Thanks, David – as usual, that is very useful information. It was really helpful getting me started with ASIAir.
I finally got outside and set up my ASIAIR Pro, AT72EDii scope, Az-GTi mount (wired connection) and ASI294mc camera. I’m using the same iOptron EQ base as well. The Astro-Tech .8x reducer/flattener I ordered back in November finally arrived (no doubt delayed by all the virus shenanigans), and I got the optical train set up. Then I went out the other night to try it out and see if I could get a photo of comet Neowise.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do the polar alignment. The process is a little tedious with the EQ base, especially adjusting the elevation, but after 5 minutes of fiddling I got a good result. The Az-GTi seemed to track nicely, though my exposures were 30 seconds or less. The reducer/flattener looks pretty good at the edges too, considering the large size of the 294 sensor. The plate solving feature is great – it’s fast and even if the mount is a little off in the GoTo, it does a good job centering.
So I created a custom object for the comet by entering the RA and Dec, and bingo – there was Neowise on the screen. My stack was a total of 200 seconds (20x10 second exposures). Although I didn’t do any darks or flats, I’m happy with the photo for a first try.
I did run into a few curiosities, though:
1. I did a GoTo to the moon, which was just a sliver up low on the horizon. But I was informed that the object was below the horizon and wouldn’t take me there! I haven’t checked yet, but maybe there is a setting in the Az-GTi for minimum elevation? Other than that I can’t think of any explanation. The time, date and location were correct, and I was using sidereal tracking.
2. When I set up the optical train between the flattener to the ASI294, I made sure I had the requisite 55mm spacing. In the AsiAir connection screen, I entered in 344mm for focal length, which is the AT72EDii’s 430mm focal length multiplied by 0.8 for the reducer. The next time I powered up my ASIAir, I noticed it had changed the focal length to 347mm – presumably the plate solving figured out the actual focal length and updated it, which is nice. I guess that means my spacing is pretty close.
3. I saved the stacks I made to the SD card, which ASIAir saves in FITS format. I wasn’t expecting this, and simply wanted to save a JPG. After the fact I realized I could have just done a screen snapshot from the tablet (I’m using a Kindle Fire HD10 with Google Play added). So I had to stumble around finding a tool to display the file. I found Zwo’s ASIStudio, which has a FITS viewer, but am curious what others are using to view and process the FITS files from ASIAir?
All in all, I thought it was a successful night. ASIAir seemed easier to use than Sharpcap. I’ve got nothing against Sharpcap, it is an excellent piece of software but it has so many options and features it can be daunting to use. ASIAir provides a very streamlined experience, by comparison.
BTW, I did notice that Zwo now has a user manual for the ASIAir Pro at https://astronomy-im...User_Manual.pdf