Bob’s viewing report: 6th April 2020 – More Comet chasing

Chineham Scouts say ‘Thank you’ on Zoom session whilst viewing the Moon

After helping with a BAS Outreach event using Zoom to share images from IMT3 of Venus and the Moon with 1st Chineham Cub Scouts (to help them acheive their Astronomy Badge) I joined Dave and GingerGeek for a joint observing session chasing Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) with Dave’s 12″ OS.

Comet C/2019 Y4 ATLAS through 12″

I continued to observe after both Dave and GingerGeek called it a night, my aim was to get some data from the Esprit 120 of C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) as the previous nights run had been terminated when the clouds rolled in.

Quick 10min Exposure through Esprit 120 Comet C/2019 Y4 ATLAS

I set up another Profile in SGPro for GingerGeeks Esprit 120, adding his Lodestar Guider. C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) was too far from the equator for the Calibration of the guider in PHD2, so I slewed to Bogardus in Auriga, cleared the calibration data for the Lodestar and re-calibrated it. I was then able to get two 10 minute guided exposures with the mount tracking at Sidereal rate before the comet disappeared from view below the roof line of a neighbouring house.

Comet C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS 10min Exposure Esprit 120

Having lost Comet Atlas for the night, I checked Heavens-Above for other candidates and found C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS) was about to drop below the horizon, but C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS was reasonably well placed, albeit a bit low, and only a short slew from where the telescope was already pointing. After slewing to PANSTARRS and a 5arcminute JOG Up, Left, Down, Right and Down I had it reasonably centred in the FoV. The first 10 minute exposure had star trails, thought I was guiding but found the Mount was still tracking at ‘Custom rates’. The next 10 minute exposure also had stars trailing even though the PHD2 Graph looked fine. I then discovered that with the SGPro profile changes I’d made I hadn’t connected to the ASCOM Telescope Driver for TheSky. The next 10 minute exposure was not much better as by now I’m imaging down in the weeds 🙁 . Time to find a new target … as it is up and really bright drowning out most objects I slewed to the Moon for a few final shots of the evening.

Moon Esprit 120 Ha with SX814

Bob’s viewing Report: 5th April 2020 – C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS)

I started the evenings session grabbing some frames of Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) with my Takahashi FS-102 and QHY168C OSC Camera.

After successfully acquiring some data of various exposure times I decided to try and grab some data from GingerGeek’s Esprit 120, the weather station was reporting Haze and I could see wisps of clouds on the All Sky Camera so it wasn’t worth spending lots of time gathering data but worth using the opportunity to work out a procedure for chasing comets. As I hadn’t switched Dome profiles I found that the view through the Esprit was partially obscured so I switched to Dave’s 12″ OS only to find that the last thing he’d been doing was collecting Dark frames and the cover was still on the 12″.

I was in the process of switching back to GingerGeeks’s Esprit when Dave ping’d me on WhatsApp to say he’d woken up and remember that he cover was on and did I want it removed … perfect timing !
I managed to grab some frames for comparison with those I’d taken with the Tak earlier in the evening but aborted the sequence as clouds were messing up the results. So decided to try GingerGeek’s Esprit one more time as the clouds appeared to have passed by.

I found I had to create a new Profile for GingerGeek’s Esprit as the only profile available had the ASCOM Telescope Driver for TheSky selected and as Dave had mentioned to me previously, this was not needed when Tracking a Comet as that would be done by the Mount under direct control of TheSky X.

This does create a problem in that with these profiles you cannot Plate Solve and Centre the object as they is no Telescope for SGPro to work with, so we’ll need to figure out how to do that in TheSky X or start the session with the Telescope selected, centre and frame the comet, set the Tracking Rates to the comet then switch to a profile without a Telescope to run the SGPro sequence.

The weather deteriorated and the Wx Stn Auto closed the slit at 01:27 part way through a 15minute exposure.

Another night of good lessons learnt.