APT v3.80 released

I use APT for image capture. Here is the release email customers have received:

APT 3.80 arrived! It brings the highly requested native support for ZWO cameras as well as support for Pegasus Astro and ArteSky flat panels, support for more Canon models, support for the latest CR3 and NEF raw files, GoTo++ improvements, mosaics import from HNSKY or CdC and more.

Update your APT and be ready for the New Moon 🙂

The usual list of the changes is available here:

Clear skies,
Ivo & Maria

By Steve J Posted in Main


This image was taken in 2016 from Elyria, Ohio USA. Notice that the great red spot is in the center. Telescope: 10″ Schmidt Newtonian. Canon T3 DSLR image. Software: Backyard EOS.

By Steve J Posted in Main


Getting a little better at that post processing. Using Gimp. Image is 180s ISO800, 20img. Stacked with subs, bias, darks. I still need some practice to bring out the luminosity.


Picture saved with settings embedded.

By Steve J Posted in Main


Dumbbell nebula in Cygnus. 45sec, ISO1600, 20exp. Deep Sky Stacker, post processing in Gimp. No darks, bias or flat frames yet. Zhumell UHC filter. A second edit is below.

GIMP edit 2

By Steve J Posted in Main

New rig

In July-October I had obtained a new refractor from Adorama camera out of New York for around $870. It has been decades since I possessed a good refractor so I could put the larger (and heavier) Schmidt Newtonian on the shelf for a while. The SN was very sensitive to collimation issues and I was tired of dealing with it. This refractor is an Explore Scientific AR152 6″ doublet. These are hard to find – they are selling out everywhere. I also ordered a new autoguider from Orion: Orion StarShoot AutoGuider Pro & 30mm Ultra Mini Guide and I am testing it out. Added a Rigelsys Explore Scientific Focus Motor and nFOCUS. In addition, I have purchased a field flattener. I am currently shooting with my old Cannon Rebel T3: the ZWO ASI178MC works well, and I do image with that intermittently, but I have always had better success with DSLR.

Images posting soon – as soon as I learn Nebulosity image processing…



By Steve J Posted in Main

Black Forest Star Party 2019 Speakers line-up

Image source: https://bfsp.org/

I am attending the annual Black Forest star party at Cherry Springs state park in September 27-29 2019. I am very excited to attend this national dark site and do some astrophotography and simple visual observing with the public.

About the event: “The Black Forest Star Party (BFSP) is an annual dark-sky amateur astronomy observing event hosted by the Central Pennsylvania Observers (CPO). Held every year since 1999, the BFSP generally spans a weekend in the late summer or early fall in Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County, Pennsylvania.

Cherry Springs State Park is one of the darkest sites in the state of Pennsylvania and has been designated as Pennsylvania’s first Dark Sky Park by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)…” (Black Forest 2019).

Reference: https://bfsp.org/about-the-bfsp/


Here is a list of this years speakers:

2019 Speakers


By Steve J Posted in Main



Space Weather News for July 31, 2019

BE ALERT FOR PERSEID FIREBALLS: Earth is entering a stream of debris from giant Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters say the shower won’t peak until Aug. 12-13, but already NASA cameras are catching Perseid fireballs streaking over the USA. The Perseids produce more fireballs than any other annual shower–largely due to the size of the parent comet–so your chances of seeing one are good. Visit today’s edition of Spaceweather.com for observing tips.

Aurora alerts: Sign up for Spaceweather Alerts and get a text message when auroras appear in your area.

By Steve J Posted in Main

M3: single exposure

M3 10 second exposure, Zhumell urban sky filter. This filter increases the contrast of deep-sky objects like emission nebulae and darkens the background sky by blocking mercury vapor light transmissions and enhancing transmission in the hydrogen beta, doubly ionized oxygen and hydrogen alpha regions of the spectrum. This filter, I have found, is no longer in production. Next filter to purchase is the Optolong L-eNhance filter. Or, the Optolong CLS filter at a lower price does basically the same thing. Image cleaned up with Gimp.


By Steve J Posted in Main

Moon imaged with ZWO ASI 178 Color CMOS Camera

So far, I do like the DSLR images more, but this is first light with this small ZWO ASI 178 CMOS camera: the first CMOS camera I have owned. It will take getting used to. I believe this image is a .1000/sec capture in APT with the Meade LXD75 sn-10″ Schmidt Newtonian. Some atmospheric distortion exists.


By Steve J Posted in Main

Breathtaking Sphinx Observatory at Swiss Alps

Breathtaking Sphinx Observatory at Swiss Alps

by Kaushik

Source: https://www.amusingplanet.com/2012/08/breathtaking-sphinx-observatory-at.html

The Sphinx observatory is located at Jungfraujoch in Switzerland at an altitude of 3,571 meters. Due to its unique location in an unspoiled high alpine environment and the year-round accessibility via the Jungfrau Railway, combined with the excellent infrastructure, the Sphinx observatory provides unique conditions for successful research in various disciplines such as meteorology, astronomy, glaciology, physiology, radiation, and cosmic rays.

When the Jungfraujoch station opened in 1912 (which is also the highest railway station in all of Europe), Jungfraujoch became the number one place for scientists to conduct research under conditions of high altitude. At first the scientists worked in harsh conditions and lived in temporary shelters. Eventually, the Sphinx observatory was built in 1937 to accommodate eager scientists.

The Sphinx observatory is built on a steep cliff. The mountain top has been tunneled to fit an elevator which ascends to the observatory from the Jungfraujoch train station. The main-part of the Sphinx is used by scientists but for the tourists there is a metal-grate terrace surrounding the building on all sides that provides a stunning 360 degree view of the Great Aletsah Glacier, of the snowcapped Alps, and of the green valley down below. From the metal gratting one can see 11,333 feet of abyss down below.

Photo credit

The building includes four laboratories, a pavilion for cosmic ray research, a mechanical workshop, a library, a kitchen, a living room, ten bedrooms, a bathroom, and the living quarters of the custodians. The scientific part of the Sphinx observatory includes two large laboratories, a weather observation station, a workshop, two terraces for scientific experiments, an astronomical as well as a meteorological cupola. The astronomical cupola is equipped with a 76cm telescope with Cassegrain and Coudé focus.

Photo credit

Photo credit

Photo credit

Sphinx Observatory observation deck open to public. Photo credit

Photo credit

Walking ten minutes through this tunnel gets you to an elevator, at the top of which is the highest point, where the observatory is located. Photo credit

Photo credit

Photo credit

Photo credit

Photo credit

Sources: 1234


By Steve J Posted in Main