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Stickfarm8

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    34
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About Stickfarm8

  • Rank
    Nebula

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Interests
    Photography, Astrophotography, Aviation
  • Location
    US
  1. I've been spoiled ..... but at least I admit it <g>. We've had an awful time of it here since October 6th on this side of the pond once the weather "flipped" from hot Fall to cool Fall. No sympathy from Steppenwolf - you folks in the UK have to deal with this transparency issues MUCH more than we typically do. But its really been frustrating. Especially after finally getting Astrotortilla's plate solving to work almost every time. The first few months I was doing this (since early July) no doubt spoiled me silly with how many great nights we had to image. Since the 6th, I've looked - and thought maybe it is not that bad.... hauled all the gear out, setup, do the polar alignment, then slew to the target, and after the first time exposure, shut it all down and move it all back inside. The image looks like I'm shooting thru a fog bank or snow storm! It will be crystal clear until about 5 pm, then the moisture layer starts coalescing. By 8 pm the entire US that is otherwise clear during the day, is clouded over with this thin layer of moisture haze. I found a good site that seems to predict the seeing vs transparency issue - https://www.cleardarksky.com/ that covers North America pretty well for astronomical observing. This sight also helped with some visual "rules-of-thumb" - https://www.astroleague.org/content/seeing-and-transparency-guide . Sunday night you could see Polaris, Vega, etc - but no stars on the Little Dipper. Tonight is not looking hopeful - despite a clear and beautiful sky with a few puffy clouds right now ! Rich
  2. TerryMcK, Your experiences sound like what I was struggling with two weeks ago. One of the very helpful replies referred to this tutorial - which was helpful - https://www.lightvortexastronomy.com/tutorial-setting-up-and-using-astrotortilla-for-plate-solving.html You also might look back thru this discussion - Stash and Martin both jumped in to help me and included some screenshots of their settings which also helped. It was interesting that one had downscaling set to "0" the other had it set to "1", but both configurations worked. One suggestion as a starting point, is to take an image from the preview folder where BYEOS (I also use that for camera control) stores the images requested by AT and upload it to astrometry.net and see if it solves. My "stupid stick" error was I had a discrepancy between the settings of the -L and -H values in the option line, and what the settings were for the Scale Min and Scale Max. They are the same. I deleted the settings in the option line - they were redundantly "wrong" - lol. I did have some weird errors with AT after my laptop was upgraded Friday to Win 10 1903. BYEO had startup licensing issues, which I quickly fixed, but AT was just a mess. It was solving, but with the target off to the left of the BYEOS target/focusing circle. I completely deleted and reloaded AT Saturday afternoon and AT behaved perfectly Saturday night. It's a marvelous tool - when it works <s>. One other thing - make sure port 1499 is open in BYEOS - otherwise the two pieces of software can't talk to each other. Windows will ask you to confirm you want that port open. I am by NO means an experienced user - but it sounds like you have the same issues I was struggling with. It is very much worth the effort to get it working. A whole different imaging experience now that AT is working seamlessly with CDC and BYEOS. Rich
  3. So far I've confined my imaging to the driveway in front of our house. I've not tried to add remote viewing to the mix yet. We live in a semi-rural part of KY, well east of Louisville. We've lived here for 28 years. At first the neighbors were baffled at what the heck I was up to now (crazy anal retentive engineer....) till 2 AM on my driveway...but after I realized their "curiosity" - I spoke to them about what I was getting into, and invited them to bring their kids over, etc. when they saw me out. My scope doesn't have a great focal length of viewing planets, but with the high magnification eyepiece you can get a pretty decent view of Jupiter, even Saturn, which really excited the kids - and even the adults. Now they cut their headlights when they see me out while passing the house - even the neighbor across the street, who likes to back is truck in, shuts his lights off while backing in. They also shut their porch lights off when they notice I'm out. So I'm pretty content in this environment ! It will be interesting how I feel when I finally do venture out remote ....... Rich
  4. I did get out last night for about 90 minutes. AT behaved perfectly. I did reinstall AT yesterday afternoon - not sure that had anything to do with it Stash. Was able to get 12 subs of Pinwheel before it set behind the trees across the street. Eagle Nebula was still problematic due to the moon glow. The high level cloud cover started forming about that time, so the session was over. And finally - the rain has returned to KY - about 1/4 inch so far. A good inch plus set for tonight. One thing about all this - my setup procedure has become a "habit" now from all this "practice" - I don't need the checklist anymore - LOL ! Rich
  5. Yep - I have been checking to make sure the EQMOD database it was clear when I first start EQMOD to do the alignment with Polemaster. And AT was clearly appending the database when it solved . It just wasn't "centered" like it had been last weekend or this past Thursday night using AT. Its looking like I might have clear skies early before the front comes closer with the much needed rain . Thanks as always Stash !
  6. Julian - thanks for the heads up on updates. Supposedly it was complete in the afternoon - it wasn't. Stash - I check and if necessary clean out the alignment points everytime I set up - now that I have AT working. With regards to CDC - and syncing. Since when the plate solved successfully, noted that there was a update in the EQMOD data base - do I still have to click the sync btn in CDC? When I tried that once Thursday night, I had thought I noted two entry points in the EQMOD list and didn't think that was a good idea. I searched thru the documentation on CDC and AT - didn't see anything about telling CDC it was sync'd to that point. Thanks for the help ! Rich
  7. My laptop upgraded to 1903 yesterday morning. I was expecting some issues when I went outside - although I had at least tried Astrotorilla before setting up, having it solve one of the BYEOS images from Thursday night. It seemed to solve just fine. It was a drop-dead gorgeous night - crystal clear, low moisture in the air. I was excited. Well, once setup, had no issues with Polemaster getting polar aligned, I wasn't disappointed <s>. Had to reactivate the license registration for BYEOS for starters. Then for some reason had to do a reboot, at which time some other minor updates were applied before I could BYEOS up and connected to the camera. CDC started up ok, slewed to Polaris first, plate solved fine. But Polaris was not in the target circle on BYEOS image view. It was slightly to the left of the circle - not even in it. Repeated solving did not correct. Very different behavior from Thursday night. No mention of errors in the log. Slewed to Vega - this time no issues. Slewed to Denab - and got a error after solving the first pass, that it could sync because of the distance it was off (~28 arcminutes). Repeated plate solving - same result. Went back to Polaris - same result as before, slightly to the left of the target circle after solving. Slewed to Eagle Nebula and after solving it was spot on. Unfortunately the Moon was right near the Eagle, causing funky rings in the image so that option had to be abandoned. Slewed to Ring Nebula, and plate solved. But there was no Ring visible. Went back to Polaris - same position as before when plate solved. Went back to Ring Nebula but before solving looked at BYEOS live view and the Ring was off to the left - a little further that Polar was off after AT had plate solved. I manually adjusted the mount to get the Ring centered and imaged for over an hour. Guiding was good - very good. I wanted to finish up the night with some more images of Triangulum - same issue with AT. Solved and this error that it could not resync because of the distance. Went back to PARK position. Shut everything down, restarted and this time Polaris was spot on in the center when AT solved. Went to Triangulum, it solved and was in the BYEOS target circle. When I finished, told the mount to PARK. Then went to disconnect the mount from CDC - and noticed that EQMOD was already shut down and I got an error from CDC. Very weird. One other note - I do clear the alignment points in EQMOD every time I start up - now that I had plate solving working. Keep in mind - I'm still very new at all this and the issues could be purely due to "pilot error". Anyone have any ideas of where to start troubleshooting ? Chalk it up to "just one of those nights"? Any help is most appreciated. I may not have much of a window to image tonight - long needed rain coming for Sun/Mon. Rich
  8. Thanks David for letting us know about the Beta - and for your hard work on this product. Rich
  9. All, I did get out to image Friday night. Astrotortilla worked perfectly! What a difference not having to struggle with that first alignment. After the polar alignment, I activated all the software, slewed to Polaris just to see. Told AT to solve - 12 seconds later bingo. I could then hear the mount shift a bit, and the click of the camera shutter again. Polaris moved from left of center, to dead on. Went to Vega - same drill. Then Vega, Jupiter and Denab. When I then went to my first imaging target, there was Andromeda right in the middle of the camera screen. I was able to get the camera on the scope from the beginning and get it focused right after I did the polar alignment. Later when I went to Triangulum, CDC nailed it without any additional slewing by AT after the first solve. It made the whole session so much more fun without the aggravation of the manual 3-star alignment. I told Steppenwolf - I put the importance of plate solving up equal to good autoguiding. It just makes the evening so much more enjoyable. Next target - Eagle Nebula !! Hopefully we are finally going to get Fall weather and clear skies this coming weekend instead of this blasted 90+ F weather we've had since last week. Rich
  10. Stash - I see what you mean on the exposure time/star count. I had some images in that preview folder taken at 10 seconds/1600 iso. The star count when solving was ~550 objects. Solved in 26 seconds. Then ran the image of the shot I took right after polar alignment , and one that included Jupiter to see what that would do. Both solved in less than 30 sec. My scope has Jupiter about 1/4 of an inch, and was curious what that would do. It solved just fine. Three images solved - I'm ready, and anxious, for clear weather so I can finally try the whole package together. This will make finding and centering Triangulum (M33) a WHOLE lot easier so I can finish getting those subs. Thanks again all of you for the help. It is most appreciated. Rich
  11. Stash/Martin/Catbuglar - Haha - solved with both your settings. As Catburgler pointed out - there was a discrepance between the min/max settings and the custom options line..... another Stupid Stick award for me! Both sets of settings worked - although mine took 49.9 sec to solve I suspect because of all the extra data sets from Tyco I had loaded. Thanks all of you for the help - its very much appreciated. Now if the darn Kentucky weather will cooperate tomorrow night .............. Thanks, Rich
  12. I've taken two courses thru distance learning programs - getting ready to start a third that is series of four courses total. None lead to degree credit - but helped convince my better-half that I was indeed serious about getting into this before she consented to the out-pouring of funds for the "toys"<lol>. There are two organizations - EdX.org and Cousera.org that have on-line offerings. Some can lead to degrees (on Coursera) but most don't - they are on-line, non-credit. The first course I took was thru EdX.org and unfortunately it is no longer offered. It was a lot of work - and one can either do the work or coast thru it depending on what you want to get out of it beyond qualifying to get a certificate. The second course was, to be honest, absolutely fantastic. It is titled Astronomy - Exploring Time and Space and can be found here https://www.coursera.org/learn/astro . The instructor, Dr. Chris Impey ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Impey) is a fantastic lecturer and has put a tremendous amount of effort into the material - written and video that you can download and keep. I never would have guessed he was from Scotland - he's lost his brogue completely after living in Arizona since the mid-1980's. They are - or have - updated the program but I have not had a chance to look at the new material. I was amazed to find out that they are casting HUGE mirrors at the University of Arizona - in excess of 9 meters in diameter. I grew up in San Diego, CA and my family visited Mt. Palomar several times so I've always be interested in large scopes. But this course really broadened by knowledge of space and astronomy. I highly recommend it. As a side benefit, you will be invited to attend his biweekly 1 hour on-line Q&A's which are very interesting. This winter I'm going to back to EdX, and take this program https://www.edx.org/xseries/astrophysics . Brian Schmidt is one of the instructors - he received the Nobel prize in physics for his work on dark energy. I've seen him on some science shows on tv, and he appears to be dynamic lecturer. Neither the Coursera program or the next one at EdX are live lectures. The Coursera program had a 14 week schedule - but you could work ahead. The EdX Xseries program appears to be self-paced. Beat's watching reruns !
  13. Martin, I will try when I get home tonight - I've got your settings and Stash's settings to use when I try. Someone else also pointed out that I'm needlessly restraining my choices to AT because it integrates with Backyard EOS (the software I'm using for camera control). If I'm still unsuccessful with AT, All Sky or Plate Solver2 may get a turn at bat <s>. Thanks for your help, Rich
  14. Stash, Thank you so much doing all this. Steve (Steppenwolf) had recommended SGL as a very good place to seek help and exchange information - and he was spot on. I do really appreciate the time you took to do this. I've not tried the simulator mode option - I always have gotten the mount set up with the laptop - no scope on it. But I will try that tonight. If I can get this image to solve, there were others that I had taken at less exposures and perhaps I can get a feel for the right exposure setting before the next time I can get out (darn Kentucky weather has really sucked this month!). That's what I am loving about this hobby - so much to learn not only the various software tools, the hardware, the imaging, but about the universe. Just seeing the images that I have managed to get so far (M33 and M31), seeing the planets thru the eye piece gives one a different feeling than looking at pictures or videos. The Coursera program I took this past winter, Exploring Time and Space, taught by a wonderful instructor, Dr. Chris Impey, really got me fired up about the universe. Best $50 I have spent. Dr. Impey is originally from the UK, but has been at the University of Arizona since 1986 (we've managed to scrub his accent - lol). I had no idea they were making mirrors there, 9+ meter's in diameter in a facility under the football stadium. He is quite an accomplished educator who has a passion for teaching that is refreshing. I'll let you know how I make out tonight. Thanks again ! Rich
  15. Stash, I uploaded the image to astrometry.net. It solved - and was right where I had it pointed. A screen shot is below. I also included the image below. Something I learned tonight - BYEOS saves all those images as jpgs in the preview folder. In the config file, the timeout for the camera is 10. It was too cloudy to set up tonight so I could try resetting the downscaling to 1. If anything comes to mind after you look at the image and results from astrometry.net - please let me know. Everyone's help is most appreciated. Rich
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