Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My first "Astrophoto"

Let's now go back in time a few months to the first night out for the new rig. It was September 30, 2006 and the full moon was out. Since my wife is Taiwanese, and this was their "Mid-Autumn Festival" we were out carrying on the tradition of cooking BBQ under the bright moonlight. After a lot of meat, seafood, and veggies were put on the grill I rushed out to the yard to power up the mount as the moon began to rise through the trees. The sky was still not quite dark enough to do a star alignment, and I was in a hurry to snap a pic of the moon still rising though some distant trees. What was interesting was that the mount slewed right to the moon without any star alignment. OK, the moon is a big target, but that impressed me. I probably didn't get the camera at the right exposure setting, but I was happy with the result. Later when the moon was a bit higher I snapped a few pics of the big bright full moon. The night of a full moon is not great for imaging, but I was bound and determined to do something with this new rig. Well, that's about where the fun ended. Now I can look back and laugh, but I spent several frustrated hours that night trying to figure out why my mount's GOTO function was not even close. After using a dob, I was moving the mount manually sometimes (i.e. unlocking each axis and moving it). This was after the mount was powered up and aligned, so I was obviously throwing off the mount's alignment without realizing it. Now I know better, but that first night had me nearly pulling my hair out. Oh well, newbie mistakes, and not the first.

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