BBC Sky at Night Magazine

Guide camera

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the MGEN-3 through its paces with a 10-minute exposure, noticing round stars were kept consistent­ly round. This was great for something we had plugged in with almost no adjustment­s and polar alignned completely manually. Guiding graphs were clear, and we noted that the arrow buttons on the control box flashed to signify the directiona­l adjustment­s the MGEN-3 was making, which was a nice touch. Each time we used the kit, it took about five minutes for the graphs to settle into a consistent­ly smooth guiding pattern.

Adaptable for experts

The MGEN-3’s ‘dithering’ function is also simple to use. It’s adjustable, but we opted for the default setting of 10 pixels and obtained significan­tly reduced noise in our final DSLR image. We shot the North America Nebula with ‘dithering’ enabled and the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula with it disabled, and noted significan­t difference. Browsing through the various menu options, we saw that declinatio­n can be switched off, which allows for use with a number of portable tracking mounts – another good feature for beginners. In terms of add-ons, we particular­ly liked the dark frame routine, which applies dark frames to remove hot pixels from the guide camera image and reduces the risk of interrupte­d guiding.

Essentiall­y, the MGEN-3 comes with everything needed to guide quickly, accurately and reliably, without a laptop and mains power – we didn’t feel we were missing anything from our regular guiding

The compact, sensitive guide camera is designed to fit any guidescope. Its sensor, the monochrome AR0130CS, provides

3.75μm pixels across an area of 4.8mm x 3.6mm. Its aluminium casing allows passive cooling to reduce noise, while the MGEN-3’s zoom function enables more precise focusing of the guide camera via the guidescope.

routine. While the interface is basic, there are several calibratio­n settings provided to adapt for more advanced imagers, meaning this kit also has plenty to offer more experience­d astrophoto­graphers. Lacerta is looking to add additional features via firmware updates and these will be free for a year after purchasing. Under investigat­ion is plate solving, which we would be keen to see. The Lacerta MGEN-3 autoguider is engineered to be as easy as possible to use, and if future functions adopt the same straightfo­rward approach, it will continue to hold its own among heavyweigh­t guiding equipment.

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 ??  ?? ▼ The Elephant Trunk Nebula, as imaged by a Sky-Watcher ED80 and modified Canon 700D (ISO 800, 3’ exposures, 2h Ha + 2h RGB) and guided by the MGEN-3 set to ‘no dithering’
▼ The Elephant Trunk Nebula, as imaged by a Sky-Watcher ED80 and modified Canon 700D (ISO 800, 3’ exposures, 2h Ha + 2h RGB) and guided by the MGEN-3 set to ‘no dithering’
 ??  ?? The North America Nebula, taken with a Sky-Watcher ST80 refractor and Canon 700D (ISO 800, 3’ exposures, 2h Ha + 2h OIII), and guided by the MGEN-3 set to ‘dithering’ mode
The North America Nebula, taken with a Sky-Watcher ST80 refractor and Canon 700D (ISO 800, 3’ exposures, 2h Ha + 2h OIII), and guided by the MGEN-3 set to ‘dithering’ mode
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