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Sunday, May 17th, 2009
 Astro imaging can be both one of the most satisfying, and one of the most frustrating endeavers.  The variables are endless.....any one of which can make or ruin a photo.   It does no good to get part of the precess right...everything has to be right.
 
I am still determined to get to a reasonable level on a consistent basis.  Now, with some new equipment and new software, I am still climbing the learning curve.   I tend to blame my equipment when my images don't reach a certain level (a very modest level), but I am forced to admit that even modest equipment, in the right hands, can do quite well.  
 
2nd night out with the new Starshoot camera, and the new CG-5 mount:  I am still struggling to bring it all together on the same night.  It seems like I always do something wrong.   Didn't get started until 12:10am.......took my son and a friend of his to a local neighborhood star party, and didn't get home 'til after 11pm.  Packed up my gear a little after 3am.
 
I got what I thought was a good polar alignment on the scope, but then for some unknown reason I decided to tweak it without using the polar alignment scope.  I won't make that mistake again.  The scope tracked great.....my polar alignment was the culprit in egg-shaped stars.  They were evident in 2 second trial (focus) exposures as well as the 30 second imaging subs. 
 
I took dark frames, but made a mistake in the averging process and forgot to change the file name on my first imaging run.....so my darks didn't solve 100% of the digital artifact problem.
 
Goal #1.....get a filter and take flats.  Way too much gradient in the background of my shots.  I have to sacrifice too much of the luminance to get it out.
 
Goal #2.....good polar alignment and then leave it alone.
 
Goal #3.....Be sure I have the "take darks" process down before my next imaging session.
 
Goal #4.....increase the number of frames and the exposure time per frame.    Think in terms of 50-75 subs at 60 seconds per sub.
 
I shot 4  differnt objects:  On all of them I took 35 subs and 30 seconds per sub.   I did get images of M81-M82, and M109, but they are not ready to post.  
 
I am posting the images I got of M13 and M101......despite the obvious problems visible in them.   Hopefully I will be able to look back at these as a learning experience when I am getting better images.  * note the small galaxy in the shot of M13......lower right.
 
Added an image of M109:  Obviously need more expose time, although I did pick up a faint UGC galaxy in the image, as poor as it is otherwise.  I definitely need more exposure time.   I am having to stretch the images too far....emphasizing gradient and noise.
 


Image Gallery For This Session
M101 5 17 09 d M101 may 09 psat
M109 5 17 09 C M13 5 17 09 35x30 label
   

M101_5_17_09_d.jpg
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