Smorgasbord of Targets from an Evening of Errors

Oh boy… lets start with listing what went wrong on the first fully clear winter night of 2019/2020 which I was able to image. I had my EdgeHD 8 telescope set-up, a rareity but I decided the cold weather would help my uncooled cameras function better and at F/10 one needs to be able to bump up the ISO a bit… well I certainly regret that decision.

A dimmed Betelgeuse – January 17th, 2020

Things that went Wrong

  • Entered in the wrong Scope/sensor combo in Stellarium so my field of view was larger by a factor of 2 (which made star identification and hopping a lot harder)
  • Found out my EdgeHD is slightly out of colomation
  • Forgot after focusing to lock down the mirror, so it flip-flopped during the night.
  • My Orion Starshoot decided it didn’t want to find any stars so I lost tracking (which at 2023mm I still require!) so F/10 with OAG is too much for it.
  • One Imaging Run I forgot to set to “loop” so got 5 minutes of images rather than an hour…
  • Cold weather caused some cables to be less than flexible and unplug, particularity the guide cable doesn’t seem to want to give me south accession correction.
Tiger Eye Galaxy

Things I did to work around the problem (short term solutions)

  • Imaged at 20sec subs, the shortest period of time where my initial tests showed I could confidently get round stars without any upsets.
  • Set the ISO to 8000 as to get a bit better SNR out of the camera at the -20C temperatures (I also tried ISO 51200 but the SNR didn’t change at all). I should note that at -15C or colder for the Z6 ISO800 stacked is nosier (especially in the green channel) than ISO8000… to be investigated why but such is life.
  • Changed my plan from imaging 4 targets seriously to a marathon run of just grab and bag as many targets with reasonable success.

Okay, on to the images I was able to capture (each with multiple 20 sec subs). Arguably not my best work but at least I got something form a full night of effort, besides some critical lessons learned.

The Great Hercules Star Cluster
Antenna Nebula Core (there are suppose to be bands that extend)
NGC 5474
Pinwheel Galaxy

So there you have it, I have a few tasks to sort out before my next serious imaging session with the Celestron Edge HD 8″, so I may jump down to my William Optics Piggy back set-up as figure out things in the freezing cold isn’t as fun as advertised!

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