I figured since it was clear and it was a Saturday night that there would be club members at the observatory, and I was right! They stayed till 11, and helped me out a bit. I had some considerable trouble this evening. The finderscope was out of alignment after trying to align it after not having it installed on the scope quite all the way, and it was hard to get it on a star during alignment so that I could align the finderscope! But we eventually did get it figured out. Also, I finally figured out where the azimuth screw is (after asking for help) so I can do polar alignment the right way this time. Well, I still messed it up – it slewed to Polaris all right after a two-star alignment, but it wasn’t in the “home” position, so the rest of my alignments after that were terrible. It was off by several degrees. I also couldn’t quite get the tripod level. I did, however, buy a new tripod leg bolt (since the handle on one of them was broken, requiring a vise grip to turn). I’m slowly getting this figured out. Anyway, the alignment was so bad that I couldn’t even take a 5-second photo without drift. But by that point, we’d already been messing with it for two hours, so I gave up and just took some pictures of the Orion Nebula anyway. I stacked them (had to use super-pixel mode to get DSS to recognize those line-ish points as stars, and 2x drizzle to counteract the image-shrinking that happens from super pixel), and it turned out rather terrible (I also didn’t have Anton stand far enough away with the light source while taking the flats, so the flats turned out terrible). I’m still hoping to catch Andromeda before it starts setting too early. Unfortunately, Daylight Saving Time is coming up soon, which will give me even less time, since it will be getting dark at a later hour.
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