Viewing Report 1st June 2021 – IMT3b

20:37 – 03:15

Setting up

I will start by completing the TPoint run tonight before moving on to calibrate the guider and make sure I can get and image. So by 10:30pm it was just on the border of being dark enough to take and plate solve the first image and continue the TPoint session.

So by 11:30pm I had finished the 212 TPoint model.

212 TPoints

The next thing was to do a Supermodel on the data. This reduced the error pointing from 500 & 23.7 arcsecs to 100 & 19.


Now connected camera to SGP and running autofocus on a mag 6 star, new focus position for Luminance is 18,312 at 00:13

New focus position

I then setup OpenPHD2 to guide and here I hit a problem. The guider did not move the mount. I have not got a guider cable attached as I do not want to do Pulse Guiding. Instead I always do Direct Guiding. So I looked at the settings in PHD2 and the mount was not set. So I went and searched my blog and I need to select the ASCOM Telescope Driver for TheySky. However it is not in the dropdown list.

ASCOM Telescope Driver for TheSky

Finally after a lot of head scratching I remember GingerGeek removed ASCOM and upgraded when I moved house. He had inadvertently removed the said driver and forgot to reinstall. I went to the ASCOM webpage, found the driver which took me to the Bisque website and downloaded. I then installed, restarted TheSkyX using PHD2 after I had restarted PHD2, I selected the said driver in the Mount dropdown and connected. This then moves the mount when I calibrate and subsequently guide. Fortunately I found all these answers on my blog posts from last year when I had setup the guiding originally.

Finally guiding

Now all of this is working it is rapidly approaching the time when the sky brightens, so it is already after 1am. I slewed to M14 using TSX, performed a Closed Loop Slew with the camera connected to TSX initially. Once I confirmed the object was in the centre of the FoV, I then disconnected the camera from TSX and reconnected to SGP.


Guiding started, all started to work well. A couple of snags, focus position was wrong in the filter setup so I need to change. Tries to autofocus on start of sequence so I need to change that. I then decided to grab 1, 2 and 5 min subs of LRGB to determine the best exposure. However half way through and some localised cloud rolled in and stopped the session.


The good thing its the closed loop slew is working well in TSX.

So with the local cloud still causing issues to the South, I slewed North East to another Messier target on my list, M29. Once again I setup 1,2 and 5 min exposures across LRGB to see which would be best. All the imaging tonight for Globular Clusters and Open Clusters was done at Gain 10 Offset 10.

M29 test 2mins Red

I manage to get frames and then I was afflicted by the same cloud. So instead I packed up and called it a night.

Viewing Report 31st May 2021 – IMT3b

19:25 – 03:28

Bob came over again tonight which is great company. He setup his Skywatcher AZ-GTI portable mount with his Tak FS60 on it so we could do visual throughout the night on a goto mount along with my star hoping through the 100mm binos.

Skywatcher AZ-GTI

I started the evening whilst light, measuring for the replacement T2 (M42) adapter for the camera train. Given the 0.083 microns per movement of the FLI Atlas focuser I need to reduce the image train length by 3mm. So the new adapter needs to be 31mm, current M42 adapter is 35mm. Meanwhile my AstroCat Fluffy decided to get some more sleep before dark.

Fluffy taking a hard earned nap

Next up was writing the Lat Long on the dome so I can give it to anyone that visits. With that done I started testing the rotation of the dome to make sure the dome no longer slips since I put the anti-slip tape around the edge. After spending some 15mins rotating the dome it seemed ok, it would be fully tested later when I redo the Tpoint model. This is due to the 2.1 arc minutes of error in my azimuth polar alignment that needs adjusting by 4.2 tics.

I adjusted the mount as above and ran a 20 point model. This told me the error int he azimuth was less than 1 arc min and that there was no need to adjust the mount any further, however it had low confidence. So now I will run a full 212 Tpoint model to see what it reports.

212 TPoint Model map

On starting the run I hit another problem, the mount hung and beeped. This was due to a balance problem on the tube which is weird as I thought it was fine. However maybe I had not rebalanced since adding the rotator properly. I removed a little weight at the front of the OTA and shifted it backward. I then tried again but again it hung and beeped. It transpired to be the same loose cale I had before, the focuser cable which had come loose. I applied some more white electrical tape to hold it in until I get round to changing the 2.1mm adapter.

At 23:40 I started a new TPoint run and am now 7 stars in and all is well. That did not last for long, around 47 Tpoints and I kept getting blank images. It seems the dome had lost its position. The Home sensor does not seem to be registering. I slewed the dome manually to Home at 123 degrees and synced that back into the dome controller. Starting the TPoint again resumed stars being seen.

Meanwhile Bob was moving from object to object without the AZ-GTI mount. M5, M57, M10, M12 along the way. We easily split Albeiro although Bob was slightly worried about my eyesight as I initially struggled. We saw the head of Scorpius pop up above the tree line but we didn’t get M4 from the IMT Plateau and Antares only just made it above the tree line. So I decided to relocate my bins to another spot in the garden by the Sun Plateau so we got M4 through them. M17 was seen through he 100mm binos also, looking remarkably like a Swan! Finally as it got light just after 3am we nabbed Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon.

We could see the star HD 200329 and Titan along with Saturn

By the end of the night I was at 187 TPoints so not enough for me to be confident the whole sky was mapped, nor enough to fix the model and have Protrack running. I will continue the mapping when dark tomorrow night.

Viewing Report 30th May 2021 – IMT3b

19:30 – 03:19

GingerGeek came for a visit with his kit for a night observing.

Ioptron CEM60, FSQ85, QHY OAG, SX Lodestar, QHY268C CMOS, Pegasus UPBv1

So whilst he sets up I have been testing the rotation of the dome as it still jams. After some testing I now believe the only fix is to find some grip tape that will add as friction to the inside of the dome between the dome itself and the thruster wheel. I have found some anti-slip tape on Screwfix which is 50mm wide and 18M long for £10, which will do the trick.

New Anti-Slip tape

Just watched the ISS go over, first time for GingerGeek. Videoed it using the iPhone 8 and it came out great. Also have the lovely noise of an owl in the background.

ISS passes overhead

Started Tpoint at 11pm. Used 30 second exposures and image scale of 0.33 arc/pix. I am performing a 212 point Tpoint model.

Tpointing near a globular cluster

Well TPoint model complete, of course I forgot to initially do around 25 TPoints, adjust the polar alignment which is our in Azimuth by 2.1 arcmins and then rerun.

TPoint results

Meanwhile before we finished I ran one of GingerGeeks M13 images through PI as a single frame from his new camera.

M13 from GingerGeek (60 seconds, Mode0, Gain 0, Offset 30)

Started to pack up at 3:19am

Viewing Report 2nd June 2020 – IMT3

20:28 – 00:30

After a day of checking the mount and spending some 3 hours resetting the RA and DEC cam stop and spring plungers I have come out to see if I have resolved the image or made it worse. I can still hear the squeaking of the cables in the Through the mount position as the worm turns so I do need to remove 1 or 2 of them to free it up. However I no longer hear the knocking, tapping and grinding of the Dec axis. I am also going to capture some PEC data for Tom on the Software Bisque forum to look at. GingerGeek with his usual smoking jacket turned up to assist from a distance.

Whilst trying to find a star we came across a galaxy, NGC 5646 H126-1, which looked very interesting for the 12″, so we will come back and image that at a later date. We are in a rush for the clouds as it is to cloud over by 11:30pm. What we need to do is disable PEC, disable TPoint and Protrack and the guider relays then point at a star and guide without applying any corrections as per page 147 of the MEII manual for 15 minutes.

I went out to the dome and set with the help of GingerGeek the camera on the back of the 12″ to as close to 0 degrees as possible, in our case 0.81 degrees after plate solving.

We slewed to a start neat declination 0 and close to the Meridian on the East side of the mount called Tycho 326:747 and at 22:37 started to look at the auto-guider settings. The star was at DEC +01° 34′ 10.909″ and RA 14h 45m 20.1920. The auto-guider log in question for tonight was “Autoguider.018.log”. The star looked good in the main ZWO ASI1600mm camera which we would use to guide and collect the data. We did notice as per the image below over 15 minutes the star drifting East, so the polar alignment is out. More importantly we got the 15 minutes of data in the log as the clouds started to roll in, as can be seen in the star brightness below.

Autoguiding in TSX

The resulting log file was read into the Sky’s PEC and the raw data shown below one we clicked ‘Fit’ on the data which scales it to this chart. The peak to peak was 0.7 arcsecs. We applied this to the mount –

Raw PEC data from log
Fitted and applied PEC data

Next whilst GingerGeek went off to get his beauty sleep…..he really needs it 🙂 I set about slewing to a bright star in the vicinity and calibrating the guider, since I had rotated the camera. The calibration was successful even though the RA looked slights odd as a fit. The different in the RA and Dec rate was potentially due to position on the sky and the error in the RA plotting data. I will go back and do another calibration next time it is clear.

Calibration in PHD2

I then slewed to M92, could not find a guide star very suitable so moved around a bit and then started to guide and see what the graph looked like. What surprised me was the the amplitude of the guiding was only 0.36 arcsecs which is really low and no guiding issues as I saw before. It looks like the adjustments to the spring plungers and cam stops may have been the cause and fix.

Guiding graph at +74 deg altitude and near M92

I performed a quick focus run whilst pausing the guiding and got 61836 and HFR 4.4 which is vert good for this scope.

Auto focus

Meanwhile the clouds from the North had started to drift in which was going to stop play 🙁

All Sky Camera

I managed to get a single frame and focus on M92 of 20s before the clouds stopped the guiding. So I shut up the dome, sent the logs to Software Bisque, or the chap on the forum who was kind enough to help and went off to bed.

M92 20s sub

Viewing Report 15th April 2020 – IMT3 – Final TPoint…..

Viewing time period – 18:16 – 23:15

Here is my workflow so I can repeat each night until this is finished.

Open dome – done

cool down – done

turn off dehumidifier – done

turn off fans on scope – done

find home – done

focus – done 60,535 clear

remove existing model – done

slew and sync to nearby star – done

make sure scale is correct -done

make sure image link to all sky database is selected – done

start TPoint run – done @ 21:13

Complete TPoint – 93 points done, paused TPointing at 23:15

Turn on Dehumidifer – done

Note that tonight I found the dome was definitely not lining up with the 12″ OTA. We have noticed this gradually becoming as problem over the past weeks and months. I am not sure if this is a problem with software, hardware, a change in settings or the temperature of the dome in some way has effected this. To this end I will set about a calibration run of the dome tomorrow to see if that can rectify the issue.

Viewing Report 16th April 2020 – IMT3 – Final TPoint again…..

Viewing time period – 20:59 – 23:42

Here is my workflow so I can repeat each night until this is finished.

Open dome – done

cool down – done

turn off dehumidifier – done

turn off fans on scope – done

find home – not needed

focus – done 59,659 clear – done


slew and sync to nearby star – done at 21:06 as not dark enough before then

Not quite dark enough yet

make sure scale is correct -done

make sure image link to all sky database is selected – done

All Sky Image Link settings

start TPoint run at point 93 – done @ 21:10

Complete TPoint – 231 points done at 23:46 including checking 5min unguided exposure which was fine

Final TPoint plus Super Model

Turn on Dehumidifer – done

So what did I learn tonight? It was worth doing the TPoint model. The resulting pointing accuracy is much better with objects being almost centre off the chip. Unguided images on the 12″ look good at 5mins, I will try longer when the clouds and rain disappear. That following a documented approach helps as above. The adjustments to the worm and the loose weight helped. That fixing the dome rotation slippage on the encoder today helped.

TPoint completion of 231 points
Final model applied
Polar alignment report
Command line view
Protrack on
Tpoint model on sky
2min unguided image through OS12″
5min unguided exposure through OS12″

I mentioned above the dome slipping on the encoder, this was because of the small weak spring that is used on the dome, which is not good enough and over the past year has stretched beyond its limit. This means as the dome rotates and the dome shudders due to the joins in the dome not being flush (another issue) and thus the spring is stretched. This meant that some of the time the encoder wheel seen below was not touching the dome and therefore lost around 30-40 degrees. To rectify I have temporarily stretched and tightened the spring which we will replace later with a more suitable one.

Encoder wheel
Encoder spring now stretched to fix problem

Viewing Report 14th April 2020 – IMT3 – Last TPoint…..

Viewing time period – 20:30 – 22:30

Tried again to get the TPoint completed tonight but hit with a load of issues which I will try to sort tomorrow. FoV in TSX was wrong. Not plate solving in TSX. Focus potentially an issue. Use of All Sky Image Link for Scripted Image Link needed to be selected from the Image Link –> All Sky tab. Image scale in various places was incorrect again and should be 0.32. Managed to get to 10 points with 3 failed. Clearly something has changed given this worked a week ago. I will attempt a go tomorrow night to resolve. Meanwhile I have left Bob to image. In hindsight we should also be leaving the observatory running all night as when I got up at 4am it was crystal clear and dome was closed as nothing planned, so a default object and scope setting should be used and left running. However, Bob did manage to grab some frames in the clear of M53 until what looks like 3am so that is better than nothing.

Viewing Report 13th April 2020 – IMT3 – Last TPoint ?

Viewing time period – 20:32 – 22:13

Dome has been open a few hours now and the 12″ cooling down with the fans on.

At first the TPoint run was not solving the image, I had to change again the Image scale which was set to 0.01 for the automated TPointing back to 0.32.

Once this was done I started a new TPoint run. The new numbers coming in looked better on the scatter graph, however at about 29 points the mount stalled and the TPoint stopped. So I went out and backed off, turning anti-clockwise the spring screws 1/8 turn on the RA axis. I then restarted the mount, but now it is too late to start again as I have work tomorrow. So I will leave the mount in Bob’s capable hands and head off to bed.

Viewing Report 11th April 2020 – IMT3 – TPoint again part 2

Viewing time period – 21:02 – 04:21

Started TPointing at Point 153, at 22:00 got to Point 231 which gave us 192 confirmed points.


Then went back and did the following points

Point 28 (DONE)

Point 50-55 (DONE)

Point 60 (DONE)

71-92 (DONE)


101-106 (DONE)

Failed – 107, 108, 112, 113, 130-132,134

Not tried – 100,109-110, 114-118

Completed – 111, 119-129,133,135-152

We had some cloud around 22:45 until 23:29

TPoint visual

Throughout this time I processed some Lunar images on the Windows laptop with AutoStakkert from the previous few nights of imaging through the Mak 180. I have noticed you cannot open anything larger than 4GB file size !!

Gassendi crater

@1:52am TPoint finished

@2:09 GingerGeek took over to look at focuser positions and backlash and autofocus on the Takahashi FSQ102.


Then we started to image M53 on the Tak for RGB data to add to the Luminance data we already have from GingerGeek’s data on the Esprit 120ED.

M53 Frame and Focus test

Tomorrow I will need to look at the TPoint model to refine it!

Addendum ……

So I took a look at the TPoint model and could not get it below 109 inner circle and 200 outer circle without removing a lot of points. So I posted question on the Bisque Sky X forum.

They came back and stated there is something loose in my imaging train or the mount. There is nothing wrong with my imaging train so instead I performed adjustments on the worm gear as they suggested. I will now need to re-TPoint to see if this makes a difference.

Worm adjustment
Spring screws left and right and Cam Stop screw in the middle

Viewing Report 10th April 2020 – IMT3 – TPoint again part 1

Viewing time period – 20:36 – 00:33

Another night of trying to complete a TPoint run. After opening the dome around 4pm to cool down and turning the fans on the 12″ and pulling back the light shield material we (Bob, GingerGeek and I) @20:49 completed Slew and Sync to test plate solving ability which worked well.

First Solve and Sync works

We then started the TPoint run.

Starting TPoint Run
First point captured out of 231 points

Our first failure was Point 28 @21:21. The following are other failures.

Failed Point 50,51,52,53 @21:42

Failed Point 55 @21:45

Failed Point 60 @21:53

Failed Point 71,76,77,78,79,80,81,84,85,86,89,

TPoint failures

We then performed the first of a few meridian flips back and forth at Point 92

Meridian Flip

At pointing sample 96 we changed from 20s exp to 25s (20 failed at this point) to see if this helped the failure rate, it helped a little. The sky clarity was not great nor was the 12″ pointing correctly through the dome at the Meridian so need to look at this at a future point.

More Tpoints failed as follows. TPoint 100,102,105,106,107 (at this point scope 1/3 obscured by slit!)


Failed TPoint 109,110,112,113,114,116

By 11pm after 2 hour we had completed 122 points

Failed TPoint 123,127,128,129,130,131,132,133,134,135

@23:39 stopped due to cloud

@00:33 stopped again due to cloud and shut dome but left TPoint session unfinished to see if we can pick up tomorrow night if clear.

Viewing Report 7th April 2020 – IMT3 – TPoint Failed

Viewing time period – 20:54 – 22:30

Old TPoint Model before new run

Tonight I set out to perform a TPoint run to improve the values we got last October. However it transpired to be more difficult than I thought. We updated TSX after October to there latest release, this seemed to have changed some of the parameters for plate solving. This meant that every time we took an image in the TSX it would not plate solve and so we could not perform the TPoint run. After the best part of 1 hour I gave up and let Bob take over the scope to play.

Meanwhile I then setup the Mac 180 to image Venus, however, by the time I got round to it and found it in the telescope and thus on the chip it was low down the side of the house opposite by the roof and was bumping around badly due to thermals. I found it difficult to centre the scope on Venus with such a small chip so I may need a more repeatable way of doing this moving forwards. I took a couple of videos just for posterity even though I felt the quality would be poor.

Subsequently the following day I opened up the images take with TSX and also download the All Sky Database that was missing to both the NUC in the dome and my local Mac. I then started to change the settings in Image Link within TSX until I could solve the image.

Solved image using Image Link All Sky Search in TSX

The key parameter transpired to be the Image Scale Tolerance on the All Sky tab setting it to 5% from 1%. Also I changed the Image Scale back to 0.32. On the Setup tab I selected Setup under Source Extraction and changed the detection to 10.0 and the minimum number of pixels to 20.0.

New Source Extraction Settings and solved image

I then tried a second image and that solved in 1 sec too so very happy. I will try to give the TPoint another go tonight as well as Venus on the Mac 180. If TPoint works I will take RGB on the Tak. First solution from the image I solved can be seen below.

TSX Image Link solved

The resulting astrometric solution from TSX is below based on another 60s exposure image is below as text.


Center RA (2000.0): 07h 14m 12.34s

Center Dec (2000.0): +32° 34' 16.1"

Scale: 0.3250 arcseconds/pixel

Size (pixels): 4656 x 3520

Angular Size: 0° 25' 13" x 0° 19' 04"
Position Angle: 195° 28' from north through east

Mirror Image: No

RMS: 0.88 (X: 0.45 Y: 0.75)

Number of Stars Used in Solution: 40 (100%)

FWHM: 8.98 pixels, 2.92 arcseconds


Things still to resolve

  1. Check out why WSX is loosing connection and shutting the dome
  2. Clean filters for the 12″ to get rid of doughnuts
  3. Clean sensor for QHY168C

Viewing Report 14th/15th September 2019 – IMT3 TPoint

Viewing time period – 19:47 – 02:58

Tonight Bob and myself had a couple of things to achieve on the dome so that it would be ready for Autumn. As the Moon was out in full force, Bob decided to have a go at ironing out some more configuration bugs with guiding whilst I later in the night would test out the automated TPoint run.

Something I had not appreciated about an automated run was that instead of selecting bright stars, slewing and manually centering as you would when doing a non-automated Tpoint run, the automated run takes images of random or selected areas in the sky rather than centering on a star and then determine how far off it is from where it thought. Unlike a Closed Loop Slew that would take 2 images, one when it completes the initial slew and another when it has shifted to account for the error and plate solving to make sure it is now in the right place, the automated Tpoint just takes that single image then moves on, registering the error as it goes, building the model and applying the correcting to make the pointing better.

So at 23:27 Bob had finished attempting to setup guiding in PHD2 on for the QHY5 guide camera on the Talk 102. There wee still some problems, especially around a little trailing in 2-3 minute images. I suspect that the guider was being over aggressive in correcting in RA and possibly DEC causing the issue. Bob started to play with the parameters but decided to try again another night after reading the PHD2 manual.

Now for the automated TPointing run. We had to go in and setup The SkyX (TSX) so that it could control not only the dome and mount but also the camera on the back of the OS12″. Once that was done we setup the automated calibration run settings to find 10 targets evenly spread around the sky and avoiding the North Celestial Pole.

Target setup

What we did have a challenge with was the Moon, which being very bright does not lend itself well to being able to plate solve next to it with a large telescope, mainly due to light scatter within the tube and an ever increasing brightness in the background.

So the first major obstacle when we clicked start, was once it slewed to the first star field, plate solving there. This proved rather difficult to get working, about 1.5 hours of rather difficult! It kept failing to plate solve. So after reading the manual (RTFM) I realised that there was really only 1 parameter that needed to be changed to get this working and that was increasing the exposure.

TPoint in action

After changing this for 30s to 60s and then again to 120s the solving worked. Why? Well because the Signal to Noise Ration (SNR) was simply not high enough due to the background glow caused by a full Moon.

Target 5 acquired

Now the first target was solved the mount went on slewing, the dome turning and the camera imaging until I reached target 6 of 10 and then it failed again. However looking at the downloaded image it was not hard to see why, clearly the Moon was just off to one side.

Nearby Moon….cannot plat solve this!

So I skipped this target and carried on to complete the set. So with an initial 7 targets solved (a few others were near the Moon) that was enough for the mount to land on the target every time and each time the solving got quicker to the point of being sub second.

With the understanding of how to do an automated Tpoint firmly in the bag we decided to shut down the IMT3 for the night and await a cold dark evening after the clocks go back on 21st September to perform a large Tpoint run of around or possibly over 300 targets.

Viewing Report 10th/11th August 2019 – IMT3 Observatory

Viewing time period – 21:04 – 04:28

So whilst the wind is blowing a gale and branches have come down off of 300 year old oaks where I live, the weather decided to ease as we went into the evening. There were still gusts of high wind but nothing really to be too concerned about for the dome.

Due to more changes on the mount and the polar alignment changes I needed to do a new TPoint run. I first tried to complete a recalibration run that would add additional data, however after a 30 point run the pointing got worse to the point where I was not landing up on the object but several fields of view. So I bit the bullet and deleted the recalibration data and the original model and started again.

60 point TPoint Run

It took me about 1.5 hours to run 30 points on the East side of the mount and another 1.5 hours to run the next 30 on the West. I was happy with the results and I turned on some new Terms as I went through. As you select the term you can see the resulting change to the position of the telescope. So rightly or wrongly I used this process a few times when the pointing was either not improving or it just needed to improve a little.

TPoint Terms

I also created a Supermodel of the data and once again enabled Protrack. I then went to my usual target of the Elephant Trunk to try and get use to pointing to the right object and then imaging it from SGPro. I decided the easiest thing was to use The SkyX to move to the object as I knew I wanted to be centred on SAO 33570 a star in the trunk. I did this and with my new pointing capability since this evenings TPointing, the scope landed up pointing at pretty much the right area. So instead of Sync and Solve I left it at this location for tonight.

Centred on SAO 33570

The Polar Alignment report produced by TPoint on this new 60 point model showed very little error in either RA or DEC which is a testament to the long hours I put in drift aligning the mount.

Polar Alignment Report

At 2:04 am I then tried to cool the camera but it was non responsive……..this threw me for a while then I remembered the other evening having this same problem which probably meant the camera power was not on.I went into the dome to find that was the case and the reason once again was the fuse on the Mount Hub Pro had melted. I cut this off and put a chocky block in for this evening to bypass the fuse, but I did unplug everything else from the mount hub pro whilst there was no fuse there.

Melted fuse and related spring

Whilst doing this I was reintroduced to nature with a Hornet the size of my thumb bouncing around in the dome. After quickly removing myself from the dome I cam back armed with an insecticide and sprayed the offending hornet. It kealed over and died quickly.

Hornet R.I.P

Next I focused and this worked very well, a nice V curve on the Luminance and then I switched to Ha for the imaging, This would be slightly out but I need to find a strong HA source of stars to be able to focus with Ha.

Nice V Curve

Once again I ran the Image Sequencer to see if this would work given I had made some changes suggested by my good friend Mil Dave to the guider settings in PHD2 and SGPro. However once again I was foiled with some new error messages, I am either getting use to this or possibly very fed up, SGPro may be a great piece of software from a functionality perspective, but it is complex, unintuitive and a pain. The error complained about the PHD2 profile ‘OS 12 Lodestar Guider’ is not valid.

Error PHD2 Profile

This is indeed my profile and is valid so not sure about this, another thing to investigate when I am not so tired. The follow on message was Could not start the autoguider and connect to the equipment so aborting. This is to be expected.

Error connecting to guider

So I went back to Frame and Focus and too a single 5min shot, guiding on a good star that was in the FoV of the Lodestar off-axis guider. I took a 10min image and then a 20min image.

Elephant Trunk Uncalibrated 20min image

Looking at the TPoint model there was a nice improvement for where I started with a with an RMS, Root Mean Square of 100 so when pointing the object I am targeting will be within 100 arc seconds of the centre of the CMOS chip, so 1.7 arc minutes, whereas now it is leas than 1 arc minutes out at 57.9.

I then went back to SGPro to try and fix this error as I don’t like giving up. I changed more settings within SGPRo and PHD2 around the error size for the guider to settle, however SGPro was still waiting for PHD to report it had settled even though it was now guiding.

Error message

I turned off both the Settle At and the Settle Auto Guider check boxes. This then allowed me to bypass the whole settling thing which wis is really not that important to me as I manually setup guiding first and now the sequence has started at last!

Turning off settling guider connection

Finally the guider looks very smooth and the only thing now stopping me from taking some more images is the fact it is 4:28am and I am very tired and it is getting light. So I will disconnect and shut down until the next clear night at a weekend. All in all a very productive night.

Viewing Report 14th July 2019 – IMT3 Observatory

Viewing time period – 20:29 – 23:13

This evening GingerGeek and I are going to try and get the guider in focus again. I hope we can do this so I can use the observatory remotely shortly.

On connecting to the observatory I noticed once again that after running the ZWO120MC for a while under ASICAP it went black. I have still not had a reply on the forum and it reminds me not to buy another ZWO as they are particularly bad at support.

That said there are a few things we need to try including taking the 10m USB extension out of the equation. Once I started TheSkyX and SGPro and PHD etc I could see Vega in the image for the 12″. Moving it to the centre and syncing for the moment manually until GingerGeek shows me how to sync and solve with SGPro. The final part here was moving the scope so that Vega was now in the centre of the FoV of the guider square on TheSkyX.

Vega nearly in the middle

So Mark arrived to help focus the guider whilst I looked at the screen on PHD. Before we started Bob remotely once again turned the USB power off to the All Sky Cam to reset it using Node Red. That worked so we had that camera working again.

PHD showed a very bright white screen, we had to wait over another hour for the sky to taken enough to be able to make anything out. Once we could, all we saw was the edge of the dome again.

Edge of dome through camera

It took GingerGeek a while fiddling with the focus to realise the camera on the screen was not the guider! It transpired PHD had for whatever reason picked up the other webcam mounted on one of the OTAs. No wonder we had problems.

Selecting the SX Lodestar guider from the down list in PHD brought up a picture with Vega in it! From there we had a flat topped star as Vega is too bright for the guider. So we slewed to another star nearby (mag +8) and then refined the focus on that. Next we calibrated the guider again as we had been removing and turning the guide camera.

Once done we then slewed to a star near the Meridian to test output of drift align to find that the mount is still reporting being out in dec which is possible for one of a couple of reasons, either the knobs were not tightened correctly or the mount has moved after being hit. Next weekend I will adjust if clear again, but this also means starting a whole new TPoint model.

When I drift align I will perform that on a star near the meridian and the celestial equator. I will then slew away then back and repeat. If all is well I will then test drift away from the equator to see if we have flex and if so if it is due to balance problems.