GSTAR-EX Astronomical CCD Camera

GSTAR-EX Deepsky Planetary Imaging in Real-Time
GENERAL

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www.myAstroShop.com.au
 

GSTAR cameras

Available in the series are:

-GSTAR-EX **
-GSTAR-EX2
-GSTAR Colour

** BY SPECIAL ORDER

SUPPORT
 

- Tutorial / Manual
- Quick Start Guide
- Upgrade Downloads
- GSTAR-USERS
- FAQ

ngc7009
NGC 7009 by S.Quirk

OPTIONS
 
- Filters
- Filter Selector
- Reducers
- Polar E-Z system

NGC4945

NGC 4945 by S.Quirk

 

M104 - from Sydney
 

Sombrero Galaxy

 

JUPITER
 

Jupiter

 

NGC5128 - from Sydney
 


Centaurus A

 

M16 - from dark sky

Eagle Nebula

M16 by S.Quirk

 

M42 - from Sydney
 

m42.jpg (13559 bytes)

 

IC2220 - from dark sky

 

IC 2220
IC2220 by S.Quirk

 

GSTAR-COM for PC

GSTAR-COM2 by Chris Wakeman

With the GSTAR-COM cable and our GSTAR capture software you can control all the primary functions of the camera from a remote location.

 

DEEP SKY VIDEO ASTRONOMY BOOK

Deep Sky Video Astronomy

Get the book!

Written by Steve Massey and Steve Quirk,
Deep Sky Video Astronomy
reveals all the tips and tricks for getting the most out of your deep sky capable video camera.

Review Astronomy Now

 

GSTAR CAPTURE
GSTAR-EX Capture Software

Our GSTAR4 video capture utility software included on CD with your GSTAR-EX camera.

 

COMET NEAT 2001 Q4
Record and discover comets

taken from Sydney

 

MERCURY
 

Credit: Steve Massey

Rare detail captured in this image of Mercury.

 

David Malin Awards

 

Darrin Nitschke with David Malin

Darrin Nitschke receiving receives a special mention award from Dr.David Malin for his GSTAR-EX panorama image of Markarian's Chain of galaxies

 

Horse Head - Sydney
Horse Head Nebula taken from Sydney

 


Hottest Video and Planetary camera in Australia
 SEE MORE LIVE WITH YOUR TELESCOPE
THAN
YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE

GSTAR-EX CLR

GSTAR-EX CLR sample images


256X frame accumulation - 1/2" colour CCD
Low Noise - Compact size
Very good live colour rendering
Why pay $150 more for an Orion rip off

Click Here for More information!


See more detail than views at the eyepiece

No Fuss set-up and Easy to Use
View faint galaxies and nebula on your TV or PC
Explore the Moon in wonderful detail
View the planets and their moons


Perfect public viewing tool for Observatories,
Schools, Universities, family and friends.

Great black & white portraits
Colour imaging with optional LRGB filters
Fast image rates to beat the distorting effects of the atmosphere
Electronic Mirror Flip and Invert Functions
Electronic Occulting Disc function for Sun and planets
Internal integration mode for capturing faint objects
Single or Dual output video connections
Record to VCR, DVD, Memory stick or Hard Disk

THE ULTIMATE FINDERSCOPE WITH A 35mm C-LENS
ALL SKY SURVEILLANCE WITH GSTAR FISHEYE LENS


 

WELCOME TO GSTAR-EX DEEP SKY & PLANETARY IMAGING
SIMPLE AS 1.. 2.. 3..

Looking for a simple, no-fuss way to capture dramatic portraits of the night sky with a telescope? Something that doesn't require absolutely perfect telescope tracking or polar alignment and long exposure times? The GSTAR-EX2 camera is the complete CCD imaging tool you've been seeking. Utilising a highly sensitive Sony CCD and leading edge, on-board image accumulation technology, this camera reveals stunning views of galaxies, nebula, star clusters, comets, the planets and their moons, our own Moon and the Sun (filtered) in extraordinary detail.

You'll see more structure in nebulae and the starry expanses of galaxies and their dust lanes than can be seen at the eyepiece in near real-time. Simply place the camera in to the focuser of your telescope like an eyepiece and connect it to your home T.V. monitor, VCR, DVD recorder or PC.

Set the camera to integration mode and watch those faint deep sky wonders unfold before your eye's! You don't even need to travel to dark country skies to achieve excellent celestial portraits.

a truly versatile camera

Above: A few GSTAR-EX tri-colour images

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HOW GSTAR-EX2 WORKS
GSTAR-EX2 is a highly light sensitive video camera imaging system that offers the benefits of both high-speed image capture and a special video frame accumulation mode. In SENSE UP mode normal exposures are internally co-added in the cameras onboard memory refreshing the image on your PC or T.V monitor every 5.12 seconds at maximum integration. The slower the integration time set, the quicker the screen refreshes. Live Screen viewing is amazing.

Live View of 47 Tuc Globular Cluster

Above: A live screen view of the globular cluster 47 Tuc using maximum sense up mode of the camera at the prime focus of a 100mm refractor from Sydney.

Below is a live view of NGC253 on a CRT computer monitor using GSTAR-EX Capture software. The telescope was a ProStar 127WPF APO refractor and Lumicon 2-inch focal reducer.

Live on screen view from GSTAR-EX


The above photo from courtesy of Steve Quirk shows the live viewing contrast differences of the
 GSTAR-EX camera between a computer LCD display versus a classic B&W CRT video monitor.
Note: the GSTAR-EX older model with X128 SENSE UP is only available by Special Order

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APPLICATIONS
Lunar Imaging - Planetary Imaging - Deep Sky Imaging - Supernova Patrol - Comet Hunting - All Sky Camera - Meteor & Asteroid Imaging - Occultation timing - as a finderscope - Auto Guider - Polar Alignment of you mount.
 

The GSTAR-EX is perhaps the most versatile astro camera you will come across which makes it excellent value for money. Even if you start you CCD imaging journey with the GSTAR-EX then move on to something more advanced later, your investment will continue to be helpful as a finderscope or for autoguiding using the appropriate software and capture device.

The GSTAR-EX was the camera of choice for astronomers at Siding Spring Observatory where several cameras have been put into service in a variety of applications.

 

Fish Eye Sky View with rising moon

Live from Siding Spring Observatory with 180° Fisheye
view of the sky
here

Also live sky view during evening hours here from
 
Grove Creek Observatory
using GSTAR-EX and 35mm lens finderscope

 


GSTAR-EX POLAR E-Z system
(Designed and built in Australia) - Product is now discontinued

Our unique system makes finding the south or north celestial pole a breeze!
Unlike the northern hemisphere where the bright star Polaris serves as a usual nearby indicator of the North Celestial Pole (NCP), in the southern hemisphere, finding the South Celestial Pole (SCP) is not quite so easy since we don't have any obvious bright star relatively close to true south.
Highly popular German equatorial style mounts like the Synta / Sky-Watcher series have polar scopes that feature reticle etchings of star patterns for both hemispheres but still, some avoid using them simply because in light polluted areas, seeing the 4 stars marked out on the reticle can be neck breaking work. Down on your knees, bending your head to look up the polar scope and squinting your eyes desperately trying to make out the pattern of stars in Octans. 

The power of our GSTAR-EX camera is well known for its ability to show us things easily on a computer monitor or TV that are otherwise difficult or impossible to see with the human eye. So what better way to see these stars than using your existing GSTAR-EX camera for ultimate comfort and eye relief. Using our special lens and mounting arm you'll take in the view of the reticle and background stars with ease. Watch the monitor and make the fine polar align adjustments to your equatorial mount with ease!  Fits all EQ3, EQ5, HEQ5 and EQ6 polar scopes.

 

The basic Polar E-Z kit. Secure and accurate polar scope clamping, fully adjustable. View through HEQ5 polar scope using GSTAR-EX mono camera mounted with Polar E-Z kit. View is -90 out to -85 deg
And of course as a bonus, the lens that comes with your Polar EZ system can also be used with GSTAR-EX cameras for wide angle views and imaging the night sky!


Milky Way above is a snapshot showing the field of view from the POLAR EZ lens when used to take in views of the night sky using the older GSTAR-EX camera and X128 sense up.

 


PUBLIC EDUCATION

GSTAR-EX cameras are the perfect tool for educational nights in public observatories, schools, clubs and universities particularly when people are having difficulty viewing objects through the eyepiece.

Both video outputs (Composite and S-Video) can be used simultaneously if needed. One connection to a local monitor and one to a remote PC or other recording device.

CAMERA TO COMPUTER OPTIONS

Capturing the video output from a GSTAR-EX camera to a desktop PC or Laptop can be achieved by using a video capture device such as a PCI slot card in the case of a desktop machine or a video to USB / firewire converter box or cable or dedicated PCMCIA capture card for a Laptop without a video in port. Some are dedicated video capture devices or have built-in T.V. tuners with additional inputs for external video cameras. The most common capture file format is AVI with most T.V and capture card devices. See FAQ page for more.

VIDEO FINDERSCOPE

The GSTAR-EX is an amazing tool when used as a finderscope. Fitted with a wide-field lens it can be used to locate stars otherwise invisible the naked eye after sunset. Simply, turn the BLC (Back light compensation) function to OFF, set AutoGain to MANUAL (MAX setting) and accumulation mode to X128 and you'll be seeing stars on the monitor! Quite often atmospheric steadiness "the seeing" is best just after sunset. This means you can use the GSTAR-EX fitted with wide-view lens, piggyback on your telescope as a finderscope to locate stars for GOTO mount star alignments while the sky is still quite bright. Once alignment is successful, you can allow time for your optics to cool as the sky darkens.

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SOLAR OBSERVATIONS

Further to the cameras amazing versatility for imaging the deep sky, Moon and planets, it is also a magnificent tool for recording sunspots (with optional safety filter) and solar prominences with a Hydrogen alpha solar scope or filter. One of its unique features is an artificial occulting disk. Controlled within the cameras internal firmware it effectively blots out over saturated regions like a bright solar or lunar disc while still highlighting faint background detail such as solar flares etc.

 

Copyright Derek Klepp

Above: The Sun captured with the GSTAR-EX camera using the Auto-Occulting Disc feature. DayStar Solar Scope - Image by Derek Klepp.
See our guide on finding and using the AOD High light feature here.

 GSTAR-EX artificial occulting function with Ha scope

Above: Yet another outstanding, almost 3D Ha image from Derek Klepp reveals incredible detail using the GSTAR-EX cameras unique artificial occulting disk (AOD) function with careful use of shutter speed and gamma control.

Below: Image by Derek Klepp NSW using the GSTAR-EX and DayStar 0.5A solar scope.



Copyright Derek Klepp


Animation of solar prominence
September 5th 2011

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DOWNLOADS
Astro Shop provides complete technical support for all the GSTAR-EX cameras and are available for guidance and advice on (07)4194-5502 during business hours. You can also contact us here.

PLEASE NOTE THAT INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE IS BASED ON THE OLDER GSTAR-EX CAMERA WHICH IS NOW ONLY AVAILABLE BY SPECIAL ORDER.

GSTAR-EX User Manual V3.1 - DOWNLOAD HERE


GSTAR-CAPTURE Video Capture Software
 

Included for your camera is our GSTAR 4 Capture software which is a flexible video capture program with a diverse range of features for real-time capture and time delay movie capture. It utilises your installed video or USB capture device drivers allowing multiple standard capture rates and custom capture rates slower than the standard 1 frame per second. Thus, it is perfect for use with GSTAR-EX camera sense up modes X128 (GSTAR Monochrome) or X256 (GSTAR Colour and GSTAR-EX2 mono cameras). It can even be used with USB webcams.

GSTAR 4 includes favourite object database, location and equipment database editor. It creates a log database that records not only Universal times but all the RA, declination, filter used, telescope, focal length etc information important for reviewing later when doing your image processing. The program features single or multiple filter automated scripted capture and manual modes plus dual positional and guiding crosshair reticles. The program also includes image enhancement functions, AVI frame selection for post processing, interlaced and non-interlaced viewing and recording, unlimited time lapse animation capture, instant snapshot, live histogram, occultation time stamping, dual night view modes, on screen zoom for checking focus plus GSTAR-COM camera control with expanded help file among numerous other very useful tools. For anyone using image streaming cameras, GSTAR 4 is a complete capture tool for astronomy.

The program now includes an CSD (capture, stack & display) enhancement function which samples and combines two unique consecutive images to significantly reduce background noise. This makes live views and images recorded to the AVI smoother and more pleasing to the eye.

GSTAR Capture V4 is compatible for use with Windows XP, Vista, WIN7 32 and 64 bit and WIN 8 32-bit operating systems as far as we know to date. However please remember that this is a labour of love freeware program written by Chris Wakeman and Steve Massey and GSTAR-EX cameras (or any other type for that matter) are not dependent on using it. In other words, GSTAR4 freeware only looks for any successfully installed video capture hardware and drivers you have installed on your computer.  We'd like to thank all those who gave us feedback and new suggestions to help make GSTAR 4 an even more useful tool for Video Astronomers.

Download GSTAR 4 capture (Full install program)

LATEST UPDATE V4.2.48

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Download Video Capture Device Analyser

GSTAR Capture V4 is compatible for use with Windows operating systems however not all video grabber devices are. Our simple test application will help to determine any possible incompatibilities with your video capture device. Please read the text file carefully in order for this program to work. Thanks Chris Wakeman for developing this useful tool.


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GSTAR-EX monochrome TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Image Sensor: 1/2 inch Sony ICX429 CCD (795(H) x 596(V) pixels)
Sensor Pixels 8.6um(H) x (8.3um(V)
Resolution: Hi-res 600TVL (better than SVHS)
Capture Size: 768 x 576 pixels (max frame capture size - depends on video capture card used)
Standard: CCIR Monochrome (Black and White)
Sensitivity: 0.0001 LUX
Shutter Speeds: 1/50 or 1/60 sec to 1/12,000 second (16 steps) - Automatic and Manual control
Integration Mode: Deep Sky Mode - X2 to X128 (max integration) (11 steps)
Signal Gain AGC Automatic and Manual control
Signal Processing A/D converter 10 bit AGC/AD converter (8 bit output)
Video Outputs 1x Composite (BNC) and S-Video - 1Vp-p
Communication RS232 (via mini din)
Gamma Adjust For deeper contrast of the planets and Moon
Digital Zoom Multi-step from 1x to 2 x internal image rescaling (useful where optical magnification is limited)
Picture Enhance via On Screen Display menu
Operating Temp -20° to +50°C
Dimensions (L) 100mm (W) 50mm (H) 50mm
Interface 5 buttons for OSD control on back panel plus RS-232 interface for computer control.
Power 12VDC regulated 200mA (centre positive)
Power Indicator Power On LED indicator is RED for maintaining dark adaptation and minimising obtrusive lighting.
GSTAR-EX Spectral Response
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GSTAR-EX CAMERA MODELS

GSTAR-EX (PAL) for Australia, U.K, New Zealand and other CCIR regions - Basic Camera System

GSTAR-EX2 (PAL) for Australia, U.K, New Zealand and other CCIR regions - Basic Camera System

GSTAR-EX CLR (PAL) for Australia, U.K, New Zealand and other CCIR regions - Colour Camera (composite output only and 256X frame accumulation)

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GSTAR-EX USER GROUP
A camera users support group has been established with Yahoo as a general resource for camera owners to ask questions and share ideas and tips etc. It is not a discussion forum as such but rather a place to log any questions regarding set-up and use of the GSTAR-EX or imaging and image processing tips. While many owners find the camera quite simple to operate with our online application user manual covering most questions, if you'd like to share your results, questions or tips with other camera owners this might be a useful resource for you.

Join the GSTAR-EX Users Group courtesy of AstroHolic.com

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FEEDBACK FROM GSTAR-EX USERS


Initially I bought the GSTAR-EX to get a better look at faint fuzzies. I thought that was good until I combined the GSTAR Colour with a 16" scope here was what I had wanted since I first looked through a scope live on screen. I then purchased the GSTAR-EX2 and now the faint fuzzies weren't so faint anymore. Then for some reason Hydrogen Alpha Solar
viewing came onto the scene and here the GSTAR-EX came into its own. With so many functions, I can view live both surface and limb features at the same time by adjusting the settings quickly depending on the view required for either surface or limb captures or the two together. What other camera has the ability to run two live view monitors and computer
capture simultaneously?
This camera may just be the best value for money versatile astro camera on the market today. It is also a great security surveillance and nocturnal wildlife monitor.

Derek Klepp (NSW)


Buying a GSTAR-EX has been quite a paradigm shifting experience. I primarily intended the camera as a scientific tool to capture video of asteroidal occultations and near earth objects and of course, it has done that beautifully. What I hadn’t quite realised was how much it would change my whole approach to my other astronomical interests. Within moments, I was giving night sky tours to friends and family all over the globe via Skype, grabbing great images using my Dob and being able to see ‘stuff’ that I had never dreamt of seeing. My cameras (for I now have many) have been in constant use for a number of years now and are still working perfectly whilst my eyepiece case remains firmly shut. This is one bit of kit that I would unreservedly recommend to every astronomer - it changes everything!

Jonathan Bradshaw

President, Astronomical Association of Queensland


I reckon that getting this camera was one of the best things that I have done. By effectively doubling the 'scope's aperture and sidestepping my eyesight problems it has rekindled a sadly flagging lifelong interest in the night skies. And the ability to image is a bonus. And what a bonus. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would have an image accepted for the Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day run by Astronomy.fm.

David Lloyd-Jones (NSW)


Thanks Steve and Mike, the Polar E-Z is nothing short of great! Is saving me a whole heap of set up time and with the GStar sensitivity can even see the stars and do polar alignment in twilight.

Mark Stanley (VIC)


Absolutely unbelievable camera! Thank you so much for all the technical advice. It took me a little time to understand the settings but now I do it's sooo easy to use and I am now seeing things I never thought possible with my 114 telescope.

Mark Gable (QLD)


The GStar camera never ceases to amaze me. I have seen objects with the telescope that I simply cannot see in an eyepiece. Thank you

G. Shirley (NSW)


I can't believe I am sitting in my house viewing the sky outside... I just love the GStar3 software and in particular the micro-step zooming function it allows over the larger manual steps using the camera buttons. Simply brilliant.

Gary Stewart (VIC)


The GSTAR is unbelievable - astonishing. I'm imaging stars to 12 - 13 mag
using a Celestron 130 SLT !! After processing in registax etc I'm getting nearly textbook shots from my light polluted skys using a basically entry level telescope.

Its obviously changed amateur astronomy forever and now no more worrying about stray lights, dark adaption etc etc.

Website - www.neilproud.info

Neil Proud (WA)


In a world of increasing complexity, the GSTAR-EX stands out as a simple but effective astro imaging camera that is capable of achieving stunning results. It is a versatile for planetary, lunar and deep sky imaging. I have imaged galaxies around 12th magnitude and found it to be an amazing camera for a good price and backed by excellent service.

Website:http://deepskyvideo.bigpondhosting.com/index_files/page0001.htm

Darrin Nitschke (NSW)


As a first time ever imager, the GSTAR-EX truly amazed me. I set up my scope, literally took the GSTAR EX out of its sealed unopened box, placed it in the scope, connected the power and video cables, turned on the monitor and what do you see, Centaurus A sitting beautifully in the middle of the screen. It was that simple. I have to say that I have not had a more enjoyable and exciting moment in star gazing. I highly recommend this camera and the great support given by myAstroShop to all.

Michael Clark (NSW)


Amazingly easy to use and a great tool for astronomy overall. The live on screen view is even better than I'd initially imagined. Having the great local support made the choice even easier!

John Marion (ACT)


I am simply amazed at how well this camera detects faint objects. To easily see galaxies and other faint deep sky objects live on the monitor that I used to struggle to glimpse at the eyepiece before is truly amazing and especially in moonlit skies! "...even from Sydney light pollution and with the scope roughly polar aligned, the short duration, highly sensitive exposures of the GSTAR-EX camera allows me to take images I'd never imagined possible.

Website: http://my.hwy.com.au/sjquirk/

Steve Quirk (NSW)


The GSTAR-EX is one hell of a camera!!! I'm pleased to report that it is fully compatible with our existing fisheye lens, and in fact the lens is now a full-hemisphere fisheye thanks to the increased CCD size (formerly it was slightly cropped at the top and bottom of the screen). It is also compatible with the DC-iris of our lens.
The low-light-level (x128 integration) is astonishing. No matter now dark I make my room, it looks like broad daylight when viewed through the camera.

(update 2011) it's noteworthy that this particular camera-lens combo has been operating non-stop 24/7, all weathers, for many years now without the slightest hitch. This is pretty amazing performance when one considers the diurnal temperature variations, and especially the summertime daily highs. Good gear.

Dr.Andre Phillips (Siding Spring Observatory)


Just amazing, I hardly bother these days looking in the eyepiece anymore. I know that's seems like an unromantic view but who am I to argue when technology makes observing so much fun! The GSTAR-EX camera rocks. Thanks

Stephen Price (VIC)


I can honestly state it is one of my best astronomical purchases and there is no chance that I will part with it.

Website: http://www.eyetotheuniverse.com/

Paul Milligan (U.K)


A few other camera user links

Garin Taylor (W.A) website - http://members.iinet.net.au/~garin/GStarEX.htm

Martin Ferlito (NSW) website - http://www.martin-ferlito-astrovideo.com/

Hawera Observatory http://www.haweraobservatory.org.nz/observatory.html

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**Please Note: If you do not understand the basics of your telescope or telescope optics and / or attaching devices to a TV or computer then this product may not be suitable for you.**

 

 Copyright 2007 Binary Systems Pty Limited
www.AstroShop.com.au
All Rights Reserved.

GSTAR FEATURES
- Simple to use
- How Does it Work?
- Camera to PC
- PC Camera Control
- Video Finderscope
- Solar Observations
- Specifications

GSTAR-EX Package

PICTURE GALLERY
- On Screen Views
- Customer Images
- Applications
- Reviews

M65 in Leo
M65 by S.Quirk

GSTAR-EX NEWS
- Coming Soon

19.8 magnitude star near the Ring Nebula
Stacking many images and image processing reveals a 19.8 magnitude star near M57 with 12-inch telescope.

courtesy S.Quirk

M20 - from Sydney
m20 Trifid Nebula
LUNAR LANDSCAPES
Eratosthenes
URANUS AND MOONS
 


Uranus and Moons captured with a 10-inch Newtonian

 

M8 - from dark sky

Lagoon Nebula

M8 by Mark Garrett

 

GSTAR-EX Kit
GSTAR-EX with Case and filters

Neatly packaged in a handy carry case the GSTAR-EX kit includes UV/IR blocking and colour filters for LRGB imaging.

 

M17
M17

M17 by Mark Garrett

 

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See our Ads in Australian Sky and Telescope
Australian Sky & Telescope Magazine

 

VIDEO ASTRONOMY

Deep Sky Video Astronomy
Published 2009 and re-printed in 2011

Get the book and find out what Video Astronomy is all about

Video Astronomy
(revised edition)
First published 2000 and revised in 2004

HELIX NEBULA
 

Helix Nebula

Helix Nebula imaged from Sydney. Exposure using maximum accumulation mode and 100 stacked video frames.

 

SATURN
Saturn

RGB image of Saturn

 

Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught
GStar-Ex and telephoto lens wih RGB filtering

 

GSTAR-EX LRGB filters
GSTAR-EX Filter Set
GSTAR-EX for Atlas
Atlas of the Southern Night Sky

The GSTAR-EX camera was used for more than 85% of the image illustrations in the renowned Atlas of the Southern Night Sky sold throughout Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.