I had a pretty ambitious target list for the evening. Aside from the targets, and capturing whatever the night is willing to give up, my primary goal was to get in a planetary imaging session as practice for what I hope will be a run to the farm this afternoon. My secondary goal is to gather all of the gear that I will be using in one place to minimize the risk of forgetting something important.
The astronomy forecast was for fair conditions from just before sunset until about 2300 when clouds were expected to roll in until about 0200. The timing of my plan was to try to capture Saturn and maybe the Moon between the time that they came out of the trees and arrival of the clouds.
I uncovered the scope and added the ASI290 and flip mirror, and powered up the equipment at 1630.
My next trip to the scope was just before 2000, and I found Polaris bright enough to check polar alignment by 2002. Wow! After polar alignment, I slewed to Deneb to check seeing and collimation, and do a star alignment. The seeing looked pretty fair, but I am uncertain about the collimation. The refraction circles about the center of the doughnut appeared to be concentric, so no collimation adjustment required.
I went back out to greet Saturn at 2130 and found moderate dew on just about everything but my optics and RH was 99%. Heat was turned on at about 1730. I shot 10 RGB x 45s/filter runs on Saturn at ~20ms and 420 gain. I found the display was much cleaner than last time.
I slewed to the Moon at 2215 and while I was trying to find it in the eyepiece, clouds had rolled in, so I came inside. Once inside, I checked Astrospheric and found that the cloudiness between 2300 and 0200 had been replaced with a forecast for AA seeing and Avg transparency. I checked again at 2300 and found that the clouds had passed and went back out to work on the Moon.
The moon was nearly full, and most features were washed out. I shot Aristarchus Plateau, Copernicus and Kepler, and a couple of shots around the southern lunar highlands. These were shot without the 2.5x PowerMate. Some were full frame while others were cropped. Exposure and gain varied.
I was unable to find Neptune, probably because it was difficult to distinguish it from a star in a 40mm eyepiece. Didn’t spend much time here before moving on to Jupiter.
I managed to get about 5 RGB x 30s/filter on Jupiter at ~4ms and 405 gain before I had a runaway slew. The seeing seemed pretty good. As I began another attempt to get 10 RGB runs I noted that Jupiter appeared to be hazy so I checked the front glass and found that it was starting to dew up.
Letting discretion be the better part of valor, and knowing that I need some sleep before tomorrow’s trip, I ended the session at 0100 without attempting Mars or Uranus, neither of which had cleared the trees.
Expecting even worse dew at the farm, I think that I am going to try both the dew shield and the dew strap. I doubt that the batteries will last very long.
I will attempt to use the Stellarium and the Gemini app on the laptop to drive the mount for the farm session.