-20 is quite cold, actually

Last night was the first clear night in over a month (that I was was available), so I spent it doing some imaging. The 3/4 moon was too bright for anything serious, but it was OK to work on adjusting autoguiding parameters.

It was about -20C. That’s cold. The PC wouldn’t start, so I think I am officially off the air in the cold until those enclosure heaters arrive. The LCD monitor also faded to near-invisibility, and I’m thinking I may need to apply a heater of some kind to it too.  I eventually got the PC going by leaving it powered on with the “can’t find hard drive” message on the screen, until the internal power consumption heated the interior somewhat.

Then I found I was getting strange effects with autoguiding, with the Declination guiding adjustments moving four times more slowly than the RA. I suspect a problem with backlash or stiction in the Declination gear. I did a bit of data gathering to better quantify some of the effects, but I wasn’t having fun in the cold, and called it a night after a couple of hours. I’ll have a look at the Declination gears and backlash during the day on a coming weekend (in a thoroughly-heated dome).

Once I get the heaters working and the declination adjusted I think it will be practical to do some basic image acquisition in extreme cold, but it’s not fun to be trying to do adjustments in those conditions.

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