And LOTS of them!
- First, I had a few imaging sessions toward the end of February. The Orion Nebula image at the left of this post was taken with a 15 second, 1600 ISO exposure, prime focus (Camera to T-ring adapter to visual back) on Feb 23rd, 2012. I did tweak the histogram a little bit in ‘The Gimp‘ to bring up the fainter details, but other than that, this exactly as it came off the Camera. I took the photo using ‘Backyard EOS‘ to control my Canon T1i DSLR. I did a few other sessions on different objects ( Jupiter, Pleiades — Current background of this blog, the Earth’s Moon ) but none of them turned out very well. Even this shot of the Orion Nebula isn’t great (poor tracking, a smidge out of focus, a tad overexposed), but it excites me that I could see that detail on my first few attempts.
- Second, I bought an equatorial wedge mount! This will help to take care of the tracking issues I was experiencing before. The equatorial wedge allows my Alt-Az mount to only rotate on one axis while tracking an object through the sky. The image at right shows exactly what it looks like all mounted up. Alas, this is only an indoor shot.
- Third, my wife and I completely changed our lifestyle! We had lived full time in a 40′ Heartland Landmark 5th Wheel RV for 4 years. It had served us well and we quite enjoyed our time with it, but it was time for a change. We needed a bit more space, something closer to my primary employer (I was spending $650/mo on fuel!!) and I was looking to get something other than my Dodge Ram 3500. The Dodge was showing signs of future problems…especially if I continued to tow 16,500 lbs with it. So, we traded the Dodge Ram and the Heartland 5th Wheel in on a new Jeep.. and moved into an Apartment less than 1 mile from where I work. Talk about a change!!! I have actually been able to ride my bicycle to work a few times (Yes, I need to get back to it).
- Forth, Check out the action shot on the left! I set up and observed with the Raleigh Astonomy Club. A great bunch of astronomy nuts with an amazing desire to help the new comer. This was the first opportunity I’d had to setup with the wedge mount since I purchased it. The first alignment failed, second was off so much that the object wasn’t even in view.. the third (with the help of a club member) was spot on. I couldn’t believe how much difference the wedge made in the tracking accuracy. I didn’t try any imaging, but even with visual observing it was a drastic improvement in tracking smoothness.
Thanks for reading all this and I promise I’ll update sooner next time.