Firstly, my apologies in advance for a long post and for posting so many questions in one thread.
I recently bought my first "proper" telescope and mount having previously owned a Skywatcher Explorer 130 on an EQ2 mount ( see new equipment below) which wasn't really very useful for imaging.
I just (even more recently) introduced guiding and automated image acquisition and polar alignment with NINA, PHD2 and Sharpcap and after some teething problems I think I have finally gotten everything up and running but I have so many questions! Apologies again for dumping so much in one post but figured it better than spamming the forum with a bunch of separate posts.
Mount: Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro
Scope: Skywatcher Evostar ED80
Main camera: Canon 100d (unmodded)
Guide camera: ZWO ASI130 MC-S
Guide scope: ZWO mini guide scope
And so to my questions:
1. How does dew impact calibration frames? I assume it impacts flats, in particular. I don’t have any dew heater bands yet (I know, I need to get them)! So often towards the end of a sequence of light frames dew has collected on the telescope lens. Therefore the calibration frames are taken while there is dew on the lens.
2. I live at 53 degrees north and so only have about 2 hours of astronomical darkness at the moment. So what is the minimum number of light frames that should ge taken for stacking. With guiding I could go for 5 min subs (for example, but could only get about 12 frames in a night at the moment) so for now am I better off taking, say, 3 min subs to get more frames for stacking?
3. I am imaging exclusively at home so connecting to mains power. For those of you using mains power, how do you power everything? At the moment I have the mount, the laptop and a dummy battery for the DSLR plugged in, but I know I need to get dew heaters for the scope and guide scope soon also, so wondering how people manage having so many things to power with mains.
4. Is there a way to get the mount to slew back to the home position without having to switch it off (park)?
5. How do you frame/rotate the camera when framing a target? I'm using the framing assistant in NINA, but often the camera would need to be rotated. I assume you should focus after each time you rotate the camera (I'm not using any rotator - rotating manually). I find this can take a lot of time, because (depending on the target) there may not be a bright star to focus on in the frame and I find it easier and quicker to use a bright star and just use the live view on the camera, so have to slew to a bright star and back, and then check rotation again, etc.
6. I would love to get peoples input on general setup and workflow for the night.
I have been doing the following:
- level and balance setup.
- rough polar align with polar scope
- polar align with sharpcap (using guide camera)
- set mount back to home position
- do a 1 star alignment with the hand controller, really just so I can focus the main camera using the live view on the back of the camera.
- park scope, switch off mount and switch on again, making sure it’s in the home position (see 4).
- open NINA and PHD2 and connect equipment.
- search for target in NINA sky atlas.
- set for framing assistant.
- slew to target from framing assistant
- check framing and set as sequence target.
- set up a sequence with just one shot to plate solve (since the plate solving in the sequence tab uses the target, but the plate solving in the imaging tab uses the current coordinates).
- start the guiding in PHD2 including calibration.
- set up the full sequence for light frames in NINA and off we go.
Sorry again for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice and for taking the time to read it all!