The Great Hercules Cluster (M13) and Equipment Tuning

I had three equipment tuning objectives for this session: co-focusing the 60Da and a guide camera on your OAG for CG5 assessment, and reestablishing polar alignment and checking backlash after the adjustment I made a few days ago. I was not able to complete the co-focusing effort as I discussed in a previous email. I’ll take another look at that today. The polar alignment and backlash effort went well.

Last night was the most comfortable weather for working at the scope this year. It was 72F and the breeze was barely noticeable when I went out to the scope at 2000. The temperature and dewpoint plots on the weather station stayed well-separated all night and I did not see any dew on the equipment. It was 62F when I shut down the session at 2330.

The NP101 was already on the G11, and I added the ASI6200 for the session.

Polar alignment was way off. By eyeballing the PoleMaster display, I’d say 45’. This was probably as a result of my torquing worm block bolts when I adjusted polar alignment.

Guiding was great! Calibration went smoothly without reporting any difficulties, and I had a great looking calibration chart. I stepped into the Guiding Assistant tool and found that the Polar alignment error was 3.7’ and Ra backlash was about 3500ms. Way more than I expected, but PHD managed it very well. RMS errors were .57”, .34” and .61” for Ra, Dec and total, respectively. I’ll take that! Although I am not completely happy with 3500ms backlash, I am not going keep the present adjustment through the upcoming New Moon cycle, and then attempt another adjustment afterwards.

All of the preceding was complete by 2145, so I decided to do a run on M13 to confirm the performance that I was seeing in PHD. I set up a sequence to slew to M13, autofocus at the before capturing images and again each hour, and to capture 25 2s frames through the L filter. The sequence performed flawlessly.

The remote desktop session worked well until about 2245, and it dropped. I was able to get very brief reconnections, which were enough to see that the NINA imaging sequence was still progressing. After the connection went back on one laptop, tried switching to the other, connecting via Ethernet, and switching from the home wifi to the nanorouter that sits by the scope. Nothing worked. I have concentrated on the laptop in previous attempts to solve this. Now I think it is the host computer on the telescope.

The good:

Set up, start up, acquisition and initial focus are very smooth now.

Guiding was fantastic.

NINA was fantastic.

The bad: Discovering that I could not co-focus the main and guide cameras.

The ugly: Remote Desktop dropping

Things to do today:

Verify my co-focus results from last night.

Examine the laptop remote desktop settings.

Overall impression: Very enjoyable session, and I continue to feel good about being ready (equipment and me) for my first farm/dark sky trip this year. The Remote Desktop issue is very frustrating.

The Great Hercules Globular Cluster (M13) - 2022-05-18 02:22 UTC - Test Image

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