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I'm sure many will recognize the kind of session I had in the weekend - when the weather for once plays ball, technology will fight you every bit of the way instead..

Have just had a lot of trees to the SSW & W of my garden trimmed down, vastly improving my field of view in those directions, so itching to have a go at some southern targets before they disappear for this season.  Friday I was out for the first time since mid-October.  Target the Rosette Nebula.  Routine session;  good polar alignment and no real problems.  Only annoying thing is a gradient in the image I can't remove with Astroart; possibly from my neighbur's Christmas lighting.

Saturday I wanted a go at the Orion Nebula, with the 130 PDS.  Have imaged it before with the 200 PDS; once unguided with unmodded DSLR, and once with current camera & guided with a Synguider2 I was testing, but it did more harm than good.  Felt the field of view of the 130 might be better for framing the entire nebula, including the Running Man.

Plan was to be setup & ready to start imaging as soon as it cleared a tree in my garden, when it would be almost due south.  Realised I was out too late, as it had already cleared as I started my setup.  Did polar alignment as always, with polar scope, Synscaninit app & angle finder with 2.5x magnification. Onwards to 2-star alignment.  Rejected Sirius as the first star, as it was behind branches. Happily accepted Rigel as alternative - comfortably low in the sky, so I wouldn't have to contort myself looking through the 130's finder.  Pollux suggested as 2nd star, which puzzled me - normally Synscan picks stars further apart, but it was readily visible so I used it.  "Alignment succesful", however the reported Mel-Maz deviations were horrendous, at 33/34 arc minutes respectively, indicating a hopeless polar alignment.  "Sigh", turn off mount, return to start position, start over with polar alignment. Polaris was still where it should be, but moved things a little back & forth for good measure and then did a new 2-star alignment.  This time with Sirius, which was visible enough, and Dubhe as the 2nd. Much better, but not good, with Mel-Maz now 4 & 16 arc minutes, but I was losing precious imaging time and didn't know what to do differently, so accepted it, hoping guiding would compensate.

Slew to Betelgeuse for focusing, replace crosshair eyepiece with camera, slap on Bahtinov mask, do the focus.  Short slew down to M42.  Do test shot. Framing spot on; no adjustment necessary.  Time to get the guider going.  As I bend down to hook up the ST4 cable, I accidently head butt the camera 😖  Not hard but still..  New test shot; only seemed to have moved very little, shouldn't be enough to upset the tracking. Program the camera, start the run and go inside.

Nagging doubts plagued me - "did I knock it out of focus?", "stupid to get several hours of fuzzy images", "better check; it's quickly done - short slew up to Betelgeuse and back again".   So stopped the run, redid focus on Betelgeuse (it was ok) and then back to M42. "Wait a minute, where the h... is it going?" - "Arrrgh nooooo, meridian flip!!!".  Sure enough, the darn mount decided to take the long way round, and this time the framing wasn't spot on at all.  Synscan movement with the arrow keys is still very much trial and error for me, especially with the camera turned 90º, as it was for M42.  Thus required lots of test shots, wasting more time and freezing my fingers off - can't operate the camera with gloves on.

Finally ready again, starting the run & returning inside, wondering why I'm doing this..

Managed to get a little over 2 hours worth of 60-sec subs, before M42 dipped too low, to produce the attached image. As before, I find M42 tricky to process, with this being the best I could do so far.

M42 Score 2400 50%-denoise.jpg

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Lovely image. Get yourself set up on APT and sort out platesolving, you will question why you never did it straight away, it saves so much time! I had trouble some nights with star alignments and the hand control, well not any more, now it's just pola align, choose target, plate solve, capture! Once over the med line, park scope, send back to target (it now goes the other way), plate solve and capture. 

Edited by Rustang
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When the connections all work, an integrated suite like NINA, APT, or Ekos is a joy to operate. Of course then you can't image without a computer or tablet.

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Thanks guys,

Been trying to keep a computer out of the loop, which is probably strange for an IT guy, but as soon as a computer is introduced, a whole lot of "why don't you..." questions pops up, and I have been worrying that the preciously few imaging windows will all be spent trying to get a multitude of software set up and configured.   Sounds like it might be time well spent, so should probably take the plunge..

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8 hours ago, Erling G-P said:

Thanks guys,

Been trying to keep a computer out of the loop, which is probably strange for an IT guy, but as soon as a computer is introduced, a whole lot of "why don't you..." questions pops up, and I have been worrying that the preciously few imaging windows will all be spent trying to get a multitude of software set up and configured.   Sounds like it might be time well spent, so should probably take the plunge..

Totally understand that, you have to do what works for you, it's working as that's a great image! The software side of things is a faff and takes time to set up, but 100% worth it, it's something to consider when your ready. 

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as a complete noob i went headlong into platesolving after wasting evenings fighting with synscan to offer me alignment stars that were actually visible, now ive got it working ive removed the handset from the loop. I cant tell you how much more straightforward initial set up is after the obvious learning curve and experimentation. Considering some form of mini computer now to have just one cable connected to a single power supply.

great shot BTW

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2 hours ago, Mr Thingy said:

Wonderful image! Despite the headaches you experienced during the session, you must be happy with the result!

+1 for plate solving.

I am yes, thanks again all for the kind comments :)

Regarding plate solving; would it work with a DSLR, or do you need a dedicated camera for that ?

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35 minutes ago, Erling G-P said:

I am yes, thanks again all for the kind comments :)

Regarding plate solving; would it work with a DSLR, or do you need a dedicated camera for that ?

100% I'm still using a Canon 600D 👍

Edited by Rustang
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4 minutes ago, Erling G-P said:

That sounds great!  How if I may ask, do you connect the camera with the PC?

Sure, for the camera I use the correct USB cable and for the mount I use an EQ Direct cable, £35 from FLO. 

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That sounds like a pretty normal night for me. Except, you missed out the "where the heck is the USB cable for the camera?"  . . . "Oh no. Windows has started doing an update." . . ."Why wont the filter wheel connect?"

It has taught me patience. Otherwise I would have a pile of plastic, aluminium and glass scrap.

It's character building. Grrrrrr.

cheers

gaj

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In my brief experience so far, trying to get handset to offer me a star I could actually see, never mind being below horizon ! and trying (yet failing) to avoid spending big chunks of money.  I was trying to use what I had camera wise, however it turned out the high Mp little Nikon 1J5 was unable to tether and the Canon 350D I could have on permanent loan from my Dad was too old to tether without a special cable that adapts the shutter release to USB.

So the main barrier to putting a laptop in seems to be whether your DSLR is modern enough to allow remote shutter and image transfer via USB.  My options couldn't so I ended up finding a good 2nd hand dedicated cam on here instead.

Also a good USB hub and a long (powered) USB extension so you can sit in the warm kitchen watching your images pile up on those particularly frosty nights 🙂

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1 hour ago, gajjer said:

That sounds like a pretty normal night for me. Except, you missed out the "where the heck is the USB cable for the camera?"  . . . "Oh no. Windows has started doing an update." . . ."Why wont the filter wheel connect?"

It has taught me patience. Otherwise I would have a pile of plastic, aluminium and glass scrap.

It's character building. Grrrrrr.

cheers

gaj

Patience and a fair amount of stubbornness certainly helps.. :wink2:

My camera has one of those mini USB sockets (fits a USB harddrive cable I have), marked 'A/V Out' & 'Digital' - I take it that must be the one to use ?

Thanks again all for the comments and suggestions.

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5 minutes ago, Erling G-P said:

My camera has one of those mini USB sockets (fits a USB harddrive cable I have), marked 'A/V Out' & 'Digital' - I take it that must be the one to use ?

Yes. That's the one. Then get Canon Utility installed. When you plug in an power up the camera, the Utility should fire up. You can then due live viewing or set a schedule of exposures. You need to read the manual really.

cheers

gaj

 

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2 minutes ago, gajjer said:

Yes. That's the one. Then get Canon Utility installed. When you plug in an power up the camera, the Utility should fire up. You can then due live viewing or set a schedule of exposures. You need to read the manual really.

cheers

gaj

 

Thanks, definitely sounds like it's worth looking into!

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Having travelled this path myself. I thoroughly recommend that you look into controlling the mount with Cartes du Ciel. Go look at EQMOD and ASCOM. You can just click on a star and the mount will go to it.

Certainly makes life easier.

cheers

gaj

 

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7 hours ago, gajjer said:

Having travelled this path myself. I thoroughly recommend that you look into controlling the mount with Cartes du Ciel. Go look at EQMOD and ASCOM. You can just click on a star and the mount will go to it.

Certainly makes life easier.

cheers

gaj

 

It does sound appealing, so something I'll have to look into.  Thanks again Gaj & all for suggestions & info

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