Monday, November 19, 2018

Staging for Astronomy

I'm risking the wrath of the "New Equipment" curse.

I'm probably doubling my chances for months of clouds and rain by writing this blog post about new equipment.

New equipment arrived in the mail today.

As I always do with new equipment, I put it on the scope and played with it until I was comfortable that I knew how to use it.

In this case, I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough downward focuser travel for the newly arrived imager.  Not enough travel would mean that I wouldn't be able to achieve focus with the new imager without changing the length of the focuser tube, or shortening the length of the scope's truss tubes, or perhaps even moving the primary mirror upwards a smidge.

So, I staged the equipment to see if I had a problem.  I opened the front door and pointed the scope at the chimney of a house some distance away. 

Through the storm door, peering at the chimney to the left
Visible in this photo is the new imager attached to the focus tube.  The imager has a USB3 link to the laptop and SharpCap is showing frames from the imager.

The verdict?  The focuser has plenty of travel for the new imager.

Here is a frame capture of the chimney.

A well studied chimney
So, why am I so happy about having a new imager?  Wasn't the old imager good enough?

They appear fairly similar.

Beautiful red aluminum

But, this is a side by side comparison of the business end of the two imagers.

ZWO ASI224MC (left) and ZWO ASI294MC (right)

Look at the size difference of the sensors between the two imagers!

My old ZWO ASI224MC is a wonderful imager!  Every image and EAA observation within the last two years was made with it.  It's going to continue being my planetary imager.

The new ZWO ASI294MC has a much larger sensor, which means that it'll have a much wider field of view.  This, coupled with its greater sensitivity and deeper well, have me really excited.

Here is a screen capture from LiveSky showing the difference in field of view between the two imagers.  The point of reference is the Pinwheel Galaxy.

Field of view comparison, ZWO ASI224MC versus ZWO ASI294MC
The Pinwheel Galaxy doesn't fit within the field of view of the ZWO ASI224MC.

I'm really looking forward to spending some time under the sky with the new imager.

Shoo, clouds!



  1. Nice purchase! The LiveSky image with the two different fields of view superimposed really shows the difference between the two imagers.

    Uh oh, you know now that not only will there be lots of clouds for the next few months, but also there will be a bright moon the first night of cloudless sky.:-) Curses indeed!

    1. The impending clouds and full moon are a disappointment, but there is some value to having a bright moon when using new equipment for the first time. It makes it easier see the equipment when tinkering with it.

  2. So much more sensor real estate! Nice - I'm excited to see some images with the new sensor, C!

    1. Thanks! I exercised enormous restraint with this purchase. DW gave me budgetary approval last month and I waited to see if there would be any "Black Friday" sales. Saved a bunch by waiting. 😊💲💰

  3. This really helps me understand the value of the larger imaging processors. The best results are always in the hands of the skilled and practiced editors. I look forward to seeing more...

    1. I was out from 1am 'till daybreak with the telescope and the new imager. New blog post with images coming soon. One other benefit of the larger field of view: SharpCap now has more stars to use while keeping frames aligned for live stacking. There were some objects that I couldn't live stack for lack of alignment stars.


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