Monday, February 29, 2016

#25 - Monday, February 29, 2016 - All alone at the observatory

No one was at the observatory (it was a weekday night), so we set up in the grass again. [One must be a member of the club for six months before you can get a key, so I continued to set up in a grassy spot not far from the gate for the next six months when no keyholders were present.]

The night was ultimately unsuccessful. First, we had great difficulty balancing the tripod on the damp ground, since it would shift as we added equipment to the tripod. Through much frustrating effort, we finally got it to stay level. Second, the polar alignment procedure that the manual describes, the procedure that the hand controller walks you through, and the procedure that makes logical sense are all different from each other. I finally called Uncle Chris, who recommended I have it go to the home position, then use the allen wrenches to align Polaris in the eyepiece, and then do a two-star alignment, then the hand controller’s polar align, and then another two-star alignment with calibration stars. However, I didn’t get that far – I got Polaris perfect in the eyepiece, but when the telescope slewed to any star I gave it as the first alignment star – Sirius, Rigel, Capella, Procyon, Pollux – it was waaaay off in declination. Like, 20-30 degrees. I tried multiple times, with different stars, power cycling in between – no good. I finally gave up after nearly three hours. I’ll upgrade the firmware before my next trip out. The next trip will likely be solo, however, so that will present some new challenges as well.

Also, I purchased a Bahtinov mask so I can focus the camera more accurately and more easily, as well as a longer heater strip, since the one Anton got me for the 8-inch is too short.

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