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Cocoon Challenge: techniques and progress discussion

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#1 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 12:33 PM

On JB's wise suggestion, I'm starting a new thread so we can follow along with anyone who wants to share tips, interim images, and troubles with the August '21 challenge target.

 

As OP of the July thread on Fireworks Galaxy, I noticed I had access to a Topic Moderation option (Oooh -- power, prestige, I can do anything!  Bwahahahaha!).  Alas, it's only a global delete button. frown.gif

 

If a friendly real moderator has spare time, could we impose on one to strip the new Cocoon-related posts from last month's target thread and integrate them here?  Layer blend, add, lighten, all would be good.  tongue2.gif

 

I haven't yet checked on the 2.5 hours I picked up last night - still have to take flats this morning while knocking back some java.  Boy I'm pretty tired though, guess I wasn't quite ready for a long night acquisition session.  Also noticed that for my rig anyway, the Cocoon will be a tripod banger with the ol' Nikon around meridian.  I'll check the times on my subs later on and see if the point I stopped was before, at, or just after transit.  I know the transit times will creep earlier day by day, but I don't think this one will be a flipper for me - I'll probably just call it a night after each pre-meridian session is done. smile.gif

 

edit: typo.  coffee not yet in effect.


Edited by Mike in Rancho, 05 August 2021 - 12:35 PM.

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#2 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:14 PM

I was out last night... intermittent clouds kept me from doing anything serious, but at least let me plan a bit. Tonight the forecast is completely clear skies with average to above average seeing. The downside is that, as I realized last night, this target doesn't clear the trees until just past midnight. Having to work tomorrow, this poses quite a conundrum. I _really_ want to image and get some data on this target given the forecast and the moon... but pulling an all-nighter... if only I could image with my equipment in the backyard as opposed to at the end of my driveway.

 

Last night I was able to take some test exposures... the Ha is strong, even in the 120" test image. I got nothing for the O3 (same 120"). Surprisingly, I got a bit of S2 in a 120" test.

 

If I felt confident in leaving my rig at the end of my driveway all night, I'd setup a couple of sequences... one to grab some SHO or maybe some RGB on M16 from 10 to midnight, then do some HaRGB on the cocoon until dawn.


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#3 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:06 PM

Thanks for starting the thread!

 

So I don't have any narrow-band filters, but wonder if this target would benefit from a "UHC" filter (Astronomik)?  I might try that tonight, and see if I can pull out any additional detail. 

 

I saw one forecast that we'll be getting a smoke plume from the huge fire north of us on Friday, and another fire just broke out at a campground about 9 miles east of us yesterday; over 1,400 acres gone in less than 24hrs.  Fortunately, it's being blown away from here.


Edited by TelescopeGreg, 05 August 2021 - 02:07 PM.

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#4 ChiTownXring

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 10:53 PM

I decided to take a stab at this target and so far had several clear nights and managed about 8 hours in SHO and will look to gather about another 7 hours or so. Tonight is a bust with cloud cover. I am lucky to be able to image from my back deck and setup NINA to run all night and wake up at 6am to a parked OTA and a warm camera and 6 hours worth of subs.. Life is good as last night I was in the mid 0.2s for RMS.. : )


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#5 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 11:37 PM

Well, the rig is at the end of the driveway capturing photons. I managed to get 90 minutes of SHO on the Eagle earlier, then started a 2 hour LRGB sequence on this target... an hour of L and 20 minutes each of R, G and B tonight. That'll run me to about 2:30... still gives me about 5 hours of sleep before I have to deal with work tomorrow. Maybe I can push it to 3:30 and get an hour of Ha as well. My wife is looking at me like I'm nuts... which, is true lol.gif


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#6 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 12:56 AM

Thanks for starting the thread!

 

So I don't have any narrow-band filters, but wonder if this target would benefit from a "UHC" filter (Astronomik)?  I might try that tonight, and see if I can pull out any additional detail. 

 

I saw one forecast that we'll be getting a smoke plume from the huge fire north of us on Friday, and another fire just broke out at a campground about 9 miles east of us yesterday; over 1,400 acres gone in less than 24hrs.  Fortunately, it's being blown away from here.

I hope you stay smoke free!  Fire free, even more.  Been pretty lucky down here lately, anything that has ignited they have squashed down fast.  Of course, it's only early August! undecided.gif

 

I decided to take a stab at this target and so far had several clear nights and managed about 8 hours in SHO and will look to gather about another 7 hours or so. Tonight is a bust with cloud cover. I am lucky to be able to image from my back deck and setup NINA to run all night and wake up at 6am to a parked OTA and a warm camera and 6 hours worth of subs.. Life is good as last night I was in the mid 0.2s for RMS.. : )

Great to hear.  I assume you mean mid .2 RMS in arcseconds?  Amazing.  I think best I ever saw when walking outside was mid .3s, and it didn't stay there.

 

Glad you've racked up some nice hours already.  But SHO?  That's going to be a unique take.  Hope it turns out, I look forward to seeing what NB might show on this. smile.gif  

 

 

 

Well, the rig is at the end of the driveway capturing photons. I managed to get 90 minutes of SHO on the Eagle earlier, then started a 2 hour LRGB sequence on this target... an hour of L and 20 minutes each of R, G and B tonight. That'll run me to about 2:30... still gives me about 5 hours of sleep before I have to deal with work tomorrow. Maybe I can push it to 3:30 and get an hour of Ha as well. My wife is looking at me like I'm nuts... which, is true lol.gif

That sounds like a good plan.  Nice clean thirdsies ratio on the L and colors.  You really do follow all the rules, Jonny! tongue2.gif  I mean, I guess it works and all...

 

Have you got a pier or are otherwise clean on your tracking?  I think I went to 1:42am last night and the camera was getting pretty close to the tripod.  I was also beat.  So I cut it off right there and started up a darks sequence to do while I slowly broke stuff down.  I think the transit was somewhere around 1:45 or 2am, at least for here.  Do you have a little flip programmed or can you run past it for 45 minutes or so?

 

Here's my initial interim image for the first night's short take.  Not bad I guess, but no doubt I will need to rack up the hours if I want to clean it up.  I think just doubling what I have might be good for the little nebula, but the dark nebula and dust...maybe tripling?  And no hint of the crossing Ha.

 

The latest ST1.8 alpha released only minutes ago laugh.gif , not much more here than deconvolution and a good bit of denoise.  Very minimal star reduction only as included in the new SS (with .75 gamma), so really it's still a full bore star field.  And boy is it a busy star field, isn't it?

 

gallery_345094_16052_7311.jpg

 

 


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#7 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 01:05 AM

Yeah, it's crazy how many stars are packed into this field of view. To answer your question, I have the meridian flip as part of my sequence in NINA. It just flipped a little bit ago. Following the rules... well... they seem to work out alright lol.gif

 

I don't think I'll be getting any Ha on this target tonight. 2:30 is about as far as I'm going to make it. At some point tomorrow I'll do a quick process of tonight's data to see how it turns out.


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#8 sbharrat

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 07:17 AM

Well, the rig is at the end of the driveway capturing photons. I managed to get 90 minutes of SHO on the Eagle earlier, then started a 2 hour LRGB sequence on this target... an hour of L and 20 minutes each of R, G and B tonight. That'll run me to about 2:30... still gives me about 5 hours of sleep before I have to deal with work tomorrow. Maybe I can push it to 3:30 and get an hour of Ha as well. My wife is looking at me like I'm nuts... which, is true lol.gif

This is dedication to one's hobby!! On the plus side, you should get a lot more self-satisfaction at the end: it was *hard* to get that (good) image!

 

(says me who is in bed by 11 because I am invariably getting up at 5 to let out one dog... while the other dog looks at me like wth...)


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#9 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 08:08 AM

Well, I was up until about 3 babysitting the rig. Got half an hour of Ha on top of the LRGB.

 

By the time I was ready to end the session, my wife and dogs were in bed asleep (this is a rarity, they are usually the night owls). So, I had to bring my rig up from the end of my driveway to my backyard instead of my garage... because if I had opened/closed the garage door, EVERYONE would have been woken up and dogs would have been barking - our bedroom is directly above the garage.

 

Later today I'll play with the data I collected. 


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#10 Oort Cloud

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 11:50 AM

I had pretty clear skies last night, but I imaged multiple targets, one of which was the cocoon. Not enough subs to even bother stacking them yet, but I did notice in the live view that I had to stretch quite a bit in order to see anything...transparency was good, nice blue skies all day and guiding was superb. So is it just me, or is this a repeat of last month with a VERY faint target?

Edited by Oort Cloud, 06 August 2021 - 11:51 AM.

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#11 72Nova

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 12:17 PM

Good morning,

 

I'm new to AP and would like some advise about how to proceed with the Cocoon Challenge.

My rig is an AZGTi mount in EQ mode with a 533MC camera, AT60ED and guidescope.  I use an ASIAIR Pro and process in Astro Pixel Processor.

 

I can only image from my front yard for this target and was able to get 2hours (60X120") last night.  I'm also using an L-eXtreme filter.  It was windy (10mph) when I started at 9pm but it settled down after 10pm which improved my guiding results.

 

Question:

 

Should I stick with the L-eXtreme and continue adding subs (I probably wont spend more than 6 hours total on this) or should I mix in some unfiltered subs to capture some of the reflection nebula components?

 

I also welcome any constructive criticism about the results or methods of my first session.  I realize that my AZGTi mount and 60mm refractor aren't ideal for this target.  

 

This is my result from 2 hours last night with the L-eXtreme.  Very minimal processing:  image was cropped and I adjusted black level and contrast after stacking/stretching in APP.  I use Affinity for final touches but my post processing skills are very limited.

 

Thanks!

Attached Thumbnails

  • Cocoon 500kb.jpg

Edited by 72Nova, 06 August 2021 - 12:29 PM.

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#12 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 02:07 PM

Well our luck with the smoke ran out.  I guess the wind shifted.  The forecast on Astrospheric was poor, so didn't even try.  Good decision; by the time I went to bed around midnight I couldn't even see Jupiter.  AQI is 157 right now.  Yuck.  Wondering how long I can hold my breath...



#13 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 03:27 PM

I had pretty clear skies last night, but I imaged multiple targets, one of which was the cocoon. Not enough subs to even bother stacking them yet, but I did notice in the live view that I had to stretch quite a bit in order to see anything...transparency was good, nice blue skies all day and guiding was superb. So is it just me, or is this a repeat of last month with a VERY faint target?

Yeah, it's about the same.  I was barely able to make out a faint red blob, in a 3 minute sub, if I stuck my face right up to the screen.  lol.gif  Though that may say more about my eyes and the various pairs of glasses I need?

 

That said, it seems to start coming out well enough in stacking and stretching.  Greg got it in only 1.5 hours, mine so far is 2.5, and 2 hours right above.

 

 

Good morning,

 

I'm new to AP and would like some advise about how to proceed with the Cocoon Challenge.

My rig is an AZGTi mount in EQ mode with a 533MC camera, AT60ED and guidescope.  I use an ASIAIR Pro and process in Astro Pixel Processor.

 

I can only image from my front yard for this target and was able to get 2hours (60X120") last night.  I'm also using an L-eXtreme filter.  It was windy (10mph) when I started at 9pm but it settled down after 10pm which improved my guiding results.

 

Question:

 

Should I stick with the L-eXtreme and continue adding subs (I probably wont spend more than 6 hours total on this) or should I mix in some unfiltered subs to capture some of the reflection nebula components?

 

I also welcome any constructive criticism about the results or methods of my first session.  I realize that my AZGTi mount and 60mm refractor aren't ideal for this target.  

 

This is my result from 2 hours last night with the L-eXtreme.  Very minimal processing:  image was cropped and I adjusted black level and contrast after stacking/stretching in APP.  I use Affinity for final touches but my post processing skills are very limited.

 

Thanks!

Boy, I don't know.  Uncertain if the right emission lines are here for a decent image out of NB or bicolor.  The duoband will probably prevent acquiring the reflective areas and maybe the dust also, other than as may be "backlit" by Ha?

 

Speaking of, a nice image was just put up in the Challenge - I think it's #7-johnsoda?  He is actually showing some of the criss-cross Ha structure, and according to the A-bin card I think 6 hours of dedicated Ha?  So maybe that's a minimum benchmark for being able to pick that up - though I need to go back and check the optical train that pulled it off.  Might still be beyond my means. 


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#14 72Nova

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 07:15 PM

Thanks Mike. I’ll probably just stick with more time with the l-extreme.

#15 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 10:02 PM

Finally got a chance to play around with the data I collected last night. Here's the result of a quick edit:

 

med_gallery_347158_16159_23232703.png

 

This target definitely deserves more than the 2.5 hours I captured. I'd be out there tonight, but I have to dive tomorrow, so I need a good night's sleep.

 

Data so far is:

 

60x60" L, 2x2 bin, Gain 0, Offset 8, -10C

10x120" each R, G and B, 2x2 bin, Gain 0, Offset 8, -10C

6x300" Ha, 2x2 bin, Gain 120, Offset 8, -10C

 

I did a 2x drizzle integration of the luminance data, regular integration of the HaRGB data.


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#16 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 10:41 PM

That's going to be a good one, Jonny.  Nice job on the framing, you're getting a lot more of the Cocoon's extended...snail trail?...than I was able to squeeze in.

 

Maybe just a hint of the faint background Ha too?  If so that's a good sign at just 30 minutes.

 

I'm waiting on a second feral cat I feed to show up at the front door, then I'll be out back afterwards.  Well, side yard, technically.  Already have some of the lines and stuff in place out there.  And I'll have to herd in my own cats or they'll swat at the USB cables.  tongue2.gif



#17 idclimber

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 11:54 PM

Finally got a chance to play around with the data I collected last night. Here's the result of a quick edit:

 

This target definitely deserves more than the 2.5 hours I captured. I'd be out there tonight, but I have to dive tomorrow, so I need a good night's sleep.

 

Data so far is:

 

60x60" L, 2x2 bin, Gain 0, Offset 8, -10C

10x120" each R, G and B, 2x2 bin, Gain 0, Offset 8, -10C

6x300" Ha, 2x2 bin, Gain 120, Offset 8, -10C

 

I did a 2x drizzle integration of the luminance data, regular integration of the HaRGB data.

Very nice image so far. I very much like the details in the tail. I am so zoomed in on this target with my SCT I missed all that goodness. 


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#18 Oort Cloud

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 01:15 AM

That said, it seems to start coming out well enough in stacking and stretching. Greg got it in only 1.5 hours, mine so far is 2.5, and 2 hours right above.


That would be so nice, but I'm shooting at f/12.3, LoL. Might take a bit longer ;) Luckily, I have all month to work on it.

#19 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 03:15 AM

That would be so nice, but I'm shooting at f/12.3, LoL. Might take a bit longer wink.gif Luckily, I have all month to work on it.

Well...yes. tongue2.gif  Often I'm at f/9, but went reduced on this one so f/7.2.  I guess that'll help a little bit.

 

If you can stay up late and manage the flip, this target is kind of well placed to get a good run at it during the typically darkest of night.  Maybe 2-3 hours either side of transit?  That'll rack up the integration.

 

I just bagged 2 more hours tonight and the third is running.  Should end right about the time the camera hits the tripod.  I should probably go out and check just before that.. smile.gif

 

I thought about doing the flip for a near all-nighter, but last time I walked outside it felt cool and clammy.  Darn.  Just looked up the current dewpoint and yeah, I'm in trouble lol.  Knock on wood I can make it through this 3rd hour before things fog over.

 

Probably some dumb coastal eddy tossing a bunch of Pacific air way inland.  Shouldn't really do that in summer much, but my lucky night I suppose.



#20 F.Meiresonne

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 05:40 AM

Well, the rig is at the end of the driveway capturing photons. I managed to get 90 minutes of SHO on the Eagle earlier, then started a 2 hour LRGB sequence on this target... an hour of L and 20 minutes each of R, G and B tonight. That'll run me to about 2:30... still gives me about 5 hours of sleep before I have to deal with work tomorrow. Maybe I can push it to 3:30 and get an hour of Ha as well. My wife is looking at me like I'm nuts... which, is true lol.gif

That is the trouble, it is getting late when one wants to image...i can stand the lack of sleep...certainly not on workingdays, i never can do that.

 

Last time it was 3:30 before i got to bed, My wife looks also at me like i am nuts,...only it is NOT truelol.gif


Edited by F.Meiresonne, 07 August 2021 - 05:42 AM.

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#21 F.Meiresonne

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 05:47 AM

 

 

I thought about doing the flip for a near all-nighter, but last time I walked outside it felt cool and clammy.  Darn.  Just looked up the current dewpoint and yeah, I'm in trouble lol.  Knock on wood I can make it through this 3rd hour before things fog over.

 

 

 

I never did a flip sofar....i don't trust it...

Guess in my case i go over the meredian 15°, the maximum, then the mounts stops, then i could just go back to zero pos , slew  to the target again, start PHD2 and calibrate and then continue..but even that i never did sofar...

I just pick a target that gives me 2.5 till 3 hrs before it reaches the meredian...avoiding the flip, 



#22 ntph

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 10:11 AM

I thought this might be useful as a sort of benchmark: this is last year's data and processing, so not
going in to the Challenge, but it is 2.5 hours of 3 minute subs from my Bortle 6-7 backyard, OSC data with
just a uv/ir filter, processed in PI, basically automated--PI for Dummies. Like me.


WBPP for the preprocessing, cropped, ABE for background, PCC for colour calibration, then the EZ suite of
scripts for the rest, finishing up with more colour saturation and contrast tweaks in CurvesTransformations.

I don't recall that I did anything more than that, but I probably pfaffed around with it a bit...and I even
made a note to myself to try it using the "usual" tools, but I don't think I ever got around to it. I am
pretty sure I didn't do any star reduction on this--I think the star density is part of the attraction of
the composition in this case.

Procrastination can be a good thing (isn't that why we do it or at least think it?!) as now I will have
a benchmark of my own for when I get around to adding data this season. Been working on something else the
past few clear (I am giving up waiting for moonless and this summer smokeless) nights. Of course I also
found that I have about an hour and a half of dual-band data that I must have forgotten, so a good head
start on a new image. I like the slightly wider FOVs seen above, so will have to look at that a bit
before I dive in again, and see what others do or have done with the brownish dust coming through. More i-time...

https://www.cloudyni...92_11831238.jpg

Edited by ntph, 07 August 2021 - 10:14 AM.

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#23 Oort Cloud

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 10:22 AM

Well...yes. tongue2.gif Often I'm at f/9, but went reduced on this one so f/7.2. I guess that'll help a little bit.

If you can stay up late and manage the flip, this target is kind of well placed to get a good run at it during the typically darkest of night. Maybe 2-3 hours either side of transit? That'll rack up the integration.

I just bagged 2 more hours tonight and the third is running. Should end right about the time the camera hits the tripod. I should probably go out and check just before that.. smile.gif

I thought about doing the flip for a near all-nighter, but last time I walked outside it felt cool and clammy. Darn. Just looked up the current dewpoint and yeah, I'm in trouble lol. Knock on wood I can make it through this 3rd hour before things fog over.

Probably some dumb coastal eddy tossing a bunch of Pacific air way inland. Shouldn't really do that in summer much, but my lucky night I suppose.


On the topic of flips, I have let the AAP manage meridian flips in the past, and the only time it didn't flip was when I forgot to re-enable it after shooting a southern target that didn't need one; so no need to stay up and manage the flip. However, I try to shoot as much pre-meridian as possible, because I have more light pollution to the North (Trenton) and West (Phila) than I do to the South and East (Pine Barrens). Honestly though, it's NJ, so even our forests have LP. I've found I get much better quality subs if I choose a series of targets an hour or two behind each other and shoot the same series for several sessions so I get them all when they're near the Zenith.

On the topic of dew/fog, well, I'm shooting with an SCT, so I know all about dew. These days though, I end up going to sleep and in the morning, everything is drenched except my corrector plate. It took a lot of trial and error, but I eventually built myself a dew heater that can actually remove dew once it's formed if I run it at full power for about 30 minutes. Usually 50-60% is enough to keep it clear on even the worst nights If I set it appropriately at the start of the session. Luckily, I dont have to deal with fog too often, but dew formation is bad enough that when I bring the rig inside I have to leave it in the kitchen to dry off while I'm at work because dripping water won't hurt the tile floor. Can't say the same for the laminate floor in the living room where it lives between trips outside.
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#24 ntph

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 10:53 AM

I overcame my fear and distrust of meridian flips after watching NINA do her thing a few times.
My rig is fairly long and tripod mounted and I worry about crashing out when my target gets near zenith.
The solution for me is to do a manual mockup of the traverse the rig will follow before running an imaging sequence. That way I can see
if all will be well with the mount limits I have set and make any adjustments needed. As long as it looks
by forecast that the night will be dry, I set it, check that things are working properly and go to bed.
So nice to look out in the morning and see the 'scope parked in the right position! Then a quick check on
the inside monitor to see what the last image was like. Admittedly, there have been mornings where it is
obvious something messed up, but it is usually from lost guide stars and tracking being off. Post-flip
platesolving and recentering hasn't been an issue except once that I can recall and it was probably caused
by clouds.

I don't know if this will help anyone else who has concerns about automated flips, but it does work
well with NINA with a little cautious planning as insurance.

Now if I could overcome my fear of EFW's...(and sweet talk the CFO)...

#25 sbharrat

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  • Loc: NJ, USA

Posted 07 August 2021 - 11:11 AM

I overcame my fear and distrust of meridian flips after watching NINA do her thing a few times.
My rig is fairly long and tripod mounted and I worry about crashing out when my target gets near zenith.
...

I don't know if this will help anyone else who has concerns about automated flips, but it does work
well with NINA with a little cautious planning as insurance.

 

Ditto here. This is now part of my standard "trigger set" on NINA. This combined with mount limit (about a couple degrees past my NINA flip settings) means that at worst, the mount stops and the limit and I don't get the imaging after the flip. 




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