Clear night! So I’m going to setup and let the dome run all night if it stays clear which is the forecast as I have work tomorrow.
I have run the guiding assistant on PHD2 so that I can hopefully better track objects. The drift in frames from the last time out whilst using the ST80 as a guide scope was less than ideal. I have now put al the new settings suggested into the PHD setup and have swung round to do a focus run on a star near to M32.
After successfully running autofocus in SGP at 23,560 on Luminance I have now slewed to M32 to gather more data that is desperately needed to resolve the outer spiral arms of the companion giant galaxy M31.
So it is now just gone 9pm and whilst the guiding is managing to stop trailing of stars, the image is moving between frames, enough to loose the object over the course of 4-8 hours. This is clearly not good enough and it does look like the focal length of the ST80 is simply not long enough.
To get around the problem this evening I have turned guiding off, as the exposures are short (3 minutes) the trailing of stars is not an issue. At midnight I took flats for M32. I then centred on M78 for the rest of the night. Before starting I performed another focus run as the focus point had changed over the night with the temperature drop.
I choose the same exposure settings and Gain 139 and Offset 21 settings as for M32. -25C was the temperature but this time I rotated the camera by 90 degrees to also fit in NGC 27309.
So I left the scope running and it completed at around 2:30am with 40 frames taken across 4 filters giving me 30 minutes per channel. This will be enough to get started and if clear tonight I will setup for another run at M78 and hopefully improve the guiding.
Update. On reviewing the files this morning it looks like I forgot to select the filter in SGPro which means all my M32 and M78 images from this evening are in fact luminance only! Which is ok for M32 but for M78 I need some colour. Below is the weather data for last night.
I started with M76 Ha as I need some frame for this object. I already have many hours in OIII. However after starting to image I realised the guiding, which is currently being tested through Dave Boddington’s ST80 was not pointing through the slit correctly as M76 was near the zenith. This means I have suffered from trailing as the guider was trying to guide on long stars due to diffraction.
I swapped to a different object, this time M32 as I have not imaged this directly before, just as a happenstance of imaging M31. I have chosen 180s exposures using Gain 139 Offset 21 to keep the saturation of the core down. At 300s the core was blown out.
M31 can be seen to the left and lower left of the small galaxy. M31 covers a large part of this image! So how well was my guiding doing?
The guiding looked fine. 0.52 arcsecs total error which I am happy with. I stayed up until just before midnight and then left the observatory running. In the morning I noticed the dome shut around 1:30pm due to the images after that looking like flats.
I also noticed this morning that the images were drifting so the guiding is not quite right as the image drifts. I will next time out run the guiding assistant and see if that helps.
Update the image scrubbed up fairly well but I lost a lot of frames to drift and trailed stars and then the dome closing. Resulting image around 3 hours 12 minutes exposure of which 48 mins was Luminance but there was cloud affecting many frames.
Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard. The last day to get this lovely little comet. Dave Boddington had captured a wonderful image yesterday through his 6″ and 4″ refractors. I was was never going to be able to do that with my 5″ refractor due to my broken foot and not being able to move it from the Warm room to the verge on the other side of the lane at the front of my property.
So instead I settled for the good old Canon 6D on a tripod. I had slowly gone up and retrieved the kit the day before in the light and now at 4am set off out the front, crutches in hand, camera on tripod strapped round my neck, in the dark at 1℃.
After getting comfortable standing on the verge, I extended the tripod legs balancing on 1 foot and set the camera on Arcturus to focus at 100mm. I had chosen the 100-300mm lens for maximum flexibility. After achieving focus by hand and by using the zoom function on the camera screen, I placed the camera roughly in the direction of where the comet should appear just below Corona Borealis in the faint constellation of Serpens. This is the shot I got.
I then changed focal length going to 300mm on the zoom lens, switched back to Arcturus to focus and then, after a few attempts, actually some 20 minutes, I managed to get the comet back on the chip. Result!
I packed up the tripod, hung it round my neck and headed slowly and gingerly across the lane and back up the drive to the house. When I had removed my one shoe, cleaned my boot and my crutches I looked at the camera lens and was not surprised to see a lens full of dew 🙄
I then set about opening the dome of the observatory as the comet would have now cleared the tree line. However it would not open 😳 On closer inspection, meaning I went back out in the cold and up the garden, I found the shutter would not operate. Some time spent investigating led me to believe the battery in the shutter box was dead 🥺 so I removed and took back to the house for further investigation later today. That meant no comet photo through the 12″, however I was pleased with my results given the challenge.
Progress meridian flip tonight. Nearly worked, challenge was I lost the only guide star and then it fixed on hot pixel. I have now made the setting for star recognition min 3 HFD but still not guide star present. I need guide scope……
Tonight I am at Kelling Heath star party with Shane and Mark Radice. After a fantastic board game with Mark, Shane and Shane’s wife we then headed back to camp and I started to look through there binoculars using the NSOG (????) book as my guide. Whilst I realised I could have got away with bringing the Milkway edition, instead I brought along the Autumn/Winter version.
I had packed my 100mm Altair Astro binos so it was going to a visual night with some rudimentary drawing. I looked around and set my gaze on Pegasus and turned to the pages in the guide to set me off.
First on the list was M15. It appeared relatively close to
m15 – seen
peg 1 – seen
3 peg – seen
53 peg major seen not companion
ngc 7217 – not seen
ngc 7331 – seen with averted vision
ngc 7332 – not seen
ngc 7814 – not seen
veil eastern seen
North American seen
tried UHC filter baader from Mark in 1 eyepiece in binos abs made nebula stand out
bed at 3:52am due to fog and 9deg c
looked at M81 and M82 through Keith’s 18”
could not see horse head
M42 WOW!! and M43 both through 13m Ethos 100 deg and then 21m Ethos
imaged for 1hour 36 mins and then the safety went off and it stopped imaging, no idea if the dome closed at that point or if it just lost a guide star but that was it, despite it being clear all night. So I need to not set the Boltwood OK to image setting in SGPro and I need to find a way of time stamping the dome closure
OIII LRGB 20 x each, 600s on OIII and L and then 300s on RGB
Rotation angle 29.420
NGC 6765 planetary nebula in Lyra
Everything up until 23:45 is Luminance as the filter wheel was not connected correctly in SGPro and it thought it was moving but did not…..
Went to bed
Looks like it clouded over around midnight so a few images only. I also now seem to have a mark on the Luminance filter at the bottom which is a pain, not sure how that got there on a closed system. Also the scope must have moved during the imaging as a few of the images are of a different FoV.
Opened dome early to cool down, we then had some cloud and it closed, so reopen around 8pm.
As it has been a very warm day, some 28 degrees C and is still 20 degrees, I will set the camera temp to -20 and image a different object to avoid several sets of flats, darks and flat darks. I settled on M56 as I had not imaged this for my Messier catalogue yet.
Loads of problems, mount kept saying it was not unpacked, guider would not connect, so rebooted and all fine.
Imaging at 22:10
Gain 75 Offset 12
Rotation angle 29.420
Temp -22 (need correct Flats/Darks and Dark Flats)
When I rebooted I noticed the PHD2 setting are wrong for the guider so need to change the profile to include DirectGuide not Pulse Guide. Also need to change SGPro so that it does not autofocus at the start of a run, also so it does not set the temp to -15.
Off to bed at 22:15 and left it running.
Everything went well, the dome shut at sunrise and the images look ok, maybe slightly soft focus but only when I process will I be able to tell.
Quick look at the Bat nebula given there is a break in the clouds. I had trouble with a guide star due to as hot pixel so I had to move the scope slightly to move the guide star. I need to take a some new darks for the off axis guider.
I tried 2 regions within the Bat nebula given its size, but neither showed any signs of nebula on a single 10min exposure.
I then tried Lynds Dark Nebula, LDN 1082 The Seahorse. |However again due to the expanse of this object a small portion was only available in the 12″ so again this will be more suited to the Esprit.
I then went for Palomar 10, a Globular cluster in Sagtta.
After a long day of building the new astronomy building with a few friends, I opened the dome on this clear night and start off by imaging SH2 132 until midnight for which I grabbed 18 x 600s Ha images at Gain 139 Offset 21 and temp of -25 deg C. I then switched to SH2 183 and went to bed.
On waking this morning I realised I got 22 x 600s Ha images at Gain 139 Offset 21 and temp -25 deg c before the clouds rolled in ands the dome shut around 4am. The seeing was particularly good as can be seen from the satellite image from skippy sky.com
Grafana dashboard was not reporting anything from AAG, this turned out to be a bug in the code from Gingergeek which he will fix. First image from the camera came out blank from SGPro, restarted a new image and problem went away. Started imaging SH2 132 but clouds rolled in.
Another clear night whilst I am on holiday and after a long day of building the new warm room for my astronomy hobby. I finally got the camera imaging some more 600s Ha frames of the Sharpless 132 emission nebula in Cepheus (11 subs). The challenge was SGPro misbehaving and not plate solving. I used Gingergeek to look at it but he could not work out the problem either. So I used TSX to slew and solve instead before heading back into SGPro to start capturing data. I ran a set of Ha Flats before I moved to the next object at Rotator Angle 256.020, focus position 18500.
I then moved to SH2 183 another emission nebula in Cepheus. I let this running for the rest of the night whilst I went to bed at 00:47 during which time it took 19 images until more cloud lost the guide star which I need to fix so it restarts automatically.
I also worked out that plate solving was an SGPro bug as restarting SGPro allowed the plate solving to start working again, so useful for next time.
Observing conditions check. This morning I reviewed the environmental data and the conditions were fairly poor so I will redo the data. The Moon was just past full. The ASC video shows wispy cloud all night. The sky temperature was bumping around -13-14 degrees all night where -18 degrees is considered clear.
With a near on full Moon, the choices for deep sky were limited so I set about looking for Sharpless emission nebula. First on my list was SH2 136 in Cepheus. I slewed, aligned, selected the Ha filter, rotated the camera to find a guide star, tried to run autofocus which failed (I set the focus point to 18500 for Ha manually) and then imaged a few subs at 600s, which is when I realised the problem.
Nothing but stars….. I googled around and it transpires that some fo the Sharpless catalogue is emission and the rest is reflection! Now I know this useful fact I will double check each image I go after.
Before I moved on I took a single 300s luminance frame just to see if I could see anything at all. The answer was not a lot, so I moved on. This time I choose an emission nebula, much larger than my FoV but still it should be a pleasing object, SH2 132, an emission nebula also in Cepheus.
I set about imaging 14 x 600s in Ha and then went to bed at 23:48 leaving the system running for another 2 hours before hitting the meridian, as I have not setup the scope to flip yet.
It’s been a while again due to work and the weather. A quick look around the sky this evening and make sure I still know how too use the telescope. So after getting focus
I slewed to Saturn as it was up and as expected it was very small.
I then slewed to the Pacman nebula, NGC 284 also known as Sharpless SH2-128. I switched to narrow band and the Ha filter. I plate solved, centred
and then proceeded to take 300s shots.
The camera was called to -15℃, the outside temp was 16.2℃. The focus position was at 18,000. The camera itself was set to Gain 139 and Offset 10, the rotator at 345.560°.
I took 75 x 300s images until I closed the dome, by which time it was very light. I went to bed in-between the start and end of the imaging run, but then realised the dome safety does not work due to the cable from the ASC being severed due to a Stanley blade incident with weed matting.
The good thing is GingerGeek and I managed to focus the ASC during the day on some trees in the forest across the valley and we managed to get it in focus.
I will process the data last some point and see what it looks like.