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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Astrophotography Nightmares

Sometimes nothing ever goes as planned. Last night was again one of those nights. The first clear night in the forecast for over 2 weeks. About 7:30 I could see the clouds were moving out, so I took the equipment to the back deck. After the typical 1 hour setup, I started imaging more frames for my ongoing Orion Mosaic project.
 I only got one 20 minute frame. The R.A. guiding started jumping around like seismograph in an earthquake. Check the cables and connections, all were ok. Came back in from the cold and started again. 15 minutes into the 20 minute frame, again R.A. guiding all over the place. Went back out, this time I found a small thumbscrew on the R.A. axis somehow tightened itself to the point I needed plyers to release it. This has happened before, so I thought it was fixed. Again 15 minutes in to 20 minute frame, the R.A. gremlins attacked. I thought it had something to do with the scope's balance so I got disgusted and moved to another target, Thor's Helmet. About 10 minute in...R.A. bouncing around like there was someone jumping rope on my deck. Again went back out. This time I found my R.A. lock was loose, retightened and started again. It's now past 11:00 pm. The mount guided flawlessly for the next 80 minutes. I got four 20 minute frames of Ha of Thor's Helmet until it went behind a tree.

I moved on to M65 & M66 in Leo. Decided to collect some luminance. I managed 10 minutes from one frame and clouds moved in. It's 1:00 am.
So in total I have 1 1/2 hours of captures from a 5 1/2 hour night. Oh yeah I had to process these pictures too, went to bed at 2:00.....why do I do this stuff!!!!

Added the one 20 minute panel to the Orion Mosaic


  1. Chuck,

    I know all too well how those gremlin nights can go. I am glad you were finally able to get some data. I always chalk those nights up to another learning experience.

    1. Thanks Jeff. Had clear skies last night, went a little better.

  2. Chuck,
    It's so nice to know that even the best of us, (and that mosaic puts you rigth there), can have "One of those nights"
    Great post and SWEET Pic!!

    1. Jimminct,thanks for looking and the great compliment/comment!

  3. Ha Ha!! Sounds about right. A typical session really :) Why do we do this stuff indeed! I ask myself that question every time the session turns to crap, which is most of the time :)

    So going by your flickr comment Chuck you wouldn't recommend doing Ha with a DSLR? I had my doubts anyway, particularly with my ancient relic of a camera :)

    1. My CCD is much better than what the DSLR did in Narrowband. I think when you use NB filters on a DSLR you only use a fraction of the RGB and the rest becomes noise.Because of the Bayer Matrix.....Ha only uses red. 18mp would actually only use 4.5mp,etc.etc.
      I have some examples on my narrowband set on Flickr