Viewing Report 5th/6th October 2019 – Travel Scope – Tenerife

Viewing time period – 21:20 – 01:11

Moon and Saturn

This evening started with the Moon high in the sky and waxing its way to half. Next to it Saturn sat, close in fact, so close I pointed the scope at it, around 22:30 and both the Moon and Saturn fit in the same field of view 🙂

So I took a few exposures, worried that either the Moon would be overexposed or Saturn underexposed. I settled on 0.001s and took a bunch of shots. Below is my setup by the light of my rather bright head torch, turned on only for this photo I might add.

Esprit 120 and MyT

Next it was back to trying to resolve the guiding issues that had troubled me the night before. The good news was Tom from the Software Bisque website (not the Tom Bisque, another Tom) had come back with a few suggestions and questions that made me think. I had a good set of guide stars to choose from.

Hw many guide stars!

The autoguide Setup window is where I would spend most of my time I was sure, changing parameters.

Guider settings

I recalibrated the mount, this time using 100arcsec as the parameter. The previous calibration run produced a rather short cross.

Poor calibration ?

This gave me a better ‘cross’ and I think should improve the guiding, although I am still skeptical about just how quick it calibrates, some 4-5 seconds.

Better calibration

Back to guiding the mount was still all over the place, I am convinced it is overcorrecting, on the basis if I don’t guide I get better stars up to 45s or so. I added in a much longer settle period and this seemed to help, but still the graph is a long way from the sort of guiding I was getting before they updated the software.

Poor guiding

The wind was a bit gusty tonight as last night and for sure this was not helping, you can tell from a few exposures it was wind related jumps and drifting

I sat back after a while of changing different settings feeling that it was not improving, so I took a whole bunch of images, only 90s of the Sharpless object Trevor had mentioned, SH2-101 which is called the Tulip nebula. Trevor had produced a lovely image from his 14″ in the UK so I thought I would have a quick go, knowing most of the frames would be lost.

Final set of guider settings

So by 00:30 I decided to start to pack up, the wind had picked up, I was cold, the guiding was still a problem, so by just gone 1am I was heading down the mountain, some 1 hour and 20min drive! The final view from the bridge as it were was this.

View from TSX

The next day I processed the data for the Sharpless object and it was ok, given the short amount of data. One for the 12″ I think.

SH2-101 Tulip Nebula

Meanwhile I processed a single image of the Moon and Saturn and was pleased with the result as seen above. Here is a version with Saturn as an insert.

Viewing Report 4th/5th October 2019 – Travel Scope – Tenerife

Viewing time period – 23:58 – 03:38

So I have arrived in Tenerife and for a few nights only I am up at the MONS observatory, using the plateau (concrete platform with power) outside the dome.

It was dark when I arrived at 20:15 so I am setting up by head torch and given the tripod and mount and scope are all in bits it has taken some time to put it back together.

I setup in the corner where Bob normally sits as thee were a bunch of students using the scopes normally kept in the sheds outside. After setting up I panicked as I had forgot my UK to EU plug ! I asked the lady leading the student outreach and she let me in the MONS and I searched for a plug and found one, despite everything being emptied out due to the MONS having work done to it. However on testing the plug it did not work 🙁

A call to the operator did not produced anything. So I tore down the scope and packed in the car, very disheartened. As I was just about to head off the operator arrived with another plug ! I took my laptop and tried it, but it did not work either. It took a while to work out but of course the power had been turned off from the fuse box and flicking the RCD produced power and so reluctantly I emptied the car and went about setting back up 🙁

By this time it was approaching midnight and I had been at this for some 4 hours. I started the laptop, found I was pointing almost spot on to Polaris, so using my Polemaster it took a few minutes to adjust. I then set about slewing to a nearby object, syncing and then finding a guide star, at this point my troubles where just about to begin. It was now 1am.

So after setting the temperature of the camera to -25℃ and the gain to 7 and offset to 20 I found the scope would not guide. It was bouncing all over the place, some of it was the wind, but some of it was erratic behaviour of the mount, so it seemed like it was overcorrecting. I started to change some of the settings but t no avail. All I could do was to shortened the exposure to around 90 seconds and try and get some data, even if the stars were slightly trailed. I would try to take a longer look at the guiding tomorrow night.

Not so great guiding

So I slewed to one of the objects I was to target, a galaxy called NGC 891 in Andromeda and started collecting data. All in all I grabbed 44 images before the guider was causing so much of an issue even 90 seconds was too long (processed image below)

I then slewed to M45 in Taurus but still the guiding problems persisted. I took 4 x 90 second images and then decided to call it a night at around 3:30am.

Now for packing up the scope and the 1 hour 20 minute drive back down the mountain. How I miss observing from Hacienda on La Palma!