Imaging moving forward
 Hey everyone,

I just wanted to give everyone some non-image updates on how things are going.  Recently, I've been trying to work with my 6" reflector for multiple reasons.  These include:

  • Faster focal ratio (f/3.9) in comparison to my refractor (f/7.5) which means faster acquistion time.  Effectively, what I can get in a 2 minute exposure with my refractor, I can get in 1 minute with my reflector.
  • 6 inches means better contrast in comparison to 3 inches.
  • I have a coma corrector ($230) so I better use it!

   These are all rather good reasons to use the reflector over the refractor.  I can get 60 images in an hour at high gain with my ZWO rather than 30 with my refractor.  Better all around right?  Well, there are some issues:

  • As you can see with my Soul Nebula and Elephant Trunk Nebula, there can be massive trailing issues if things are not precisely balanced, polar aligned, or collimated.  It's heavier with the guide scope and the camera hanging off separate sides of the scope, so balancing it is a nightmare.
  • Speaking of collimation, it's a pain.  Collimation is the aligning of the mirrors in the scope to reduce mirror aberration.  Coma correctors make the need for collimation to be perfect even more of a hassle.  
  • The reflector is cheap and from Taiwan and second-hand, so I don't expect great things, but it's underperforming in my eyes.  If I can't use the images I get from the scope, why bother?

   So, moving forward, I will be switching back to my ED80.  I'm hoping, with better filters (I finally got my Astronomik 36mm filters!), I will not have to worry about the chromatic aberrations I was getting with the Astromania filters and no reflections.  This is the best image out of my ZWO right now, and I don't think it's good and I know I can get better. 

    So on Wednesday, if the weather holds true, I will be using my refractor I have all set up.  I have gotten consistently good images with my refractor and I'm going to stick with it for the time being.  Afterwards, I will decide whether or not I want to sell my 6" reflector and accessories and stick to refractors or have both and prefer one over the other for different reasons.  They both have their drawbacks and their benefits, so I'll see in the coming weeks.  I just want you guys to know what's going on since their will be a shift back to how images were before.

Clear Skies,