Sunday, March 7, 2021

HyperStar Fun!

Early December last year, I contemplated buying a HyperStar for my Cat. 

I made certain that it was compatible by looking in the obvious place.  The secondary mirror gets replaced by the HyperStar.  There ought to be some indication there, right?

Check. It says "fastar compatible" right in front of the cover that hides the collimation screws.  Fastar is Celestron's predecessor to the HyperStar, now manufactured by Starizona.  

I took this photo early December.  See the reflection of the Christmas tree lights on the corrector plate?

I placed the order and then waited weeks for it to arrive.  The clouds didn't actually arrive until the HyperStar did, getting my hopes up for an easily had first light!

Here is the HyperStar, fresh out of the box.

Installed on the corrector plate.  This required removing the secondary mirror, disconcertingly exposing a big gaping hole until the HyperStar was rotated into place.

With the ZWO ASI294MC imager installed, the HyperStar is heavy, requiring a weight on the other end of the Cat to keep things balanced.

The weight is inserted into the one and a quarter inch eyepiece interface on the visual back.  Pretty scary, huh?  It is very sturdy, though.

Note that in this configuration, this is no such thing as "visual astronomy."  Putting the HyperStar on the Cat is making a commitment to use the imager for the duration!

This weekend was the first opportunity of this year to bring the Cat out and use the HyperStar under a clear, moonless sky with good transparency.

It was an opportunity to experience the wide field view that the HyperStar brings to the Cat.  The field of view with the combination of the ZWO ASI294MC and the HyperStar on my CPC-1100 is 2.04 x 1.39 degrees!  The HyperStar brings the focal ratio or "speed" of the Cat from an F/10 to an F/2!

It was cold and windy, but a star party was had anyway.

The following images are highlights from the observing session. Each of these images are the results of live stacking using SharpCap.  Not astrophotography quality, but only required a few minutes of integration time . . .  Click to make bigger.

I always take a peek at these two.  To be able to see them requires the sky to have good transparency and this lets me temper my expectations for the night.

The Horsehead and Flame nebulas

The constellation Leo, has a number of delights to see.  Here is the Leo triplet, also known as the M66 Group.  It consists of M65, M66, and NGC3628. 

The Leo Triplet

NGC3628 is also known as the "hamburger galaxy."  Yum.

The constellation Virgo was also in the sky, begging for me to take a peek at "Markarian's Chain," in a very busy part of the sky.

Markarian's Chain

How busy is this part of the sky? I submitted this image to for plate solving.  It returned this, with all of the objects that it could see circled and annotated.

Busy sky

Another favorite of mine, gravitationally interacting, M81 and M82.  

M81 and M82.

And, how could I not point the Cat at the namesake of this blog, Mars?

Mars, really!

Really, no kidding, this is an image of Mars through the HyperStar, many months after opposition! It's a little tiny red-orange dot.  

Mars was having a conjunction with the Pleiades.   The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, are always gorgeous! 

The Pleiades

HyperStar Fun! See what I mean?  More HyperStar images to follow throughout the year, clouds and moon willing.

Shoo, clouds!


  1. HyperStar fun for sure! Love the images. Can't wait to see what you spot the rest of the year.:-)

    1. Thanks, it's fun to sit under the sky with the equipment!

  2. I am so jealous I am beyond words. My word you have a way of going deep into any subject matter!! Your resources do not go to waste!! I cannot imagine what you could do with an IR cube sat with a large lensed IR sensor. :-)
    The F2 is not really planetary friendly. We will be ready in June 2022 with 3X Barlow and Zwo and my visual scope for a sidekick.
    This is a bold post, covering a lot of topic matter. I suppose the Virgo analysis is my fav part.

    Ahh. So much to look forward to...
    Warmer nights and meteor showers ahead.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! You'll have your Cat soon enough for warmer night astronomy.

      Yeah, the HyperStar wouldn't be a choice for planetary observing, but it did let me see Mars as I have never observed it before -- with a field of stars in the background@

  3. Really a fun wide topic post!! Lots of helpful detail!! And Virgo!! Who knew??
    So jealous! I neeeeeed my scope!!!
    What a team, 1100 F2 and a 9 with 3X Barlow.
    Ahhh warmer nights and meteor showers ahead!!

  4. The fun fact about Markarian's Chain in Virgo is that in 1781 Charles Messier first discovered two of the galaxies, M84 and M86, as a visual observer. No camera or electronics...


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