Tonight I thought I would take some more images of M57 through the 12″ in OIII and then Ha. I first got the OIII filter focused at position 62,500 with a temperature of 22.42℃, I took 10 more images at 600 seconds.
Ha was then started at 00:44 after meridian flip. I spent some time looking at comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE through 100mm binoculars with Helen, Ezri and her boyfriend Luke. Then we took some photos with the 50mm lens on the 6D.
I went to bed at 2am and left it running. In the morning I noticed I had 10 good images then the image moved due to guiding problems due to cloud.
GingerGeek and I decided to go after M57 the planetary nebula in Lyra. I had seen a lovely photo on Flickr with the outer Ha/OIII halo showing which resembled a splat of paint, taken with 9 x 1200 seconds Ha, 3 x 1200 seconds OIII and 9 x 600 seconds luminance. So we decided to go try. It would also add to my ongoing collection of Messier objects.
The resulting image of M57 was rather small as can be seen above. We initially set an autofocus run on Ha which came in at 67,213. We then focused on OIII at 67,178. After a few frames we noticed that the focus point had shifted ever-so, thus we refocused at 23:33 for OIII and to a position of 63,610.
The OIII focus exposure length was 20 seconds on a magnitude 4 star which completed very nicely. By the time we had gathered OIII for 9 x 600 seconds the clouds rolled in. We took Flats. GingerGeek ran the whole session remotely whilst I directed 🙂
The first thing to do were Flats for Ha first for the previous night but also for use tonight. I completed this at 22:15
At 22:31 I performed focus run on Luminance which came in at position 59841 with HFR 4.77.
I started an image run as soon as the Pelican Nebula (IC5067) was above the neighbours house. I have set a run of 10 x 600s and 20 x 300s Ha subs guided with the new PHD2 settings to prove the 12″ now works from 1 night to another. Then we can try the Esprit on the next clear night. The guiding at first looked okay.
The resulting image looked very good too
After about 5 frames I suddenly ran into a problem the guiding looked like this
There were large movements in the Dec and the RA would not return to centre. Soon enough SGPro stopped imaging and tried to settle the guider and then further complained about not being able to settle. So I temporarily changed the Hysterisis from 10 to 15 to see if this would get the star back. It did, well just.
The RA axis returns to the centre after quite some time. Is this possibly seeing related or is there something mechanical amiss with the setup?
I did notice the problem one more and then went off to bed left it running 01:09 leaving the possible bump in the worm to resolve itself.
Addendum – So got up this morning and the scope had continued its travel across the heavens. I looked at SGPro and it finished the sequence without any problem. I then looked at PHD2 and expanded the time to include the maximum span possible as it had been trying to guide after loosing the star (I have check boxed Enable Star Mass Detection in the hope this fixes it) and I noticed a problem, which is the recurring South then North oscillation which I now need to investigate as that is the cause of loosing an image due to the star moving. It looks for all the world to be on the worm gear. I will set about measuring the PEC tonight and see if I can see it. It may of course be from when I adjusted the work due to another problem I had and it may not be quite right. I will also ask on the forum.
Esprit 120 FHR was 1.99 for Lum and 2.54 on the Ha
Focused on Deneb , 30 seconds exposure produced HFR 2.23
Solve and sync completed on Deneb in Ha
The focus point for Ha was 6217
Now for a quick frame and focus, 30 seconds exposure
That looked good, next up was to see if we can image for 5 minutes unguided and see what the resulting image looked like
Again the resulting image looked very good and no star trails
Clear skies with -18℃ measured by the Infrared sensor on the AAG Cloud-Watcher.
I then tried a 10min image but got clear trailing.
So I set the guiding up with PHD2, went out to the dome and created a dark library as this was not done. I then set about training the guider and then set it running, initially with a 4 second exposure. The resulting guide graph looked a bit bumpy. The ASC looked very clear this evening which was the first time in a while. You could see stars to the left hand edge of the image which is normally obscured by cloud.
We decided to run the guiding assistant in PHD2 and see if there were any changes that needed to be made. It came up with some suggestions including redoing the calibration and changing the calibration step size from 1600 to allow more steps in the calibration, in this case I changed to 1200 to try and go from 3 steps per axis to 8, however I got to 6 steps and this seemed good enough. When I then reran the guiding assistant I no long got the error about calibration. I did have a few suggestions as seen below which I applied.
So the changes made still have not allowed 10mins images, they are still trailed. So that I do not waste any further time this evening I captured 5 minute images instead of 10 minutes and I will relook at the guiding next week when the Moon get brigheter.
At 1:38 we gave up on guiding and switched to 12″, Autofocus on Lum, 63384 HFR 5.4. Took some 5 minute and a single 10 minute frame guided, scope trailing ?
There were three scopes on the Pelican Nebula (IC5070/IC5067) tonight as GingerGeek was imaging with the Tak FSQ85 from his back garden.
Finished to go to bed at 2:56 am, GingerGeek finished the session by taking flats, warming up the CCD and bringing the scope indoors just after 3am.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A gusty night, tried M101 but after a few frames it was cloudy. Used the Tak FS102 taking 5 minutes unguided as M101 was at the meridian. Gain 7 and Offset 30 which worked well but this is a faint galaxy.
I was joined by Bob remotely and also tried to get Venus alongside Mercury as they were close together, in the Esprit 120ED on the travel setup and Bob tried through the Tak in IMT3. However I could not locate in the Esprit on the travel setup due to cloud then the roof of the neighbours house. Bob on the other hand could fit either Mercury or Venus in but not both due to the rotation of the camera. It is currently sat at 118 degrees whereas the OS is set to 187. Once both cameras have been cleaned we will set these along with the Esprit on the Paramount MEII to the same field rotation.
Our TOSA Manual needs updating now that we have replaced the HiTechAstro Deluxe Cloud Sensor with the Lunático AAG CloudWatcher cloud detector.
New Screens to get familiar with:
Initially I was unable to open the shutter of the dome. Thinking I’d forgotten to reset the HiTechAstro relay I soon realised I had to figure out why the AAG_Cloudwatcher software was reporting Unsafe. GingerGeek spotted that the Brightness level looked like a sawtooth and should settle after a few minutes, which it appeared to do and the dome shutter opened successfully.
Following on from my previous observing session on 1st May when clouds interrupted play just as I was completing a Guiding Assistant run in PHD2, I started tonight’s session with a quick look at Venus before it set below our horizon and then had another go at running the Guiding Assistant in PHD2 for the OS 12″ / Tak FS-102 combination, with the Tak as the guider for the Officina Stellare.
Venus in Ha (because it’s so bright).
As the Tak has an Alnitak Flip Flat attached to it I added it to the profile I’ve created for the OS12 and Tak combination so that the panel can be opened to allow light through to the camera 🙂
Guiding Assistant completed successfully and values applied for RA MnMo, Dec MnMo and Dec Backlash compensation.
Y scale = 2, Target Radius = 1.5
Sequence running for 2, 5, 7, 10, 12 and 15minutes.
2, 5,& 7 minutes exposures ok but trailing beginning to show at 10 minutes, quite evident at 12 minutes and very evident at 15 minutes.
Added 8 and 9 minutes to sequence, but both of these show signs of stars trailing.
Started a sequence of 24 x 5 minute exposures.
Aborted at frame 20 as the NGC3628 was now below the horizon.
The image has drifted and NGC 3628 has not remained fixed in the frame, so we still have issues with guiding as that is almost certainly the source of the drift.
02:22 Slew to M5, just off centre.
Slew to HIP 74975 to centre and focus.
02:57 Slewed to M5 and started a sequence of 24 x Lum and 8 x R,G,B 120s frames.
Sample Luminance frame:
04:08 SQM graph has started to droop. Was 18.2 before 4am, now down to 18
Slew to target and take a test image using Frame and Focus – done
Solve and Sync and then right mouse click on object and Slew Here – done
Setup SGPro Sequence with details – done
Make sure guider connected and calibrate – done
When guiding run sequence – done
Tonight we will take a bunch of Ha images for 4 targets we have been imaging recently with Ha data being provided through the 12″. I have selected the 4 objects in order of passing across the Meridian first. We should aim to get 2hrs of Ha in each, in which case we may need to take the rest tomorrow.
Auto focus run before dark on Ha using 20s subs @ 21:00 focus position is now 74,517 at focuser temp 15.84℃
Autoguiding on 10s with one of the 2 stars in the FoV of the guider for OS12.
@21:17 started taking the first image. Noticed quickly the guiding in Dec went up, so stopped and recalibrated guider. Then started guiding on 8 second subs.
So the sequence is now running and taking frames of the first target in Ha NGC2903 aka H56-1.
After 12 x 300 seconds on NGC2903 I slewed to NGC3395 and took the first Ha image, but unfortunately it was very dim so not worth pursuing. Instead I have now switched to M94 which is currently on the East side of the Meridian. I will take 24 x 300 seconds Ha with no guiding. It will require a meridian flip in about 90 minutes. I will then leave Bob to complete the Ha on M94 for the rest of the night as M85 does not have any Ha within it.
Bob continued and had a little success, cloud rolled in at 23:46 so frame 9 onwards are no good so we got 8 frames in total for M94, we will continue another night. The shutter was closed as Bob did the meridian flip due to cloud.
I tried to take calibration frames the following day at 7pm when the outside temp was 15.5℃, the inside was 18.5℃ but the ASI camera on the OS12 would not get lower than -25℃. I now concur for with Bob and GingerGeek that we should lower the cooling temp to -20℃ for the remainder of the Spring and Summer returning to closer to -30℃ in the Autumn / Winter. For now I had to wait for the temperature to drop outside and thus inside to cool down the final 1℃ to take the calibration frames. By 20:22 the temp outside had dropped to 12℃ and the internal temp to 15.8℃ which was enough to cool the camera to -26℃.
So first I could not see any USB devices that were plugged in to the USB hub on the mount. A reboot of the mount fixed that problem. Next I could not auto focus, I did not get to the bottom of that so tried to focus manually best I could. Then PHD2 settings were wrong for the OS12 and the associated lodestar guider, the calibration steps were 100 rather than 400, the min move was 0.66 rather than 0.18. I had taken screen shots before on the blog so changed them back, I am not sure why they have changed. I then managed to calibrate the guider on the OS12, given I have taken off the camera to clean the filters the other day.
@22:15 I started imaging RGB on M94 on the OS12.
The guiding was not bad after calibration. I set to expose once every 8 seconds on the only guide star in the FoV.
What I do need to do is set the FoV indicator in TSX for the Lodestar guider to the correct position to help find a guide star. Else I really should try to guide with one of the other scopes. I am now off to bed, I will leave the scope collecting the rest of the green, 2 left and the final 12 blue. Then Bob will take over imaging for the rest of the night.
Bob took over Green which lost the guide star, so he performed a meridian flip, continued on the Green and then took some Blue. Bob then took some HA, OIII, SII at 5 and 10 minutes for a test. The Ha would be useful for the galaxy as an LRGBHa image. Bob turned in at 2:50am.
I also noticed this morning that the Offset was wrong in the ASI camera profile which was called ZWO camera in the dropdown and in fact was set to 50 rather than 21 for this Gain which was correctly set at 139. I have also changed the OSA12 No Guider profile to use the ASI2 camera rather than the ZWO one, not sure the difference. I have adjusted the setting back to 21 so all the OS12 profiles now use Gain 139 Offset 21 as their standard. If we want the other 2 setting that need changing for each time we run, along with subsequent darks and flats etc would be Gain 0 Offset 10 and Gain 75 Offset 12. For the moment the Darks and Flats etc from last night are Offset 50 so we can only use for last nights images.
So another day spent with Dave and Bob just finishing off the finishing touches to the scope/mount installation whilst Dave messed about pretending to be a brickie and spent lots of time not actually doing any brick work so we think he may now be qualified.
We spent some time tidying up cabling and testing a low light camera for use in the dome at night so we can see what the mount and dome are actually doing.
Now the Chroma Ha and OIII 3nm filters are now installed into the SX filter wheel the only things that remains is to wait for the delivery of a cable (FTDI) to connect to the Optec Flip Flat panel.
Obviously the next bit is working out if the reducer to CCD spacing for the 3rd scope is correct and work out the focuser backlash so we can correctly use SGPro focus offsets for the filters.