Opened dome early switching the safety for the brightness on the new AAG. The first thing to do tonight was to calibrate a little but more the infrared sensor which informs the cloud coverage. This was suggesting it was Cloudy, borderline Overcast and given it was very clear with a hint at wisps of cloud I adjusted the couple of figures for the sensor, from -17 for Clear to -14 and from -14 for Cloudy to -12.
I then set about taping up the USB and power for the SX camera on the Esprit. This is because the connectors supplied are clearly not in tolerance as I have tried many cables and they call fall out. The tape should suffice for the moment and now the camera reconnects to the NUC computer running SGPro.
GingerGeek and I started to have a look at the sky around 9pm. The sky was not totally clear with some wisps of cloud. We tried to get to a point where we could test guiding the 12″ through the Esprit, however as ever the clouds rolled in. However, during setting up the SX814 camera on the Esprit as the guider and performing a darks calibration run we got an error on the USB bus again (we get lots of USB errors) which not only kicked out the SX814 but also the AAG weather station. The problem was it almost killed the AAG software and we had to cancel the process running to resolve. This meant we lost all the settings in the AAG so we have tried to rebuild as per the new screen shots below.
So instead we re-ran the Flats Calibration Wizard for the OS with the camera set to Gain 139 Offset 21 and also another run at Gain 75 Offset 12. The reason for re-running is that I suspect the flats we have are ever so slightly over exposed at 30-32k rather I prefer them to be at 22-23k.
We also created 2 new profiles that were simply named so we can see them in the list and simplify the naming convention and amount of profiles needed. We will choose the guider on the night within one of the two profiles created. We will also look to review and simply the other profiles for the two additional OTAs tomorrow and delete the remains profiles given the large number we now have.
The plan for the night (to try using the Esprit120 as the guider for the OS 12″ if it is on the West side of the Mount) was scuppered as we couldn’t connect to GingerGeek’s SX814 camera. GingerGeek checked in device manager and COM7 is missing so we suspect the USB cable has dropped out again.
Following on the the news earlier in the day of the SN in M61, I slew to it and grabbed some 300s unguided subs ( which also proves that it is the guiding that is moving the mount unnecessarily … but we knew that already !). Thare was a suggesting on the evenings group Zoom call that the drift might be due to ‘Cone Error’, but I found several posts stating that ‘Cone error does not affect guiding’. After M61 dropped into the weeds I slewed to M3 and grabbed some Luminance frames shutting down very tired at around 4am.
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.
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.
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.
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.