This lunar imaging session was the worst of times and it was the best of times.
The Meade was still on the G11, and I was imaging with the ASI178MC. I elected to not use the 2.5x Powermate.
The worst of times began well before dark. At about 1900, just as the moon had cleared the trees, I powered up the scope just to see how it was tracking and found that it was drifting horribly. Next, I wanted to know if I could successfully guide out this large drift manually. I tried guiding with the hand controller, but the arrow buttons kept locking up. I then tried guiding with the arrow buttons on the ASCOM driver on the computer display, but since I had not ever connected to the mount with the Samsung, I had to set up IP addresses, and that took time to figure out. I got that sorted only to find that it was too cumbersome to guide with ASCOM display,. Next I connected the GM8 hand controller to the mount. After restarting the mount, I began to experience erratic slews. I changed the settings from GM8 to G11 and that problem cleared, so I went back inside to await darkness.
The temperature was 67F and the dew point was 54F when I went back out to the mount for polar alignment and imaging at 2105. The wind had died down and there were lingering clouds to the north that delayed polar alignment by a few minutes. After the clouds passed, I connected to the Polemaster camera and found that the sky was too bright to see Polaris. The wait for darkness seemed to be much longer than I expected, and I wondered if the moon-lit sky was the issue. I dug deeper after being able to clearly see Polaris without my glasses, and I discovered that the Polemaster software had stopped responding. I restarted the software and the worst of times were over.
The best I times began when with the actual polar alignment, which went very smoothly with the freshly restarted software. The adjustment required at the end of the process was surprisingly large. I connected the ASI178 in Firecapture and found no discernable drift at all. More importantly, I was able to use the hand controller keys without any issue.
During the day, I had looked at Dial-a-Moon 2022 and picked out five areas that I wanted to image. During the session easily navigated to each one, and imaged all of them. I also made two extra runs on Tycho. I took 2000 frames in each run at 4.25ms and 144 gain, which yielded a 55% histogram. Except for one Tycho run, I was capturing the full frame instead of an ROI subset. The frame rate may have been a little on the low side. With the absence of discernable drift, no manual guiding was required during the exposure runs.
I concluded the session at 2205. The temperature had dropped to 66F, but the dew point remained at 54F. There was no dew on metal surfaces, which is consistent with the 12 degree margin between temperature and dew point readings. Seeing did not seem to be too bad at the Meade’s prime focus. I was comfortable in a light jacket.
After experiencing the worst of times with the mount last night, I am ready to put the TV back on the mount to work out any residual issues before going to the farm. Having a solar filter for the TV and not the Meade opens up opportunities to work with the system during the daylight when I am more mentally capable.
Regarding the high initial drift rate, it seems plausible that the mount had settled as a result of preceding night’s rain. It also seems plausible that the 37’ polar alignment error that guiding that the Guiding Assistance tool was showing me when I last imaged M13 was a result of an actual polar alignment error.
Polemaster is prone to becoming unresponsive, but this condition is easy to detect while using the mousepad to work through the alignment process. It was not readily detectable last night because all I was doing was looking at a bright camera display and waiting for darkness. I had closed the laptop several time to conserve battery power. I believe that Polemaster did not handle the interruption very well.
I like the Meade/ASI178 image scale much better without the 2.5x Powermate for lunar imaging that I do with it. Much easier to navigate too.
- Check the G11 hand controller
- Check Firecapture settings and adjust settings as necessary to optimize frame rate.
- Process images
|Check mount tracking||1905||2015|
The best of times part of this session was very enjoyable, but I can always do without the worst of times. As a result of this session, I feel that I have regained some ground on planetary imaging skills needed to capture the planets when they come around in late summer/fall.