First timer, focusing (?) problem

Discussions of Electronically Assisted Astronomy using the Live Stacking feature.
User avatar
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:13 pm
Location: UK

Re: First timer, focusing (?) problem

Post by turfpit » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:02 pm


Where you are now, is where I was at the end of 2016 viewtopic.php?f=16&t=596. The 2 years of elapsed time is because of so few nights to get out and image due to weather. Things do get better if you can stick at it. This was a recent clear night where everything went well viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1199.

The book you need - I am in the process of writing it, hoping to save others from all the stumbling around and wasted time that I went through. My big breakthrough was writing the SharpCap 2.9 docs, which was interesting as I had no background in photography or astronomy.

I think you have a Revolution camera. I started off with an AVS DSO-1 - which is similar technology. Based on my experience, that type of camera is hard to learn with as none of the controls are exposed to SharpCap, leaving the user to control the camera via a set of internal menus. Have a look round for a more conventional astro-imaging camera on somewhere like AstroBuySell.

Here are my own thoughts but YMMV and 10 people will arrive soon to disagree with me:
  • Understanding the histogram is key to progress.
  • Meticulous preparation is key to success - level mount, polar alignment, mount alignment, focusing.
  • Mono cameras are easier to start with as they remove the colour balance hassle.
  • Don't get drawn into guiding too soon - it is just another layer of complexity.
  • Don't get bogged down with darks and flats early on. They are just another level of complexity. As you evolve, then you will naturally want to learn about darks and flats in order to improve your images.
  • It looks like you are interested in the Live Stacking aspect of the hobby. When stacking, save all the frames so you can go away and learn about traditional methods of processing on those rare cloudy nights.
  • Getting involved with the NSN community will be a good help to you. When watching sessions, have a word processor open and capture screens (think settings) into the document for later reference.
  • You will always need to spend £100 on another gizmo which will make your images better :lol:
My stuff is here A mix of SCT & refractor scopes; CMOS, CCD, DSLR & webcam cameras, 4 different capture programs running on Windows & Linux, several different programs for calibration, stacking & processing. I prefer to work in the more traditional ways of image capture, preferring to try to understand the underlying principles but that is a personal choice.

Have a look in the Gallery forum and you will find examples of some really good images which have been produced via the Live Stack process.

Astro-imaging is a tough hobby, both physically and mentally, but if you stick at it then it can be an extremely satisfying experience.

Good luck.


Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:52 pm

Re: First timer, focusing (?) problem

Post by psy1280 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:50 pm

After a year of trial-and-error frustration with my Celestron Evolution 8, Celestron graciously agreed to replace my mount. Now I'm finally back to working with SharpCap. I'll admit that I've forgotten most of what I learned a year ago, but last nigh--my first night using SharpCap--I was able to view the Andromeda Galaxy!!! Although I wasn't able to get LiveStack to add to the image, I was pleased to at lease be viewing a live image. Although I'm not sure why I couldn't get SharpCap to do live stacking (initially I got a message about a problem with alignment stars, after restarting I was able to see that images were indeed stacked, however nothing changed on the image. I will be doing more experimenting before asking for help, I'm sure I'll figure out some of this as I proceed, I just wanted to re-connect with Robin and the SharpCap community. This time I expect to progress.
(487 Bytes) Downloaded 1 time
Capture_00002.jpg (40.77 KiB) Viewed 90 times

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 2966
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:52 pm
Location: Vale of the White Horse, UK

Re: First timer, focusing (?) problem

Post by admin » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:58 pm


Glad to hear that you are back in business. Remember that live stacking doesn't make the image grow brighter as more frames are added – instead it makes the noise level in the image gradually reduce as more and more frames are added to the stack. This can be harder to notice, but if you look carefully as the stack builds up you will see it happening.

Cheers, Robin

Posts: 70
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:28 pm
Location: Central Florida

Re: First timer, focusing (?) problem

Post by umasscrew39 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:35 pm

Welcome Joe

I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in to all of the great feedback you've already received. I have only been doing live viewing and some AP for a little over 3 years and it does have its rewards and challenges. I use a C11" which is not the easiest scope to learn on and I also had to return my to Celestron for a replacement some time ago. I decided to go with the new Celestron motor focuser and it works very well with SC via the ASCOM driver. This was mainly because my scope is over 12ft above the ground in an observatory but getting ti down the road might help. Regardless, once you get it focused in the ballpark, then the SC focus tool works very well. Like dave suggested, a Bahtinov mask is a simple, cheap, and effective solution to focusing on a SCT. As long as you are focused and your scope is collimated, then you are off and running.

We are all learning from each other....... and that is part of the enjoyment of doing this hobby.

All the best,

Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:52 pm

Re: First timer, focusing (?) problem

Post by psy1280 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:33 pm

Thank you Robin and Bruce,
Last night I had a taste of this exciting hobby (just a taste). I'd like to think that my frustrations aren't that unusual, although sitting here this morning I'm wondering if I'm just not intuitive enough to master (or at least manage) all the intricacies involved. I only hope that I continue to find good--and patient--people to point me in the right direction. All that said, last night I was able to image the moon without much of a problem. Prior to moon-rise, I tried to image the Andromeda galaxy (this is the second attempt, with the same results as before). I'm posting the image I got and the settings in the hope that I might get a few suggestions for bringing out more of the galaxy.

Thank you,
(517 Bytes) Downloaded 1 time
_00001.jpg (46.41 KiB) Viewed 7 times

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests