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Nebula night!

Nebula night!

Stardate 18062012

Nebula night

We had a really clear night on Saturday. The mission Eta Carinae nebula.

The scope was realigned – an all sky polar alignment this time, what a difference! Easily the best alignment I’ve managed to get.

Using hyperstar, nothing can be seen thru the eyepiece, so I’m dependent completely on the camera output so I installed the hyperstar lens and the SXV-M26C camera, got the autoguiding working using Maxim and ran focusmax. Now the last time I used focusmax was a disaster, however – it wasn’t aligned properly then, and the selected star kept drifting out of the subframe. This time – no problemo! so I got a great focus.

I did have a little trouble with PHD Guiding – something about the stars not moving enough?! good problem to have I thought! using Maxim DL it seemed to cope OK, suspicion is that  it’s just a PHD Guiding preference setting somewhere.

First target was ETA Carinea. Here it is….

eta carinae 500


That was just the start of it, I haven’t processed all of the images acquired yet, but i’ll post when I do.

I used Observer Pro on my Ipad to identify targets. I have got to say, this app is really really good, it shows you what astronomy objects are visible, when they are visible etc – can’t say enough good things about it. It rocks.

There were a couple of things that I need to sort for next time.

1. Dew heater strap wasn’t on the guide scope properly and slipped away from the lens part, when it inevitably fogged up – I started to get weird tracking on long exposures. This was because it couldn’t focus properly, it’s sorted now, but its a shame that I didn’t pick up on it earlier, there are a few images that could be better because of it.

2. I really need to calibrate my images using flats and bias frames – and darks as well, I don’t have a flats box, but I’ve found this article on how to make one. A good project for the cloudy nights!

3. Use of filters, I have a couple of filters which are ideal for this type of work, a light pollution filter and a narrowband nebula filter, I didn’t use them at the time. But I should have and will next time. The way they are fitted to the hyperstar assembly was a bit of a mystery, but upon further inspection, the threads have been discovered between the camera and hyperstar lens, so I’m all set now.

4. Colour conversion settings for Maxim DL – I’m having a bit of trouble on this one – I’ll need to research this online a bit more.

Despite these issues – and learning all this stuff is half the fun!, I consider Saturday night a success, it got pretty cold! but was a very enjoyable night and a good reminder about why I enjoy this hobby so much!

Kirk out.

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Written by Andrew Kirk


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