I have the new pier-top adaptor fixed up and ready to mount, so today I remounted the top plate.
Since the new mount hasn’t arrived yet, I thought I would take this opportunity to carefully take a panoramic photo from the telescope’s perspective, with the goal of installing a custom panorama into TheSkyX, to help plan and preview observing against a realistic simulation of what my very cluttered horizon looks like.
So, I temporarily mounted a tripod column on the pier top plate, with a ball head on top of that. This places a camera at the same height where the telescope would normally sit, and the “pan-rotation” direction of the ball-head allowed me to take a bunch of carefully-aimed pictures.
I took a series of pictures (trying different focal lengths with a wide-angle zoom lens), being careful that they overlapped by about 30%. Here’s a sample (but many more were needed to get 360-degree coverage):
Then I used Lightroom and Photoshop to merge them into 360-degree panoramas. Since I took several different sets of input photos with different focal lengths, and with some with the camera oriented horizontally and others with the camera oriented vertically, I ended up with several panoramas of different quality (different kinds of distortion etc).
Taking the least-distorted, I adjusted it to be exactly 360-degrees, trimmed it to the size required by TheSkyX (which requires that both dimensions be multiples of 512), and set the sky area to transparent. The result looks like this:
I was able to load this panorama into TheSkyX so it shows up as the horizon on the star chart. This is a great feature of TheSkyX – I get the calculated sky chart overlaid on my actual horizon, so I can accurately see what is visible above the hedge, between the trees, etc.