead of an eyepiece. I first learned about the concept of "live stacking" when Atik released their Infinity camera and software. I was very tempted by Atik's offering, but what held me back from purchasing was the small sensor size of the Infinity camera, which would not be a good match for my 14-inch SCT and Hyperstar.

I instead purchased a ZWO1600MC-Cool camera in 2016 for use with my 14-inch SCT and Hyperstar. But there were very few options for live stacking. I eventually found a combination of SharpCap for image capture and Astrotoaster for live stacking. This was a very versatile setup, since Astrotoaster allowed for incorporating a master flat and master dark during live stacking, as well as excellent image adjustments on the fly.

With the advent of  SharpCap's live stacking, I decided to switch to SharpCap since I liked having only one software program for image capture and live stacking. SharpCap live stacking has improved tremendously and it's now a great way to enjoy my EAA hobby.

What got you interested in EAA?

27 May, 2019 15:43
Hey Robin, every so often I have a group of kids over and we explore the sky with 2 minute B&W subs from my CDK24. Amazing how much detail you can get in 2-minutes in a 21.3 sky with 24". I'd use a color camera but then I'd have to do a lengthy swap. For now they seem OK with B&W.  smile
27 May, 2019 16:17
That's fantastic! Many kids have trouble looking through an eyepiece, so using the camera is a great alternative. I do astronomy outreach with the Tucson Amateur Astronomers and it's very rewarding for me to be able to share my love of astronomy with the public. I will be attending the Grand Canyon Star Party again this year with my portable EAA setup. Here in Tucson we even have an "Astronomy Bar" in downtown called "Sky Bar" that shares the views on large monitors.

Glad you have discovered some rewarding ways to share your hobby and excite the kids.
05 Jul, 2019 22:40
I only became interested in Astronomy over the past 6 months.  I started with a small Meade ETX60 then bought one of the AWB Onesky's for visual.  I enjoyed them both but most objects were little more than fuzzies in my Bortle 5 backyard.   I then bought a Celestron Nexstar 8SE thinking this would be the solution to seeing all those amazing objects.  Turns out they were just slightly brighter and maybe a little less fuzzy.

I've enjoyed watching the YouTube videos with Trevor from AstroBackyard.  That said, there are many things about Astrophotography that don't appeal to me:

1.  Extensive setup and take down.  Super accurate pole alignments, big heavy mounts, guide scope tracking etc. etc.
2.  Long exposure sessions, sometimes hours or even days.
3.  Lots of post processing using multiple different software packages.  (I've never been any good at graphics work)

What appeals to me about EAA

1.  Quick and Easy setup.  I can get my LX70 mount out and a quick polar alignment in about 5 minutes.  It's not perfect, but doesn't need to be.
2.  Inexpensive in comparison to Astrophotography.  I recently purchased an Astro-Tech 6" Newtonian F/4 Astrograph used for $240.00.  I'm using a ZWOASI224MC  $250.00 on a motorized LX70 mount $320.00.  For less than 1k I have an EAA setup that is working great.
3.  I'm not interested in creating gallery quality masterpieces, I just want to see some cool stuff and amazing colors, not just fuzzies.
4.  I want to be to able to do this from my house, not travel 50 miles to a dark site.
5.  I have a Celestron AVX mount on the way (used also).  The goto will be a nice addition and allow me to see more during each session.
6.  I am working towards building a system that allows remote operation.  I'll still wheel it out and do the initial setup smile but after that, I'm moving indoors.  Not interesting in freezing my butt off all winter when I can sit inside at my 43" 4k monitor slewing around the sky checking out all kinds of objects on clear, long winter nights.

I'm happy to see the support from Bruce and Salvatore.

I'm hoping this area of Astrobin also becomes a vibrant community within itself.

Clear Skies   smile
27 Aug, 2019 21:39
Great thread!

I think for me, what attracted me to EAA was:

1) Frustration with observing through eyepieces and not seeing the detail I was longing for.
2) Ability to use my current Alt-Az mount while I save up for an equatorial.
3) Ability to see (in color) objects come to life on the computer screen after a few minutes.
4) I live in a small house. I can use my 60mm Takahashi and get great views. No need to buy a large Dobsonian and try to store it.
5) It's a great tool to share astronomy with others at star parties. The children flocked to an EAA station at our club's last star party.

Clear Skies  smile
28 Aug, 2019 21:38
The decision to try EAA was brought on when my Canon T3 decided it was done communicating through the USB port with my laptop. I had been involved with an EAA forum 2 years ago and read through many posts as individuals swapped ideas on which cameras were the best and exactly what EAA was and was not. It got to be quite a blood bath in there at times. I had been using the DSLR for years in live view to align and focus my AVX and NexStar Mounts so I wondered what’s the big deal sounds just like what I’ve been doing for years.
I’m needing the EAA more now that my eyes are getting old so when the Canon failed I took the opportunity to order a ZWO ASI178MC to use with my 5” SCT and SW80ED Pro and AVX mount. The new Camera should be here by weekend and I’m excited to try it all out first hand. From what I’ve read that should be a usable combination,
but I’ve been wrong before. I hope to be able to share some war stories soon. smile
29 Aug, 2019 22:30
Being amazed by images taken by others and then realising I could do it (to a lesser degree).
30 Aug, 2019 11:05
Trying to see more in a city with light and air pollution. On clearer nights, I can show galaxies "live" during public outreach, and pretty clear live-stacked pics of nebulae (with a 12 nm Ha NB). It is just amazing what we can see "live" under city lights!
Started with Starlight Live with a color Ultrastar; now mostly ZWO1600 mono with Sharpcap Live-stacking. Would like another sensitive camera with color; kids are more enthralled by colors : )
24 Jul, 2020 18:19
For me, it was the city light issue as well.  Plus, I have a 12" dob but still couldn't make out much detail unless I hauled it to a dark site. Once I got past the bigger easier to see objects, I started galaxy hunting.  My wife would come out to look at what I'm looking at and just proclaim the object as "a dud" because she couldn't see much detail.  Then,  I started seeing claims of being able to see objects in small telescopes that would normally require one three times it's size.  So I started playing around with it with an ASI185MC. Then, I won an Ultrastar at OPT's SCAE back in 2016 (I miss those) and was enthralled by Starlight Live.  From there I moved up to an ASI294MC Pro and Sharpcap.  I even managed to get an image (though not much detail) of the International Space Station (I could make out the basic shape).  So I've been hooked for a couple of years.
27 Jul, 2020 12:06
Haha, I fully agree with the three points that do not appeal to Gyroman smile

Anyway limited by equipment and weather I am enjoying what I can do and learn AP with modest gear, while I absolutely realize that EAA is an exciting sector to explore with, exactly, such modest gear. There wasn't much I could do with EAA using an ASI120MC-S, but I just ordered the ASI462MC (no further purchases planned for a long time to come) and hope this will be a fine companion for both selenography and EAA on popular deepsky objects with either a small
refractor or simply a, say, 135mm prime lens shouldered on a mobile mount.

The availability of fine real-time stacking software, such as SharpCap or ASIStudio makes both, viewing and imaging so much easier and affordable in more ways than one. The first wireless electronic telescopes with integrated "CMOS eyepiece" are already on the market and it won't be too long until specifications and cost-performance ratio will be just right.

If there wasn't that Covid-19, EAA would be fantastic for group viewing, provided governments and people stop acting stupidly now.

Actually, I first stumbled upon EAA thanks to Robin's previous posts about this subject. Thanks a ton!

You all, please stay well,
10 Aug, 2020 22:19
The COVID-19 lockdown is what got me seriously pursuing EAA. I have been using EAA as part of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society public viewing sessions at Garvey Observatory for some time, but COVID ended that for the near term. I started analyzing  what could be achieved using short exposure (10 second) imaging in my Bortle 8 back yard and found that I could do do some decent imaging both in live stack mode and then processing the stacked images later. I posted a link to my results on my Facebook Inner City Astronomy Group and on Instagram (@vctyree).

When this COVID business is over, I plan to do a lot more with my simple altitude-azimuth driven EAA equipment for public sessions in the city.

Be well.

11 Aug, 2020 13:26
Hey Robin, I got into astrophotography and astronomy about a year ago because I had seen everything else, even movies yet to be released. It was all the same. I wanted to see something for myself. Astronomy always seemed out of my league and a different skill set from what I was given, so the challenge continues to intrigue me.

Also, the wife made me stop smoking cannabis so much, and with two young kids (4 and 1), my only alone time came at night. And consequently the only time I can burn plant matter.
Edited 11 Aug, 2020 13:28
11 Aug, 2020 14:06
Hi Robin,
i like your story. Similar to you, i started with a sct 235mm and got a ccd for planets, then i purchased the Atik infinity and live stacking'infinity software'.
i started developing the 'raw atik files' to improve the quality of my images.
Next, i purchased a Rasa 200. At this point, i hesitated between the hyperstar and the Rasa, but the price difference was small.

i upgraded my mount from alt-az to a Cgx and increased my exposure from 20, 30 sec. to 180+ secs.

i later purchased the Atik 460 ex and the asi 1600 Mm. I, then purchased  the Baader Rasa ccd adapter and highspeed narrowband filter to see more and more details.

i don't regret the path I took, my only challenge has been the weather, down to -40C in the winter, and more and more pollution up there, starlink and the rest.

i have these 10 meter long cable, and image inside, but star alignment is done outside, so cold weather gets me.

l like my setup, highly versatile, for imaging planets, galaxies and nebula with the Rasa and sct 235.

I understood early the importance of calculating the fov for a setup.

clear skies and keep looking up.

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