I brought out my C8 to the state park for a stargaze that the astronomy club hosts for campers, since it’s perfect for looking at planets and is easy to set up. However, the moon was high and bright, and there were some high clouds, so it didn’t get dark enough to see any stars until after 10 PM, and I still had to use Jupiter as one of the alignment “stars.” However, despite this, seeing was decent (when the clouds weren’t over) and there were a lot of really happy campers (literally). There were quite a few club members there, like 20. It was really fun. Our local astrophotography professional was there, whom I finally got to meet! The clouds got worse, so we ended up closing up shop at about 11 or so. The Clear Dark Sky forecast had predicted excellent weather that night, as had the other weather services, so it was too bad. However, he invited me over to observatory afterwards to go over how he uses RegiStax for planets. We were going to take data on my rig for it, but given the cloud situation, we used data he’d collected previously. He showed me some settings that I hadn’t seen before and wouldn’t have been able to figure out, and I went back and re-stacked some of my videos on Monday with these changes and they did come out better. He also recommended the QHY5L-II CCD as both a planetary imager and a guide scope. He didn’t think an 80mm refractor was going to work as a guide scope for me, but we’ll see – club member Will is going to let me borrow his, and see if it works before I buy it from him. The QHY5 is only $250. With that, and on his C8 (and with some serious post-processing in Photoshop that I have not yet gotten very much into), he has produced some awesome planetary images!
So the night ended up being a bust for getting any imaging done, but it was joyful to view the planets and share them with other people. I also got lots of advice from various club members about what equipment to get next.