It’s been a very long time since I’ve been out with my scope, for any decent observing. The last time was at the spring AstroCamp way back in April. It felt really good to get out there with my scope, new camera and laptop all together for the first time.
This was the first time I have had chance to really use my DSLR and laptop to test out what I was hoping would be some decent astrophotography. Using my bubble level to level my tripod, then using a compass to align it north, I felt confident my polar alignment was fairly accurate. I setup the camera and laptop, did a few test shots of some far off trees, and then waited for night to fall.
The first hour was spent adjusting and tweaking the focus of the camera to attempt to get pin sharp photos. Sadly, issues with polar alignment made in near impossible to get exposures of more than 3 seconds. One major limitation of my scope is the lack of a polar alignment scope through the mount heat, and it became obvious using a bubble level and compass was not good enough.
Once I had a camera focus I was happy with, I attempted to find the Andromeda galaxy hoping I might get even a slight glimpse in one photo, but it wasn’t to be. After checking Stellarium for its location in the sky, I aimed my scope to where I thought it would be, but nothing was to be seen. After over an hour of trying to find it, I ran out of time and the cloud rolled in. Below a few of the better test photos I took while trying to focus the camera.
Although I didn’t manage to get any decent image of Andromeda, it was good to get a feel for using my scope, camera and laptop together. The importance of good polar alignment once again was made clear and also the need to a red filter for your laptop to help keep your night vision when going back and forth between the scope and the laptop. Roll on the next AstroCamp!