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Thread: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

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    Default A strange night... M20 turns into M8!



    Last night was one of my weirdest so far in my short imaging career. No moon, transparency and seeing at 2/5, no clouds, no wind, very little humidity. How can I pass such a night?

    So I took out my LX200 (my other equipment is still stowed away) and checked out what I could reach between my trees in the south with Stellarium. I had a lot of ideas, including M20...

    I did a two star align like usual, then as I setup my camera, I nudged the DEC a little bit . Don't you love these clutches on fork mounts? So, to lazy to realign, I nudged it back in place ! If you are a beginner and you are reading this, please learn from my mistake! You have to realign if that happens...

    I slewed on M20, but of course it was nowhere near my FOV. So I removed the camera and reinstalled my diagonal and 20mm eyepiece to try to find it (instead of realigning) - mistake #2. I saw a very faint patch near an open cluster and figured that was it. That was my third mistake.

    Once I got the SBIG back on, I was good to go (mistake #4). It was such a beautiful night that I went to the other side of my yard to do a nice fire in the fire pit and went back about 75 minutes later (mistake #5) to see if my 150 x 25 seconds exposures were completed. Sure enough, they were all done. I noticed that the last image shown on my Nebulosity screen looked a little different than what I remembered the first one to look like. Hmm, I didn't make much of it and packed it up after shooting flats.

    This morning, I was shocked to see that my target (M20?) was moving to the right by a few millimeters on my monitor every frame! In fact by the 80th frame, it was no longer in the FOV. And out of these 80 frames, only 51 were usable. So, as dedicated as I am ... I decided to stack and process anyway. You can imagine what the stacking artifacts looked like too... So I ended up cropping only a very small portion of the stacked image.

    Once I was done, I did not recognize M20! To be honest I had no idea what that was, until I ran it in Astrometry.net. Ends up that it's a close up of M8 ! I was planning to image M8 later this summer with my refractor (of course).

    Well, I hope you enjoyed my story and like a said, if you are a beginner, please learn from my mistakes! I know I will.

    Thanks for reading my story ,
    Paul
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    Very nice "mistake"! At least you didn't waste the night. Thanks for sharing.
    Marius
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    I think we've all tried to take a short cut or two in our time, only to realise later that there are no short cuts in this game I think I've made most of those mistakes myself at one time or another.
    Still you got a nice image of the Lagoon!

    Richard
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    Very nice read Paul, you had me chuckling at a couple points. You've basically summed up what happens to us all on those 'bad' nights.

    Thanks for sharing the woes, makes me feel less like an idiot now....

    Best...Paul
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    Nice story Paul and a great picture too.
    Scott, My Messier Count: 108
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    gosh Paul even when you miss you grab a great shot!
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    Hi Paul. A great post and report from you. Even with all of the mistakes and minimal usable frames, you still came away with a very nice Lagoon Nebula image, even if understandably a bit off center. Excellent contrast and very nice nebulosity color and details. Even when you do bad, you still do good. Thanks for sharing your nice capture and fun read tutorial with us Paul, and best of regards.
    - Marshall
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    Nice image, I think I did the reverse miss last summer, got M20 while trying to image M8. Want to trade?
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    Loved the story Paul. It's always good to know that I'm not the only one making mistakes at the scope. My last time out a couple nights ago the best photos I could muster after staying up all night trying to image M17 were some photos of bats that I managed to grab as I was putting away my gear lol.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and your image of "M20".
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    Default Re: A strange night... M20 turns into M8!

    I feel your pain Paul. There is a jinx surrounding M8 apparently. Last night I was able to actually see the Milky Way overhead, not a Kodak moment, but you could make it out and that was enough for me to get the gear out. To most rural people they would likely say "what Milky Way?" For me it was a rare event and exciting.

    My first goal was to hook up with Stellarium and use it's telescope control feature. I watched a few U Tube tutorials, but the com port question wasn't cleared up and I had a question about the brief mount capability list. Might have been the reason why I couldn't download that feature, who knows at this point. After wasting imaging time on that I set up and decided to try M8 even though it was hanging low in the southern light polluted sky. For some reason I was having some issues with star alignment and finished that off when my DSLR made contact with the tripod, I had to do the alignment over. I was also testing my battery pack in advance of a dark sky imaging trip and after doing a shorter alignment routine, I heard the sound of material stretching and my first reaction was to hit zero and stop the mount. The DEC motor cowling ran into the cig lighter connector and that ended another alignment session. I don't know if the cable came with the ZEQ25GT when I bought it, but the connector should be L shaped, not straight making it taller. If it's an iOptron cable the design is wrong. Like Paul, I didn't want to go through another alignment so I did the one star alignment and punched in the Lagoon Nebula.

    I didn't have high hopes of a good capture because the southern sky is a hazy light bowl. You'll be lucky to see a star below 35 degrees. After the one star alignment the ZEQ25 put M8 in the field of view, just to the lower left so I made the adjustment and programmed the night's imaging sequences with BYE. My first laptop refused to recognize the SSAG USB cable, so I tried a couple more cables without success. Its an older 32 bit that I had a plan for that fell though so I switched to my newer machine and the USB worked finally. I proceeded to take 50 exposures, 25 lights and 25 darks ranging from 2 minutes to 6 minutes. Eventhough the southern sky had the bright and hazy pollution I upped the ISO to 1600 for the first time. After checking out a couple of the shorter images I saw potential with that value and thought it would work well with darker skies. Since M8 was now just above my neighbor's rooftop, I wanted to squeeze out as much as I could while "in the area", so I slewed up the block to the Trifid, M20. I took a series of 7 lights and 7 darks, four 2 minute and three 3 minute exposures. Total exposures for the night was 64, including darks. I passed on doing any flats or bias frames, too many things going on. I have a small library of them, but they are all 800 ISO.

    For some reason BYE cut off a couple times during the session, one time it shut itself off. I found out later why. I was anxious to download the images in utilities when I should have gone to bed five hours earlier. However, upon downloading them I immediately realized I had a problem. Only 11 exposures downloaded, the remaining 46 were lost in virtual space because I didn't keep track of my memory chip from previous sessions. Crap!

    The night had too many mini issues with a couple moderate/major issues thrown in for good measure. Before imaging I try to slow things down and work at a slower pace to minimize human errors, maybe I should slow down to a crawl? This is still very new to me and all I can say is even with mistakes the process is a learning experience. I'm just glad I didn't break or drop anything in the dark, however, I did trip over the ac cable to the laptop and this almost caused it to fall off it's table, fortunately the cords disconnected before pulling the laptop off the tv tray.

    Lastly, I've been very pleased with the performance of Orion's Sky Glow imaging filter. It does a good job filtering out unwanted wavelengths and improving the subs. I have to say as well the 60Da is performing better than I expected, low noise even on warm summer nights like it was last night.
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