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After some trial and error I'm getting some very good guiding results with PHD2 now. 60mm guidescope and ASI290MM mini camera. The M42 image taken late March was 12 x 15 second exposures taken manually with my dslr / C8 and a stopwatch. Stacked in DSS and played with a bit in GIMP. On the night I couldn't get APT to register the camera - turned out to be the mini USB cable (although later trials point to the socket in the camera being a bit loose too).
Bought an iOPTRON iPOLAR that arrived on Friday and had a play with that which has resulted in near perfect polar alignment. 2 star alignment and an additional 2 calibration stars on my Advanced GT mount means I'm getting very accurate GOTOs now and PHD2 (through the ST4 port on the ASI camera) seems to be guiding very well. Last night after more cable faffing I managed to get everything working together to the point where I felt confident enough to leave it running by itself for an hour and a half (45 minutes of 180 second exposures plus 3 minutes each exposure to save the file - I've since found out I shouldn't have noise reduction switched on in the camera - DOH!) so M51 is 15 x 180 second @ ISO 800 lights and 5 x 180 second darks. A little manipulation in GIMP and I think it's come out very well. Obviously still have a lot to learn and I'm going to have to start taking much longer exposures but I'm quite pleased with these 2 pictures.
This is another finished target for this season.
I (quite) recently bought a TS Photoline 102 ED with FPL53 which performs surprisingly well for a doublet. So I put it to tests and imaging, in parallel with an older FPL51 AstroProfessional 102 ED doublet.
The blue color correction is much better in the newer TS. I shoot luminance often with both and then take the highlights from the better scope.
For this image I also used some older data that I had available, shot with a 130PDS, but that maybe only made my life more difficult. Not that otherwise I shot data through the refractors in a single panel with reducers/correctors, but also in 2 panels with no reducing correctors. Same about the RGB. Some shorter exposures from the backyard, some from a dark site, most of the G data from a dark site, B and R from home (clouds came in at the dark site) and a lot of other adventures.
But in the end I managed to put them all together and made an image out of them.
You can watch it in full resolution and see other details on astrobin: Great Orion Nebula
Heres my first ever shot of the Orion Nebula in a Bortal 8 sky (as well as my first nebula). I stacked 52 light frames with Deep Sky Stacker (with dark, bias and flat frames) and then edited the stacked image with photoshop. The Core looks kind of blown out, so I'll need some shorter exposures to combine with this version.
I've also got a question linked to this: As i'm in a Bortal 8 location (on the edge of London, UK) i feel like i'm kind of limited by the exposure length befor the image just looks completly white/redisch from light pollution. For this photo i used 45 second Exposures but had to bump down the ISO to 200 to make it not look overexposed. In the end, does it really matter if the image looks overexposed due to light pollution because the light from the actuall DSO will still be there and can be filtered out through the power of editing or does this not really work?
*Any other comments or things i can/should change with the image would be greatly appreciated
Many Thanks to anyone taking their time to comment!