Friday, January 3, 2020

#269 - Thursday, January 2, 2020 - A Little Visual Observing

The forecast looked like it would be intermittently clear with only a few clouds, according to my new favorite astro forecast app Astropheric (they have an Android app too, not sure about iOS), so I decided to go ahead and image, because why not!

I successfully imported the panorama I took yesterday into SkySafari!

I tried bringing it into TheSkyX as well, but the settings only allow you to have the top of the picture be 45 degrees high, and I, unfortunately, have obstructions taller than that, like 60 degrees.  So I'll just have to use SkySafari to know in advance of slewing whether something is visible.

I got the sequence rolling with my ZWO ASI294MC Pro color camera on my Takahashi FSQ-106N refractor on my Paramount MyT, and then I headed inside.  Watching from my computer indoors, the guide camera was still able to see guide stars, and the guiding actually looked pretty decent.  No errors yet from Sequence Generator Pro.  

I went outside later to see how the sky looked, and it was quite nice, actually!  There were some thin clouds toward the east but low in the sky, and low in the south as well, but up above about 45 degrees it looked very nice indeed, and the seeing appeared steady.  It was so nice that I even went back inside and grabbed my little Meade 10x42 binoculars.  I observed:
- M42 Orion Nebula, which was a fuzzy patch with a couple distinct stars
- M45 Pleiades cluster, which looked very nice, of course
- Tried for the Beehive Cluster, but had a hard time finding it; perhaps a bit small for my binoculars, and the clouds were a little thicker where it was at
- Double Cluster, which took a bit to spot, but I could see two speckly fuzzy lumps
- M31 Andromeda Galaxy, which was a faint fuzzball but it was there
- I also caught the Hyades Cluster on my way to looking for the Double Cluster

While I was hanging around outside, I looked over at my covered-up AVX and thought about what to do with it while I worked on figuring out how to collimate the Newtonian that was on there.  I thought, "I don't have any more telescopes to put on there!"  But then I thought that I could go ahead and do an experiment I've been wanting to do -- put one of my Nikon lenses on my ZWO ASI294MC Pro, since I got the Nikon bayonet adapter a little while ago.  But then, when I was inside looking for the binoculars, I saw the wooden box that contains a Soviet 1000mm Maksutov-Cassegrain camera lens that my astro-buddy John gave me back in August.  I still need to play around with that.  Which one should I do first??   I thought about it as I headed to bed at 11 PM.

Before I went to sleep, I checked on how things went.  It failed to meridian flip for M78 -- why??  I scrolled through the logfile, and finally found it -- it says it sent the command to go to the east side of the pier (for facing west), but that the mount reported that it was already on the east side.   Until I could figure out what was up with that, I went ahead and changed the end times of the rest of my targets to be their transit time so that it  wouldn't meridian flip, and would instead just move on to the next target.  But then an idea occurred to me -- the next target would be transitting at 12:07 AM, and it was 12:05 AM, so I could watch it!  So I changed the target end time to 12:30 AM and watched it do the flip.  It failed at the first step -- actually flipping -- which means that it wasn't an issue with re-starting guiding, flipping the guide calibration, plate solving, running the focuser, etc.  So that must be what's been going on with meridian flipping lately.  Maybe TheSkyX is already sending its own flip command?  But the mount was still on the west side of the pier (I checked using the Virtual Mount render in TSX).  So there must be a comms breakdown somewhere.

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