Sunday, July 7, 2013

Golden Gate Star Party - Night 1

The drive up here was (as expected) pretty boring.

I setup my whole rig and I really think I didn't forget anything!!!

At 8:30pm, I took my flats - first the entire scope didn't connect. Panic! But I just had to reboot the machine - probably something with the USB drivers (I think I forgot to disconnect properly at home).

When Polaris came out, I polar aligned my Polaris and mounted my Nikon camera for wide angle imaging.

At ~10pm, I started to align my scope - with the dark sky it was very easy and I think pretty accurate. Then I checked focus, collimation (CCDInspector still gives weird values, so I ignored it). And at 11pm I was ready to image - an hour earlier then I expected!

PHD calibration worked quickly - I got 0.6 arcsec RMS error. And so, I started to image NGC7635 (Bubble Nebula). I could very quickly see the difference from imaging from our backyard to imaging here: so much detail, so many stars!

Once my scope was busy, I tended to the Nikon. I pointed it first to the Cygnus region, I then tried the Sagittarius region - but my car was in the way. Next, Cassipeia, and finally Andromeda.

In between, I took a couple of looks through Larry's Dobsonian. It was quite impressive to see the Veil Nebula and other objects "live".

And at 1am I went to bed and let my rigs to their work.

The next morning, I first checked my PHD graph:

At the very end was dawn. But I'm not sure what happened during the night- maybe somebody stepped in front of the scope while I was asleep. The good thing is that PHD recaptured the star! When I checked my images, I could see that 2 Luminance images weren't good (the first disturbance), 5 Red (the second disturbance) and 2 Green images (it got too bright). So, I'll have to do these again. But because I started imaging an hour early, I have that spare time. But I might consider to move the scope up higher to avoid this from happening again.

Next, I checked my Nikon images. 2 min was a little bit too long - even with the Polarie polar scope alignment - there was clearly some curvature in the corners. But the main objects seem to be good. But the images are also WAY bright - the milky way is simply too bright :-) Here is an unprocessed 2 min image of Cygnus:

I also realized that I didn't take RAW images, but 2 copies of JPEG's :-( I did that a few months back when my 2nd storage card stopped working. Well, these wide angle views won't need a lot of stretching, so I think it'll be fine with JPEG.

I'll try 1 min next. When I then tried to stack the images with DSS, I had to increase the start detection threshold A LOT - otherwise, it would detect too many starts (and take A LONG time to register and stack). When setting the threshold to 41%, I still had 2000+ stars!

And finally, I had some morning exercise - I had to carry to the $#%%! heavy battery all the way to the front of the ground for recharging. This will be my daily workout for the next 4 days ...