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  1. Evening SGL, i recently purchased an Astrotrac TT320X-AG and thought i would give you my thoughts and share my results so far. Any critism and tips or tricks that may help me improve are very welcome. My Astrotrac arrived probably about a month ago now so i have had roughly 2 weeks of Moonless sky to image. This is also my first tracking platform after doing fixed tripod for about a year so its been a great fortnight, as i feel i have squeezed just about all i can out of 30 second exposures! Dont get me wrong, fixed tripod AP is great but i've had an itch to go deeper for quite a while now. The images shown are in the order they were taken. I will put the exposure details below each image. All images are taken with a Canon 1100D (un-modded) and either a Canon EF 50mm 1.8 or a Canon EF 70-300mm 5.6 IS USM. Since my AT arrived just as the Moon was new, i had two weeks to sit and stare at my new piece of gear. I set it up every now and then to get familiar with it. This is a strong point for the AT, i takes 5 minutes to set up and take down. I took advice and also replaced the grub screws in the polar scope with thumb screws to make collimation much easier. A couple of weeks later, my first image, like 90% of everyone here was of course M42. This was a one hour exposure. I was quite happy with my first neb but the image made one thing obvious - the 70-300mm was ****. As you can see, it produces odd star shapes and is just overall, not well suited for AP. Unfortunately i dont have the money or access to anything better right now so this lens will have to do for now. Exposure Details - 2 minute subs, ISO 800, f5.6, calibration frames (darks, bias) also took some 10 second subs for the core. I have also added an hour to M42 but prefer this version for some reason... i think the core looks alot better. My second night imaging i managed to shoot two targets. The first, M45 the Pleiades Star Cluster - one of my favourites. This night taught me that my Polar Scope needed re-collimated more accurately as i couldnt manage 4 minute subs without trailing. I re-collimated the next day. Exposure - 19 3 minute exposures, ISO 800, f5.6, calibration frames (darks, bias) I also got 48mins on Andromeda using the nifty fifty. This lens is awesome, nice round stars. Obviously this image is very heavily cropped. Exposure - 12 4 minute exposures, f5, ISO 800, calibration frames (darks) The next clear night i shot an hour on M33 at 300mm and an hour on Orion at 50mm. All that data was useless. The focus on m33 had slipped and light pollution had creeped in on Orion as it approached the horizon. Gutted. I also had to re-collimate after dropping the Polar Scope on the ground i still need to buy a washer to stop this happening again. A couple days later i set my gear up with a newly bought plug socket power source, so i dont have to buy batteries anymore unless i am shooting in a remote location. I left my camera with the 50mm pointing at Orion. I came back an hour later to find all frames except the 1st covered in a thin layer of cloud... oh well, i had a flick through and found a nice looking shot. The cloud acted as a natural diffusion filter This was a single 3 minute exposure at f4.5 and ISO 1600. Next up was the Horsehead or Barnard 33 if you want to get fancy. This was taken two nights ago under the new Moon after failing again to find PANSTARRS. I framed the whole of Orions Belt just to switch it up a bit from most Horsehead images. Exposure Details - 1 Hour 39 Minutes of 3 minute exposures, f5.6, ISO 800, calibration frames (daks, bias, flats) And finally, my image from last night. Caldwell 49, the Rosette Nebula. Didnt take me long to find it, took me blumming ages to frame it. I was very surprised when this image popped out of DSS. Since i dont have a modded camera, i as not expecting so much to be picked up. Exposure Details - 1 hour 42 minutes of 3 min subs, f5.6, ISO 1600, calibration frames (darks, bias, flats) Overall i think the Astrotrac is an excellent piece of equipment. Yes it is very expensive, including tripod and tripod heads my bill is over £1000. The polar scope lets it down the most but you get used to its flaws and can correct them. I also think portability and ease of use makes up for that. I've had to make some adjustments to my polar scope arm aswell as the polar scope but if you can get it in a sweet spot, you can get some long subs. I can now manage 4 minutes but if i put some more time into fine tuning i could manage longer. I recommend anyone who owns an AT or is thinking of buying one, joins the Astrotrac Yahoo group. There you can find the solution to any problem you may encounter. Next thing i will be doing is selling my 70-300mm and putting the money towards a EF200L, which appears to be an excellent lens for AP. Thanks for taking a look, and remember any tips are welcome. Oh, and sorry about the images being so big. I'm not sure how to make them smaller.
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