My objective tonight was to work with the GM8 with an eye toward grooming it to be DSO imaging mount. I wanted to walk through PHD2 calibration, check and maybe tweak my polar alignment with PHD Drift Align, and maybe image Pleiades.
The temperature was in the low 30s, the RH was 70%, and there was no breeze. The PoleMaster symbology was very well behaved, so I think that the seeing was good. Astrospheric was forecasting below average transparency, but since I was grooming equipment that should be ok.
I had taken down the Meade/G11 and put up the TV/GM8 in mid-afternoon, and went out at about 1645 to power up. Set up, power up, and connecting software to equipment went very well.
As a bonus, I imaged the Moon for the first time with the ASI6200, and the result was pretty interesting. I took a single 0.015s exposure that I took to Photoshop for a curve stretch only. There was no stacking, noise reduction, or sharpening. The resulting image was surprisingly decent.
After it was dark enough, I did a PoleMaster alignment. Polaris was centered horizontally in the display, but way off to the left. Before going through the alignment process, I did an azimuth adjustment to bring it back to center deisplay. The az/el adjustment after this initial adjustment was off just a small amount.
Next up was calibration after slewing to the meridian-equator. The calibration failed. The two axes were 180 degrees from one another. Also, I was hearing a tick coming from the mount every 15-20 seconds. I suspected that the grub screw in the Dec drive system had come loose again, but I checked and the telescope responded to Dec slew commands.
I don’t know what is going on, but I am going to set the GM8 aside until after WSP. The G11 is working well, so that is the mount that I want to groom for WSP and to practice with. I ended the session at 2000. The temps had descended to 27 degrees, RH had increased to 72%. There was no dew or frost on anything.
I am not sure that I would have been able to go much longer anyway, because I could see clouds out in the west. The good news is that I was able learn tonight that I am not going to groom the GM8, instead of wasting any more nights on this decision.
From tonight’s work, I can see that any outside work on mounts/scopes is going to be challenging in 30 degree or less weather. The payoff will come on February 13th.