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Living of the edge of a big city with a big airport to the south means loads of light pollution in my area. Quite a lot of my clear nights also coincide with the moon being in the sky, so with my QHY8 I found myself doing more Hα imaging than anything else. The obvious move was to sell it and get a mono CCD. I was lucky to get an newly released Atik 383L+ in the second batch, they have now just gone out of production due to component shortages.

It uses the Kodak KAF-8300 sensor, which has been available for some time on the QHY9. This sensor has been a challenge for CCD manufacturers as being a full-frame sensor it requires a shutter to block out light before and after taking images. It is also significantly noisier that a lot of other sensors, so relies on as much cooling as possible and the use of dark frames.

The 383 has set point peltier cooling, and it can get 40 degrees below ambient temperature in a few minutes. The software was really easy to install and has worked flawlessly for me so far with the plugin for MaximDL. The download times are a lot faster than the QHY8, as it operates at full USB 2.0. It’s nice and light as well at only 500 grams, putting less pressure on the imaging train, which is really impressive for a cooled CCD.

There has been a lot of interest in the CCD due to the fact that the sensor is quite close to the front mounting. The majority of mega-pixel CCD’s are too big to use with nice and cheap 1.25″ filters. The KAF-8300 sensor is 22.5mm diagonal, which is just small enough to be used if you can get the filters close enough to the CCD. It also depends on what f-ratio of the optics are, as the steeper the angle of incoming light, the more vignetting there will be on the chip. I’ve have been able to get a good result on my first few pictures using a special adapter from Scopestuff. I will be running some further tests to compare this usage with using a filter wheel at f5.

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