Daystar Quark – humidity issue

When I first received the Daystar Quark, the filters looked clear on the outside and hence I did not consider that there could be an issue with it. However, when I first did imaging through this with my Olympus E-PL5, it became clear that towards one edge of the image there was some vignetting and blurring. At first, I thought this was due to the Quark not being able to light up the entire Micro 4/3rds sensor, perhaps due to the way I was mounting it on – but I could not understand why this was only one edge (left side), unless there was such significant tilt in my focuser?It then became apparent that there was some humidity inside the filter due to it misting up the edge of the filter when heated up. This is only apparent when you look at the filter after it has been used for some time.

So it is worth looking at the filter after using it and prior to storing it away to see if there is any condensation on the inside of the filter.

Humidity around the edges of the filter after it has been heated up
Humidity around the edges of the filter after it has been heated up
Another view
Closer view showing the condensation on the inside of the filter
Visible condensation inside the filter
Visible condensation inside the filter (taken indoors)

Although the Daystar Quark did give me great H-alpha views – not that I had any previous experience to compare to, somehow I felt that it could be better; there just wasn’t the contrast I would expect. It did improve dramatically when used with the Baader Prism diagonal. But it was only after taking off the Barlow to look on the inside optics of the Barlow, that I understood why – it had a little oily film of something on the entire inside surface, perhaps from previous condensation. Unfortunately I did not remember to take a picture of this prior to cleaning it. But now it looks nice and clean as can be seen in the images below.

Telecentric barlow of Quark
Telecentric barlow of Quark – now completely clear optics
4.3x telecentric Barlow taken off the Quark
4.3x telecentric Barlow taken off the Quark sitting next to the tuned element

The cleaning of the Barlow has definitely made a big difference to the views through it, improving the contrast and detail of the chromosphere. I am even more amazed by what I see through it now (especially when I use the eye patch to cover my left eye).

Just to illustrate the problem, below are images taken using the Daystar Quark and my Olympus E-PL5 full-spectrum camera. The first image was taken shortly after I received the Quark. You can notice some blurring of the image on the left side.

Blurred towards the left edge due to condensation inside the filter
Blurred towards the left edge due to condensation inside the filter

Now that I keep the Quark in a box with silica gel, I have managed to get most of the humidity out of the Quark. And that has made a significant difference in the left border of the images I am now able to get with the Micro 4/3rds sensor, even if the edges of the Quark element do get a little condensation after it is used for a while.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Daystar Quark H-alpha image after cleaning Barlow and storing in case with silica gel

The images below were taken on 28/12/15 when the conditions were not ideal with clouds rolling in when I started doing the imaging. I would have to say the images below were shot at ISO 800 1/100secs and were underexposed – these were the only two images I managed to capture, as the clouds did not clear. Certainly the views with the Televue 32mm and 25mm Plossl were indeed very impressive, and much more impressive than the images below.

Sunspot AR2473 from 28/12/15 - - single frame with Olympus E-PL5
Sunspot AR2473 from 28/12/15 – – single frame with Olympus E-PL5
Sunspot AR2473 from 28/12/15 - single frame with Olympus E-PL5
Sunspot AR2473 from 28/12/15 – single frame with Olympus E-PL5

So for me, it was worth examining the Daystar Quark before and after use to see if humidity remains an issue and whether it was getting worse. For my Daystar Quark, the oily film on the Barlow was definitely something which affected the image quality significantly, and cleaning this off has probably made the biggest difference to its performance; I guess you would expect this if buying the Quark used. You can’t tell how the previous owner has looked after this or kept it after use.

Daystar do suggest keeping this under climate controlled conditions – but really, what does that mean? As for me, it will be kept with silica gel to remove as much humidity from it as possible in between use.

Boon