These days I'm finding it quite difficult to get data. The time, energy cost is high and the returns are low.
To go to a dark site requires about 1 hour of loading the car (pulling equipment out of the closet and making sure I didn't miss anything, also packing warm clothes, clearing out memory cards, packing food, water, checking batteries of my red flashlights), then a 1 hour drive to mag 20.7 skies, then about 45 min getting all the equipment setup (polar aligned), balanced (counterweights), connected (lots and lots of cabling), then 45 min fiddling with the software (guiding calibration, focus, checking collimation if applicable, plate solving, creating the sequence, etc.). When starting the sequence, some of my captures fail because an image doesn't finish download or the guide stars get lost or other bugs or clouds get in the way or tracking is bad due to wind. Then I need another 45 min tearing everything down and 1 hour to drive back. The next day I need another 30 min to bring everything back into the closet.
In this part of California, astronomical darkness doesn't set in until about 1015pm (near summer solstice)
So to make it all work, I start that entire cycle at 630pm, to get to my dark site at 830pm, to hopefully begin capturing data at 10pm. At best I'll have 10-1130pm but because of various factors such as long dithers, failed downloads at best I'm capturing 50% of the time so thats 50% of 90 minutes which is 45 minutes.
I'll take flats at 1130pm, tear down at 1145pm and be back in the car at 1230am. I'm home at ~130am. I'm in bed a bit later, maybe past 2am.
So I was working from 630pm to 130am and have maybe 45 minutes of data from mag 20.7 skies.....I'll also need 1 more hour the following day.
I'll go through the subs and of the 45 minutes, end up throwing out 1/3 so I'm down to 30 minutes. Maybe some more subs are thrown out because the sky wasn't fully dark yet when I started. So the summary is 8 hours of my time and 20-30 minutes of data. I'm pretty tired and disappointed at the end of all of that. What has your experience been like?
Edited by joelin, 22 July 2019 - 08:08 PM.