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 selected the observation objects primarily on the basis of my literature (see references).
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 mount.
All observations were conducted in Mühlhausen/Kraichgau (Germany):
Of course, the Atik Infinity camera is needed for the photos. To operate the camera, a laptop is also required on which the control program runs. Depending on the telescope tube used, focal length extenders (Barlow lens, focal extender) or - focal length reducers must also be used. This is indicated for the corresponding observations.
Photo: Atik Infinity camera at Explorer 150PDS (without StarSense module)
In addition, the telescope tube has always to be mounted on a Star Discovery 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 mount in the future. On February 12, 2018 I already used it more or less successfully.
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 whe 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||Tubes Used||Accessories Used||Remarks||Further Remarks|
|Nov 26 or 27, 2017||Heritage 100P||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...|
|Nov 29, 2017||KS: M 15
PN: M 57 (Ring NebulA)
GE: NGC 7000 (not found)
|Heritage 100P||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...|
|Dec 7, 2017||KS: M 15
KS: M 56
PN: M 57
PN: M 27
|Heritage 100P||2 x Barlow lens, 2 x focal extender||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
|Dec 12, 2017||Explorer 150PDS||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...|
|Dec 31, 2017||KS: M 15
KS: M 56
PN: M 57
PN: M 27
KS: M 71
GE: NGC 7000 (not found)
KS: NGC 7006 (not found)
|Explorer 150PDS||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...|
|Jan 14, 2018||OS: M 45 (Plejaden)
G: M 31/32 (Andromeda-Galaxie)
|Skymax-127||3 x focal reducer (2 x reducer with extension tube)||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|
|Feb 12, 2018||OS: M 35
OS: M 36
OS: M 37
OS: M 38
GE: M 42/43
|Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module||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|
|Feb 21, 2018||OS: M 35
GE: M 42/43
Moon: Half Moon
|Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module||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 be sharper...|
|Mar 14, 2018||OS: M 41, M 45, M 50, M 93
GE: M 42/43
|Explorer 150PDS||StarSense module||Again, I aligned the telescope/mount automatically using the StarSense module||StarSense alignment was successful; the photos were in part OK|
Bold: First observation during this observation period; G = galaxy, OC = open star cluster, GC = globular star cluster, P = star pattern
|M 41||Canis Major||OC||yes||not verified...|
|M 50||Monoceros||OC||yes||not verified...|
|M 93||Puppis||OC||yes||not verified...|
|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 27||Dumbbell Nebula||Vulpecula||PN||yes||yes||very pale, no bright photo achieved yet|
|M 15||Pegasus||GC||yes||yes||usable and identifiable|
|M 71||Sagitta||GC||yes||usable and identifiable|
|M 31/32||Andromeda Galaxy||Andromeda||G||yes||
I was only able to photograph a part of M 31 because of its size; I saw M 32 for the first time.
|M 45||Pleiades||Taurus||OC||yes||too large for the image section, but identifiable|
|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 35||Gemini||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable|
|M 36||Auriga||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable|
|M 37||Auriga||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable|
|M 38||Auriga||OC||yes, CS||usable and identifiable|
|Moon||yes, CS||the photos are not really sharp|
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)
All the star maps were created with SkySafari Plus for Apple Macintosh.