Good sky, calibration improving, guiding failed

NGC869-LRGB900It was a beautiful clear day and the sky remained clear through the night, we continue to have unseasonably warm weather, and the moon rose late, so last night was an ideal evening. Before dark, I mapped the horizon height all around the observatory, to configure Maxpoint and other software. Then, after dark, I carefully re-did the Gemini alignment routine on the mount, and overcame the pointing error problems I’ve been having. Finally, I put the 0.8x focal reducer into the imaging train to do some wide-field imaging, and recalibrated the focuser with this new setup.

One test image just for fun: a wide-field view of NGC 869/884, the Double Cluster. It seems to have worked well, including the automated filter changing, and alignment of the colours is good. As an image I’d like more colour depth and better colour calibration, but that will follow.

One problem still remains: a fault in the autoguider cable or connector. I had to jiggle the cables to get guider calibration to work for this image.

Later I tried one other image but autoguiding would not calibrate – I’m getting no guider movement on one of the axes, and the last time this happened it was a cable problem. This time, jiggling the cable didn’t fix it. I’ll bring the cable into the house and replace the connectors. I’m also thinking that this would be a good reason to switch guiding relays, from those built-in to the camera, to the outboard box from Stark Labs. although it would mean one more cable, it would only be from the USB hub on the mount to the mount guider input and the advantage would be no dangling cable that is stressed as the mount slews. Try that later.

Leo-Triplet-Mar17So, my second image attempt, the Leo Triplet, is not a quality I’m prepared to proceed with, although the Luminance channel isn’t too bad and I’ll put it here.

After the above work and some calibration flats it was close to midnight and I was cold, so I closed up and called it a night.

Update: I replaced the connectors on both ends of the autoguider cable, and made 5 spare cables to store in the observatory. Still need to check the female ends in the camera and mount and make sure the connector prongs are straight and adequately pressured.

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