Author Topic: Thoughts on video astronomy  (Read 419 times)

Ligon Payton

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Thoughts on video astronomy
« on: December 23, 2017, 10:23:44 PM »
3 or 4 individuals online and offline habe now told me to simply skip visual astronomy and jump directly to video astronomy since you can "bypass massive dobs through which you will still only see hints of colour".  With movie astronomy you "get contemporary and see real colour even with modest apertures."
I have no idea how attaching a camera solves the issue of collecting enough photons.
This information also seems to fly against what the majority appear to urges here.
So many questions come to mind like: when a faint object requires 2-3 hours of integration time,  how can taking a movie of it change things.  I guess I simply don't know how movie astrology work?
Can someone explain how this works, exactly what exactly are good uses, or what items are contra indicated?
I'm really curious preceding all.  What's your opinion on this information?
BTW, a telescope purchase was accepted by higher powers!  Now I simply need to finish saving!



adviconno

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2017, 11:46:24 PM »
I can't agree with these giving you that information.  There is certainly a place for movie astronomy.

I have seen quite interesting things on the screen of these using a Mallincam on a big scope.  They are really great for outreach.  It is intriguing to think you can get all that in only a couple of minutes of integration.  The color is fine....but not all that impressive on any track I have ever seen.

Most of all,never have I seen anything on a track as pinpoint crisp and contrasty as a celebrity at a nicely focused telescope.  Never anything as wispy as the nebulosity at a decent sized dob.

Video astronomy does not provide one of the immediacy of visual astronomy.  Those photons aren't hitting your attention directly.

Plus it maynot (yet) match the quality of committed astrocameras (like CCD's or some DSLR work) as much as detail and sharpness, and color.

Yes, it does exactly what it does pretty well, but a visual range is a whole other experience, and a much more pleasing one in my view.

Alex

Lamar Davies

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2017, 08:00:28 AM »
The Electronically Assisted Astronomy forum has hours and hours worth of reading on this issue.  Much more help than Beginners are encouraged to give you.
Grey

Grant Buchanan

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2017, 05:44:42 PM »
Yep, the EAA forum is the place to start.

I have been doing EAA long before it was given a name (I prefer camera assisted observing) and it is a wonderful branch of the amateur astronomy tree, but only one branch among many. I would never consider it as a replacement for visual observing, but it is a fantastic companion to visual observing. I currently practice both, and enjoy both.

Like many endeavors I would encourage those interested to start simple, take it one step at a time, and enjoy the ride!

leypelepha

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2017, 12:31:48 PM »
Quote
3 or 4 people on and offline habe now told me to just skip visual astronomy and jump straight to video astronomy because you can "skip big dobs through which you will still only see hints of color". With video astronomy you "get modern and see real color even with modest apertures."
I have no idea how attaching a camcorder solves the problem of collecting enough photons.
This advice also seems to fly against what the majority appear to recommends here.
So many questions come to mind like: if a faint object requires 2-3 hours of integration time, how does taking a video of it change things. I guess I just don't understand how video astrology work?
Can someone explain how this works, what are good uses, or what objects are contra indicated?


Video astronomy trades off resolution to gain fast integration times. Instead of collecting hours of 15meg pixel AP exposures, you can see image in minutes, or even seconds at in SD resolution. The most sensitive (and fastest) is probably the Lodestar X2c using the ICX829 CCD sensor.

I use a camera with smaller sensor, but equally sensitive LN300-PAL video camera based on the ICX811 CCD sensor on a NexStar 6SE telescope. For the quick example of what you can see in 1-5 minutes using SharpCap stacking look here at my "best" shots. If 1-5 minutes is too long for you here is what you can see in 4 seconds at a dark site with 6" SCT.

The biggest advantage of Video Astronomy is that it works pretty well in suburbs (red zone) where nothing will work visually. My modest setup works down to 17th magnitude objects in red zone.

Another advantage of using fast EAA camera exposures is that removes the requirement for expensive precise mounts. A cheap Nexstar 6SE works fine. For AP you need a decent CGEM EQ mount costing $$$$. EAA exposures are typically 1-10 seconds, while AP exposures are 5 minutes.

FYI, there is a Video Astronomy forum here called EAA. Here is link.

ovisimmus

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2017, 12:37:28 AM »
I skipped visual and went straight for Video Astronomy. I do also enjoy the view through my scope with EP's, but Vidastro shows me more detail in Messier and NCG's, and in colour, and within seconds, (not many minutes or hours as per AP)

I brought my refractor, Revolution Imager kit and a Heq5 goto mount for about the same as what the cost was of a 10-12inch goto dob many had suggested as a first scope.

I am very glad someone mentioned Vid-astronomy to me a few days Before i spent on the dob, not after. I brought the scope as a fast achro is great performer for vidastro, has nice rich widefields with an EP and is cheap.

So i wouldn't say that you have to sacrifice Visual Obs to get involved in Vid-astro, but if you know you want to try vidastro, buy a refractor n tracking mount as your first scope to accommodate the possibility of some vidastro too.
Great combo, camera for detail in nebulosity and galaxies and a frac gives great widefields for you to soak up with an EyePiece.

They dont have to be faint fuzzies...

xTripodx

pmethinxlamna

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2017, 04:22:11 PM »
If you want to do some quick reading on this subject there is a discussion I started called EAA for Dummies. This is electronically assisted astronomy which is based on a video camera.

Note that this is not based on a camcorder, it is a video camera that displays on a monitor.  Or you can capture the video stream to a laptop through a digital converter and then you can do processing on it on the computer later.

The discussion is primarily focused on a particular kit that is appropriate for beginners but you may find some helpful information and links in the discussion

EAA for Dummies
http://www.cloudynig...n-technobabble/

Net net I purchased the kit being discussed. I am still in the very early stages of getting to know it.  You will read about my efforts and that of others in the thread.

I do not expect this to replace visual astronomy for me BUT it may become a major part of what I do.  And I do plan to use it for outreach, to show the sky to others.

Just one of many options you can consider.

Note, if you are considering this AND you are about to buy a new telescope or mount, you REALLY want some kind of a tracking mount if you plan to go this way. It does not have to be the high end equatorial mounts that the true astro photography guys use, but you will want something that tracks. That could be a motorized tracking mount or a GoTo mount.  I will be using my Meade ETX 80 Goto scope for this.

napephona

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2018, 02:37:40 AM »
One thing that I really enjoy about camera-assisted observing is how it has completely eliminated the frustration of not being able to see much from my backyard. I spent years building larger and larger scope, ending with my 16.5" f/6.7 Newtonian, in a effort to see what I could see, and for many objects that meant faint little wisps of gray smoke, if anything at all. With even my simplest EAA gear I can easily reach magnitude 17.5 and I routinely reach magnitude 18-ish, in color, from my red-zone backyard (no Milky Way for me). In no way shape or form has EAA replaced my visual observing, but instead it is a companion, like a really fancy schmancy eyepiece. Now when I find a faint little wisp of gray smoke it's not "is that all there is?" it's now"wow, that's really cool!". Having access to my own, unprocessed source images provides me with the best darned finder charts ever, and a heads-up on exactly what an object looks like and what I'm likely to see through the eyepiece.

My original EAA kit, a Meade DSI on and Orion StarBlast and a Meade DS-2000 mount...
I had a great time with this setup for about a year before moving up to better gear.

I use several different systems for EAA these days, but this is what I consider to be my primary EAA kit, a Meade N6 (6" f/5 Newtonian), on an Orion Atlas, and fitted with a modified DSLR (450D, 550D, or 600D)...
I can operate this kit from inside my house, which has been a great help in taking advantage of clear nights when it's just not comfortable to be outside.

Wonderful stuff!




Jeff Weiss

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2018, 03:16:55 AM »
EAA or as it is more commonly known, astrovideo, is a rapidly evolving branch of amateur astronomy and it can certainly supplement visual and CCD/DSLR imaging. Each will have their own reasons for getting into it. For me it was age and increasing light pollution and for my observing buddy, glaucoma. I enjoyed visual for decades and thought nothing of hauling out a 16" to a dark site an hours drive away on a work night. When I approached my sixties the appeal of that waned along with my energy level. A Mallincam changed that and I was able to employ smaller scopes and permanently mounted ones to "observe". My first view with a Mallincam Extreme was the Dumbell nebula using a C14 at F2.8. It was stunning and in 7 seconds. I ordered my own the next morning and haven't looked back. It has enabled my observing buddy (aged74) and I to continue observing. Better to see something on a screen than nothing at all in an eyepiece. Strictly visual observers will poopoo observing this way as it is not "real" observing. I just hope life circumstances will allow them to continue visual observing until late in life but we all know life is what happens while you make other plans.

veworltonuc

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2018, 11:34:36 AM »
Another interesting option is the use of night vision equipment. It's a bit more expensive but it appears to have some promising results for light polluted skies.

holdfontrosci

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 09:53:04 PM »
Quote
I cannot agree with those giving you that advice. There is certainly a place for video astronomy.

I have seen pretty interesting things on the monitor of those using a Mallincam on a big scope. They are really good for outreach. It is interesting to think you can get all that in just a few minutes of integration. The color is nice.....but not all that impressive on any monitor I have ever seen.

Most importantly,never have I seen anything on a monitor as pinpoint crisp and contrasty as a star in a well focused telescope. Never anything as wispy as the nebulosity in a decent sized dob.
How often have your seen a HDR 4K display with a 4K sensitive camera outputting live realtime 30fps content?

>Video astronomy does not give one the immediacy of visual astronomy. Those photons are not hitting your eye directly.
Given certain equipment and optics, there is no object that can be visually perceived immediately than cannot be seen better with quality EAA equipment WITHOUT INTEGRATION TIME, ie seen on the display IMMEDIATELY.

And it cannot (yet) match the quality of dedicated astrocameras (like CCD's or some DSLR work) as far as sharpness and detail, and color.
You can do EAA with these cams....

Yes, it does what it does fairly well, but a visual scope is a whole other experience, and a much more satisfying one in my opinion.

Alex


When talking about the whole scope of the EAA field,
generalities are not helpful since there is such a range of equipment.
Given there are a lot of cheap "video astronomy" options that can't compete.....

A Sony a7s camera, a HDMI cable, and a nice 4K display with high contrast will blow you away on what you can see immediately......

Given the human eye can perceive a larger range of lights and darks (~20 stops of light),
the best electronic cameras are sensing maybe (14 stops of light at most),
and the best 4K displays with HDR are will maybe get you (11 stops of light?),
your eye will always win on bright stuff.

But averted vision is not needed with EAA.

From my experience I regret ever purchasing any eyepieces,
even for my nice Solar telescope,
since my EAA setup can even give me a better and more detailed immediate view than looking through my 100LS Lunt with a single eye......

Jeremy Butler

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 12:52:32 AM »
In my opinion the difference between EAA and "traditional" stargazing is the same between oberving wild animals through binoculars/spotting scopes/naked eye or hidden cameras/drones.
It is the same, and it is not the same, but can not say that one is better than the other: only that some people may enjoy, others may hate it.

I jumped into EAA unawares, when began to shot astrophotos with the Astrotrac and neeeded some way to verify the framing: so shot tests with short exposure and high ISO, and in 15-20" could find out if the framing was right.
Then discovered that some people linked a sort of camera to a bigger screen to observe galaxies and nebulae. The idea seemed worth a try, and resorted to the camera already own for planetary shots (ASI 120MM), a tiny 66/400 refractor and the SLT mount.
With little practice was able to observe the notorious Horse Head nebula, the Rosetta, etc...with only a little delay (less than 10") directly on the screen of the laptop.
Then asked myself: why bother with such sub-par setup when there are remote telescopes, set in very good placed, waiting only to be booked? But almost at once was hit by another thought: why waste my time observing in the monitor, when someone already went through all the trouble to transform the signal collected by remote telescopes in wonderful pictures, which could observe at any time, and absolutely without any kind of effort? Afterall I could open Astrobin and look pictures of any object I could wish even from my phone while waiting at the supermarket, while the remote telescope must be used when the sky above it is dark, and the possible targets are limited to those visible from its latitude and in the current season (with some awkward consequences if the remote telescope's longitude is too different from my own).

My words are not meant as a criticism of EAA: I only want to underline that it does not work for everyone and, because of the higher initial investment, to get an EAA kit as first telescope seems a rather odd advice.

Guy Cleveland

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 04:03:24 PM »
Quote
Then asked myself: why bother with such sub-par setup when there are remote telescopes, set in very good placed, waiting only to be booked? But almost at once was hit by another thought: why waste my time observing in the monitor, when someone already went through all the trouble to transform the signal collected by remote telescopes in wonderful pictures, which could observe at any time, and absolutely without any kind of effort? Afterall I could open Astrobin and look pictures of any object I could wish even from my phone while waiting at the supermarket, while the remote telescope must be used when the sky above it is dark, and the possible targets are limited to those visible from its latitude and in the current season (with some awkward consequences if the remote telescope's longitude is too different from my own).

My words are not meant as a criticism of EAA: I only want to underline that it does not work for everyone and, because of the higher initial investment, to get an EAA kit as first telescope seems a rather odd advice.


EAA with my modest scope is a challenge to see what is possible. Its a learning experience to see what are my limits. Its an exploration to see how many objects can be seen. The same is what visual observers try to do, but EAA expands my ability to see dim objects by forty fold (4 magnitudes deeper). When used with real-time stacking programs such as SharpCap its multiplied many times more.

Miguel Alvarado

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2018, 11:21:13 PM »
Quote
EAA with my modest scope is a challenge to see what is possible. Its a learning experience to see what are my limits. Its an exploration to see how many objects can be seen. The same is what visual observers try to do, but EAA expands my ability to see dim objects by forty fold (4 magnitudes deeper). When used with real-time stacking programs such as SharpCap its multiplied many times more.
Well said. Exactly my interest.

Roger Dixon

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Re: Thoughts on video astronomy
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 03:46:54 PM »
Easy answer to your question. Your eye is inherently short exposure, it can only see the photons coming through the scope for a small fraction of a second.

The camera can accumulate them over time, even a five second exposure will have far more than 10 times the photons. Then there's stacking...

There's no right or wrong here. Some like visual. Some like EAA. Some (perhaps the masochists <grin>) like long exposure photography, with (very) intensive processing. Note that you have to decide before choosing a setup, they're all very different. Exposure length changes everything.