Imaging test (8th June 2024)

So given it was a non-work night and predicted to be clear Dave invited me over to test the gear/setup prior to the BASEG Tenerife 2024 trip.

Given we are fast approaching the summer solstice, the nights are getting shorter and lighter. The Annual Darkness chart for IMT3 shows that we currently have no astronomical darkness and the nautical darkness lasts only for some 3.5hrs (left image) and now compare that the darkness graph for Mount Teide in Tenerife (right image) and although we lose some dark hours around the Summer Solstice it’s not as much as is lost being located at 52Β°N.

Setup – added BlueAstro stick station to measure pressure as Pegasus have not exposed the pressure measurement from the NYX101 mount to the ASCOM layer … why not ? Added weight bag to NYX-101 and GL.inet travel router to top of the scope as MS Windows keeps messing up the Wi-Fi hotspot on the Mele Quieter3C if it does not detect a internet connection ….. how stupid is that. Now I have a permanent hotspot thanks to the instructions given by Cuiv the Lazy Geek on his YouTube channel.

When attempting to polar align when using the QHY PoleMaster I noticed that the sky brightness below 15 mag2/sec (measured by a Unihedron SQM) produced a white screen due to over exposure – the minimal exposure in the now aged the QHY PoleMaster software (> 4yrs since last release) was 50ms which is too long even though I could eyeball Polaris in the early evening sky.

NINA 3.0 start up had not detected the QHY native driver and after I shutdown and restarted the app it then was able to detect the QHY 268C camera. However, it disconnected when it could not cool to -10℃ which I’ve never encountered before. I did eventually managed to get it cool and stay connected.

During guiding calibration OpenPHD2 would constantly complain about losing the star. Again the star was clearly visible on the PHD display and after downgrading from 2.6.13dev4 to dev3 and then I suddenly realised the value the error was referring to. I changed the minimal star HFD down to 1.0 from 1.5, also recreated the dark library to remove the possibility of the guider attempting to guide on a hot pixel.

Once guiding, the guide graphs were reporting 0.08 – 0.19 arcsec total polar alignment error. Hopefully I will learn to improve that and maybe repeat the polar alignment procedure or use PHD drift align to refine it.

I also forgot to change filter at the start of the evening from the Antila Quad Band filter to the Baader UV/IR filter. I noticed a halo from the bright star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes which I was testing autofocus on but I decided to continue regardless as I was only testing.

The goal for the night was to grab a base image of T Coronae Borealis (“The Blaze Star”) before it goes nova – it’s a reoccurring nova with a 80 year cycle. The star is currently hovering around 10.2 magnitude and it is predicted based on previous eruptions to reach around magnitude 2. As I ultimately wanted to perform some photometry on the star using the UV/IR cut filter I did want to blow out the cores of any bright star so I opted to use the ExtendedFullWell2CMS mode at gain 0, offset 30 with 60 second exposures. During the sequence I forgot to watch HFR/Star count graph and it rose above 5 which meant I have to refocus to (HFR ~2.0) and so due to my oversight due to chatting I will have to dump a lot of the early subs.

At the end of nautical darkness I stopped the sequence and used the NINA flat wizard (dynamic exposure) with the old PegasusAstro 120 flat panel at 100% brightness to create 25 flats and flat darks for a target of 33% ADU. After packing up and the with the pre-dawn temperature hitting 4℃ just before 4am I was looking forward to getting to bed.

At the next clear non-working evening I will attempt to grab some subs again but this time using the correct filter. Thank you to Dave and family for hosting me once more.

NB – NINA 3.1 was formally released the following day (09/06/2024) !

Pegasus NYX-101 Harmonic Mount

I’ve always liked what PegasusAstro have been doing with their astronomy equipment and I already own an original FlatMaster120, UPBv1 and a UPBv2.

Overview

Packaging – The mount transport box is (21cm x 34cm x 34cm) which is larger than the AM5 transport box. Weight/Size (6.4 Kg compared to ZWO AM5 5 Kg). The build quality follows the same high quality and blue anodised styling of recent products.

On opening the packaging I found damage to the mount knob indicated a possible rough handling in transit with plastic shrapnel in its plastic bag. This was superficial and did not impact the function or integrity of the mount.

There was no hand-controller supplied in the box but the manual hints that a hand controller can be connected to the ST-4 (EXT) port but no detail on if that is compatible with any existing hand controllers, so for now we have to use the Unity PC application, ASCOM access or the mobile phone application (Android).

The USB2.0 port is better than others I have encountered on other mounts such as iOptron and it grasps the cable securely and does not feel loose or feels like it would just drop off. This is especially useful as I tear down each night so let’s see over time if it maintains the positive connection it has at the moment. I connected the mount USB and power to the UPBv2 sat on top of the scope.

The carbon fibre tripod has no stone bag which can be found on other astro/photography tripods. You could suspend some form of weight from the leg spreader that might help prevent the tripod from tipping over with heavier scopes.

I found the Altitude adjustment a bit loose and takes a bit of getting used to even though the NYX101 has altitude tightening bolts which themselves seem to shift the altitude which again affects polar alignment if you are not careful.

Due to the compact nature of the mount there is no room for a GPS receiver so this function is relied upon either from your phone or by pushing the values from Unity or via Uranus device. If you push from your phone and you have Unity running then Unity will not see the change until you restart Unity.

I like the SW tripod (adapter required) and M12 counterweight compatibility, LX200 protocol support, polemaster placement support. There is a polemaster mounting plate but this is a permanent fixture via screws with no quick release mechanism. However there was a post on Cloudy Nights by PhilippeL on a release adapter he made, CAD link here.

Experience

Usage

Set your park/home positions and then enter in your location/altitude via Unity/Mobile phone app so that the mount understanding things like horizon limits.

As with other mounts, care needs to be exercised that your scope does not collide with the tripod legs, this is still a risk when using the pier extender with longer length scopes.

Unity Software

I couldn’t find a change history or date on the released Unity Platform on the website so it’s not easy to look back when things happened but you can use this link to check the currently available version. I used version 1.8.1733.15, when upgrading the existing Unity software the update process will remove all older versions including the ASCOM drivers and then install the latest version.

I do seem to lose wireless connection to my house router randomly even though the mount was positioned within 6ft of it. I had setup the router to give the mount a static IP address via DHCP but I don’t know it loses the connection – DHCP lease time is set high.

Firmware Update

When I first looked at configuring the NYX-101 to connect to my house network I had no end of trouble getting a connection. The only way I could achieve a connection was to have both the PC/laptop and mount connect to one of my travel routers which itself was also connected my the house wifi.

I soon worked out that the “Smart Connect” feature of my house wifi router was attempting to connect the ESP32 wireless (2.4GhZ) of the NYX to the 5GhZ band. Once I had put the MAC address of the NYX-101 into the exclude list of the house router 5GhZ band then it would reliably connect to the 2.4GhZ band. From that point onwards everything worked as expected and I could then successfully perform the firmware update to 1.15.

The 1.19 firmware (released the week 13th March 2023) also brought a pleasant surprise of the motor noise being reduced when slewing. This is a welcome change since making any noise in a suburban garden location in the early hours of the morning when people sleep with their windows open is highly undesirable.

Resetting park & home

I actually turned off the mount by accident whilst the mount was pointing somewhere in the sky so it lost its position and didn’t know where park and home was. This is easily rectified by moving the mount via one of the applications to the correct marks and setting the home and park positions again. This issue was mostly solved with a later firmware update where the mount now remembers where it is pointed once power is restored. However on performing a meridian flip (no slew & center) and then instructing the mount to home resulted in the mount not being it’s predefined home location.

Mobile App (Android)

Originally there was only Android11+ support but after raising a support ticket (support@pegasusastro.com) to request that the documentation state that the linked app only supported Android 11 I also requested a pre-Android 11 support. This actually appeared pretty quickly on the website so kudos to PegasusAstro for the fast response.

I do suffer regular disconnects from the mount when using the mobile app via the hotspot. I’m not sure why this is as I was sat right next to the mount, could be down to an idle time-out ?

I also see the NYX-101 disconnect from my house wireless router in Unity but could locate no reason why (DHCP lease was valid), I could find no entry in the Unity log files or see no reason on the router. Now this could possibly be either interference from other 2.4GhZ networks or down to the Aluminium casing, would an external aerial resolve this problem ?

There is no way to reconnect to the wireless other than shutting down Unity so as long as you have a USB connection then everything should continue working.

Mount/Altitude Limits & Meridian Flip

To begin with I set the meridian and altitude mount limits in Unity and then test the automated meridian flip using ASCOM simulator for the camera. Regardless would I did the mount would stop 10 degrees because hitting the Meridian. It slowly dawned on me that I had set the meridian limit to -10 which I thought was 10 degrees after the meridian but the value should have been +10 so it was actually stopping 10 minutes before the meridian ……. dooh !

Unity hard limits for Elevation & Meridian

Once I made the change then both NINA and SGPro performed the meridian flip just fine. There is also a switch to enable automatic meridian flip to prevent any potential crashes but I opted to leave this disabled so the mount would just stop tracking but NINA would continue taking new subs in both simple & advanced scheduler.

One item that would really help here in a text box with optional input to set either limits instead of having to grab the slider to see the current setting – I can query/set this in the API but it’s not easy to view and change using the slider method.

Polar Alignment

I used the polemaster software to perform a polar alignment but decided to utilise SharpCap to compare the alignment procedure and difference. Because SharpCap requires the scope to be slewed 90Β° so the scope weight was now on on horizontal the RA axis dropped causing the mount to shift and results in the PA being 4Β° off axis.

This would happen regardless even if I tightened up the axis bolts. Talking to another user he suggested at using a counterweight but to me this would negate the mount as a portable mount.

Guiding

Using the OpenPHD guiding reference document (link), it appears the that the harmonic gears have a period of 430 seconds with a periodic error of +/- 20 arcsecs or less. Two complete periods are required for the Permanent Periodic Error Correction (PPEC) before guiding any improvement will be seen, this is pertinent for the imaging train in use at the time. If you change the imaging target the model will re-initiate the PPEC learning cycle.

The recommendation is to set the guiding interval to 1 – 1.5 seconds and try to be within 30 arcsecs of polar alignment error. I certainly found keeping the FSQ85 setup to around 1.5 seconds resulted in better guiding graphs compared to 3 second intervals.

Support

After initially purchasing the mount I took my NYX-101 along to Astrofest 2023 (UK) for Evans to look at (by prior appointment) as I was not entirely happy with the resonance during slewing. I compared my mount against two other NYX-101 mounts in my astronomy society and it definitely sounded like it had been treated roughly during delivery transit. Although Evans did a great job to investigate the mount during the show, due to the noisy nature of the exhibitor floor it was not obvious that it had been resolved until I was in a quiet environment back at home.

On contacting PegasusAstro I was offered to have the mount picked up by DHL and couriered back to Greece for inspection. The whole process from DHL pickup was professional from picking up to receiving the mount back, the service was excellent and he mount was backed with me 7 days later. The courier communications was good but I received no notes or communication on what was done (board serial number was the same) under I enquired. The most important thing the mount operation was much better and more akin to the other two reference mounts I had listened to; my gratitude to Evans and the team for their patience with me.

It had been reported on various forums that the ZWO ASIAir had suddenly stopped working with the NYX-101 and some heated speculation quickly arose as to the reason why this occurred. ZWO was quick to dispel any conspiracy theories and rightly put their hands up and stated it was a bug in ASIAir software (link) which would be resolved in the 2.1 beta release (you will also need the latest firmware). Kudos should go to ZWO for setting for the story straight and resolving the issue to the benefit of the astro community.

First Light Use

So Dave asked me to come over to the observatory for the evenings of 26th & 27th so I could do a test run on the kit I would be taking to Tenerife later that Summer. At this time the M101 Supernova SN 2023ixf so I decided to image it alongside Dave using his 17inch RDK and Bob’s 24 inch RDK.

Using the QHY Polemaster I noticed that when I rotated the mount for alignment that the chosen calibration star moved away from the rotation circle – is the mount slightly misaligned ?

The guiding document available here were extremely helpful in testing out various settings. Certainly I was seeing some trailing around 3 seconds but that could have been due to the PA issues or balance. I ended up using Predictive PEC and setting the interval to 1 second just to see what would happen. I still noticed large variations every now and then and it was not as smooth as I’d hoped for.

Slewing to a target after plate solving it was clear that the mount had moved outside my FoV at first slew. This was unusual for me as my CEM60/NEQ6 first slews were always in the FoV, this issue may be related to an situation observed by Chris Woodhouse and can be rectified by following his forum post.

Chris asked me to confirm his experience of overshoot when slewing in the DEC axis causing the target not to be in resulted field of view. Chris had raised a support ticket for this issue and PegasusAstro were investigating.

Closing Thoughts

The NYX-101 is more expensive that the competing ZWO AM5 but the NYX-101 offers more weight carrying capacity (20 Kg versus 13 Kg without counterweights) and compatibility with those already own QHY Polemaster, SW NEQ6 or similar tripods.

The direct open API (REST) via Unity or access via ASCOM Alpaca allows me to query components and it’s easy to script up web status pages quite easily.

If you only ever plan to use light imaging equipment and are already invested into the ZWO eco system then the AM5 might make more sense but if you wanted to use other vendors equipment then for me ZWO is a closed ecosystem with limited flexibility.

If using USB3 cables for any equipment such as CCD/CMOS cameras then it is wise to invest in a high quality shielded cable as USB3 tends to have issues in the presence of 2.4GhZ. I used 5Ghz wireless from my Mele Quieter3c mini PC to avoid this problem but I would advise to use good shielded cables in all situations.

I’m looking forward to taking the mount on the upcoming trip to Mount Teide, Tenerife to see how well it performs under dark and clear skies πŸ˜€

Wishlist

The following wishlist is based on my experience of using the NYX-101 alongside the Ultimate Power Box v2 (Firmware 2.4) and NYX-101 (Firmware X.Y.Z) via the Unity software (1.9.1825.32) :

  • Would be nice to see dust covers provided in the box for all the various ports on the back of the mount.
  • An external aerial port might be useful for the included ESP32 wireless connection ?
  • An option to power other Pegasus items such as the UPBv2 from the aux power port on the mount ? This would mean that then I would only have one cable going up/down from the scope to the mount which is especially useful for those who are mobile and don’t use the NYX mount in a permanent setting.
  • Include a hand controller in the default offering or document compatibility with any existing hand controllers. Could utilise the USB port instead of relying on the ESP32 internal module ?
  • Display the MAC address of the ESP32 module in the Unity app (wi-fi network tab) so it’s not necessary to hunt for it in the router’s client connection pages.
  • A disconnect/reconnect button for an existing wifi connection definition.
  • An editable display box for both the meridian and altitude limits where I can enter the desired value as I can only know what the settings are by actually grabbing the sliders or reading/setting the position from the REST API.
  • API call to set/get horizon & meridian limits as a profile similar to the location. This would allow the user with different scopes/piers/tripods to store different hard horizon/meridian and auto meridian flip settings.
  • If possible add a NYX-101 uptime value to Unity and API similar to other products like the UPBv2 to show how long the NYX-101 has been powered on.
  • If possible add a timer field to the wireless tab to indicate how long the mount has been connected to the configured wireless access point and/or the USB connection.
  • The NYX-101 health status in Unity sometimes doesn’t not render correctly on smaller/different aspect screens between Unity releases such as a Dell 13.3″ laptop.
  • API call to provide NYX-101 health status if the information is not already available via other API calls.
  • API call to indicate if a new firmware (inc version) is available as it is indicated in Unity ?
  • A changelog history for NYX-101, Unity & UPB between versions.

Update

As of May/June 2023 there is now a XT60 cable available to run from the AUX port to run to the UPBv2 and now I only need an adapter cable to fit my 10 Amp PSU with a XT60 connector.

14th June : Firmware 1.21 released by PegasusAstro and the patch notes show this release fixes the DEC axis overshoot experienced by Chris Woodhouse :

  • DEC motor accuracy improvement during slews. In previous firmware declination axis tends to overshoot.
  • Wi-fi hotspot channel width was reduced from 40MHz to 20MHz to improve channel data integrity.
  • Wi-fi hotspot can turn ON and OFF.
  • Wi-fi hotspot channel can be selected from 1 to 11 (11 is the default).
  • Reset home is not allowed when mount is hard encoder limit.
  • Improved accuracy after n-star calibration.
  • Improved mount position store interval.

M101 SuperNova (27th-28th May)

DSW invited me over to the IMT3 observatory for an imaging weekend to image M101 and the recent supernova2023ixf discovery. DSW was using the 12inch RDK and I decided to put the FSQ85 on the Pegasus NYX-101 to test out the setup ready for our Tenerife trip to Mount Teide.

I ran the QHY268C at high gain mode, gain 56, offset 30 and -20℃. I finally managed to cure the noise banding I was experiencing on the QHY268C but using a fully shielded high quality USB3 short length cable that I run from direct to a Pegasus UPBv2 that sits on top of the scope.

Although it’s mid summer and the Moon was bright and approaching full the phase, the sky conditions on the first night appeared to be okay at first sight. Before processing I decided to check on data quality via the blink module in PixInsight it was obvious that they were a lot of unusable subs due to high cloud and using them would have ruined the quality of any resulting stacked image.

Running the data stack of raw images through the PixInsight Subframe Selector to analyse the PSF SNR versus noise it clearly shows that I could only use 7 frames (35 minutes) didn’t drop below 0.08 from night one whilst all the data from night two should go straight into the bin along with most of night one πŸ™

Pixinsight SubFrameSelector

Given I don’t have enough data to do the end result justice due to my poor PixInsight skills I decided to invert the images – I really should subscribe to Adam Block Studios (Shout out !)

Inverted image of M101, supernova 2023ixf and surrounding area

Running the AnnotateImage Script labels the various galaxies in the image which I enjoy looking up to see which type they are, magnitude and how far away they are.

Annotated FoV for area around M101, supernova is not labelled

Zooming in to M101 to see the Supernova better, it is located to the right of NGC5461 and indicated by the two arrows.

M101 with SN2023ixf indicated by the arrows

Light Curve

The AAVSO have a light curve plotted from measurements submitted by amateurs, just enter “SN 2023ixf” and submit here. It was still around 11th magnitude on 18th June but there does appear to be a slight decline in the brightness curve.

Viewing Report 26th May 2023 (M101)

22:47 – 03:15

M101 for me this evening to try and get there RGB data in one night. GingerGeek has come round to test out his travel setup, he has a Takahashi FSQ85, QHY268C and the Pegasus NYX-101 harmonic mount.

Focused at 20,105 on Luminance so RGB will be 21,105

1 x 300s Red

Taking 2 minute exposures for each colour at -25℃. I then realised 5 minutes is so much better. So at 1:30am I then started exposing at 5 minutes with the plan to combine both data sets. The SkyX worked brilliantly as can be seen below, looking after the guiding and image capture.

The main challenge I had early on was the the dome shutting unexpectedly. I will attempt to find out why over the next few months. The camera noise continues to be an issue but less so tonight so I think it may be USB related, again I will troubleshoot and check there cable lengths.

GingerGeek had a productive night troubleshooting a multitude of problems on his untested travel kit and was pleased with the results including taking his first image of a supernova in M101.

Viewing report 8th & 9th March 2023 Tenerife Los Gigantes Villa

Between 9pm and 12:30am both nights

View from the Villa facing South West

A week with the family in Tenerife afforded me the opportunity to test out for the 2nd time this year the Skywatcher 100 Esprit on the AM5 harmonic mount with the ASIAIR in control and the ASI2600MC with a new Antlia Triband RGB Ultra filter.

Travel Rig

Over the period of the week I picked 2 nights when I wanted to observe. Because of the clement environment of Tenerife and the Canaries and unlike the UK, you can decide when to go out and image as almost all nights are clear, the weather warm, around 22 deg Celsius and the bed not that far away from the pool. Given when we were on holiday which was decided around other activities, the Moon phase was Full.

Night time flood lit pitches

The one problem with renting a villa is when the owners will not pinpoint where on a map it is. There is normally a reason. In this case it was because of the proximity of the local sports buildings. A swimming pool to the front of the villa including a floodlit pitch and 2 more flood lit pitches to the left and right of the villa at the rear.

Impact of flood lighting

So yes it was bright, very bright, as can be seen on the villa party wall.

Full Moon and Floodlights

So given all that light pollution I was then pleasantly surprised how well the final image came out of the singular target I chose. NGC 2244, the Rosette Nebula.

NGC 2244 Rosette Nebula – 6 hours

I exposed for some 75 x 300s over the 2 nights. All the images were on the West side of the Meridian to make it easier without a flip.

Crop of cluster

I found stacking 75 images instead of just the first night of 30+ images gave a much smoother background and nebula, much less noise and easier to work with the data.

Wider crop including dust

So not a bad photo for Full Moon and 3 flood lit pitches. I look forward to testing out the kit at the top of the mountain later in the year under New Moon dark skies.

Viewing Report Thursday 30th June 2022 Tenerife – Parador

21:30 – 06:30

Observing setup

First of all tonight I have taken darks for 300s that are needed for the earlier data. However I am still suffering from the QHY168c disconnecting from the laptop, this time in TSX. I have upgraded the software yesterday but this has not made a difference, so it must be something to do with the way there USB cable is connecting. I will attempt to troubleshoot when I get home. Right now I have switched to Ezcap again which seems to be ok.

I have setup over by Mark and will see what this location is like behind the pool building. I have found that the WiFi is weak or non existent. Also the staff room is nearby and the light is constantly on so maybe not the best place to image from.

@00:03 NGC 6352 30s -20℃ I took a single exposure of this.

@00:19 LDN 10 30s -20℃

LDN 10

@00:42 Haumea 30s -20℃

Haumea

@01:26 Makemake 30s -20℃

Makemake

@01:52 Pluto 30s -20℃

Pluto

@02:33 Eagle nebula 30s -20℃

M16 Eagle Nebula

@03:45 NGC 6520 &| B86 30s -20℃

NGC 6520 & B86 ‘Ink Spot’

Viewing Report Tuesday 28th June 2022 Tenerife – Parador

22:05 – 05:50

Pond at the Parador

@22:30 Omega Centauri 30s -20℃

Omega Centauri

@23:17 Centaurus A 30s -20℃

Centaurus A

@00:02 M24 30s -20℃

@01:33 M6 30s -20℃

@02:38 M25 30s -20℃

@03:26 LDN 564 300s -20℃

Flats taken

Darks 300s -20℃ (take tomorrow) / 0.35s -25℃ – DONE

Viewing Report Monday 27th June 2022 Tenerife – Parador

22:00 – 07:00

Skywatcher Esprit 120 ED

First thing tonight is to complete taking the darks from yesterday, so I need 20 x 120s -20℃, but also the flat darks I forgot for the 0.35ms flats. Then I will move to taking longer images tonight. The challenge with open clusters is that you need short exposures so you don’t oversaturate the stars.

@22:50 Omega Centauri 30s -20℃

Omega Centauri

@23:20 Centaurus A 300s -20℃

Centaurus A

@00:09 Makemake 120s -20℃ x 10

@00:29 Haumea 120s -20℃ x 10

@01:07 M8 Lagoon 300s -20℃ x 24 (focus drifted so review later images)

M8 Lagoon

@03:22 Comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS 120s -20℃ x 7

@03:53 M21 30s -20℃ x 90

@05:00 M20 & M21 120s x5

M20 & M21

@05:45 LDN 574 300s x 9 which was a mistake

LDN 574

Dark Flats – 0.35s -20℃ – DONE / 0.35s – 25℃ (tomorrow)

Flats – 0.35s -20℃ – DONE

Darks 30s -20℃ – DONE / 300 -20℃ (tomorrow) / 120 -20℃ DONE

Viewing Report Sunday 26th June 2022 Tenerife – Parador

22:55 – 08:00

Teide

Finally got our bags today from the airport. Having arrives on the 2:05pm flight and not hearing from BA by 4pm, Lawrence and I headed off down the mountain in search of the 4 missing bags. It took just over an hour to arrive back in the Cicar car park.

Once there we headed inside to be told the the Iberia desk, which deals with lost and late baggage was only accessible the arrivals hall and so we were told to go through the exit doors and not to worry about the police. So we nervously😱 walked through and were greated with the sight of all the lost bags!

Blurry Bags

It took some 20 mins to sort through the paperwork before we were pushing the bags back to the car for the 1 hour drive back up the TF1 and TF38.

After a hearty dinner, which was absolutely delicious and filling, we headed outside around 9pm to start setting up. This took me the best part of 2 hours to put the gear together after ferrying it from upstairs and then another 60 mins to calibrate and be ready to image. First up tonight is M23.

@ 23:55 started on M23 Open Cluster, 30s -25℃ exposures so not to saturate the stars.

M23

after 87 images escape hung!

@ 01:20 started on M18 Open Cluster 60s, 10 -20℃ or so images this time using TSX to image and then refocused and took 80 images in total.

M18

@ 3:22 started on M26 Open Cluster -20℃ took 68 at 60s

Pluto 4:41am 120s -20℃ I took 10 frames

Pluto

@5:21 M73 Open Cluster 60s -20℃ took 60 frames

M73

Flats 0.35s -20 & 0.35s -25℃

Darks – 30s -25℃ – Done / 60s -20℃ – Done / 120s -20℃ (tomorrow night) / Flat Darks (tomorrow night)

Viewing Report 27th May 2022

19:48 – 03:08

Mobile rig

Tonight is the first night of testing the mobile rig for our 2022 Tenerife BASEG trip. I have just started to setup and am waiting for night to fall. The weather is warm and clear and I am on the IMT3b observing patio.

Tonight is about making sure I can take a set of images and guide and that everything works.

First thing to note is on firing out TSX that I need to change the settings for the mount and select usbmodem1442101 and then connect. This did not work the first time and resulted in an error, disconnecting the USB from the 2 port hub and reconnecting fixed the problem.

Ready to image

Took 44 x 300s on M101 and started to pack up at 3:08 when it was getting light which I could see on the SQM.

The next morning zzzzzz
M101 300s Exposure

Viewing Report 10th December 2021 – IMT3

04:00 – 06:53

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.

Space boot πŸ™‚

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.

Comet C2021 A1 Leonard

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!

Comet C2021 A1 Leonard – 300mm

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 πŸ™„

Dew on the lens

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 πŸ₯Ί 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.

Battery box for shutter

Viewing Report 8th October 2021 – IMT3

22:30 – 03:57

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

M39 seen

M42 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

Viewing Report 5th March 2021 – Travel Setup

23:38 – 00:18

Orion NSOG Finder Chart

A short trip out tonight and only with the binoculars. I wanted to start my journey through Orion star hopping using the Night Sky Obervers Guide as my bible.

With the tagging of objects as follows I setup the binos and went about looking up

Sp – Showpiece

Bs – Binocular Sky

Bo – Binocular Objects

34 Delta Ori (Bo) – The first object for tonight. Given the time I started and taking Orion’s belt as a reference, the middle star called Alnilam or 46 Epsilon Orionis was at an altitude of +09 vs if I had gone out earlier at say 7pm of +37 so this was a challenge before I started.

Belt stars Finder Chart from NSOG

I did however see 34 Delta Ori (Mintaka) at Mag 2.2 and instantly knew it was right as I could see its double star companion around 1’oclock shining at Mag 6.8. It was a lovely sight seeing this visually tiny companion next to this larger and brighter star. Was very pleased I had started observing visually again.

34 Delta Orionis

41 Theta Ori (Bo) – Not seen as set

42 Theta Ori (Bo) – Not seen as set

43 Theta Ori (Bo) – Not seen as set

41 Iota Ori (Sp) – Not seen as set

48 Sigma Ori (Bs) – Another lovely little double star, just South West of the first of the belt stars from the left, Alnitak, 48 Sigma Orionis is a Mag 3.8 star and I could clearly make out the Mag 6.7 at around 10 o’clock.

48 Sigma Orionis

B 35 – Not seen as expected due to lack of aperture

Basel 11B – This is a really tiny open cluster of stars, I knew it was there as I star hopped from Mu Gemini that I could see clearly at Mag 2.9. I could see Chi1 Orionis and Chi2 Orionis that form the upper stars in Orion’s club but it was easier to star hop from Mu Gem.

Finder chart for just North of Orion

Basel 11B sits just North West of the club and reportedly has 12 stars, I could only see it with averted vision due to the aperture of the 100mm binos, however I would say 3-4 were visible, given they are Mag 10+ so pretty faint for this instrument.

Basel 11B

Berkeley 21 – I was really not sure if I could see this, even with averted vision. The cluster is about Mag 11 so right on the limit of my instrument. I kept going back and forth, I was in the right area as it is fairly next door to Basel 11B. I jiggled the binos about but I could not be certain. I will have another go when Orion is higher earlier in the night.

Berkerly 21

So that was it for me, Orion was setting so it was time for bed.ß

Viewing Report 27th February 2021 – Travel Setup

20:00 – 21:25

Out this evening to find MEV-2 and Intelsat 10-02. Whilst some of the society is providing images to DSTL (MOD) within the UK on the MEV2 satellite, I thought I would have a quick go and capturing. Unfortunately due to the small chip the FoV was not large enough to capture useful images so instead I thought I would capture a movie. Gingergeek joined me by Zoom.

MEV-2 and Intelsat 10-02

So after polar aligning I slewed to Intelsat 10-02 and with a small nudge of the mount the 2 satellites popped into view. The above image shows The Sky X I used to track the satellites on the left and on the right the capture software, firecap, of the individual frames.

I captured a fair amount and will publish a video from it shortly. Gingergeek and I then slewed to the Moon and took a leisurely stroll around the surface. It did to be fair, take us a while to work out the FoV indicator in The Sky X and set it correctly so we could then move to the areas of the Moon we wanted.

Viewing Report 26th February 2021 – Travel Setup

20:57 – 21:53

I pulled out the Mak180 tonight to see if I could image the Moon. After setting up I did not bother with polar alignment due to it really only being the planets which are less picky about tracking. However pointing is another matter.

I have decided I really must get a decent flip mirror. At the moment with the polar alignment not being completed and the chip on the ZWO ASI290MC being so small, I have to take the camera out to then eyeball the planet before putting the camera back in so that its light lands on the chip. Now with the Moon that is not a problem so tonight I did not have to worry.

View from the bridge

Given the short imaging session this evening and the realisation that I had not gotten rid of all the dust from last years dust intrusion I took a single video run of a yet to be identified piece of the Moon.

Raw video footage

I then moved decided to take some video footage of various parts of the Moon to also discover how much dust I had and how much of a problem it was going to be. Also I just like roving around the surface of the Moon.

Raw video of Clavius

I must also buy another ASI290MC as the one I have had its chip cover fall off and I have been unable to remove the dust from Coombe Gibit, so for guiding this is not an issue but for Moon and planets it is. Given I currently take the camera off the Skywatcher Esprit setup where it is used as a guider I might as well have another and then I won’t ever get dust in the new one which I would use on the Mak. As I’ve said before and will say again, Brendan would say it is cheaper to burn Β£50 notes than get into astronomy! How true indeed.

Viewing Report 12th February 2021 – Travel Setup

18:45 – 00:32

Holiday time! Well at least a week off work. It’s been a cold and cloudy Winter so far. So a night where I can get out the travel telescope and setup in the vegetable patch, the construction site of IMT3b is a good thing. The challenge I have is my ribs still hurt somewhat from being broken after an unfortunate accident 4 weeks ago. So I will go careful.

Earlier in the day I had Luke help me setup the equipment in the garden. First the binos to have a good look round.

Altair Astro 100mm Binoculars and APM Mount

Then we setup the Skywatcher Esprit 120 ED on the Paramount MyT.

Travel scope with QHY168C camera

Lastly we setup a “warm room” temporary in nature and fairly cold I would later find out πŸ₯Ά in the greenhouse.

Lovely new table with my cool astronomy chair and MacBook Pro

So the night came and after Pizza with my wife I set off out to the garden to start imaging.

Imaging M42 Orion Nebula

I connected the Polestar camera first to see what my alignment was like after placing the tripod down in a fashion I though condusive to being polar aligned.

This is where polaris landed up which is not bad.

I then set about measuring the difference in Polaris to determine how much I would need to move the scope to align it.

White cross is where it needs to be

I then fiddled with the altitude and azimuth knobs to align the scope.

Perfect alignment

Next I slewed to the first object for the evening which was M45, the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters. I started EZCap and look at the focus which was not far off from the last time I was out a few weeks and it is good enough.

EZCap focus control

I then took an image of M45 to make sure it was in the field of view. I also setup the Planner in EZCap to with the sequence for capturing the data. I set the camera to Gain 7 and Offset 20 with a temperature of -30℃.

EZCap Planner

I set PHD running and that was when I hit a problem. To cut a long story short, I had forgotten to plug in the ST4 guider cable into the ZWOASI290 camera and then into the Versa plate of the Paramount MyT. Without this there is no successful calibration within PHD. It took me 1 hour to work out I needed a cable and a further 45mins to find it since the move of house. Your IQ really does drop when it is dark and cold!

Guiding started, but gusts of wind!

Eventually the calibration completed once the cable was fitted and I could start to see the gusts of wind in the data. I set a sequence running for M45 and was impressed with the results. I took 10 x 90s and 10 x 180s.

M45

I then switched targets and headed over to M42 and M43 along with the Running Man nebula, also known as SH2-279 and NGC 1977. I took 30 x 60s, 30 x 30s and 10 x 180s.

M42

Next and what would be last on my list tonight was M35 along with NGC 2158. I took 10 x 90s and 10 x 60s starting around 23:45.

M35

Now the clouds at a high level started to roll in. So I decided to take some Flats and then take the darks tomorrow morning.

Flats

So I packed up and had one last look up at the night sky.

M45

Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction Christmas Eve – 24th December 2020

The most funny thing about moving to a new house is assuming you have understood your horizons correctly, well at least I found it funny when I got it wrong. After several attempts to catch the conjunction, traveling out to a nearby field with low horizons, Christmas Eve was no difference. I had set off, this time with the Esprit 120 and QHY168C and on arriving at the location realising that the weather was too cloudy to grab the conjunction.

So off I went back home. I decided to wonder up the garden to see if the weather had cleared when I returned, to find that not only was there a gap on the clouds, but also I could see Jupiter !!! This meant only one thing, that my South West horizon was not +15 degrees but actually +4 degrees! Wow that is good and lucky.

View South West , observatory is going to be in front of the foreground trees

I ran back to the car and started hauling the travel scope to the building site of IMT3b which is currently a vegetable patch, this is around 200 feet away from the car part way down the garden. It took 5 trips to move all the equipment, good for my Apple watch exercise rings, not so good for the setting of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. By the time I setup and slewed the telescope round the pair were setting behind the ancient forest in the distance but I managed to snap a single image! Perfect.

Jupiter and Galilean Moons with Saturn below – 120 Esprit and QHY168C
Cropped

Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction Eve – 20th December 2020

GingerGeeks Viewing

The weather forecast suggested that this was the only clear night for some time and the planets were low in the sky. So GeekGirl and I wondered if Jupiter/Saturn were visible from the front of the house to the South-West or if we were going to have to traipse over to the muddy farm fields to view the conjunction.

Conjunction View Facing South – Credit stellarium.org

Luckily for us even though they were less than 10ΒΊ altitude we could see them both between two houses from the front drive. We quickly got some warm gear on and setup the binoculars and the kiddy scope (Sky-Watcher Heritage 150P Dobsonian) on a camping table.

We quickly got Jupiter/Saturn in GeekGirl’s binoculars (Celestron 20×80 SkyMaster). The pairing although not as close as they would be on the 21st still looked nice. The rings of Saturn were discernible and the four Galilean moons were visible in this modest setup and I’m sure the view would be have been better in Dave’s monster binoculars due to the aperature.

Approximate view through 20×80 Binoculars – Credit stellarium.org

In order to get the focus for the planets I used the Heritage 150P on the near half Moon (47%). The views of the craters on the terminator along with the shadows were amazing, we could see the centre peaks of many of the craters.

View via Heritage150P/Super10 eyepiece – Credit stellarium.org

I wonder what they looked like in Dave’s Sky-Watcher SkyMax 180 Pro ?

Our next-door neighbour popped out and we invited him to view the planets and the Moon. I think he was impressed but everyone reacts differently to the experience.

Once we had both wondered over the Moon, checking out the mountain ranges and the changing shades of grey for the Mares we turned to viewing the conjunction in the 150P using the standard eyepieces (SW Super25 & Super10) that came with the scope.

View of Conjunction through Heritage150P – Credit stellarium.org

We could see all four Galilean moons with Io being placed close to Jupiter’s limb. The division in Saturn rings was visible and GeekGirl could glimpse Titan so she was happy. All in all a pleasant experience, which is rare in the current human malware situation. I finished off the evening with a Brewdog IPA ….. bliss !

Dave Shave-Wall viewing

Start time 3pm – End time 6pm

After deciding that I could not get the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter at the new house, I spent the best part of 40 minutes packing up the travel scope to travel locally to view the conjunction. I set off to view about 1 mile away across a field with allow horizon. I took my Mak180 without the Barlow and the ZWO290MC on the Paramount MyT with the Berlebach tripod. On arriving at the side of the road on the narrow country lane in North Hampshire, I was just about to setup when I realised not only had I forgot the travel car battery, but also the laptop. After a few expletives and a good old English, “I cannot possibly believe I did this, oh well carry on”, I jumped back on the Landrover and set off back home to retrieve the important parts. On arriving back home I ran up the garden to the shed for the battery, grabbed the laptop and jumped back in the car as time was against me for capturing the pairing before they set below the local horizon about 6pm. It was not 4pm.

I arrived back at the field and quickly set about fitting together the mobile setup for the 2nd time!

Field with a view

This time I settled the tripod and mount up in quick time, slide the Mak180 with its imaging train into the Losmandy Versa plate and connected the Mac. I manually aligned on Jupiter which by this time I could see with my naked eye, synced the scope and started the imaging software. After a few back fourths I found Jupiter, however Saturn was nowhere to be seen. It soon became apparent that my field of view FoV indicator on Sky Safari 4 was not accurate and indeed both planes on this particular day would not fit in! So rather than waste the occasion I shot some view of Jupiter and then slewed to Saturn for the same.

Mak180 ready to slew

I then packed the setup away, but before heading off grabbed the Canon 6D with the 100-300mm lens and grabbed a few exposures. My first attempts were not good, having not used the camera for some time and forgetting how to set the correct exposure. After a while I grabbed a single good frame, over exposed to see the Galilean satellites.

Jupiter and Saturn near conjunction Canon 6D 100mm
Jupiter and Saturn near conjunction Canon 6D 300mm
Jupiter and Saturn near conjunction Canon 6D 300mm Cropped

I would attempt another go with the larger FoV Esprit 120 a few nights later.

Viewing Report 28th May 2020 – Travel Setup – Combe Gibbet

19:30 – 03:48

Combe Gibbet

Another visit to Combe Gibbet tonight with another astronomer, GingerGeek. After forcing him to leave the comfort and safety of his own home, where his girlfriend gives him tea, coffee and beer and with the luxury of mains electricity, he joined me at the very dark, very blustery sight near 1,000 ft up in the North Downs of Berkshire, formally Hampshire, they moved the line!

We left at 7:30pm and after the 50min trip arrived at the long road up to and past the Gibbet, which is really not much of a road at all.

Not a road, looking down the bottom part of the track

We drove carefully to the top, both parked our cars and set about setting up for the evening. GingerGeek had his Tak FSQ85 on his CEM 60 iOptron mount whilst I setup my usual array of large 4″ binoculars and at first the Mak 180 on the Paramount MyT. Later I would swap to the Esprit 120ED. To celebrate the outing, little geek had brought some beer πŸ™‚

Beer O’Clock!

The Sun soon started to set, the day trippers hung around to watch the sunset and then were gone. I started looking at the Moon through the Altair Astro binoculars which is just a wonderful sight. A Camera cannot capture the experience of seeing the Moon with its Earthshine and in full as the FoV is 1 degree in the binoculars was a wonderful framing.

Moon through binos taken afocal with iPhone 6sPlus

Next up was Venus before it sets, it is amazing just how bright it still is given its phase. I found in the binoculars eventually as it was hidden behind that cloud band in the distance. I then tried to get it in the Mak180, when a few new things happened. Firstly I could not slew to it as I had yet to polar align, so I had to place the scope in the right place. At the focal length of the Mak180, some 2.7m it is difficult to find something faint behind cloud just by pointing. I eventually gave up. I then noticed my laptop power had diminished by nearly 30% over about 20-25 minutes, this was due to Firecapture just hogging the USB bus capturing 100’s fps. So I was going to start the night short on juice! So I turned Firecapture off whilst I went to find Mercury in the binoculars.

Venus through 4″ binos taken afocal with iPhone 6sPlus

Mercury was a challenge, so much so I could not find it, I put that down to that not well placed cloud band. Meanwhile I pointed the Mak180 at the Moon to have a look, but by the time I had finished I the laptop was done to 53% !!!! Not so good.

So it was time to chat to GingerGeek (GG) before I put the Esprit 120 on the mount. GG was having lots of problems setting up. Firstly he had swapped the rings on the mount for the Tak that day and was struggling to balance the scope. It was so bad the scope kept dropping nose first then camera first and then either way depending on its orientation. Eventually, after much cursing, actually a lot of cursing, GG settled for the imbalance and continued to setup, unfortunately not before he knocked his beer over in his boot of the car ? fortunately I did not laugh too much ??

I went back to my setup, placed the Esprit on the mount and then set about getting focus with Ezcap, the software that comes with the ZWO camera. I do find the software very straight forwards and does what it says on the tin as it were. I then slewed to one of the open clusters I wanted to image and realised it resided in the North and that the twilight was still very much apparent so not suitable for imaging. Instead I settled for M51 high up as to the West was the Moon.

M51 300s Image uncalibrated

It is a lovely image at 5 minutes, I could see instantly at least 4 other galaxies and the colour of the main Messier galaxy was very pleasing. I look forward to processing the resulting subs. I set the timer for 1 hour (12x300secs) and went back off for veggie soup, cheese rolls, brownies and coffee that GG had kindly brought along.

crop of uncalibrated 300s M51

GG at this point was having issues focusing for his 5 minutes shot of the Pelican in Ha, he had made some other changes to the software before heading up the hill too which was confounding him. After some more time he finally had focus and started to image. However whilst a few of the images were okay, the resulting imbalance and gusts of wind made it difficult to keep pin sharp images. It should also be notes at this point that GG and I were running from the same car battery, although GG was only running the camera from it, the mount was running from his Lithium battery.

Stunning Pelican Nebula – 300s Ha uncalibrated

At just before 1am the inverter connected to the spare car battery turned off due to loading and power. Everything stopped for both of us ??? however GGs mount kept running due to the Lithium battery. I closed down my setup and allowed GG to reset his camera and reconnect, he then went on to start imaging, however the resulting image had moved significantly and GG decided to give up. So we spend the next 40 minutes packing up. Whilst this was going on we looked at Saturn and Jupiter through the binoculars which was a wonderful sight. Now for the 50 minute drive home to unload the car just before dawn, although by 2am it was clearly getting lighter.

Guiding graph on Esprit 120 Paramount MyT last night, all over the place with wind

The SQM for the site last night was 20.91 although the Moon was very bright. The site is also very dusty, and my laptop was covered in the morning. Another incident was that I inadvertently unscrewed the cover from the guider as I transferred from one scope to another and the glass cover fell out, I now have dust and dirt on the sensor to clean. It is not a great design by ZWO for the ASI290MC as it really needs a locking grub screw to top that happening or a reverse thread.

Herbig-Haro object at the end of the long feature can just be seen.

GGs image has set us on a little project to image the HH 555 bipolar jet at the end of the major turn of gas in the Pelican Nebula. We will attempt over the next few nights to get an image from both the Esprit 120 ED Pro from the IMT3 dome in Ha and also from the OS 12″ to see what it looks like compared to the Tak FSQ85. Another good social distancing astronomy session ? goodnight.

Dwarf Stands Guard At Dusk

Viewing Report 25th May 2020 – Travel Setup

19:00 – 05:00

Alan and I

So back off to Combe Gibbet again tonight for hopefully a full night until dawn and with a coat. I met with my friend Alan for once again some social distancing astronomy. Again Alan had a much better 4×4 car to get up to the gibbet than my little electric Nissan Leaf, however once again I managed to make it there.

Sunsetting with Esprit 120 and Alan in his chair

After setting up, it quickly became apparent that I forgot the guide camera as it was still attached to the Mak180 that I thought I would leave at home tonight ?

Quick look and focus on the Moon

So despite the slight setback I polar aligned on the uneven ground and managed to get the scope pointing in the right direction. It took me a while to work out why it was not pointing at the objects when slewing with a perfect alignment, then I realised I had the location set incorrectly. A quick look at my GPS on my phone and I input the coordinates into The SkyX and the target was nearly spot on. I adjusted, performed a sync and then was able to slew continuously thought the night with the object in the FoV.

As I was challenged with no guider I could only take 2 minute images and if in the West low down then 1min. So I stetted for those 2 exposures along with 30 seconds for one particular object.

Below are the lost of targets I went after and imaged. I tried to get 15-20 minutes in total for each. We had some early night high cloud, the wind had again dyed down after sunset and although cold, we were both wrapped up warm, although later in the night Alan became cold so wrapped himself up in the dog blanket from the car ?

First up was M44 Beehive Open Cluster, which filled the view nicely so I took 20 x 60 seconds, careful not to saturate the stars. The QHY168C camera was set to Gain 7 and Offset 30 with a temperature of -20℃.

M44 60s

I then tried SH2-129 emission nebula but no luck, it was not registering at all at such short an exposure. I had a similar issue with SH2-155 Cave nebula. Both of these I will try again when I have my guider.

I then slewed to NGC 6888 Crescent nebulaΒ and took 20 subs of 120 seconds.

NGC 6888 Crescent 120s

Next tried to image Trio in Leo M65, M66 and the NGC but I realised I had already imaged, although not processed and the image trailed at 1 minute due to its westerly location. So instead I headed for NGC 7243, a lovely Open Cluster in Lacerta and part of the Herschel 400 at 60 second exposure.

NGC 7243

Next I looked at the double cluster in Perseus and decided to quickly take a few images with the Esprit 120 ED even though it was not on my original target list. Due to its bright stars I took 40 x 30 seconds.

Doublers Cluster in Perseus

Now it was time to grab an image of Comet c/2017 T2 PANSTARRS which was located near a galaxy called the Coddington Nebula. I purposely got the comet at the very edge of the frame to get the galaxy in, although I noticed the tail was pointing in the opposite direction than shown on Sky Safari.

Comet C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS and Coddington Nebula

The night wass really dark, even though it is not true astronomical darkness, the location really helps. The image quality is also much better. I slewed to NGC 7000 the North American nebula that Alan was also imaging. Again 60 seconds was probably not long enough so I need to come back to this object when I get my guide camera fitted.

NGC 7000 North American Nebula 60s

Finally just as dawn was approaching and the light was clearly increasing, I took a few images of Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN to see if I could see it. Was was apparent was it was super faint even at 60 seconds !

Comet C/2020 F8 SWAN

So as dawn approached, Alan and I took flats, darks and flat darks.

During the night we viewed through the 4″ binoculars the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Double cluster, M39 Open cluster, M57 Ring Nebula, Alberio, M56 Globular Cluster, Saturn and Jupiter. Unfortunately I packed up the binoculars before I remembered Mars was up ! So packed up the car, ands drove very tired 50 minutes home.