Unboxing my new Star Adventurer

18 March 2018

With families and day jobs we know it’s hard to find time to get out there with a camera.
Brendon Porter

The same is true for me. And not only it’s hard to find time - it’s even harder to find time and the right conditions. As the middle of europe often is covered with clouds, there might be only one or two nights a month that have acceptable conditions to shoot deep sky or astro-landscape targets.

Although I knew it will be hard to find nights to use a equatorial mount to its full potential I always wanted to have one for myself since I got the opportunity to borrow one as I realized an EQ will be the only chance to get past the rather cumbersome exposure time of only some seconds - even with an 11mm lens on an APC camera. First I thought about building a simple motorized barn door tracker as a DIY project but I simply didn’t find the motivation to get started and had some concerns about the accuracy I could expect from a tracker built by myself. Instead I started to save my money so that I can eventually buy a small travel mount like the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer.

On January 9th the day had finally come and my own Star Adventurer arrived. It would have been one possibility to simply tear open the package an start assembling it - but instead I decided to try filming a proper unboxing video. And so I thought about the things I need for such a video:

  • A camera (or better more to film the whole unboxing from different angles).
  • A tripod for each camera as I am obviously not available to hold a camera while opening the package.

But I couldn’t use my main camera or tripod to film the process as I will be needing them to setup the Star Adventurer. So I had to use my old point-and-shoot camera for the first angle and my mobile phone for the second angle. The tripods where kind of a challenge - but that’s where it comes in handy to have little (or not so little) people around that play with LEGO DUPLO. One can build fairly acceptable tripods using lego and a chair:

Chair-Tripod (1)
Chair-Tripod (2)

Now that all was set up I could finally start my unboxing video (see avove). Before I got the chance for a "first light" for the Star Adventurer another nifty piece of kit arrived:

Leveling Base

This is a leveling base DY-60N by MENGS. From observing the other photographers I got out to shoot with over the past year I knew it’s crucial to set up the mount perfectly leveled. I also know I lag the patience to level my tripod thoroughly before setting up the mount and therefore pay with some suboptimal results. That’s where the leveling base comes in handy: I can set up my tripod wherever I want and it is sufficiently stable and think about leveling the mount later. Having said this setting up my tripod is done within a matter of seconds instead taking several minutes of adjusting each leg of my tripod.

The Images below are the results I got from my first session using the Star Adventurer.

Orion Constellation
M42 Closeup

I can see that they are far from optimal. For once the closeup image of M42 is not in focus. This is a main issue I am having with my 18-250mm by Sigma: The focus ring turns so easy and even the slightest twist causes a massive focus change (at least when shooting stars at 250mm) so that focussing (in freezing conditions) becomes a real challenge. I am considering buying a SharpStar2 by Ian Norman but first I want to test some cheaper options. The other issue I was having is due to heavy light pollution. But this is an issue I got solved by now - or at least the light pollution is within an acceptable range.

Since my last session where I was testing the LPS filter I didn’t find the time to get out and shoot - but I hope this will change over the next few weeks. I’ve got some plans for this years milky way season, such as tracked and stacked versions of my milky way selfie.

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