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Astrotortilla + CI-700 saves the day!

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#1 Falcon-



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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:50 PM

Ever since I got the CI-700 I have been having troubles finding targets. The NGC-MAX DSC system just does not seem to be able to reliably put targets in the FOV of the camera and I spend huge amounts of time hunting somewhat blindly and often giving up. Given the lack of sky time I have had over the last year + this was rather a major issue. I had hints though that the CI-700 COULD perform well when on target.... but hints are not enough.

Well last night I tried to find M51 and after not having it in view gave Astrotortilla a shot even though my daytime tests trying to get it to solve pre-existing exposures never worked... Well this time it worked *PERFECTLY*! Told me I was about 2 deg off my target. Even though having to manually adjust and re-run the solve a few times is not even remotely as fast as a go-to solve would have been it got me on target and imaging! If you ever have problems with finding targets for whatever reason - try Astrotortilla.

Even beter now that I was on target I was able to get my first ever useable run of 15min exposures! :jump: Guiding was not *perfect* (I need to adjust my polar align a bit) but it was good enough to have no rejected frames!

Anyway... just stoked about being able to actually *find* targets with a mount capable of driving the AT6RC successfully. Going to try for more time on M51 tonight but until then here is a crop of my quick stack and process of last night's 7 900s exposures @ISO 400 w/ no calibration frames at all.

(Edit: Hmm - I intended to post this in the DSLR imaging forum.... but hey, this is MOSTLY mount related anyway so may as well leave it here!)

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#2 Footbag


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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:57 PM

Very cool! I just began playing around with AT. Seem very cool once you get it figured out. Now, I need to try it under the stars.

#3 Madratter



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Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:30 PM

I'm not familiar with AT but have used Elbrus to plate solve. I wonder if the problem with AT is that you were using stretched images in your tests, whereas, the exposures straight from the camera are not stretched.

#4 Falcon-



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Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:55 PM

No I was feeding it my raw subs, not stretched final results. I think the problem actually had more to do with there being too many stars in my subs vs the much shorter pointing exposures (the subs I had on hand to ranged from 180s to 600s while the exposures used to solve on the fly are less then 30s)

In any case once I set AT's settings to the right FOV range to look in it solved quite fast. It would I understand do auto go-to, solve, go-to, solve,etc, until it gets to exactly the specified coords if used with a go-to mount. In my case I had the NGC-MAX show me what it saw as the co-ords, compared to the solved results, and manually moved the mount a bit then re-solved till I had it within a few arc-min of the correct position, at that point it was well within the sensor and I could have either fine-tuned framing or just simply started imaging (as I did in this case).

Tonight I will be refining polar alignment a bit more and going at it again to gather more data so I will find out if this was a one-time fluke or not.

For a bit of context here I got the AT6RC quite some time ago when I only had my CG5 and *never* managed to get guiding going well enough to reliably do even 300s exposures at that focal length. The CI-700 was to be the solution of a high(er) end mount that my lack of $$ could afford... of course it was cheaper because it only had a 492 digital drive. I figured the NGC-MAX would give me the pointing I needed but while I can see it would be perfectly fine for visual it just does not have the accuracy needed for imaging. So, ya, given that I have had the AT6RC for 2 years and the CI-700 for over a year I am rather pleased to be finally getting useable results from that combo. I do have a much-delayed crazy plan to to a synscan conversion on the CI-700 but that is not going to happen to soon.

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