Here is my first image taken with the new Astro-Physics 1100GTO mount. I am in the process of building up two imaging rigs to run in parallel. This new mount is intended mainly for my Celestron 11" EDGE + FLI ML16200. My older, but no less loved AP Mach1GTO is intended for my smaller scopes, mainly the Tak FSQ-106 and my QSI 683. I am in the middle of long term plans to get an even larger-sensor CCD for the bigger system, but these are multi-year plans due to the expense. For this first time out with the 1100, I actually used the smaller QSI 683 camera as the ML16200 was in need of service.
The only report I can give on the new mount is that it worked so flawlessly that after a short time I forgot that it was there. I am hoping that it will hold my FLI camera more steady with my C11 than the Mach1 did. There has been enough play with that scope on the smaller mount that the large cooling fan of the camera was inducing a small vibration, unfortunately large enough to cause the stars to look like little squashed doughnuts. From what I can tell with the QSI 683, the stars are reasonably round. But, I did use my Celestron 0.7x focal reducer, and this does not produce round stars, particularly towards the edges of the field, however I was pleased enough with the results.
My biggest disappointment in this image is that I failed to predict the bad seeing conditions during three of the four nights of imaging, and as a consequence I did not get enough adequate L frames from which I rely on the resolution of detail. In retrospect I should have devoted as much of the first night as possible acquiring just the L frames during good seeing conditions and then acquiring RGB the other nights when poor seeing prevailed. I only have a little over an hour's worth of L data, but 2 hours each of RGB. I would have loved to have had more like 6 hours of L, but it didn't work out that way. I have many hours of lousy L data, none of which is suitable to mix with the 1 hour from the first night.
It is my hope to return to M51 real soon and collect better data. But, since this is a first light image with regards to the new mount, I wanted to post it anyway as many of you would be interested in my plans.
Your C&C are most welcome, but you need not bother fussing at me about the amount of noise in this image because I am painfully aware of the lack of integration time. I'll try for another image later this season, particularly when I get the ML16200 back up and running.
High Resolution Link (Note that my AB page is not completed. I'll finish it if and when I get a better image to "publish".)