Since the end of November 2017, I own an Atik Infinity camera for taking photos of deep sky objects. On this page, I collect information about my observations, which might be of interest to other beginners. The photos that were taken during the observations are shown elsewhere on this site, for example on page Atik Infinity Colour Camera - Gallery.
So far, I have visited (and documented...) the following sky objects with the Atik Infinity (the links lead to pages describing the DSOs):
I constrained myself mostly to the sky area in the south and southwest (according to the respective date). I chose those objects, which were "prominent" on the respective date and suitable for a photo (nebulae, open and globular star clusters).
The observations started at the end of November 2017. They typically took place shortly after dusk, when it was sufficiently dark for a successful star alignment for the GoTo mount. Since mid-February, I used the Celestron StarSense module for an automatic alignment.
All observations took place in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (Germany):
Of course, the Atik Infinity camera is needed for taking photos. To operate the camera, a laptop on which the control program runs is also required. Depending on the telescope tube used, focal length extenders (Barlow lens, focal extender) or reducers must also be used. This is indicated for the respective observations.
Photo: Atik Infinity camera at Explorer 150PDS (without StarSense module)
In addition, the telescope tube has always to be mounted on my Star Discovery GoTo mount because of the needed tracking of sky objects. At least with the Explorer 150PDS, I will use the StarSense module for an automatic alignment of the GoTo mount in the future. On February 12, 2018 I already used it more or less successfully and later on as well.
And last but not least, you need a 12 V power supply for the camera and GoTo mount (and possibly one for the laptop). By the way, the StarSense module is powered by the mount.
This small telescope tube (400 mm, f/4) is designed for visual observation only. With the camera, you can only get into focus when using focal length extenders (Barlow lens, focal extender). Unfortunately, this reduces the light intensity accordingly (by the extension factor). Furthermore, I did not find that the image quality was sufficient (Feb 7, 2018). I therefore will not use this combination in the future.
The Explorer 150PDStube (750 mm, f/5) indicates already with a "P" in its name that it is designed for astro photography ("DS" = Dual Speed is also helpful when taking astro photos). This means that you can get into focus with the camera. With an aperture ratio of f/5 it is also sufficiently sensitive, and the focal length appears ideal (the Atik Infinity is recommended for focal lengths between 500 mm and 1000 mm).
With their long focal lengths, the Maksutov-Cassegrain OTAs Skymax-102 (1300 mm, f/12.7) and Skymax-127 (1500 mm, f/11.8) are less suitable for use with the Atik Infinity camera, and they also require significantly longer exposure times due to their low aperture ratio. This can be compensated for with focal length reducers (analogous to focal length extensions). However, my combination of a 2 x focal length reducer and an extension tube achieves only a factor of 2.3 instead of one of 3 (this results in f/5.1 for the Skymax-127)... The reducer also seems to lead to vignetting. I still have to try out which factor the 2 x focal length reducer alone actually achieves and whether this leads to vignetting or not.
In general, the sky above Mühlhausen/Kraichgau is "light-polluted" and does not invite you to search for deep sky objects. This is certainly one of the reasons why I found some of the deep sky objects that I wanted to observe only sometimes or not at all. For astro photography, however, light pollution is not as disturbing as for visual observations.
|Date||Observed Objects||Remarks||Further Remarks||Tubes Used||Accessories Used|
|Nov 26 or 27, 2017||My first attempt failed||No 2-star alignment possible, because the clouds changed all the time. Seen nothing... Tried the mood at the end, saw a glow, then clouds came...||Heritage 100P|
|Nov 29, 2017||GC: M 15
PN: M 57 (Ring Nebula)
|My second attempt worked in principle, but I could not get the camera into focus with this telescope (it is not suited to photography)||This time, the sky was initially clear so that a two-star alignment was possible (Vega, Altair); I selected a star in the vicinity of Altair for initial adjustment and focusing. First, the "spider patterns" of fuzzy stars appeared. But correct focusing was not possible because I was not able to move the eyepiece holder further down as needed. After all, only relatively small "balls" or "rings" remained so that I was able to recognize the deep sky objects that I accessed...||Heritage 100P|
|Dec 7, 2017||GC: M 15, M 56
PN: M 57, M 27
|In my third attempt, I was able to focus the camera with this telescope thanks to the use of a 2 x Barlow lens and a 2 x focal extender (both allowed me to move the focus point inwards)||Seen with 2 x Barlow lens: M 57, M 15, M 56, M 27 > focusing possible,
poor image quality
Seen with 2 x focal extender: M 57, M 15, M 56, M 27 > focusing possible, image quality better, but not good
|Heritage 100P||2 x Barlow lens, 2 x focal extender|
|Dec 12, 2017||---||I was able to focus the camera with this "photo" telescope||I was able to focus the camera with this telescope thanks (verified using a star); before I was able to get started, clouds appeared...||Explorer 150PDS|
|Dec 31, 2017||GC: M 15, M 56, M 71
PN: M 57, M 27
|This time, I was able to test the camera with DSO at the Explorer 150PDS; from now on, the photos seem "useable"...||The best results so far...||Explorer 150PDS|
|Jan 14, 2018||OC: M 45 (Pleiades)
G: M 31/32 (Andromeda Galaxy)
|Tested another telescope tube, because of the long focal width using a focal reducer||No 2-star alignment possible, therefore, I accessed two rather large targets manually||Skymax-127||3 x focal reducer (2 x reducer with extension tube)|
|Feb 12, 2018||OC: M 35, M 36,
M 37, M 38
GE: M 42/43
|This time, I aligned the telescope/mount automatically using the StarSense module||In my second attempt with the StarSense module, I was successful (the first one was on Feb 8); the photos were OK, particularly those of M 42/43||Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module|
|Feb 21, 2018||OC: M 35
GE: M 42/43
Moon: Half Moon
|Again, I aligned the telescope/mount automatically using the StarSense module||StarSense alignment was successful; the photos were OK, but those of the moon could have been sharper...||Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module|
|Mar 14, 2018||OC: M 41, M 45, M 50, M 93
GE: M 42/43
|Ditto||StarSense alignment was successful; the photos of M 45 were OK , those of M 41, M 50, and M 93 missed the target. M 42/43 not really found, no photo...||Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module|
|Apr 6, 2018||OC: M 41, M 50, NGC 2264
GE: M 1, M 42/43
|Ditto||StarSense alignment was successful; most photos were OK; M 42/43 disturbed, Alnitak disturbed (nebulae around Alnitak not found)||Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module|
|Apr 8, 2018||OC: M 35, M 36-38, M 47, M 50||Ditto||StarSense alignment was successful; the photos were OK, but missed the targets; I only found M 36 when I was looking for M 38... (M 1 not found, NGC 2264 not recognized/photographed)||Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module|
Bold: First observation during this observation period; G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, PN = planetary nebula, GE = galactic emission nebula, P = star pattern
Object details can be obtained via the links to the relevant deep sky objects.
|M 1||Crab Nebula||Taurus||GE||yes, CS||faint, but identifiable|
|M 15||Pegasus||GC||yes||yes||usable and identifiable|
|M 27||Dumbbell Nebula||Vulpecula||PN||yes||yes||very pale, no bright photo achieved yet|
|M 31/32||Andromeda Galaxy||Andromeda||G||yes||
because of M 31's size, I was only able to photograph a part of it; I saw M 32 for the first time.
|M 35||Gemini||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable; also missed the target once|
|M 36||Auriga||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable; once found as "M 38"...|
|M 37||Auriga||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable; also missed the target once|
|M 38||Auriga||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable; also missed the target once (got M 36 instead...)|
|M 41||Canis Major||OC||yes, CS||missed the target on the first attempt, second attempt OK|
|M 42/43||Orion Nebula||Orion||GE||yes, CS||so far the most beautiful deep sky object, but not as colorful as on many photos; the nebula is relatively differentiated on the photos (after post-processing)|
|M 45||Pleiades||Taurus||OC||yes, CS||yes||too large for the image section, but identifiable|
|M 47||Puppis||OC||yes, CS||missed the target...|
|M 50||Monoceros||OC||yes, CS||missed the target on the first attempt, second attempt OK, third one failed again|
|M 56||Perseus||GC||yes||yes||usable and identifiable*|
|M 57||Ring Nebula||Lyra||PN||yes||yes||
amazingly easy to recognize, even with blurred images
|M 71||Sagitta||GC||yes||usable and identifiable|
|M 93||Puppis||OC||yes, CS||missed the target...|
|Moon||yes, CS||the photos are not really sharp|
|NGC 2264||Christmas Tree Cluster||Monoceros||OC||yes, CS||find verified|
G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double
star, SP = star pattern; CS = Celestron StarSense module
*) "identifiable" means that I compared the photos with other photos or sketches of the object and that I found features that allowed to identify the object (this applies particularly to open and globular star clusters)
When searching for deep sky objects, a good preparation is obligatory - you read this, and I can confirm it. "Good preparation" means, on the one hand, that you compile a list of objects that you want to observe, including notes on where and how to find them.
On the other hand, even when doing "quick astro photography" with the Atik Infinity camera (a variety of "video astronomy") more technology has to be prepared than for purely visual observation, especially if you just put a small Dobson or Maksutov telescope on the terrace table for this... Above, I describe, what equipment I use and need for taking photos with the Atik Infinity camera.