Deep Sky Observations with ZWO ASI224MC 2021

Conditions | Observation Overview | Overview of the Observed Sky Objects | Remarks | References

At the beginning of April 2021, I borrowed a ZWO ASI224MC from a starfriend. This camera has the same Sony sensor as my eVscope, which was one reason to borrow the camera and try it out on my various telescope tubes. The other one was that I was not satisfied with my Atik Infinity camera after several tests in early 2021, especially with its sensitivity. It was said that modern CMOS cameras are more sensitive than CCD cameras like the Atik Infinity, which in turn is said to have better dynamic range. Reasons enough to test this camera! The tests took place in April/May 2021; a later test was performed at the beginning of September 2021.

Update: I bought the ASI224MC from my starfriend on April 25, 2021.

 

Conditions

Sky Region and Objects

I looked into different sky regions and at different times during the year, so a description does not make much sense here.

Overview Map

Since the observations will be separated through a long period of time, a sky map does not make much sense.

Observation Time

The observations started every day when it was sufficiently dark. This can be at quite different times in the course of the year.

Observation Location

All observations were conducted in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (Germany):

Equipment Used

Camera, Laptop, Focal Reducer, GoTo Mount, Power Supply

Of course, the ASI224MC camera is needed for taking photos. To operate the camera, a laptop on which the control application runs is also required. Depending on the telescope tube used, focal length reducers must also be used. This is indicated for the respective observations. And, of course, you need a GoTo mount and a power supply, typically a power tank. If you control the mount via app, you also need a smartphone.

Software

Initially, I used the software ASILive to control the camera. Later, I used ASILive as well as SharpCap.

Telescope Tubes

PS 72/432

I bought the Omegon PS 73/432 ED refractor (432 mm, f/6) in September 2018, but used it only visually at the beginning. It took until the year 2021 that this changed. To be able to get into focus with the camera, I used the newly acquired T2 extension sleeves (Explore Scientific).

Photos: PS 72/432 with ASI224 camera (spring 2021)

C5

The C5 is now an attempt to acquire a compact, versatile, and comparatively fast travel telescope, which can also be used as a "quick-and-dirty" telescope" and as a spotting scope. I bough it in December 2020.

TLAPO1027

With the TS-Optics TLAPO1027, I wanted to acquire a refractor with particularly pure colors, and which also has a wider aperture than my Omegon PS 72/432. I bought it in July 2020. This refractor also needs the extension tubes.

PS 72/432 (upper photo from spring 2021) C5 TLAPO 1027

Photos: ASI224 in use at the three tubes PS 42/432, C5, and TLAPO1027 at the beginning of September 2021

General Conditions

In general, the sky above Mühlhausen/Kraichgau is "light-polluted" and does not invite you to search for deep sky objects. Cameras will find the objects even in worse conditions, but really good results are obtained only under dark skies.

 

Observation Overview

Observation Details

Date    Observed Objects Further Observations and Remarks Devices Used Reducers Used General Remarks
Apr 8
MH
GN: M 42/43, M 78, NGC 2024
G: M 96
Order: M 42/43, NGC 2024, M 78, M 96 PS 72/432 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC --- 1-star alignment via SynScan app
All in all, disappointing results. The stars where somewhat bloated.

Photos

Apr 12
MH
  Order: M 42/43, M 65/66, M 105 - without success and photos C5 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC f/6,3 1-star alignment via SynScan app
No results!
Apr 13
MH
G: M 51, M 65, M 66, M 95, M 96, M 105, NGC 3628 Order (PS72) : M 65/66 (both in the same FOV, NGC 3628, M 105 (together with NGC 3384 and NGC 3389), M 95, M 96, and M 51. Die Sterne waren wieder etwas aufgeblasen. C5 and PS 72/432 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC f/6,3 (C5) 1-star alignment via SynScan app
No results with C5 (M 42/43, M 78), because the stacking did not work; disappointing results with PS72. Again, the stars where somewhat bloated.

Photos

Apr 20
MH
G: M 51 Only M 51 observed and photographed with and without UV/IR cut filter; half moon PS 72/432 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC; UV/IR Cut Filter --- Initially 1-star alignment via SynScan app with problems, then brightest-star alignment; tracking OK afterwards. The test with/without filter did not reveal, whether the stars are less blown up (focusing difficult) with the filter. Used ASILive and SharpCap, also tried darks; overall, rather a "disaster seesion" (e.g. colors in SharpCap).

Photos

Apr 23
MH
G: M 51 Only tests at M 51 with and without UV/IR cut filter PS 72/432 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC; UV/IR Cut Filter --- Used SharpCap and later ASILive to control the camera.
Tested first how the tube has to be oriented (finder points down); used the Brightest Star alignment method; the tracking was "fairly OK"
When using SharpCap, I now believe to have found an effect of the filter.
Made three capture attempts; the second one was only brief and does not count; captured probably once with a filter (1), and once (3) without one...
All in all, I got useable results.

Photos

Apr 24
MH
G: M 51 Only tests at M 51 C5 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC f/6,3 No usable photos because the stacking did not work.

Photos

May 8
MH
  Was not able to find a target PS 72/432 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC and UV/IR Cut Filter --- No photos; potentially the problems were cause by the camera hitting the tripod legs... Fell down the garden stairs...
May 9
MH
G: M 51 Could not find M 51 again at first, but eventually it worked. PS 72/432 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC and UV/IR Cut Filter --- I used ASILive and SharpCap as well as the UV/IR cut filter. Took two captures with ASILive, each lasting 10 minutes; the first had poorer focus, the focus was better for the second one (no darkframes, automatic removal of hotpixels). When using SharpCap afterwards, the stacking did nor work, so no results (or better, just a poor one with 8 frames)...

Photos

Sep 2
MH
KS: M 13, M 71, M 92
OS: M 11
PN: M 27, M 57
G: NGC 6041, NGC 7317
Order: M 13, M 92, M 51 (SQM 20), nebulae (M 20, 16, 17) did not work, M 11, M 27, both misssed with GoTo access, M 57, Hercules Galaxy Cluster (NGC 6041), Stephan's Quintet (NGC 7317), M 71
(For the galaxies I did not check further whether they were approached correctly, because it is not possible for me to check this.)
PS 72/432 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC and UV/IR Cut Filter --- SQM 19.86, later always around 20... Observed from 9:30 p.m. until shortly before 11:30 p.m.

SynScan app on iPhone, ASILive (hotpixel removal aktivated, no darkframes)

Photos

Sep 3
MH
Jupiter, Saturn
KS: M 13, M 92
PN: M 27
Order: M 13 (from 11:50 p.m. on), M 92, Jupiter with and without moons, M 27, M 13, Saturn, Jupiter
(had to help visually with 32 mm eyepiece for all objects except for the planets).
C5 on AZ-GTi with ASI224MC, later also with UV/IR Cut Filter f/6.3 SQM around 20.1... Observed from 10:00 p.m. on (took photos from 10:50 p.m. on) until about 0:30 a.m..

SynScan app on iPhone, ASILive (hotpixel removal aktivated, no darkframes)

At the beginning NOTHING worked! I was successful only after I visually searched for the targets with the 32 mm eyepiece and then mounted the camera. Sometimes the target was already at least at the edge, sometimes not in the field of view at all; then it was necessary to search (which worked for the larger objects). Somehow I found most of them, M27 with much effort, though...

I had problems with focusing! The focus points for the eyepiece and the camera were far apart, and I could not remember the direction of rotation... Cranked and cranked, and it did not focus... Finally, I got it right on all objects.

Photos

Sep 4
MH
KS: M 13, M 92
OS: M 11
PN: M 27, M 57
GN: M 16, M 17, M 20
G: M 51
Order: M 13 (5s, 10s; with 10s I had initiually huge problems, later also with 5s at the begining; I had to perform a lot of stack restarts...), M 92 (had to help visually with the 32 mm eyepiece), M 51 (about 10 p.m., SQM 20), M 16 miserable tracking, M 17, M 20 (to low and sky tooo bright), M 11, M 27, M 57 (2s, 5s; washed out) TLAPO1207 on Star Discovery with SynScan WLAN Module --- SQM around 20; observations began at about 9:10 p.m. and ended at about 0:30 a.m..

SynScan app on iPhone, ASILive (hotpixel removal aktivated, no darkframes)

I was able to find somehow most objects after the GoTo access. Only with M 92 I had to take the 32 mm eyepiece as a help. M 92 was pretty much in the middle with the eyepiece, but I still could not find it with the camera...

In general, I often had to restart the stacks because the image was out of focus or the stacking did not work. The tracking of the mount seemed to be poor in parts. Often the black border grew with each new image, but sometimes it remained in place...

Photos

Bold: First observation during this observation period; G = galaxy, GH = galaxy cluster, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, P = star pattern, DN = dark nebula, GN = galactic nebula, PN = planetary nebula

 

Overview of the Observed Sky Objects

DSO Details
Name Constellation Type Tube Remarks
M 11 Wild Duck Cluster Scutum OC PS72, TLAPO1207 Good!
M 13 Hercules Cluster Hercules GC PS72, C5, TLAPO1207 Partly very good!
M 16 Eagle Nebula Serpens GN TLAPO1207 Not as good as usually...
M 17 Omega/Swan Nebula Sagittarius GN TLAPO1207 Very nice
M 20 Trifid Nebula Sagittarius GN TLAPO1207 Too bright and washed out (too low, sky too bright)
M 27 Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula PN PS72, C5, TLAPO1207 In part very nice and large
M 42/43 Orion Nebula Orion GN PS72 Rather disappointing
M 51 Whirlpool Galaxy Canes Venatici G PS72, C5, TLAPO1207 Early results differed, but not as good as in the eVscope
M 57 Ring Nebula Lyra PN TLAPO1207 Washed out
M 65   Leo G PS72 Disappointing, together with M 66
M 66   Leo G PS72 Disappointing, together with M 65
M 71   Sagitta GC PS72 Nice
M 78   Orion GN PS72 Faint and noisy
M 92   Hercules GC PS72, C5, TLAPO1207 Nice
M 95   Leo G PS72 Disappointing
M 96   Leo G PS72 Disappointing
M 105   Leo G PS72 Disappointing, together with NGC 3384 and NGC 3389
NGC 2024 Flame Nebula Orion GN PS72 Faint, found via Alnitak
NGC 3628   Leo G PS72 Disappointing, noisy; seen edge on
NGC 6041 Abell 2151, Hercules Cluster Hercules G, GH PS72 Targeted "blindly"...
NGC 7317 Stephan's Quintet Pegasus G PS72 Targeted "blindly"...

G = galaxy, GH = galaxy cluster, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, DS = double star, SP = star pattern, DN = dark nebula, GN = galactic nebula, PN = planetary nebula

 

Remarks

Preparation

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 ZWO ASI224MC 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 ZWO ASI224 camera.

 

References

Books

On this Website

 

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30.09.2021