Entries tagged as Canon SX50 HS

ISS transits the Moon

ISS grazes the bottom of the Moon

Solar panels of the ISS become visible against the backdrop of the Moon
Yesterday evening presented a rare opportunity of viewing the sun-lit ISS whizzing by the Moon from where I live. Luckily, the weather cooperated and the sky was mostly clear of clouds. I initially set up a telescope to see it, but the apartment window was too limited for it to calibrate in time, so I fell back to using my SX50 HS's zoom capability instead.

A few minutes before the crossing, the space station started to appear on the western sky. So I told my daughter Celine to come over and see the phenomenon together; we watched it gracefully travel eastward. When I saw that the ISS was about to transit the Moon, I let the burst mode of the camera snap 10 photos in rapid succession at 13fps. Then, we kept watching the ISS until it disappeared into the eastern sky.

Checking the photos, I noticed that the dot the ISS was supposed to be was smaller than what was expected according to CalSky, which predicted the transit. Then I looked at the first photo where the Moon got behind the ISS, which showed a "shadow" much longer than the dot. This is when I realized that the dot was the central area of the space station and the shadow was its solar panels. The size mystery was solved.

For those of you who would like to see a full resolution composite of the ISS-Moon transit, [click here] to load the image. It's a bit sad I can't adjust the ISO setting while shooting in burst mode with the camera - I would've like to have it lowered for less coarse images.

Device: Canon SX50 HS
Settings: 1200mm - ISO 800 - 1/1000s - f/6.5
Filters: None
Time: 2015-04-24 19:56:49 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
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Big Saturn shots with 5mm eyepiece

Biggest photos of Saturn from SX50 HS yet
[Raw - Stacked - Wavelet Processed]

Hoping to get a bigger look at the planets, I bought a 5mm LE series eyepiece from e.Frantis. It would supposedly get twice the magnification of the 25mm eyepiece & 2.5x barlow lens combination. After waiting for more than a week for the weather to clear up, I observed the planet Saturn through the brand new eyepiece. It certainly showed the planet nicely, in spite of being a bit dark due to the high magnification.

Not to miss the opportunity to capture this on camera, I got my SX50 HS camera out and placed it over the eyepiece by hand. After several hundred shots, I was able to recover a handful of good photos. Putting them together, I was able to finally have the Cassini Division on the rings of Saturn properly show up. This fulfilled one of the main expectations I had of the Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope.

As for the actual magnification of the eyepiece, my calculations showed that the photos had a 0.22 arc second / pixel resolution, which is about 6.65 times better than the 50x zoom provided by SX50 HS's integrated lens. This is equivalent to having a 8000mm zoom lens. Also, this is 2.4 times the magnification given by the aforementioned eyepiece-barlow lens combo. This is somewhat higher than expected.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + 5mm eyepiece
Device: Canon SX50 HS (afocal)
Settings: 24mm - ISO 200 - 1/5s - f/3.4
Filters: None
Time: 2015-04-27 03:16-03:29 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
23 photos stacked with RegiStax 6.1.0.8

First good Jupiter shots from NexStar 6SE

Getting sharper image of Jupiter from SX50 HS without using integrated zoom

After fixing the collimator screw problem, I spent some time getting my Celestron NexStar 6SE properly collimated. To see if this improved the sights, I pointed the telescope to Jupiter. Sure enough, I could see the details of the clouds on the surface much better. I could even make out the Great Red Spot.

I wanted to capture this on camera, so I attached my Canon EOS 450D DSLR directly to the telescope tube for some prime focus astrophotography. But for reasons I still haven't figured out yet, the photos couldn't resolve any details - the planet was just a yellowish disc. I'd have to take photos of the Moon to see what's going on in the coming days.

Still, I didn't want to waste a good sighting opportunity, so I pulled out my usual astrophotography gear, SX50 HS, and took the photos of Jupiter through the eyepiece and the barlow lens attached to the Celestron NexStar 6SE without using the optical zoom. This yielded a pretty good result, especially considering that I just held the camera up the eyepiece by hand. The disc is also about 2.75 times the diameter compared to what would've been possible with the camera's integrated 50x zoom (0.53 vs. 1.46 arc seconds).

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + 25mm eyepiece + 2.5x barlow
Device: Canon SX50 HS (afocal)
Settings: 24mm - ISO 80 - 1/80s - f/3.4
Filters: None
Time: 2015-03-27 01:14 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

First Saturn sighting of the year

Saturn taken with SX50 HS (left) and iPhone 6 Plus (right)

As Saturn now rises before midnight, it becomes possible to see the planet well above the horizon before it disappears into the morning sky. Seeing that the weather was getting good, I decided to wake up early and see it for myself for the first time this year. I bought a new Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope some time ago and I could use it to pick it out of the southern sky with relative ease.

Unfortunately, one of the collimator screws on the telescope is stuck, preventing full calibration. I attached my DSLR to take some photos, but it did not come out well. So instead, I made a couple of quick shots using my iPhone 6 Plus through the eyepiece, which for some reason came out looking slightly better.

Not to waste the opportunity, I then took out my SX50 HS and photographed Saturn as I've done since two years ago. The result was the best the camera has produced so far, I think.

[Left]
Device: Canon SX50 HS
Settings: 1200mm (2x enlarged) - ISO 160 - 1/30s - f/6.5
Filters: None
Time: 2015-03-23 05:35 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
20 photos stacked with RegiStax 6.1.0.8

[Right]
Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + 25mm eyepiece + 2.5x barlow
Device: iPhone 6 Plus (afocal)
Settings: 29mm - ISO 125 - 1/10s - f/2.2
Filters: None
Time: 2015-03-23 06:02 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

Orion Nebula - Canon 450D vs. SX50 HS

Orion Nebula as seen by Canon EOS 450D & Tamron 18-270mm lens (100%)

I wanted to revisit my thought that the DSLR (Canon EOS 450D) would take better deep-sky photos than a P&S (Canon PowerShot SX50 HS). The latter has a much more powerful zoom lens, so maybe it could help overcome the limitations of the small sensor. 450D's APS-C sensor has 13.3 times the area of the 1/2.3" sensor used in the SX50 HS.

After some trial & error, I found that my iOptron SkyTracker, once properly calibrated, could be usable even at a focal length of 1200mm (35mm equivalent) if the exposure time is 30 seconds or less. So I decided to take photos of the beautiful Orion Nebula at the maximum zoom of both cameras.

The 450D was able to take a low-noise photo of the nebula with nice-looking colours. But the limit of the zoom was apparent. Also, under the below-freezing temperatures (it was around -2C) the infinity focus of the lens shifted further out after about an hour.

Orion Nebula as seen by Canon PowerShot SX50 HS (40%)

With the SX50 HS, the resulting photos were expectedly more grainy in general at full resolution. I felt that the ISO 100 setting on SX50 HS would still yield a grainier photo than 450D's ISO 400 setting. But the super-zoom lens and stacking were able to make up for this. After taking the photos at the maximum zoom and reducing the size, the photos still had more details than that of the 450D.

Judge for yourself with the two photos above. I should note that even when stacked, 450D couldn't get much more details out.

I guess the SX50 HS is still quite alright after all. Oh, and the focus was more or less stable during the similar long session under below-freezing temperatures. I think 450D needs a better zoom lens... or a real telescope to make it fulfill its potential.

[#1]
Device: Canon EOS 450D + Tamron 18-270mm Di II VC PZD
Settings: 432mm - ISO 200 - 120s - f/6.3
Filters: None
Time: 2015-02-01 21:46 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

[#2]
Device: Canon SX50 HS
Settings: 1200mm - ISO 400 - 30s - f/6.5
Filters: None
Time: 2015-01-31 23:12 KST (23:12-23:49)
Location: Naju, Korea
10 photos stacked with RegiStax 6.1.0.8

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