Hello Pierre, thanks for accepting our interview invitation. Congratulations on winning the ASIWEEK competition in week #07 2023!
Q1: Could you please make a self-introduction first?
Thank you ZWO, I’m glad to win this week!
I am Pierre GILET, I am 38 years old, and I live in Seignelay, a small town near Auxerre in France with my wife and my young son.
I started astronomy 3 years ago and astrophotography for almost 2 years.
Q2: Why do you love astronomy?
I am always curious and impressed by the Sky. There have a lot of wonderful things above our heads.
When I try to imagine how size is the universe, I always ask myself “Why are we here?”, “How was the start of the universe?” The best moment ever is when I saw the first time of Jupiter & Saturn through the telescope, at this moment you are sure that all you learned about planets become true.
Q3: What equipment did you use when you first started astrophotography? What was your first target?
The equipment that I used for my first astrophotography is a Celestron Nexstar 130SLT which my wife gave me for Christmas 2019, I used a camera that I found on a second-hand site. At the start I didn’t want to do astrophotography, I wanted a Barlow, but the seller was selling this camera at a ridiculous price, and I bought both.
My first target was the moon, it is easier to catch it, and it stays beautiful to see through a camera.
Q4: What gear do you use for now? Can you show us some photos of them?
Now I use a Sky-Watcher 254/1200 on EQ6 Pro, with a ZWO ASI385MC, an ADC, an IR/UV cut filter, and a Powermate x5 for planetary imaging. I use an IMX071 for deep-sky imaging and ASI385MC for guiding the 9×50 viewfinder.
I still use my Celestron for imaging the sun in white light with the ASI385MC and an Astro solar filter.
Q5: Would you mind telling us how did you capture your winning picture Mars? Was the whole progress rather smooth?
I made this picture with captures over two days, November 18 and 22, 2022.
I made a lot of 180s videos with Firecapture.
I used AutoStakkert! To do stacking for each video.
For each video session, I did the treatment with Astro surface with two wavelet parameters: one for the center of Mars sharpened, and one for the edge smoother.
I had two images from the film which I assembled with GIMP.
After that, I selected between 4 to 8 best pictures and I made a de-rotation in WinJUPOS. At this step, the interest is to reduce the noise on a new picture.
I processed this picture with Astro surface to correct the color level.
I re-used WinJUPOS to do a planisphere for each picture. In GIMP, I assembled images from the different sessions to do a bigger planisphere, I used the ephemeris tool to do the final rotation with the map created by planispheres. Finally, I converted the animation with Siril to an MPEG4 format.
Q6: We all know that astrophotography has a very steep learning curve, so how did you guys conquer the difficulties at the very beginning?
Yes, it is not easy, every step you must learn to improve your photography.
Me, I read and watched a few tutorials.
For that a lot of channels does exists in France about astrophotography (la chaîne astro, Jean Luc Dauvergne…) and a very good book <astronomie planétaire> from Christophe Pellier and other good authors.
I am also a member of an astronomy team 【APEX89】 which helps beginner astronomers among other things.
Q7: Do you families support your hobby and join you when you are shooting?
Yes! Sometimes my brother comes to watch what I can see through my telescope.
During summer, I prepare the material in my garden and when I see my target on the screen, I go inside to ask my wife to go out to see it. And she comes, but no way to do it in winter, she wants to keep warm at home! 🙂
Q8: When is your most exciting moment during a whole astrophotography project?
Definitely. The first shoot during a session, When you can see that the seeing is very good, after that you hurry to process your first image to see what she looks like.
Q9: Do you think astrophotography has changed you or your life in a bit?
Not a lot, except that I go to bed later, astronomy in general makes me take a step back on what we are in life and in the world inside which we live.
Q10: How did you know ZWO? How many ZWO products do you have?
I knew ZWO on the internet. When on reseller websites, it is impossible to pass next to the red of ZWO.
At this time I have just one planetary camera, my ASI385MC, and I want to try monochrome planetary imaging.
For that, I need a monochrome camera, filters wheel, and RGB filter… I hope I will find ZWO products.
Q11: Do you have any feedback or suggestions for ZWO?
First, I am very happy to be an owner of the ASI385MC, it runs very well.
What i can add, i think it is a pity that ASIAIR doesn’t run with other brand.
And for finish, it is difficult for me to find a equivalent monchrome camera for the ASI385MC, apart from ASI120MC.
I know the solution is to change camera but my whole imaging train is sized for this pixel size (3,75).