Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

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Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Rob63 »

First of all, why would you want to guide on the Sun?
Well its very handy for those long animations of an active region or prominence. I typically have to re-adjust my framing every few frames and over the course of a couple of hours this can become a pain, and you end up with drift causing the loss of part of the image when stacking.
I had looked into the Hinode solar guider but it's been out of stock in the UK for a while and it is expensive, so when the phd2.planetary project came along I was very interested, this is a custom version of phd2 for solar, lunar, and planetary imaging.
The project is still in beta testing and the version I used was RC5 so they are getting close to a full release.

I made a filter with Baader solar film ND5 for my guidescope and tested exposures with an ASI120MM I had lying about doing nothing. The image was far too bright at minimum exposure & gain so I added a continuum filter on the camera nosepiece which got me a useable result although the exposures were still surprisingly short at 5ms

I am very familiar with phd2 for seep sky imaging so I found things quite easy to set up, there is a guide at https://github.com/Eyeke2/phd2.planetary/wiki The only new bit was a button beside the "brain button" (with a sun/moon icon) which allows you to configure the Edge detection threshold and a "time lapse" which stops phd2 trying to make adjustments at the solar exposure rate. Essentially, phd2 will check guide position every (exposure_rate + time_lapse)ms, In deep sky, you'd be aiming between 0.5s and 5s depending on the mount type. I tested this with a 1000ms timelapse.

I had a nice sunny day for testing on Saturday the 18th although the seeing wasn't great and noticeably deteriorated during the test run of 1hr 50min.
There wasn't a huge amount of action going on but I did catch a nice little flare.
Setup was a skywatcher ED120, Quark chromosphere and ASI174MM with a Baader 35nm Ha filter as an internal ERF.
Guidescope was an Astro essentials 60mm with an ASI120MM.
Mount was a ZWO AM5

To cut this short, it works, and it works well, I am sure there is room for improvement as I tinker with the settings but my 120mm rig stayed bang on target for the near 2 hours of my run without any intervention from me. The guide figures wouldn't be acceptable for deep sky but are fine for Solar.
Thanks to all involved in the project, you have done a fantastic job.

As a bonus it has saved my £750 on buying a Hinode so does it replace a Hinode?
Not necessarily, if you want to be as mobile as possible or don't want to be running a laptop or carry a guide scope with 2nd camera etc.
If, like me, you just work from a "garden observatory" phd2,planetary is ideal.

The setup
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Guiding
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The test target was AR3685 start time 09:35, End time 11:24 (UT)
ImageAR3685 animation in Halpha by Robert Parsons, on Flickr[/url]


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Alto »

Interesting exercise. I used to use a spotter scope to spot where the Sun was in relation to my main scopes after goto misses, but you've taken it to another level.

Forgot to add Sharpcap has a feature tracker, experimental but promising.
Last edited by Alto on Sun May 19, 2024 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by pedro »

very interesting stuff


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Rob63 »

Alto wrote: Sun May 19, 2024 12:05 pm Forgot to add Sharpcap has a feature tracker, experimental but promising.
I have tried this feature but never managed to get it working reliably. Sharpcap is updated regularly though so I will keep trying.
The Solar mosaic tool in SC works very well though, I have used it successfully for 16 panel mosaics.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by rigel123 »

Great review Rob and the animation turned out great!


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by KMH »

Thanks for the write-up! Sounds very promising.

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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Rob63 »

rigel123 wrote: Sun May 19, 2024 1:49 pm Great review Rob and the animation turned out great!
Thanks Warren, i'd hoped for more action from this AR but it didn't do much but still fascinating to watch.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by ffellah »

Thank you, Robert, this is great information !

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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Montana »

Well done and a terrific animation too :bow :hamster: :movie

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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by starman_yu »

Hi, ROB
I have an unclear point.

In deep space photography, the guide star and the main mirror point at the same star point, and the guide star detects the displacement of the star point and issues a correction command.

The sun guides the star, and the guiding mirror fills the entire disk. The focal length of the main mirror must be a local heliosphere.

For example, after I finish shooting this sunspot and switch to another sunspot, the sun surface in the guiding mirror will shift. In this case, how to ensure the accuracy of the guiding star.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Rob63 »

starman_yu wrote: Mon May 20, 2024 3:16 pm Hi, ROB
I have an unclear point.

In deep space photography, the guide star and the main mirror point at the same star point, and the guide star detects the displacement of the star point and issues a correction command.

The sun guides the star, and the guiding mirror fills the entire disk. The focal length of the main mirror must be a local heliosphere.

For example, after I finish shooting this sunspot and switch to another sunspot, the sun surface in the guiding mirror will shift. In this case, how to ensure the accuracy of the guiding star.


Starman_yu
A good question, Starman_yu.
I think the focal length of the guidescope will have to be chosen carefully to allow the entire solar disc to be visible when the main scope is at any position on the solar disc. My guidescope was 240mm and the main scope was at 3780mm (due to the quark's 4.2x) and it was fine.

I didn't try this but I think guiding should stop automatically on a slew. Whether it starts guiding again once the mount has settled or you have to re-start manually, I can't answer but I am sure that will be the plan (remember it's beta software at the moment).

If that doesn't work, I think it is as simple as pressing the "stop guiding" button, re-positioning the main scope for the next target and then re-starting guiding.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by marktownley »

Nice results and setup!


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by astra »

Do you need a film before a guide scope? What is it kind of? Can it be replaced with 1.25 ERF before guide camera?


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Rob63 »

astra wrote: Mon May 20, 2024 9:05 pm Do you need a film before a guide scope? What is it kind of? Can it be replaced with 1.25 ERF before guide camera?
It is exactly the same as any other white light solar imaging so you will need to reduce the intensity of the image enough to work with the camera. An ERF on its own will NOT work, I used Baader AstroSolar Safety Film ND 5.0 but other makes are available.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by starman_yu »

Rob63 wrote: Mon May 20, 2024 4:42 pm
starman_yu wrote: Mon May 20, 2024 3:16 pm Hi, ROB
I have an unclear point.

In deep space photography, the guide star and the main mirror point at the same star point, and the guide star detects the displacement of the star point and issues a correction command.

The sun guides the star, and the guiding mirror fills the entire disk. The focal length of the main mirror must be a local heliosphere.

For example, after I finish shooting this sunspot and switch to another sunspot, the sun surface in the guiding mirror will shift. In this case, how to ensure the accuracy of the guiding star.


Starman_yu
A good question, Starman_yu.
I think the focal length of the guidescope will have to be chosen carefully to allow the entire solar disc to be visible when the main scope is at any position on the solar disc. My guidescope was 240mm and the main scope was at 3780mm (due to the quark's 4.2x) and it was fine.

I didn't try this but I think guiding should stop automatically on a slew. Whether it starts guiding again once the mount has settled or you have to re-start manually, I can't answer but I am sure that will be the plan (remember it's beta software at the moment).

If that doesn't work, I think it is as simple as pressing the "stop guiding" button, re-positioning the main scope for the next target and then re-starting guiding.
Hi, ROB
I understand, thank you for your explanation. I will try when I have free time.

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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by DeepSolar64 »

pedro wrote: Sun May 19, 2024 12:44 pm very interesting stuff
Agreed! And nice setup too!!


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by christian viladrich »

Very interesting.
Thanks for testing and for sharing !


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by AstroBees »

Fantastic writeup, Rob. I had downloaded this software a while back but never implemented it.
I used to image with a portable rig and do own a Hinode solar guider so never needed this. Then, recently I completed an observatory in my backyard and the mount is permanent and perfectly polar aligned to less than 5" so when I switch to solar tracking mode the Sun stays dead-on for several hours. The longest I've gone so far with no re-alignment bumps is 3 hours.
But I still am excited to try this software out just to see how it works when I go portable for star parties and such. If it works well enough, that Hinode may go up for sale!


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by HAL »

Thanks so much for sharing this. I have been wanting to get the Hinode but have been put off by the cost. I will definitely be trying PHD2.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by Rob63 »

AstroBees wrote: Thu May 23, 2024 2:59 am Fantastic writeup, Rob. I had downloaded this software a while back but never implemented it.
I used to image with a portable rig and do own a Hinode solar guider so never needed this. Then, recently I completed an observatory in my backyard and the mount is permanent and perfectly polar aligned to less than 5" so when I switch to solar tracking mode the Sun stays dead-on for several hours. The longest I've gone so far with no re-alignment bumps is 3 hours.
But I still am excited to try this software out just to see how it works when I go portable for star parties and such. If it works well enough, that Hinode may go up for sale!
If you have an Obsy with good PA then you wont need to guide and I envy you :lol:
Your Hinode will be much more portable than having to carry a guide scope, 2nd camera, cables etc. but it's always good to have different options.
Sharpcap's tracking feature has great potential and I know that Filip Szczerek (imppg developer) is working on a capture program (vidoxide) which features tracking as well.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by MAURITS »

A great review Rob.


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by arnedanielsen »

I've been monitoring the development of Solar Guiding extension of PHD2, but haven't downloaded and tested it. Thank you very much for sharing your experience on using the software, Rob It sounds very promising! Very nice resulting timelapse as well!


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Re: Solar guiding - first test of PHD2.planetary on AR3685

Post by WMoore »

Rob, thank you very much for the information. I'll give this a dig.


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