Last night was cold and clear. In the day light I rebalanced the mount. I started out my observing outside to get a proper polar alignment on the mount, it was way off. I used the Polar Alignment Tool in Ekos. It took me about 20 minutes to get the polar alignment dialed in. With the polar alignment only a few arcseconds off (it was a couple degrees off), I moved into the warmth of the office and started looking around. My plan was to capture a few open cluster in the Messier Catalog to work on my Messier Log, turned out to be a pretty good plan.
All of these open cluster captures are live stacks using SharpCap Pro of 30 x 30 second exposures with the SV305 through the AT66ED. The gain was set at 350, which seemed to work well for these. I was controlling the mount and camera remotely from my office through the Astroberry Raspberry Pi.
M34 – Open cluster in Perseus
M35 – Open cluster of stars in the west of Gemini.
M36 – Open cluster of stars in the Auriga constellation.
M45 – Pleiades or the 7 Sisters – Well this is part of the Pleiades open cluster anyway, it is giant and not all of it will fit in the FOV of the camera. The bright star in the center is Maia.
M103 – Open cluster of stars in Cassiopeia.
That’s 5 more I can mark off my Messier Log.
Then to have a look at something a little different than open clusters… this is the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) located in Orion. This is a live stack of 30 x 30 seconds at a gain of 350. I think I can clean this up a bit but it turned out pretty good. The bright star peaking in at the top of the image is Alnitak.
Gave NCG 891 another look. Live stack of 30 second exposures for a little over 15 minutes, camera gain set to 350.
I ended the night with a few minutes on M42 the Orion Nebula, just because it’s was there (calling out “LOOK AT ME!”). This is live stack of 60 x 10 second exposures with a gain of 200.
My set up was working really well. With the polar alignment and balance dialed in the mount was slewing accurately and tracking well. I only did the Quick Align on the mount, I used the Ekos plate solver to sync the mount. This worked incredibly well, I would goto an object in Kstars and it would be dead center my field of view – most of the time.
Around midnight I called it a night and went out to pack things up. There was a thin layer of frost on my observing table. I am really enjoying being able to observe from inside. Another plus to observing inside is I do a much better job of taking notes.
Looks like the next couple days are going to be cloudy, unfortunately the EAA setup can’t help with that. Going to try to make some progress on the Scope Buggy project this week.