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24/05/2017 chalked up to a learning experience.

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The struggles of a beginner learning how to use the equipment.  :-)

  1. Pointed mount North and Levelled EQ6 pro mount 8:30 pm
  2. Attached wireless release, 2" nose and UHC filter to Nikon DSLR
  3. Attached scope and camera, balanced scope for camera use
  4. Collimated the telescope -took 40 minutes of messing around
  5. Waited until dark.  Took the dogs for a walk around the field to pass the time
  6. Polar aligned using the mobile app and sighting against Ursa major.
  7. Rebalanced DEC for eyepiece rather than camera
  8. 3 star alignment. 1st star was way off and took ages to get it in the eyepiece
  9. Restarted 3 star alignment. - Selected a star behind a house.
  10. Restarted 3 star alignment -complete.
  11. Checked collimation using a bright star - perfect (should bloody be after 40 minutes!) 
  12. Tried to fine adjust polar alignment using a method discovered online (not drift- I don't think I have the patience.)  Didn't work.
  13. Restarted 3 star alignment then used the polar alignment on SynScan
  14. Took a look at Jupiter was great to look at but not what I set out to do, I want DS images...
  15. Attached camera
  16. Used live view (LV) to try to focus stars
  17. Pointed the scope at M3 and took a 2 minute exposure
  18. Tried again with a 4 minute exposure
  19. SD card failed.  Lost some family pics, grrr Now I have to explain to my partner that it wasn't because of Astronomy, these things just happen. 
  20. Replaced SD card
  21. Took some cautious 1 minute exposures of M90 expecting the camera to explode
  22. Pictures were faint so moved to 4 minute with a little more confidence telling myself SD card failures can just happen.
  23. Noticed star trails
  24. Located a bright star
  25. Decided to give PEC training a try. 
  26. Couldn't do it with an eyepiece.
  27. Tried with the camera in LV but noticed some gradual movement in the DEC axis.
  28. Hoped PEC training would sort this.   Moved onto the Spiral Galaxy
  29. Took some 2 minute exposures of the whirlpool galaxy.  Wireless timer worked flawlessly.
  30. Still a little faint so up'd the ISO and took some more.  More detail but more noise.
  31. Took some darks with the same settings.
  32. Packed away while the camera did its thing.
  33. Viewed the pics briefly on laptop. There was star trails (DEC axis again and blurring)
  34. Went to bed 1:30 am



So what have I learned?  Well DEC error was probably due to the balance of the scope being off.  I never did re-balance for the camera. I've also learnt today that I should bias the balance slightly East so the gears engage better.

PEC training is a waste of time without an illuminated reticule which I don't have the desire to buy.   I'd rather save for a guide scope and guide camera.   I've learned I can refine the polar alignment after the 3 start alignment process. 

I've also read on forums that perhaps I should manually move the scope to the first alignment start then continue with the usual process. I've also seen that two star may be the way forward for EQ6.  So perhaps next time I'll start with a 2 star, polar align using the SynScan handset then back to 3 star with the first manual adjustment.

I should also purchase a few SD cards that are dedicated for Astrophotography and upload them ASAP after the session.

The Astronomik UHC Deep Sky Filter worked wonders with the images for where I live.  I can now take longer exposures.  Assuming I sort out DEC errors and invest in guiding rig. 


Edited by artoleus
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Each session isl a learning experience I guess, even when you have been doing it for years :wink:

I think your actions list has re-confirmed to me (a) why I don't image and (b) that I much prefer unpowered alt-azimuth mounts for observing. Plonk it down, let it cool a bit and then enjoy the views :icon_biggrin:


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48 minutes ago, John said:

Each session isl a learning experience I guess, even when you have been doing it for years :wink:

I think your actions list has re-confirmed to me (a) why I don't image and (b) that I much prefer unpowered alt-azimuth mounts for observing. Plonk it down, let it cool a bit and then enjoy the views :icon_biggrin:



How  true how true !! I try to tell every newbie or someone that wants to just image the stars to take time , get a scope and sit back and look at what's out there . I can't think of anything more enjoyable than viewing the night life ;)  !

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Perhaps in a few years I'll relax.  As it is, I'm awash with technical data, products and awe at what is being produced by amateurs out there.  I've always had a keen interest in physics and astronomy and it is those deep sky objects that fascinate me most.  I must admit I still enjoy those moments exploring with binoculars.  I'll also try to use my basic camera on a tripod to record the areas I'm looking at for comparing with the star charts later.  Then return to those areas with a telescope on a another night.   Perhaps I'll combine the two.  While the camera attached to the telescope snapping away, I'll lie back on the deck chair with a hot drink and plan my next shot with the binoculars and standard camera on a tripod.  Probably not practical for winter though :-)

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