For reference I am pretty new to astrophotography and am looking for recommendations to improve my astrophotography results and in the near term my tripod stability.
In more detail, I have an iOPtron iEQ45Pro mount on a 2" tripod base, setting on 3-4 concrete blocks so the tripod does not dig into my driveway and it it higher/easier to look through for polar alignment.
I do a visual polar alignment using the mount and the mount's internal AccuAlign Polar Scope with a Losmandy dovetail and my Canon 5D MKIII and a Canon 600mm lens with a 2x extender for an f8 1200mm lens in place.
The camera/lenses weigh about 13 pounds which should be well within the capability of the iOptron mount
I do a 3 star alignment which says, for example, that I am 40' 41" low and 1' 18" west. This is not great I know and I would appreciate any suggestions to improving my alignment but it is not my biggest problem (I think).
My biggest problem is the camera/telescope appears to jitter when tracking, in this case M57.
I have attached a picture taken somewhat randomly from the first 90 minutes of a series of 2 minute exposures a couple nights ago.
If I was not polar aligned correctly I would expect to see star trails. But what I see is star dancing.
I have tightened everything down just hand tight and I still get this kind jitter for a 2 minute exposure. If I go to 1 minute is it not as bad.
But I don't understand where this jitter could be coming from - it is clearly a complex motion, not just a star tracking error. I am not even around the tripod when it is taking these pictures. Occasionally (3 out of 100 pictures), things are relatively stable giving me a few clean stars.
Basically looking for suggestions on things to check.
Again, the telescope 2" tubes are on concrete blocks on my asphalt driveway with the tripod spreader tight.
The camera and 1200mm of lens is about 13 pounds and mounted with a Losmandy style plate to the iEQ45 Pro.
All the screws are reasonably tight but not over torqued.
Kind of at my wits ends as to what is moving. Is the tracking on my (used) iEQ45 Pro that bad? I kind of assume it is me.
thanks for any suggestions
Thanks for the suggestions and to answer questions:
- well balanced in RA and DEC. I check that each time but I'll double check it.
- no guide camera, just GOTO tracking
- I'll try SharpCap - I have used Astrophotography tool and plate solving but for some reason it crashed the last time I tried to use it - my RS232 cable broke and I jury rigged it till my new one arrives.
- the tripod is resting on some 1 square foot concrete blocks. SO MUCH FOR SOLID CONCRETE! I checked and 2 of the 3 concrete blocks ROCKED A LITTLE. Fixed that. Thanks for the suggestion.
- The mount seems tight in RA and DEC. After once having left the RA screws loose I learned that lesson the hard way :-( I'll check though
- I like the idea of the extra weight on the tripod. Put a 70lb kettlebell on the bottom of the mount. Attached with a tie down strap adjusted so the kettlebel is just barely on the ground.
- is there a YouTube video or something on cleaning and lubing the mount? I have never had it apart and bought it used.
- I'll look into the guide scope suggestions. For my sanity, I would like to tweak what I have in as good as possible before adding more hardware I wouldhave to learn.
Edited by jcschultz01, 06 July 2020 - 08:49 PM.