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  1. #1
    seal killer's Avatar
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    Default The Moon and Unfulfilled Expectations



    All--

    This was the first night for my new Atlas EQ-G/AT8IN combination. I had great plans of 3 star alignment. Alas, tonight was not the night.

    I did learn several things, such as the fact that you have to know where the potential stars ARE . . . and I pretty much didn't. By the time I figured it out, a new problem presented itself; the selection of stars available for the second star of the alignment process were all unworkable.

    I'm doing something wrong that I will have to sleep on.

    In the meantime, because I was waiting for it to get dark enough for Polaris to be seen so I could PA, I shot the Moon; 8" reflector, prime focus, 10-1/1000 second lights at ISO1600, no darks.

    If I hadn't taken these snapshots, I couldn't prove I'd been there.

    --Bill
    ps I continue the "Chronicle . . ." under the "Mount" section.
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  2. #2
    Fuzz's Avatar
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    Default

    It's a good start, Bill. With new equipment, especially something as complex as an astrophotography setup, there is obviously an initial learning curve. You could try some planets next (Saturn, Mars, and Venus are all up in the evening sky) -- they're bright enough that you can use a fast shutter speed and not necessarily need tracking (or use video capture).

    Quote Originally Posted by seal killer View Post
    All--I did learn several things, such as the fact that you have to know where the potential stars ARE . . . and I pretty much didn't.
    Two ways to remedy this. For instant gratification, fire up Stellarium on your laptop next to your scope. Then look around the sky and match the stars on Stellarium. The longer way is to go out some nights and scan the sky with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars. Take a star map and try to match the stars. You can do this on nights when you're not doing any visual observing or during long imaging sessions. I spent many hours on many nights doing this - on partly cloudy nights, or nights when I was feeling too lazy to set up all my gear.

    By the time I figured it out, a new problem presented itself; the selection of stars available for the second star of the alignment process were all unworkable.
    Not sure what controller you're using, but typically they have quite a large database of alignment stars. Especially if you wait a little until it's completely dark, you can see many stars to align on. Was it a problem of being able to identify them, or that all the alignment stars were obstructed from view?
    Visual:
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  3. #3
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    Nice!!Seal Killer...
    Enjoy the Black cause they can't take it back............
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    Stoney
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  4. #4
    seal killer's Avatar
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    Fuzz--

    The available "second" stars were all unidentifiable by me. I will go the Stellarium AND binoculars route!

    Like you implied, it was not wasted time. By 3:30AM, I began to move the telescope in the right direction with about every third button push. Additionally, I was stunned by its precision.

    I spent some time on polar alignment and managed to get it well. So, I learned that. The mount is still setup and awaits this evening!

    --Bill
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  5. #5
    andyp180's Avatar
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    Default

    keep us posted bill.you'll see just how quickly you will get used to the new equipment.
    good luck and bring on the images!!
    clear skies,
    andy

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    andy

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  6. #6
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    Default

    Nice image bill. You could drop your ISO setting down quite a bit for the crescent Moon...Well done and nice job..
    Declan.
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  7. #7
    ghswen's Avatar
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    Default

    Bill,

    If by "unworkable" you mean they were below the horizon, you have a setting incorrect. Most likely the time setting. Double check that first. If you're just having a problem locating it, as suggested earlier try Stellarium to get you pointed the correct direction. Normally the stars in the alignment process will be obviously brighter than others in the general direction the scope is pointing.

    PS as you do this again and again you will get familiar with the names and areas they are located and it will become second nature.

    Hang in there it takes time and lots of practice and a few frustrating nights! However the good nights will come and pay you back for your trouble!

    For "down the road" (don't do this yet as your still in a huge learning curve with what you have!) you can set up your laptop to control the mount using Stellarium. I have been doing this for over a year and it really makes life much easier. However it has it's own learning curve also.
    Last edited by ghswen; 06-16-2010 at 03:42 PM.
    Gordon
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  8. #8
    seal killer's Avatar
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    Gordon--

    I bet I could use my laptop to control the Atlas in my den! I wouldn't have the concerns of being out in the field (my backyard, about 40 feet away) and I could take my time learning during the day.

    --Bill
    Nikon D700
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  9. #9
    JohnW's Avatar
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    Bill,

    the best piece of extra kit that I have purchased for my scope was a green laser pointer from Jasper (JasperLaser.com: Welcome! - much better than one that I purchased from Celestron). I yanked off the spotting scope, replaced it with the laser and have been happy ever since. It makes doing alignments MUCH easier (you can actually SEE where the mount is pointing at all angles). I cheat a little bit and have the mount hooked up to my planetarium software (TheSkyX SAE in my case, but as the others have said - Stellarium would be just as effective) - not to drive it, but to help visualize where it is pointing. I actually cheat even MORE than that by using the Live View in IP Camera Control to help with mount alignment. You should find that only the bright stars used for alignment can be seen at 100% (with a pretty wide field of view to boot!), and after progressively zooming in all the way to 5x, you can place the star dead center in a tighter field than my 12mm reticule eyepiece gives me. After the first two alignment stars, I find that I rarely even have to get up out of my chair to finish with the calibration stars (combination of the laser pointer, planetarium and Live View).

    John
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  10. #10
    seal killer's Avatar
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    John--

    So far, Live View is the only way I use the telescope and mount. I have a growing appreciation of the precision of the EQ-G. Although I have an enormous amount of work to do and experience to gain, the precise positioning amazed me.

    I don't know much about green laser pointers, but I can imagine how one combined with Live View and planetarium software might be the cat's meow.

    --Bill
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