Thursday, October 25, 2012

A lot of replacements

So, today and yesterday I took care of all my equipment that doesn't work that well:

  • The 2x Powermate: the threading seems to be messed up. I can't thread in my filter. Today, I went to Orion and we tried it with other 2" filters - same result :-( Contacted High-Point Scientific - they are sending a replacement.
  • The heated dew shield - I blew several fuses. There seems to be a short circuit. High-Point Scientific will also sending a replacement for that.
  • The Celestron PowerTank doesn't recharge completely anymore. Contacted Celestron - they are sending a replacement. And I don't even have to send the existing one back.
So, at least I am getting great customer service. The good news is that I can still observe and take photos!

Forecast for tonight: clear skies! After dinner with my team, I'll try to go outside.

Today, I heard about MaxPoint. Automated alignment - including polar alignment! That sounds almost to good to be true.

And tomorrow AIC 2012 starts! Can't wait - especially the workshops on Friday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trying out the 2x Powermate

Today, I received the additional counterweight and also the 2x Powermate. I tried both - yes, it was finally clear!!

With the counterweight, I can finally balance the scope with all the gear (guidescope, starfinder, camera) in the back. Good!

Then I setup the scope, aligned and too photos of M27 with the Powermate. Turns out, that the 2x magnification together with the light pollution filter requires quite long exposure times. Here is the photo with 4 min exposures:

Not very sharp and not much light. I should try it again with longer exposures - but for that I'll have to polar align my scope better.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

First pictures with new scope

Last night it finally cleared up and I could try out the new scope. First, an easy target: M27


Compare this to the pictures that I took in September - these are indeed better.

I then tried two other targets:



The problem with the latter 2 was that in both cases my laptop decided to go to sleep mode after 30 mins or so. That's why both objects are not too bright and why there is lots of noise in the picture.

I used the electric focuser from JMI for the first time. It's amazing how easy focusing is. The only problem is that the focuser motor uses a lot of space and I can't rotate my camera anymore. Next, I need to try out how to focus automatically. I also used the Aurora flatfield panels for the first time - what a breeze to take flats!!! And also dark flats: I just turn the panels off, but leave them on top of the scope. Nice!!!

Also, I ordered a Tele Vue Powermate 2x to shoot photos from smaller objects and also counterweights, so that I don't have to move my scope all the way to the back of the dovetail (and it's still not in balance).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New scope

My new scope finally arrived: A CGEM 800 HD from Celestron!

Left work early to set it up. Could easily mount the star finder and my guidescope.

... and then it started raining!!! Really? This is California, we supposed to have clear skies almost always!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SJAA's Imaging SIG

Saturday, I went to an evening event with San Jose Astronomical Association's Imaging Special Interest Group (SIG) - theme "CCD Imaging for beginners".

It was great to see some folks setting up their scopes and how they are doing it. A couple of learnings:
  • most folks apparently balance their scopes heavier on one side for imaging
  • drift alignment isn't as hard as I thought (once you see it in person)
  • my whole setup (mount, scope, accessories) is pretty much what others have, i.e. I should be able to get lots out of it before I will feel the need to update
Afterwards, I looked more into what the SJAA does and found out that we will have the Advanced Imaging Conference in a few weeks in Santa Clara. With lots of interesting workshops on focusing, processing... Signed up for that one as well.

... and on Tuesday my new scope will finally arrive. Can't wait!!!