Re: Howard and George Need Technical Support!!

Steve Reilly

I have to agree with the comments about the printed/written documents. These are indispensable and if they can be downloaded and saved as PDF as many systems allow these days, they can be searched by keywords making in far easier to find specific information. That said it doesn’t hurt to have videos of topics that are particularly hard to understand subjects or techniques and you’d know by the number of questions you get. As far as the imaging side goes it really doesn’t play into your area as you deal with mounts and telescopes. It’s nice you would like to help but not what you’re there for. So having a list of reference material is a good idea. For those types of questions I’d refer them to the many forums about imaging that exist today as well as having them look for reference materials such as books.


With the vast amount of different equipment available to the amateur astronomer these days their best bet is either an imaging forum or three or the maker of their cameras, filters, software. I agree that the subject is a bit overwhelming when 1st getting started but research should be done before jumping in. With the availability of data that can be downloaded these days and trial periods on software you can easily try processing before getting to deep. And knowing what software/hardware you should have to have success is good ahead of time. When I started it was getting polar aligned well, focusing very well, and then guiding well. Those were the very basics to get any reasonably decent data set. Of course the sky conditions play a huge role as well. Once you get there, not always so easy sometimes for the beginner, then you get into longer exposures and more data.


When it comes to processing it all comes down to trial and error for the beginner or following a set procedure advised by experienced people on the forums and there will always be differences based on preferences. There are plenty of programs to do basic processing , and I always suggest doing luminance data only first as it’s the base of the image, and when you feel you’re getting the results you want start adding color data. Start with small projects and move up form there as you progress and expect it to take a good while and have some patience. It won’t happen in a week or 20. Look at it as learning a new technical art and the more you know about each component the better the chances of successes are. Each mechanical part plays a major role. Good tracking, well polar aligned, sharp focus (checked as needed for your telescope depending on mirror movement based on temperature changes), proper mounting of the imaging train……the list goes on.


Plainly said it really isn’t your purpose to advise on such matters. I mean if you get an email form a customer and it contains an image of a single frame that clearly shows what is most likely a mechanical error then yeah I’d see you making suggestions on what to look for and check. I remember way back when I had my C11 and I was using my AP900. I posted some images and Roland asked me to post a single image of the group. He looked at the image and determined rather accurately that the secondary was pinched causing all kinds of problems. I took the telescope to the dealer and they made the repairs, under warranty. Without Roland’s input I would have never known. I thought I had a mount issue while all along it was the optics. After the repairs I sold the scope, of course I made sure it was proper first, and got my 1st RC. Would have preferred an AP scope but those weren’t any easier getting back then either. Point being if it doesn’t involve the mount or your AP telescope getting into a deeper non AP discussion isn’t really going to be practical.  What Roland did for me was show me where to look and what to do thus eliminating the mount in question. As usual I was amazed that Roland would take the time and interest to help me resolve this but then again his eyes and knowledge made it evident to him where I had no clue.


Far more long winded then I expected………and for the record, you guys have the very best customer service in the industry as far as I’ve seen. Happy to be an AP customer…..and yes, I finally did get an AP scope, my new Stowaway.






From: ap-gto@...
Sent: Friday, September 27, 2019 7:44 PM
To: ap-ug@...; 'ap-gto@...'
Subject: [ap-gto] Howard and George Need Technical Support!!



Hi Gang!

How's this for a switch?!?!

George and I are getting more and more calls with general questions about imaging. As much as we both love assisting our customers, answering questions about cameras, image calibration and processing, other manufacturers' telescopes, we need to devote our time to subjects that are particularly our area of expertise.

So we are asking for help. In years past, I would have referred people to Ron Wodaski's excellent book: The New CCD Astronomy, but it is out of print and is also now a bit dated. (It is still a marvelous book, however!!)

Where can we send people - especially beginners - for help?
What are your favorite resources for imaging information? What are your favorite websites? Are there good resources in print? What about instructional videos? Where can beginners go to learn about things like dithering, sensor temperature, image scale, and the like?
Can we assemble a list of resources for our Astro-Physics family?

Speaking of information resources:
TO ALL of our imaging customers, we also STRONGLY recommend that you check out the Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC)! AIC will be held this year from Nov. 15 - 17 in San Jose, CA.
This is an incredible resource for anyone interested in astro-photography. Not only will this year's workshops be outstanding as always, but attendance also gives attendees access to the conference library of previous sessions. The library contains many years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom, and is probably worth the price of admission even if you didn't attend.

May your skies be clear, dark and steady!

Howard Hedlund
Technical Support and Communication
Astro-Physics, Inc.
11250 Forest Hills Road
Machesney Park, IL 61115
Phone: 815-282-1513
Fax: 815-282-9847>
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