Category Archives: Uncategorized

Polar Alignment Made Easy

I may have just found a great solution for achieving very good polar alignment with any telescope mount.

There is this little piece of software called “SharpCap” ( ). It’s a very clever piece of software that uses a webcam or an astronomy camera to assist with focusing, stacking, polar alignment and much more.  Unfortunately SharpCap does not support DSLR cameras as a video source. It supports some of the available astronomy cameras such as ZWO, QHY, etc.  If you want to use SharpCap you have to have a camera that is supported. I was on my way to purchase a ZWO camera to do this when I read a forum post on Cloudy Nights ( ) where someone mentioned that they are using another piece of software to allow them to use a DSLR as a webcam and that SharpCap actually processes the DSLR image seamlessly.

“SparkoCam” ( ) is providing the capability to use your Canon or Nikon DSLR as a regular webcam. When installed, SharpCap will recognise SparkoCam as a virtual webcam and process the DSLR live view images directly. No need to purchase a separate camera to work with SharpCap.

The process is quite simple, install the DSLR on your mount pointing towards the celestial pole. You would obviously do a basic mount alignment to get the camera view close to the pole, at least to within about 5 degrees. Now activate SharpCap and follow the instructions to get to an accurate alignment. This process will work with a tracking mount as well as a manual equatorial mount.

I have everything installed now and will test under the stars as soon as possible. It is raining outside at the moment, as can be expected….

Another Carina Photo

I tried again last night (or was it this morning…) to capture the Carina Nebula from my verandah. I have a very limited sky available from my house and at this time of year it’s Carina that is the obvious easy target. I will try to catch other objects in the same area, I can think of a globular cluster and maybe a bright galaxy.

The following image is made up of 18 x 2 minute exposures with a a Canon 600D (Modified), Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens at 250mm and f/5.6, ISO-100. I also used 7 dark frames. Processed with DeepSkyStacker, Photoshop CS2  and Lightroom 4.

Carina Nebula

Carina Nebula

Unpacking the SkyWatcher EQ6-R mount

The EQ6-R has arrived on Thursday and I unpacked it that night. No surprises there….

Here are some photos of the process:

img_2751 img_2753 img_2754 img_2755img_2756 img_2757 img_2758The handle makes it easy to lift the mount head with one hand.img_2759 img_2762The adjustments bolts look quite solid, at least 15mm on the main altitude bolt and 12mm on the other three.img_2766 img_2767Saddle takes Vixen and Losmandy.img_2768 Probably not many changes visible here on the cable panel except for the power connector that is now a solid screw on type.img_2769 img_2770Synscan loaded with version 04.37.03.

img_2772 img_2773 img_2774Waiting for the weekend now and a mounting plate for my Orion ED 80mm EON and also a Losmandy DM8  dovetail plate for my Meade 8″ SCT.

Worm Wheel and Worm for anyone?

I am thinking of making some more worm wheels soon. My new lathe will be set up soon and it will allow me to make the worm wheels much quicker and hopefully more accurate.

If anybody is interested in ordering a specific worm wheel, please let me know and I will see what I can do. Send me your requirements ( ) with the size of the wheel (or the number of teeth. I suggest that you use an ACME thread as it does not bind as easily as a metric thread. I could also make the worm from an ACME threaded rod  (10mm diameter with a 2mm pitch) as shown in my blog.

I will look at your requirements and let you know if I can make it and then we can discuss a price that suits us both.

Updated 19 June 2016:  I have found that nothing is easy. The lathe is not quicker, if anything its harder to get it right. I will have to fine tune the production process before I can go into the business of selling worm gears. 🙂

Tracker 5 April 15-1149 Tracker 5 April 15-1148 Worm detail Jan15-1 2 x 130mm Al disks Tracker progress Jan15-1 IMG_1726