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Hyperstar

HyperStar is the easiest way to capture deep-sky astrophotos.  The HyperStar* unit is a multiple-lens corrector which replaces the secondary mirror on a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and allows extremely fast CCD imaging.  Depending on the size of the telescope, the resulting focal ratio will be between f/1.8 and f/2.0, up to 31 times faster than imaging at f/10!  Removing the secondary mirror and installing the HyperStar lens is very quick and easy.  No tools are required and switching between the HyperStar and regular f/10 modes of the telescope takes only a couple minutes.  HyperStar provides the easiest and fastest means of imaging deep-sky celestial objects!

 

Above:  Optical diagram of how the HyperStar lens works.  Left picture shows standard SCT arrangement.  Right picture shows secondary mirror removed and HyperStar lens installed.  (Optical diagram of the HyperStar lens is illustrative only.)

A CCD camera mounted to the HyperStar lens on an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.
The secondary mirror is removed from the telescope and placed into a holder (included with the HyperStar lens) which keeps the mirror safe.  Replacing the mirror with the HyperStar lens is a very easy process that takes only seconds to do.  The secondary mirror is indexed so that when it is replaced in the telescope, collimation is retained and no adjustments are necessary.
 
What are the Advantages of HyperStar?
The primary advantage of HyperStar is speed.  The table below compares exposure times at various focal ratios.  Exposures that take the better part of an hour at f/10 take mere seconds with the HyperStar lens!

Focal Ratio

Equal Exposure Times

Equal Exposure Times

f/10

15.4 minutes

30.9 minutes

f/6.3

6.1 minutes

12.3 minutes

f/5

3.9 minutes

7.7 minutes

f/3.3

1.7 minutes

3.4 minutes

f/1.8

30 seconds

60 seconds

Aside from the obvious savings in time and effort, short exposure times have a secondary advantage:  capturing images is much easier.  With typical exposure times of 20-60 seconds, HyperStar imaging allows unguided imaging.  Long exposures require a telescope to be guided due to inherent tracking errors in the drive.  This requires a second CCD camera or self-guiding CCD and often other hardware such as a guidescope.  HyperStar images can be shot unguided thanks to the extremely short exposure.

An additional benefit of short exposures is that it is often possible to image with a telescope in alt-azimuth mode.  This means it is possible to capture deep-sky images with a fork-mounted SCT without needing an equatorial wedge.  This saves the trouble of mounting the scope on a wedge plus having to polar align the telescope.  CCD imaging simply doesn't get any easier than that!

Image Comparison
The image below compares a single, unguided 30-second HyperStar C14 exposure to a 70-minute film photograph taken with one of the world's premier astrographic refractors, the Astro-Physics 155EDF.  Note that not only are more stars and more nebular details visible in the HyperStar shot, but the stars are much smaller as well.  The high optical quality of the HyperStar lens combined with short exposures to minimize seeing effects results in tiny star images.  And it was done 140 times faster!

Which Cameras are Compatible with HyperStar?
The compatible cameras depend primarily on the size of the telescope.  The main limiting factors are the physical size of the camera body and the size of the CCD chip that can be illuminated.  Larger CCD cameras may not be compatible with smaller telescopes due to the large central obstruction they would create.  Most new CCDs are quite compact, so this is rarely an issue.  The other limit is based on the size of the CCD chip.  A HyperStar lens can only illuminate a certain size CCD chip due to the size of the telescope and size of the opening in the corrector plate for the HyperStar lens itself.

  • Cameras Compatible with 6" HyperStar Lens
  • Astrovid Stellacam
  • Mallincam
  • Starfish Cameras (11mm or smaller sensors)
  • Starlight Xpress Cameras (11mm or smaller sensors)

 Cameras Compatible with 8" and Larger HyperStar Lenses

  • Astrovid StellaCam
  • ATIK 16IC
  • Mallincam
  • Meade DSI & DSI Pro (all models)
  • Orion StarShoot I & II
  • SAC Imaging Cameras (all models)
  • SBIG ST-237/ST-402
  • Starfish Cameras
  • Starlight Xpress Cameras (all models except H35/36)

Additional Cameras Compatible with 11" and Larger HyperStar Lenses

  • Canon EOS and Nikon Digital SLR Cameras**

Additional Cameras Compatible with 14" HyperStar Lenses

  • All of the above cameras, plus:
  • QSI 500 Series (all models)
  • SBIG ST-Series Cameras (all models)


Is Hyperstar easy to install? I'm nervous about messing with my telescope. Hyperstar is very easy & straightforward to install. The first time I did it, it took me 10 minutes. Remember you can call us if you need to, we will be pleased to assist -Simon

How Does the HyperStar Lens Work? The HyperStar lens replaces the secondary mirror at the front of a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT).  Most SCTs operate at a focal ratio of f/10, which is very slow photographically.  This requires a long exposure.  The HyperStar lens converts the telescope to an f/1.8 optical system (f/2.0 for a 14" scope).  This allows incredibly fast images, up to 33 times faster than at f/10!  In addition to shorter images, the telescope may does not need to be polar aligned, nor is guiding necessary.  Deep-sky imaging is vastly easier than it used to be!

Why Do I Need a HyperStar Lens to Image at the Front of the Telescope? A Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope uses a primary mirror which has a focal ratio of around f/2.  The secondary mirror provides a 5x magnification, yielding an overall f/10 system.  Removing the secondary mirror and placing a camera at the front of the scope allows f/2 imaging.  But without a corrective lens, the image would be awful.  The primary mirror alone suffers from spherical aberration and field curvature which is normally minimized by the secondary mirror.  The HyperStar is a multiple-element lens which corrects the inherent aberrations in the telescope, allowing f/1.8 imaging with a highly-corrected field of view.

Does the Corrector Plate Have to be Removed? No.  A HyperStar-compatible telescope has a retaining ring, like the lid of a mason jar, that you simply unthread by hand to remove the secondary mirror.  The mirror is attached to a plate with the collimation screws on it.  This lifts out of a holder in the corrector plate (which also holds the baffle tube on the inside of the corrector plate).  The mirror is safely stored in a protective holder while outside the telescope.  The HyperStar lens attaches to the holder in the corrector plate.  No tools are required and the corrector plate never comes off the scope.

What is the Image Quality Like with HyperStar? Excellent.  The HyperStar lens uses a sophisticated, custom-designed optical system.  There is a different HyperStar lens for each model of telescope, not just because the physical size must be different, but because the lenses are optimized for each telescope design.  The result is a flat field of view which is sharp from edge to edge.  The star images with HyperStar are sharper than using the same telescope at f/10, despite the field of view being 5 times wider!

What Telescopes Are Compatible with HyperStar? Currently, the HyperStar system is available for Celestron 8", 11" and 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain and Meade 10" and 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes.  Some telescopes of these sizes will need to be converted to HyperStar compatibility.  HyperStar requires the telescope to have an easily removable secondary mirror assembly.  Fastar-compatible Celestron scopes and select Meade telescopes will already be compatible.  For those which are not, Starizona offers conversion kits to retrofit non-compatible telescopes.

Will HyperStar Work with Meade LX200R Telescopes? At this time, Meade LX200R telescopes are not compatible with HyperStar lenses.  Only the Schmidt-Cassegrain optical systems are compatible.

Can I Use a Digital SLR Camera with HyperStar? The size of the CCD chip that can be used on the HyperStar lens is dependent on the telescope used.  The bigger the telescope, the bigger the HyperStar lens, and thus the larger the chip which can be illuminated by the HyperStar system.  Digital SLRs are compatible with 14" HyperStar lenses (for both Celestron and Meade), and the 11" HyperStar 3 lens, but not the smaller models or the original HyperStar 11.

Can I Still Use My Telescope Visually with HyperStar? You can easily switch between the standard f/10 (visual) configuration and the f/1.8 HyperStar configuration.  Converting from one to the other takes less than 5 minutes.  Since the secondary mirror is removed for HyperStar imaging, viewing cannot be done simultaneously, but the image can be viewed via the CCD camera on the computer screen.  A 1-second focus exposure will show more than your eye would ever see at the eyepiece!  This makes finding and framing objects very simple.

Do I Have to Collimate My Telescope Each Time I Use the HyperStar Lens? No.  The secondary mirror is indexed so it goes back into the telescope exactly the way it came out.  This retains the alignment of the optics precisely, eliminating the need to recollimate after HyperStar imaging.

How Do You Focus the Telescope with the HyperStar Lens Installed? Focus is achieved using the standard focus knob on the telescope (moving the primary mirror).  The image is seen on the computer screen via the CCD camera, so focusing is very easy.  Autofocusing is also possible using a motorized focuser such as Starizona's Wireless MicroTouch Autofocuser.  Despite focusing with the primary mirror rather than a Crayford-type focuser, mirror shift is not an issue.  Remember that the image from the primary mirror in an SCT is normally magnified 5 times by the secondary mirror.  With HyperStar, the secondary is removed so any mirror shift is reduced five-fold.  The field of view is so wide with HyperStar that any image shift is not an issue.

Can I Use HyperStar for Lunar and Planetary Imaging? HyperStar is ideal for deep-sky imaging but is not well-suited to solar system imaging.  For planetary imaging you need very high magnification, the opposite of what the HyperStar gives.  While the moon may be framed well using the HyperStar lens, the system is so sensitive that it will be all but impossible to avoid overexposing the moon.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Using HyperStar? You won't sleep anymore.