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Walking on the Moon

29 Aug - First Light: Borg 107FL f5.6


alanjgreen
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Date: Wed 29th August 2018.

Scope: Borg 107FL f5.6 (focal length 600mm).

Eyepieces: Ethos 6mm (x100), Plossl 55mm (f2.6 x11). Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.

Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD.

Moon: 90% :(

 

It’s all a bad memory!

I’ve had the luxury of my roll-off shed for three years and all my observing has been in the shed apart from the occasional manual push-to Borg session on the patio. During that time I had forgotten what a pain in the ass it is to setup a goto scope outside when all the gear has to be brought outside! Seems to be similar to the experience of visiting children, surely my kids were not as bad as this lot!

 

Sky conditions were not the best.

When I got outside the lower southern sky was lost in cloud. Above me were a few main stars and there was a covering of thin high cloud mostly everywhere else. But when you have a new scope what does any of that matter! Onwards…

 

Setting up the new scope and mount.

I secured the Borg 107FL to the Skywatcher AZ5 GTi, added the red dot finder and the diagonal and carried it out onto the patio to begin to cool…

Back inside, I rustled up my 4” dew heating tape, Tracer battery, Synscan handset + cable. I made some swaps in my eyepiece case replacing the 10mm Ethos with the 6mm, adding the 3.7mm Ethos, removing the Paracorr2 etc. I put my PVS-14 and 6nm Ha Filter into the case. On top of the case I had my IPad (in waterproof case), notebook, Bracken Astrophotography Atlas, red torch, pen which I then carried out in one go and onto the Patio table.

Back inside, grabbed the power cables and battery. I started to connect the mount then realised I needed a cigarette splitter box and I needed a cable to take power to the dew tape!

Back inside, grabbed the missing cables from a drawer in the study and finally got everything plugged in and switched ON :)

 

Red dot finder, Doh!

I walked straight into my first problem, the red dot finder did not match the stars in the sky into the eyepiece!

Back inside to find a screwdriver. ( At least the Baader Sky Surfer V is a joy to adjust, isn’t it? ). Time is now lost to holding Mars in the eyepiece and then looking through the red dot finder and making some adjustments with the screwdriver.

After a few iterations, it was good enough.

 

2-star alignment woes and then some!

If the red dot finder was an inconvenience then the six iterations of failed alignments was a nightmare that eventually drove me back inside AGAIN to view the internet for inspiration!

I had no problem choosing a named star and getting it into the eyepiece and then centred. I had no problem choosing a known second star and watching the scope slew to about an inch away (through the red dot finder view).

I had no problem getting the second star centred.

“Alignment Successful”

“Warning: some words about NPE defaults” (What???)

The skywatcher synscan handset is not very user friendly and you seem to have to press “ESC” to be able to choose a target once alignment is complete. When pressing “Esc” you are re-prompted “Alignment” – Leaving you wondering "Did it align or not?"

( I was very unimpressed with SynScan, Nexstar+ is much easier to use )

Anyway, every time I selected a target, the scope would slew to a position in the Sky at the wrong Altitude.

I repeated this six times, on one occasion I chose Mars as the first target and the scope ended up pointing straight down at the ground. I was having a heart attack trying to stop the slew (with Nexstar+ its easy, just press one of up, down, left, right and the scope stops) but nothing seemed to stop it from going where it wanted.

This was when I swore loudly thanking skywatcher for producing a mount that was beyond my capabilities and headed inside for some internet browsing.

 

God save the internet!

Firstly the NPE Warning, seems to be something to do with EQ mounts (why Skywatcher cannot just code this out for AZ mounts seems to be an reflection on them rather than me), I had to go into the NPE menu (which is hidden in the middle of the Alignment menu that you only see when choosing the alignment – Doh!) and set all values to “0” (Annoying warning FIXED) :)

I need to have the clutches super tight (Check)

I need to finish with up & right movements (I had been trying to do this but the scope works in reverse to the up/down button pressed so I was doing down and right). Readers should note that Nexstar+ allows you to reverse the up/down buttons from the menu – Skywatcher are you listening??

I could try defocus the star to a massive blob for centring (check)

Make sure the stars you pick are between 15 and 60 degrees high (check)

 

One final try before I cry and go inside a failure…

After repeating the 2-star alignment process once more and implementing all my learnings from the internet, I got the usual handset lie of “Alignment Successful”.

I entered a target “M34” and a short slew occurred…

I looked into the eyepiece and to my wonder, there was the “dancing man” of M34 (Success at last). :)

The time was 0030, I had been at this now for almost three hours and the alignment was finally complete!!!

During this process, I had been into every menu item and made changes that will help in the future such as enabling the slew limits and dimming the handset but I have to say that Skywatcher have a lot they could learn from “copying” some of the Nexstar+ functionality, Synscan seems a bit of a “toy” in comparison.

 

Let the observing begin?

More test slews M52, M103, M15, M27 and all with success! I was overcome with joy until I put my glasses back on and looked up – the clouds were everywhere, there was the occasional thinner section but I had no intention of stopping now and admitting defeat for the Borg’s first light…

 

Borg Star Test.

I did a few star diffraction ring tests now. The Borg presented lovely diffraction patterns on both sides of focus. :) Stars could be focused to lovely tiny bright dots. I looked for field curvature in the 6mm Ethos, I did not see any. :) I will repeat this on a better night.

 

Ready for Night Vision.

I added the Astronomik 6nm Ha CCD filter to the diagonal, threw in the 55mm TeleVue Plossl and attached the PVS-14 NVD to the eyepiece.

IC1396 – Elephant trunk – This was probably a bit optimistic as the sky was so bad, I could make out a large faint patch of nebula but nothing within it.

Heart nebula – Two small bright patches of nebula stood out against a very faint nebulous patch.

Soul nebula – Decent sized faint nebula patch.

NGC281 – Pacman – Yes, I can see it! At last, something to view. I could see the full patch of nebula surrounding the tiny star cluster. :)

North American + Pelican – Not a lot on the first visit but I did come back later and was treated to a decent view of the North American with its two brighter sections within. The full shape of the NA was framed nicely in the Borg FOV. I saw most of the Pelican, its beak was clear and most of the body. :)

Gamma Cygni – Yes, I can see it. Another sort of success, I could at least see and trace nebulosity around this region. :)

Crescent – Yes, its there. Small and bright. Not my best view but under clouds I guess that I should not complain too much. I scroll around and see two further patches of nebulosity south of the crescent. :)

NGC6995 Veil – Yes, I can see 6995. The rest of the veil is lost in the clouds above me.

Bubble – Two small patches of nebulosity in the FOV. One is the Bubble, which I can just about make out with a dose of wishful thinking and the other ???

Cave – Yes, there it is. Small and bright.

By now the clouds are really taking over and the 90% moon has made it to the SOUTH, so I decide that I have had enough. Its 0210am.

 

Thoughts of the observer.

I cannot remember ever having a satisfactory “first light” experience in the past but this has to be by far the worst. The goto fiasco was painful but I learned a few good tips that hopefully will make next time a little (or a lot) better. At least my handset defaults are now what they should be, I can’t believe they have slew limits disabled as a default, I nearly had a heart attack when the scope headed straight down towards the ground!

On a positive note, the mount coped easily with the Borg 107FL. I managed to get a nice balanced setup and I did not hear the motors struggling at any point.

If the mount had been delivered with the Azimuth clutch tight then I would not have been so worried about over tightening it and maybe some of the goto inaccuracy could have been avoided.

Anyway, today is another day. I have all the leads etc that I need now stored in handy Jiffy bags so I should be able to cut out some of those unwanted trips back inside. :)

The dew tape worked admirably, everything was soaking with dew when I came inside EXCEPT FOR THE SCOPE THAT IS!

 

Clear Skies,

Alan

 

P.S. I thought of something I liked about SynScan (to be fair), it remembers my location & elevation(?) so I did not have to enter it again & again. And the thing I missed most about Nexstar+ handset was the "raised ridge up/down/left/right" buttons which made them easy to find with your fingers without any need to look at the handset, last night I kept hitting "2" (rate) when I wanted "down" (maybe skywatcher can think of this for SynScan v5?)

 

Edited by alanjgreen
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7 minutes ago, John said:

Interesting report Alan. The Borg is obviously lovely but your GOTO experiences remind me why I don't use that factility in my observing.

 

Unfortunatley, I now need the goto because with night vision I see so much nebulosity (Sharpless et al) in the sky that I cannot identify it without the help of nearby SAO stars or NGC/IC objects :) (Its easy with the dob and nexus push-to as I can see exactly where I am pointing, but with manual pushing a frac the FOV is huge and nebulosity just keeps popping up!)

- I do like to know what I am looking at!

 

It is nice to have TRACKING though, objects just sit there and no nudging! (Hands in pockets to keep them warm :) =Luxury)

Eventually, I hope to use Sky Safari with the AZ5 GTi but need to wait for Skywatcher and Sky Safari to iron out all the bugs... I spent 18 months helping Celestron iron out bugs from StarSense = NEVER AGAIN!

Edited by alanjgreen
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I have to say I've owned 2 goto scope mounts. The first - Meade ETX 90 (many moons ago) was fun ish, and OK to use. broke on 3rd session!. The little SLT mount was a joy!.. and really simple to use. That said now I only have 2 tracking mounts. I can jump round the sky happily to be fair.

Interesting report BTW

Rob

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58 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

Eventually, I hope to use Sky Safari with the AZ5 GTi but need to wait for Skywatcher and Sky Safari to iron out all the bugs... I spent 18 months helping Celestron iron out bugs from StarSense = NEVER AGAIN!

If you get a handset and Skywire then you would be able to get up and running sooner Alan. I suspect (might be wrong) that it may take them a long time to fix the issue as it is more related to the iOS limitation around background applications rather than being a bug fix.

The Borg is an intriguing scope. On paper the spec would suit my observing likes quite closely, decent aperture, very transportable and short ish focal length. My reservations have been around field curvature (in long focal length widefield eyepieces such as 21 Ethos/31 Nag) and colour correction so I will be interested to hear your opinions.

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8 minutes ago, Stu said:

If you get a handset and Skywire then you would be able to get up and running sooner Alan. I suspect (might be wrong) that it may take them a long time to fix the issue as it is more related to the iOS limitation around background applications rather than being a bug fix.

The Borg is an intriguing scope. On paper the spec would suit my observing likes quite closely, decent aperture, very transportable and short ish focal length. My reservations have been around field curvature (in long focal length widefield eyepieces such as 21 Ethos/31 Nag) and colour correction so I will be interested to hear your opinions.

Thats true. But Sky Safari (on my IPad) is setup for connecting to the Nexus (on big dob) and I do not want to mess that up and lose all my settings.

I also dont want a wire and Ipad near the scope (and more to the point my big feet, hard patio etc) as I am liable to break the lot when I am half asleep at night. Its bad enough with my glasses on and off and nowhere to put them without worrying about my Ipad too.

I have to walk over to the table to take notes, check the Atlas etc so its not too bad. The FOV on the frac is so big that any NGC/IC/SAO nearby gets whatever I am after in the FOV. The Velcro solution works well with the handset (making it easy to store out the way), shame I can't get some Velcro on my glasses!

Just need to tie down the darn Skywatcher 2-star alignment!

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen
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Nice report Alan, the setup looks promising, despite the trials and tribulations. Hopefully you will find it very quick to set up now you've ironed out the issues and organised your gear for quick access, and you can enjoy some real observing.

I had major issues getting my SkyProdigy to work properly, but now it's fine I can really appreciate it, and have seen a LOT of new objects thanks to goto. To be honest, although the StarSense is working fine now, I think it is the SLT-based mount that I am most impressed with (as long as it's on a good tripod), and I'd be happy to swap the StarSense for SkyAlign. Shame it's not possible to buy the SLT (now SkyFi) on its own. 

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5 minutes ago, RobertI said:

I had major issues getting my SkyProdigy to work properly, but now it's fine I can really appreciate it, and have seen a LOT of new objects thanks to goto. To be honest, although the StarSense is working fine now, I think it is the SLT-based mount that I am most impressed with (as long as it's on a good tripod), and I'd be happy to swap the StarSense for SkyAlign. Shame it's not possible to buy the SLT (now SkyFi) on its own. 

I had the Celestron wifi dongle when I had a CPC1100. My "vision" of sky safari, star sense and the CPC1100 was never achieved. Recurring errors with dropped wifi signal, and random failures to find the starsense camera "on the bus" brought that dream to an end.

Thats why I have been so impressed with the Nexus on the dob - it just works! (always)

I dont mind slumming it with the handset, just a shame SynScan appears "half baked" compared to NexStar+ :(

Edited by alanjgreen
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6 minutes ago, Galen Gilmore said:

Nice report.

This now makes me a bit frightened of Go-To mounts, lol.

Are you a man or a mouse? :)

- Just go in "eyes open", knowing the first night is going to be a pain so try to make sure its not "new moon", on any other night is only "half the pain" really.

Edited by alanjgreen
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