Category Archives: Astrophotography

My Astrophotography Activities

Celestron Advanced VX Mount Broken

I bought the Celestron C11 with the AVX Mount last May and was so disappointed that the mount is broken. All I’m getting from the NexStar+ hand controller was Error 16 and 17, while I’m getting a better error message on the StarSense hand controller where it says “Unknown model, can’t communicate”.

Called the service center and they we’re all very helpful but again disappointed with the repair duration where it will take 30 working days. That’s technically 6 weeks of waiting. Well what can I do than to wait. This might be good for me as it buys me time to complete my Focuser.

On it's way to service
The mount on it’s way to the service center.

Yesterday I received the mount, surprised that it was early. Did a quick test and it seemed to work just fine. I noticed some problems on the mount as the cover for the RA motors seems to be missing. The cover of the declination motors seems to be touching the rotating head and I can clearly hear the friction. Took my screw driver and just readjusted to give some clearance.

Today, I just thought of checking the StarSense AutoAlign with the mount, and unfortunately it was not working. The StarSense hand controller is reporting that the mount is not known. What a bummer. Extremely dissatisfied with Celestron Repair Service.

AVX Mount with the replaced NexStar+ Hand Controller

AVX Mount with the StarSense Hand Controller

Some picture from the handcontroller

AVX mount with StarSense AutoAlign not working

AVX mount with StarSense AutoAlign not working

AVX mount with StarSense AutoAlign not working

AVX mount with StarSense AutoAlign not working

AVX mount with StarSense AutoAlign not working

Auto Guiding and Canon EOS Rebel SL1

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I got my Orion StarShoot Auto Guider and used it for a couple nights observing my favorite, the DumbBell Nebula.  And to be honest, kind of struggled in finding the optimal values for my scope. I attached it to the Celestron 50mm finderscope that came with the Celestron 11″ AVX Package. Only removed the rear lens and added the Blue Fireball T / T2 Male Thread to SCT Male & M48 (2″ Filter) Female Thread Adapter # T-07  and the fit was perfect.  A couple of adjustment on the primary lens to get the focus crystal clear.

Also my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 arrived.  I loved it because of it’s size and weight and also the features too.  It was perfect for the my setup since the Celestron AVX Mount can only handle 30lbs of load.  Making sure that I’m not overloading the mount as I know it will affect the quality of tracking.


Using PHD 2 with all the values totally alien to me, I wasn’t really able to get anything but lost most of my time reviewing the parameters.  I got an error about “star didn’t move enough” and with a lot of web search, I’m lucky that I’m not the only who struggled with it.

For a couple of nights, testing it, one by one getting the values right till finally I’m doing 2000 secs of exposure.

First here’s my setup

  • Celestron 11″
  • Advanced VX Mount
  • StarShoot AutoGuider attached on the 50mm finder scope
  • Celestron StarSense
  • Canon Rebel SL1
  • 1.25″ Orion SkyGlow Astrophotography Filter

Here’s what I used to have on PHD-2 which is giving me a really bad result

PHD2 Bad Value
PHD2 Bad Value

The Dumbbell Nebula with stars showing the “shotgun pattern” because of the error on RA and DEC on PHD-2.  On that image, I’m getting a Polar Alignment Error of 0.25′ (6px).  I thought it’s because my polar alignment is bad but ultimately it’s the combination of values and the selected guide star that make things worsts.  Here’s the link to see the full size of the image above so you can see the values set Full Size Image.  Below is a result of the PHD settings above where stars having trails.

Dumbbell Nebula
Dumbbell Nebula
  • Number of Image : 1
  • Exposure Length : 500 secs
  • ISO : 400
  • Censor Temperature : 28c
  • No post editing

And here’s the History Graph with the Star Profile when I got all those variables to an optimal value

PHD2 Good Value
PHD2 Good Value Full Image Size.

The Dumbbell Nebula after the optimal calibration

Dumbbell Nebula
Dumbbell Nebula Full Image Here
  • Number of Image : 1
  • Exposure Length : 519 secs
  • ISO : 800
  • Censor Temperature : 32c
  • With minor post editing using Adobe Lightroom

My final settings
Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 8.43.05 PM

  •  Aggresssion – default is 100%, changed to 70% since this will cause the calculation to the stars current position affect the movement of the mount resulting in a double barrel shotgun pattern.
  • Hysteresis – the algorithm used for calculation, default is 10
  • Calibration Steps – played around with this an 2500 was the most optimal for my mount
  • Max Duration RA – 500 – default is 1000
  • Max Duration DEC – 500 – default is 1000

One of the best result of auto guiding

PHD2 Autoguiding
PHD2 Autoguiding Full Size


Auto Guider

Facing a couple of problem in terms of adding an Auto Guider that will definitely improve my pictures.  Instead of buying an auto guider kit, I’m thinking of building from scratch and re-using some of the things that I already have.

Recently I bought an old used Philips SPC 700 NC which I’m thinking of using primarily for planetary viewing, but since I’m already over the mount weight limit, I’ll just use it with my Celestron 50 x 9 Finder Scope as my Auto Guider.


UPDATE (Sept 9, 2014)

It’s not that I gave up with making my own Auto Guider but due to the lack of time, I simply went to Amazon and purchased a StarShoot AutoGuider. The post is HERE

Explore Scientific 5x Focal Extender (Barlow Lens)

After 3 weeks of ordering it via Amazon, Focus Camera is the merchant, I finally got it. It was really a very bad experience ordering with Focus Camera. It took them 2 weeks to ship and another week to deliver. I had a couple of emails to the merchant but it seems that they just don’t care. Anyway…

Unfortunately too tired to test this out but hopefully tomorrow night will be a good time to see how this perform.

I purchased this mostly because of planetary imaging specially getting a good focus on Saturn and Jupiter.

Explore Scientific 5x Barlow Lens

My passion since I was a kid

Looking at the stars and galaxies have always been part of me ever since I was a kid. I know that someday this passion will come true and this day it began.

My telescope arrived as a kit and just to test out that everything is working properly, I decided to point it to the easiest recognizable planet which is Saturn.  It was cool, and my kids enjoyed it.  That was fun.

Declination, Ascession motors, controllers working properly, setting up the tripod and mount was challenging as everything is heavy and needs special care. This was just a rough test since the motors should be able to track stars, galaxies and planets and haven’t tested those.

Celestron 11" Schmidt Cassegrain with AVX mount

Next was to setup astrophotography but that was very difficult as I’m a beginner, I have very little skills and knowledge.  It took weeks for me to do my research and testing out my telescope. The experience was a little bit frustrating specially in finding Polaris to align the telescope.

Decided to buy the Celestron Auto Star Align and made life a breeze, was finally able to do astrophotography and the Dumbbell Nebula was the first result.

Celestron StarSense AutoAlign