Further struggles!

This month is not looking good for me. There has been 2 clear spells and so far they have been failures in imaging. Most recently I spent the evening capturing 3.5hrs worth of data of M33. This has been the most time I have spent on one object, and I aim to do this now with most targets. After stacking, the results have proven to be extremely difficult to post process and has really tested my patience and photoshop skills, which seem to be below par on both counts. I can only blame poor seeing and the low surface brightness of M33. Of course, I take some responsibility. I spent a lot of time trying to get the histogram for each sub right, but I guess I may have over looked other factors. Hey Ho, that is all part of the process. I told you that there are more failures than successes.

Anyway, whilst I mope about my failures and wait for the skies to clear. I had a go at reprocessing some past Images. so here are my altered M13 images. A nice and easy target 🙂 You can just make out a distant galaxy in the top right hand corner. This is NGC6207, a 12th Magnitude galaxy located 30 million light years away! The light captured in this image left when the Earth was midway through the Oligocene.

Short Clear spell and no results

Just come in from a rare clear spell of stargazing. I rushed home today as the sky was looking promising. I set up and by 5.30pm I was polar aligned and ready to start my GOTO alignment routine. Just so you are aware- the mount that I use is an equatorial mount, the mount, unlike ALT-AZ mounts, is offset to account for the 23 degree tilt of the Earth. To ensure that it is aligned for this tilt, the mount has an inbuilt polarscope finder in which you have to align it with polaris the North star. From our Earths eye view the stars all appear to rotate around polaris. I perform this quite accurately using an inherent feature of the EQASCOM control http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZgPZnC7zKc. Once I am polar aligned I have to perform an alignment sequence. The purpose is to tell the GOTO software where everything is, and it does this by selecting and synchronising on certain objects. I use a programme called cartes du ciel to control the scope and to align. It is a simple process. I simply select a bright object, slew the scope to it and then make adjustments to make sure the target is centred on the DSLR screen using backyard EOS, I then repeat the process for several objects located in different areas of the sky. The more points you chose the better the GOTO accuracy. Anyhow, this is usually a simple procedure- but not tonight! I tried several times to get GOTO accuracy, but it was always out. Initially I presumed that there must be an issue with the time as the only thing that has changed since my last viewing session – was the clocks changing to GMT. After checking everything – it was still out. I was close to giving up as I was frozen. So a cup of tea later and a quick reset of the PC everything went smooth and I finally was ready to go. Most often I will have a plan of action, a list of targets that I would like to have a go at imaging- but not tonight. I started off on M33, but with its low surface brightness and the moon soon to make an appearance I decided against M33. For the next hour I took some more subs of the crescent nebula- so I can add data to my current image. Not happy with just imaging something I have already taken I slewed around to M81/M82 but they were sitting in the most light polluted part of the sky so I gave that a miss. Starting to get disheartened by this point that I am wasting a clear night, I switched over to M74 which was also very dim- then the clouds started to roll in for a brief period. Once it had cleared again, I took a look at Jupiter and finally took a few images of M45 before the sky clouded over completely. Overall a pretty unsuccessful night of imaging, but still, I managed to see some new objects even if I haven’t imaged them, sometimes its nice to have a go at visual astronomy too. Now it is time for bed!