It has been a while since posting anything. It has been unfortunate that the weather has just not been amenable to allow for any serious amount of viewing.
However, things may change, and the new moon approaches on the 4th December where I will have some spare time to take advantage if the clouds do clear.
I do, however, appear to be in a lucky location for an event that will happen on the 16th December. The 67.3km diameter asteroid, designated (11395) 1998 XN77, which orbits between Mars and Jupiter, will occult a visible star (magnitude 5.5) in the Cetus constellation (HIP 12148).
If the weather is dry and clear then I might be able to set up the telescope and camera to track HIP 12148 and take a video to see this “mini-star eclipse”.
The event at a glimpse
* date and approx. time of event: 2021 Dec 16, 21:10 - 2021 Dec 16, 21:29
* geocentric midpoint of event [JD]: 2459565.38883333
* magnitude of target star: 5.50
* magnitude drop [mag]: 11.76
* estimated maximum duration [s]: 7.210
* Moon: 95 % sunlit, 22° distance
* Sun: 134° distance
I have been continuing to get data for NGC7822, although I’m yet to obtain quite a few narrowband subs as yet, so we’re not seeing quite the detail or colour I would like. I also think I will have to increase the length of my narrowband subs.
Anyway, here is another integration result, with still minimal post-processing as there isn’t much point working on the data too much until I have a full set and can start discarding the sub-optimal exposures.
I’ve been experimenting with the new set up, and what with the weather there are a lot of software changes to account for.
The following is an image of NGC7822, a random target that I’ve put on while I run through bugs and problems, mostly arising from lack of having been able to regularly use the equipment due to the current weather.
I’ve not bothered too much with post processing, just a quick, mostly automated workflow, and then quick levels adjustment with Gimp.
The Perseverance Rover will attempt to ‘softly’ land on Mars later today. This is a routine that’s been tried in many ways and unfortunately has only had around a 50% success rate. Of course, we hope that through past failures we can achieve future success. Here are the Live Feeds for the landing, which starts around 1915 UTC.
I continued to grab more data for M33, and have added the Hydrogen Alpha in a slightly different way to before, although I wasn’t able to get any more sub-exposures for Hydrogen Alpha due to software issues. Still think I need to continue to add more data.
Focusing is actually working well now, although the focuser appeared to want to refocus far too often. Guiding was also being suspended during focusing. I think we will now manually move the focuser to 83000 steps at the beginning and probably limit travel to 1500 steps in either direction or so, and work with much smaller initial steps (initial step 200, max step 300). This should allow me to refocus often and quickly and not have to suspend guiding during focusing, which appeared to be an issue. I am hoping some Kstars updates to Astroberry in the near future will sort some of the software issues I have experienced last night.
Have managed to get some more data for the M33 image on the 24th December.
We are now seeing some colour detail from NGC604.
Had some difficulty running from mains, seemed to trip out and reboot the Nevada PSU. Managed to overcome those issues by switching to the SkyWatcher Powertanks. I think I will have to look at a high-density LifePO4 battery. Also had some issues with the GPS detection, which might have also been rooted with the power issue.
The issue with the PSU is that the PowerBox Advance does state it needs 10A power, I looked at my PSU and it can output 6A continuous (8A surge) – via the binding posts, and max 5A via the cigarette socket. I checked my cables and found that while the PowerBox only appeared to be drawing 2.7A for all the kit it must have been surging at times. I also found that in the length of cable from inside mains to the outside I had cigarette plugs with 5A fuses. I am now in the process of getting an upgraded PSU rated to 10A on the cigarette socket and have found a 10A fuse to use, the PSU also has a 25A-30A red/black binding posts at the back – which should suit me for any future requirements I may ever have. It also has adjustable voltage from 9-15 VDC, so I should be able to crank up the volts a little if necessary due to the cold. The PowerBox can accept 13.8V and will protect trip out at above 14.5V. The issue with the GPS seems to have been that I located it at the back of the Argon One M.2 case, and there must be some electronic or radio interference in that location. I have now been testing semi-inside with attaching the GPS mouse with Velcro to one of the Tripod legs, and when not in use I can use that Velcro strap to wind in the cable and just store the GPS mouse in the location I had hoped to be able to use it from.
Here is a recording of the Live Stream of the capture, you might want to switch it to HD for viewing and then perhaps skip through playing at x2 rate. When switching to the second power block
Here is a picture of the rig, almost completely set up – I think we just needed to run the power cable at this point. We still have some cables on order which will shorten some of the lengths and improve the cable management, but this is a lot better than the mass of cables I had running before.
In order to control the number of cables and perform some cable management we often mount equipment onto the telescope mount. This is commonly done by mounting an additional plate onto the tube rings of the telescope. These plates can be heavy Losmandy D-types. Here is a solution I found using some 3mm Perspex, which can be easily ordered online from plastic sheeting companies. I drilled a few holes into the sheets and mounted my equipment onto the sheet, which I attached to the Esprit’s tube rings.
This is a video showing how I cloned my old SSD from “The Box” to the new M.2 SSD housed in the Argon One M.2 case. A New setup is easily achieved by following the instructions on the Astroberry website and using a tool such as the Raspberry Pi imaging softwarae.
We don’t know, all I know is that it flattens the field to a image sensor, this is the SkyWatcher Field Flattener which is matched to the Esprit 120ED Pro, the main sensor is a CMOS ASI1600MM Pro in my case.
So we had a brief night of viewing, and as this is likely to be the last time using the StarTravel 120T I thought we would end where we started, with Andromeda. The results are not great, it is a Luminence only capture, with a mono camera, a mosaic of three panes, and you can clearly see the egg-stars caused by the chromatic aberration that the StarTravel exhibits. The StarTravel gets really good results with Narrowband imaging, but not when trying to get true colour. I intend this to be the first target with the Esprit soon, and hopefully we will see quite a difference to compare the two against each other – you need to be reminded that the Esprit costs probably around 8x more than the StarTravel, and everything I’ve posted here so far was achieved using the StarTravel. I have not bothered to perform much post-processing on this image, as I feel more compelled to focus efforts on new equipment, and hopefully better results.
We can compare that, with my first ever astrophotography photo, although I believe this was LRGB at the time, so avoided the worst of the chromatic aberration by re-focusing for each colour filter.
OK, Well the Esprit 120ED Pro has finally arrived. So a few unboxing photos, which I will follow up with a video comparing the upgrade from the Achromatic StarTravel 120T to this new Apochromatic scope, in particular testing out the Sesto Senso 2 on the Esprit, and comparing it with the DC Motor on the StarTravel.
I am told that there should not be any difference between the ED100 and the ED120 focusers, they are the same model, the only difference is the sticker, which I will either remove, or it might drop off with dew in time.
This is a quick video to look at viewing equipment on our side of the focuser – diagonals, eyepieces, and looking specifically at the Baader Planetarium Hyperion Zoom MkIV eyepiece. Essentially how to avoid going down the route of eyepiece collection explosion, get a single eyepiece that adequately provides the views at all magnifications that your equipment can reasonably cope with.
Another quick look at the IDAS-P2 LPS Filter, for suppressing light pollution at your imaging / viewing site. Also how it might fit into your imaging train, in advance of any other filters you might be using.
OK, so I took a delivery and this is the first look at the Primaluce Labs Sesto Senso v2, although I don’t yet have a compatible scope to attach it to. It feels sturdy, and without further ado, here is the review:
Just a note about the 12V power connector, my previous HitecAstroDC focuser accepted a 2.1 centre positive connector, and I hoped I would be able to use that. Unfortunately the Sesto Senso v2 power connector appears to be a 2.5mm centre positive connector, so you would need to buy another cable to get rid of the cigarette lighter cable that comes with the device.
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