Imaging telescope or lens: Astro-Tech AT8IN
Imaging camera: Meade DSI II C
Mount: Skywatcher NEQ-6 Pro Synscan
Guiding telescope or lens: Orion ShortTube 80 f/5
Guiding camera: Meade DSI
Filter: Baader Planetarium UHC-S Filter
Accessory: Robert Brown's Arduino ASCOM Focuser Pro DIY
Dates: May 4, 2016
Integration: 3.0 hours
Avg. Moon age: 26.27 days
Avg. Moon phase: 11.54%
Astrometry.net job: 1063917
RA center: 189.977 degrees
DEC center: -11.632 degrees
Pixel scale: 1.865 arcsec/pixel
Orientation: -177.073 degrees
Field radius: 0.264 degrees
Locations: Mapleton Lateral Observatory, Mapleton, Utah, United States
This was a first use of my new MyFocuserPro digital stepper motor-based focuser. It performed quite well and positioning looks to be very reproducible. Unfortunately, the focusing algorithm in Sequence Generator Pro 18.104.22.168 wasn't up to the task for automatic focusing, but I understand this is a known issue (problems with scopes that have a central obstruction, like my Newtonian) that has been addressed in the 2.5.1 beta, so I downloaded that and will try it next time I'm on the sky. Otherwise, it was also a night of multiple mess-ups. I guess I was just too excited about using the new focuser, or maybe senility is creeping in. I started my session and the goto wasn't very good because I'd forgotten to lock the clutch on the Dec axis. So I fixed that and found Arcturus and dialed in the focuser. Then I did a goto to the Sombrero and again I was a little bit off, but close enough. After finding I couldn't make autofocus work very well, I went ahead and started my session and the guiding was pretty good. I got to the meridian flip and it failed! The mount simply failed to flip. I looked outside and saw the counterweight shaft sticking right up at the meridian. I had forgotten to install the counterweights! I'm amazed that I was able to do anything under those conditions; I guess I was just lucky about where the Sombrero Galaxy was in the sky relative to the balance point of my mount. So I installed the counterweights, re-parked and re-set the mount, and continued. Unfortunately, last night was one where focus did degrade as time went on, so I threw out some subs. The resulting image is perhaps not as good as my 2013 image (and maybe I should add in the 2013 data to improve it).
B revision: darkened the background!
Date: 3-4 May 2016
Subject: M104, Sombrero Galaxy
Scope: AT8IN+High Point Scientific Coma Corrector
Filter: Baader Planetarium UHC-S
Mount: EQ-6 (EQMOD)+AutoPEC
Guiding: Orion ST-80 + Antares 0.5x focal reducer + DSI Ic + PHD 22.214.171.124 (Win 7 ASCOM)
Camera: DSI IIc, no chiller CCD 15 °C
Acquisition: Sequence Generator Pro 126.96.36.199 with Nebulosity 4.1 ASCOM camera driver
Exposure: 18x600 s
Stacking: Neb 4, bad pixel map, bias included, 33 flats, nebula filter, match histograms, trans+rot align, Deep Sky Stacker 1.5σ κ-σ stack without drizzle.
Processing: StarTools 1.4.316: Crop; Wipe; Develop: 85.77%; HDR:Optimize; Contrast; Color:Scientific, 200% saturation, red bias reduce 1.70; Deconvolute: 2.5 pix; Track: Smoothness 87%, 4.5 pix; Magic, shrink 2 pix. Photoshop CS6 + Astronomy Tools: Deep space noise reduction; Increase star color; layer masked unsharp mask for dust lane; Astroframe.
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