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Finally Success with Guiding!


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After several failed sessions trying to get any guide stars to appear in PHD2, last night I finally figured out how to get my LifeCam Studio to work as a guide camera. The eureka moment came when I used the cam dialogue in PHD2 to disable auto exposure and set it manually. A QHY5 is definitely on the cards (when I find a new job!) as I reckon the LifeCam is the bare minimum for guiding.

I started with the Horsehead nebula as I figured Alnitak would provide a nice bright guide star. I have no idea if it was Alnitak that appeared in PHD but there were 2 available stars. I'm thinking about adding a red dot finder to my 70mm guidescope so I know where its pointing when adjusting the guide rings.

Later I moved on to the Whirlpool Galaxy and was pleased to find a guide star almost instantly.

I started with subs of only 180s and gradually increased them throughout the evening ending with 420s without any star trailing. I was especially pleased as my simple DIY dew strap was a complete fail and my guidescope looked worryingly fogged up yet PHD never missed a beat. I would have tried for 10 minute subs but suddenly it was 4am and I thought I'd better pack up and get some sleep. How can I only get 2 1/4 hours of data when I set up over 6 hours ago?!! Where does all the time go?

Horsehead Nebula - 5x180s, 3x210s, 3x240s, 4x270s, 3x300s @ ISO1600. I used a few darks from a previous session but they were only 90s. Butchered in Photoshop.


Whirlpool Galaxy - 6x300s, 6x420s @ ISO1600 plus Darks etc.


Next on the to do list are improved dew prevention, work out what the graph in PHD2 is actually telling me and try lower ISOs and longer subs.

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