Thanks to the continued good weather (but variable seeing conditions), I have had a good chance to get out and do some more planetary imaging.
Having this oppotunity has really aided in finding the weak points in both my gear and technique.
First that had to be addressed from gear. I had purchased some Barlow lenses a while back which until now have been fine, however I started to find their limitations.
After speaking to a supplier I ordered an Explorer Scientific 3x Focal Extender, I also managed to get my hands on a ZWO ADC (which at present seem to be in short supply).
After a few further nights of getting used to using the ADC and working out the best settings for the ASI224MC Camera I am pretty happy with the results.
I have also taken the step to increase the height of the pier and mount ready for the Mars opposition.
Well the weather has held for once and I have had a few nights to attempt some futher imaging. Apart from the seeing not being great its been a good couple of sessions and managed to get some planetary shots for the first time this year.
Finally managed to get a new planetary camera and something that can also be used for EAA.
I decided on the ZWO ASI224MC due to it also being very IR sensitive given that its a OSC.
I paired it with a PlanetPro IR Pass filter and give it a test with some lunar imaging.
The result and final image was a 7 panel mosaic.
I have not had much of a chance to get out and do much imaging due to extreme swings in weather resulting in either heavy rain and high winds or hot sunny days with mist and cloudy nights.
These are the only images I have managed to get so far this summer but hoping more will follow
Ok so this is a pretty big update and the start of what I am hoping will be an ongoing project.
The weather here has been worse than normal over the last few months and there has been a number of sessions that have failed before they even really got started.
Getting clear nights where I can obtain hours of good clean data is becoming more and more rare. There is the possibility of being able to image over multiple nights however, I have actually seen whole targets come and go between sessions now. Imaging in the way I currently do means I am going at times months without getting a decent session in (three good sessions in total since the start of the year).
I have been looking at what I can do in between that means I am still imaging and able to get the scope out during the more brief periods of clear sky.
Whilst doing some searching and research on a new camera that I was looking at I came across a possible solution, EAA (Electronic Assisted Astronomy).
The new camera I purchased for planetary and lunar imaging also doubles up very well for this, And this is where I am currently at.
I will be starting a new project as I venture into EAA and have spent the last week setting the equipment and software up so that I am able to live stream sessions as well.
Please subscribe to my yourube channel (here) and facebook page (here) for details and live streams.
After purchasing a used Skywatcher 200p a few weeks back I set about stripping it down and getting it ready for use.
The scope has had a few modifications to make it perform a little better and I have been taking the oppotunity to test it out along with a new “White Light” solar filter I made.
The first big bit of news is Dyfi Astro now its own Observatory, The Cantrer Gwaelod Observatory.
If you are interested in knowing more about the name as well as the myths and legend surrounding it then take a look here.This marks somewhat of a milestone and something that will be somewhat of an evolutionary process of the next 12 months or so.
One of the main issues I have had until now is having to setup and breakdown each night and all the issues that go along with it.
The longest part about getting setup now is letting the scope cool down enough, this will being aided soon with the addition of a fan attachment to the scope. The build from start to finish took a week, there was however a few bits of prep work done before hand to make that possible.
The scope and mount now sits on a custom built concrete pier which has made a major difference compared to what I had before.
The whole system is now connected to a dedicated computer and can be controlled locally from within the observatory or remotely from anywhere with an internet connection. Imaging from here has been a massive boost and has spurred me on to experiment and try new things knowing I can be setup within minutes and image through short periods of clear sky. Everything took a little time to setup and dialled in how I wanted, The end result is a system that is a lot more capable and should serve well going forward.
The first images from the new setup proved to be interesting and these last few months there has been a few more “firsts” mainly due to having a permanent setup.
Until this point I had never attempted to Photograph a Comet, just after building the Observatory I got a chance to photograph two, Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) and Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak.
With the summer months here the lack of a dark sky meant I had a chance to try a few things out and test a few things before the cold dark nights come back.
The scope is now fully guided but I have now taken full advantage of Platesolving and took the time to build a decent alignment map.
After helping a mate out setting up his Ha Solar scope for imaging he kindly donated some solar film. This was another first for me and something that really has come into its own these last few weeks.
Whilst setting everything up and getting things tested it has given me a chance to try a few short sessions. Not having a dark sky has limited me on what I can do in regards Deep sky imaging but I have still managed to get a few short test sessions in.
My 600D has now also been turned completly full spectrum and I intend making the most of the extra signal over the coming months. One thig I have noticed this summer is the difference in noise at higher temperatures, this is something I intend addressing for next year.
There are a few things on the cards and I promise to keep you posted more often. Below are a few other shots that have been taken during a number of sessions so far.
The weather over the last few months has been terrible. constant cloud and strong winds have put pay to any chance of imaging.
The other night I did manage to get a brief gap for a short session.
I managed to get my first glimpse of Jupiter this year and also a quick Lunar mosaic.
Below are the last set of images that I managed to get at the beginning of the year, I had compelty fogot to upload these and you can how long its been as the last imaging session was in January of this year
First of all I hope everyone had a fantastic christmas.
I was actually a little surreal as this was the first year in about 10 years that I have not worked at all over the christmas holidays.
Things have been a little slow of late due to the weather but it has given me a chance to tweak a few things.
In the last set of images there was a few things that I was not completely happy with Diffraction spikes did not look right which pointed to a possible issue with the spider vanes and also some slight collimation issues which showed in the flat frames as well.
Having worked on the scope on and off for a week or so and after getting a laser collimator for Christmas I think I fixed some of the issues and any remaining issue should be a little easier to solve. My Flat fields look a lot better as do the stars, there is still a slight reflection issue that I am trying to figure out but nothing unpleasant. Yesterday however I finally got a clear spell to actually get everything out and test. I have been building a library of dark frames taken at various different temperatures and timings so this was a good chance to see how the mount faired with a longer exposure time. Since getting the mount back I have only gone as long as 300 seconds, last night I shot my first set of subs at 600 seconds in less than ideal seeing conditions. Although the PHD guide graph was very erratic due to seeing the resulting images all had round stars and with a zero bin count I am very pleased indeed.
I also installed and setup Astro Tortilla a few days ago and last night was the first time I have got chance to test out platesolving. This was very successful indeed and is going to become a main part of my acquisition workflow. Having to setup the scope each time means that I have to Polar align the mount and then align the scope and sync it using software to get accurate go-to’s.
Platesolving allows me to take the guess work out of this and uses software to calculate where I am pointing, sync the mount and then if required re-slew to the required location with the errors corrected (I hope this makes sense). This is something I will be looking at further over the coming weeks once I have had more time to use it.