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.