As I have been taking pictures of the sun for a long while using the Baader Herschel Prism with its Solar Continuum filter, I have been wanting to try my hand at H-alpha solar imaging. Recently my friend helped me to get the Daystar Quark Chromosphere, but not really had much opportunity to test it owing to work and the weather. But finally there was a day off when the sun was out with very minimal clouds. Hence I took this out for a spin.
The Daystar Quark is tuned by adjusting the temperature, using an external power supply via a Micro USB cable. This requires at least 1.5A power source, and fortunately I have a 7800mAh 2.1A USB power block to act as the power supply.
This is a rather expensive piece of kit, costing US$999 (£849 in UK). But I managed to get it for much less second hand. First impressions is that it is very well made. The only bit I did not like is the 1.25″ eyepiece holder which just does not look very secure at all and will push the eyepiece or imaging camera towards one side rather than nicely centred – definitely need to replace this.
I found that it takes about 5-10 minutes to warm up to the correct temperature, and for me the right setting seems to be two clicks clockwise – which yields the highest contrast image. I intend to start the heating up while I set up the Astrotrac and the other pieces of equipment, which will mean that by the time everything is in place it would have reached the correct temperature.
There is an LED indicator which turns amber (green + red) when heating up, and to yellow (i.e. red LED is off) when at the correct temperature; the instructions mentions yellow and green, but to me the LEDs look more amber and yellow.
Anyway, the conditions were not ideal as the sun is fairly low in the sky at this time of year – so the seeing is not very good. With my Skywatcher ED80 600mm (or 1200mm with 2x crop), I definitely cannot see the whole solar disc. Also, imaging with my preferred camera the Olympus E-PL5, there is corner vignetting i.e. the Daystar Quark cannot cover a micro 4/3rds sensor fully. Even with my friend’s William Optics 72 megrez at 430mm (or 860mm with 2x crop), I can only get about half of the sun in my E-PL5.; but it is possible to visualise the entire solar disc with a 40mm Plossl which I borrowed from my friend.
Just to say that imaging in H-alpha is something I’m not very familiar with, and I expect that it is going to take some time to work out how to get the best images (which also depends on the seeing conditions of the day). But here are some single images I have captured so far.
I have to say that imaging with the Daystar Quark is not very easy, as it has the 4.3x Barlow built in, which means that it demands the best seeing conditions to get the most out of it. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to play with this and try and get more out of it. Ideally I would love to have a 4K camera like the Panasonic GH4 to do 4K video for even better images through stacking in Registax. But since I do not have one, I won’t be able to do this.
Would I recommend this? For imaging, I will defer an answer as I am still trying to get the most out of it. For visual, I would definitely recommend this. Particular once I get my Televue 32mm Plossl. I will also need to learn how to do the workflow for processing images, including flats frames to remove all those dust spots.