I am very new to astronomy, as many of you may be guessing after I've already posted a handful of topics. I started visual astronomy about 3 months ago and tried my first actual night session with a DSO AP last night. Based on what I was planning to accomplish, I can't say it was a complete failure, but I need help/input. The AP setup I have is:
1. WO Zenithstar 81 mm
2. WO 50 mm guidescope
3. ASI 290MM guide camera
4. ASI 294MC-P Imaging Camera
5. EQ6-R Mount
5. Necessary ASCOM/EQMOD drivers
I've spend the last month or so reading and setting up all the software and hardware as far as I can. During the day when there's nothing to see through the camera, all interfaces seem to work well.
Last night I attempted a practical session. Yes, the 4th of July with a full moon is a poor night, but I wasn't planning to actually image anything. My goals were:
1. Polar Align
2. Goto align the scope
3. Guide on a star
Not surprising, I ran in to some troubles and was hoping this is where I could find some help.
1. Success! - I used the SharpCap PA tool and by their numbers, had to 2-2.5 arc minutes of accuracy. I know it'll need to be better, but since I wasn't planning on actually imaging, stopped fiddling a bit early. The SharpCap PA tool is a plate solver, so I also proved on the main scope that I could focus (rough, then using the SharpCap FHWM tool) and adjust gain/exposure to get a good star field.
2. Failure - This is where my real struggles were and I'm hoping for help. I set the home position of my scope a while ago, trying to be very careful, based on this link: https://www.myastros...om/homeposition . After PA, I shut down the scope and software, returned the DEC and RA clutches to zero and locked them. Then powered the scope and software back up. I then loaded CdC, connected the scope, and slewed to the target. In SharpCap on the scope control, I selected solve and sync and it failed. I then used the plate solve under tools and it did successfully solve a plate providing my RA/DEC. The point it solved was only about 0.5 degrees off DEC, but about 1:40 off RA. Not sure why. That's one place I'm hoping people could help with. Perhaps I had mismatched Epochs? Not sure if the error is this big or not. Anyway, I tried to troubleshoot, I unlocked the RA clutch, rotated the roughly 1:40 and locked it again. Through the plate solve tool I was now about 0.5 degree on DEC again, and RA was about 00:01:15 off the reported scope position. So I tried solve and sync again...and failed again.
Now complicating this, I didn't realize my date, time, or location in CdC was clearly off. It didn't register to me at first. The target selected was M31 showing about 40 degrees of altitude in CdC. Seemed a little fishy since I haven't seen it until about 3:30 AM visually and it's a known fall targer, but again it didn't register at the time. Would this affect the solve and sync thought? It seems to me that it is just trying to match plate solve coordinates to where the telescope thinks it is pointing. So even if M31 wasn't at DEC 39.6 and RA 00:45:??, something is and it'll solve those coordinates? And it did plate solve just fine from tools, just not the "solve and sync". But perhaps time did enter somewhere here in the equation.
3. Failure - I couldn't get any starts to show up here. I am sure the lens cap was off. Most of my experimenting was with about a 2 second exposure and gain around 200. I think the issue was focus. I had tried focusing on a distant daytime object. But as I found with main scope, the infinity focus can be a long way off a 300 meter terrestial focus. This is the guide scope: https://williamoptic...h-1-25-rotolock . The focus is simply by sliding the eyepiece or camera along the visual back, then locking it. I think I saw a couple defocused stars once, they loss them while trying to adjust. Any hints on focusing this thing?
I'd be happy to hear any comments or help, particularly in locating a target. With my visual scope, I'm used to the 2 or 3 star alignment process. But this doesn't translate very well with a camera more or less permanently installed. I know after this I still need practical hands on with the histogram, but might be ready to actually take a picture of something.
Thank you for any help!