Wow, thank you all for so much useful information and words of encouragement! I have bookmarked all those links that were provided. The Unofficial SharpCap Quick Start Guide (.pdf and Cloudy Nights link) by Astrojedi is exactly what I've been looking for--thank you! I'll also look into Carl Smith's work. I got lured into EAA after looking at the following image gallery.
I'll do my best to clean out those dust bunnies on my AR window and optical train first thing; this is the first time that dust actually bothered me pretty significantly. As for cleaning the sensor itself, I will go as far as using a rocket blaster for now.
Somehow I understood that SharpCap captures flats and darks on the fly once I begin live stacking. What I didn't understand is that I actually need to set it up prior to live stacking! I really need to carefully read the official and the unofficial SharpCap Pro documentation. I do have additional questions regarding darks and bias frames. I know that ASI224MC is an uncooled camera, so exposure times are set in the magnitude of seconds. My guess is that, therefore, the camera doesn't heat up that much. Would taking darks substantially produce cleaner images for this camera setup? Under SharpCap, bias subtraction is an option. Would taking bias frames significantly help produce cleaner images for this camera setup?
I've put off purchasing filters except for a cheap 1.25" UV/IR filter until now after reading Cory Schmitz' blog on astrophotography for beginners.
As a beginner with little experience, it made sense to me that if I collected enough photons over a long period that SNR will eventually shift in favor of the signal. However, for near real-time EAA, I am wondering if I should invest in a light pollution or narrow-band filter, since time is not on my side. I do have conflicting doubts about light pollution filters in general, without substantial proof, because I believe San Diego light pollution now spans across all visible spectrum. Perhaps this is a discussion for another day. What filter do you recommend/not recommend based on your EAA experience (optolong CLS is duly noted), and what filter size would you recommend? I have 2" filter thread on the Optec 0.33x reducer, but I know I won't need anything larger than 1.25" for my set-up. If I do go with an 1.25" filter, then the filter placement will become more tricky. I do plan on doing large DSO imaging in the near future with a small refractor+eq mount+DSLR.
Yes, I'll use the auto color balance and don't touch the real-time display histogram. I'll double check my color balance settings and experiment further as to why I am not seeing any color on my stacked images. I've clicked on debayer preview as well. I will also try imaging without the moon.
For the focusing issue problem, I'll invest in a Bahtinov mask or print a DIY mask. I'll also look into the SharpCap's aided focusing--this sounds like a cool feature.
For slewing to my targets, I use Stellarium after aligning my LX90. The GOTOs are not dead on, but small planets such as Uranus do come into view once I synchronize that part of the sky. At 660mm focal length, I find that gotos are good enough for me to identify and center via the hand controller. However, I do struggle somewhat with a 2x barlow for planetary imaging.
I am just a lone/casual sky observer/imager for now. Perhaps one day I'll gather up my courage and venture into SDAA
Yes, I've heard many good things about ASILive. I may also try it out.
Thank you so much for your responses and suggestions. I'll keep you posted.