Saturday, March 11, 2017

November - December Observing Report

Nov 19 2016
     First night out since the DSSG. A cold clear night with low humidity. At 9:23 pm it is 54 F with 55% humidity, dew point 38 F, breeze out of the NNE ~ 4 mph. I had the mount on the pier but I had to polar align the mount and then install the scope and other gear.  I setup with the 2” 0.75X FR + the MFR-3 and 1-1/4” Lumicon deep sky filter. Only the Baader 2” → 1-1/4” adapter in the optical train other than the 1” focuser ring. This should give me a field of 18.6 x 13.9 arcmin for a reduction of 0.613 and a F ratio of 4.91. Settings on the Mallincam are AGC 6, ATW, contrast 80 – 90, brightness 10 – 50% depending on object.  I continued working on the Herschel 400 list.

Herschel 17-6,  NGC 2158

Tracking and/or polar alignment is off as exposures > 30 seconds result in significant image shift and star trailing. Too tired to mess with drift alignment tonight. Shutting down at 1140. Sky meter reading = 18.95 .

Nov 25, 2016
A few high thin clouds tonight and 62 F,  83% humidity and no wind. Came out after 9 . My goal is to improve my polar alignment and then perhaps do a little viewing. Since I'm working mostly on polar alignment, I set up the Mallincam with no focal reducers at prime focus with an 1” focuser ring, an 80 mm extension tube, and a 2->1-1/4” adapter. No filters or focal reducers.

Went to Menkab in Cetus @ 2302 and centered the star with AGC dropped down to 2. 
 Iteratively tweaked the azimuth, re-centered the star,  and watched the drift.   After multiple adjustments I had it holding 5 minutes with the star is still dead center and approximately 1/3 the diameter down.Went to Procyon. It is a bit above the eastern horizon but I don't see any stars lower due to clouds that have built in form the East.  At 5 minutes there was no left/right drift evident only a down drift by ½ diameter. Locked down the azimuth locks. Went to Sirius, centered and started tracking.  At 5 minutes the star was still ½ diameter below the line but centered left to right.  That should have the alignment of the mount good enough for EAA observation.   I shut down for the night due to persistent clouds.

Nov 26, 2016
Came out a little after 8:00 on a cool night with temp around 49 and 88% humidity with no clouds in sight and no wind. Plan is to continue my Hercshel 400 hunt so I'll setup the Mallincam with the 2” FR + the MFR-8 for a reduction of 0.533 which has the scope operating at F 4.3. This gives me a FOV of 21.4 x 16.1 arcmin. I do have the 2” Lumicon deep sky filter installed. 

After fussing with my system for a bit, I finally came to the realization that the dust cap was still on!  Note to self: remove dust cap from scope before starting observing session.   I went on to hunt down a few Herschel objects until clouds rolled in around midnight.

 Shut down at 12:20.  Frustratingly I am still seeing some image shift. 

Dec. 9, 2016
A cold clear night with few clouds. Thankfully the wind has died down. At 2000 hrs it is 45 F with only 52% humidity, so dew shouldn't be an issue tonight. The moon however is near zenith and just past half so it will be an issue to the South.  I setup the Mallincam with the 2” 0.75x FR + the MFR-8 for a reduction of 0.533 which has the scope operating at F 4.3. This gives me a FOV of 21.4 x 16.1 arcmin. I'll use the 1/14” Lumicon deep sky filter tonight.

H317-2, NGC 2371-2372

At midnight a sky meter reading was 18.53 due to the > ½ moon high in the SW. The temp is still 44 F with 58% humidity.  I knocked out the Hershel objects in Gemini, Orion, and Canis major . I've now completed 30 objects on the Hershel 400. Shutdown ant 0109.  Frustrated that I'm still getting significant image shift after only 40 seconds or so. 

Dec 29, 2016
A front finally blew through and cleared out the skies, mostly. There are some high thin clouds around but the sky is pretty clear. Temp is 54 F and falling with light winds out of the North. The good news is the dew point is 36 F with only 52% humidity, so if the clouds will clear the transparency should be good. I setup with the 2” 0.75x FR + the MFR-8, with the 1-1/4” Lumicon DS filter.  The camera is setup with AGC=6, White balance = ATW, Gamma = 1.0, APC = 0,0, Cooling = off. Note I did not put the fans on the camera tonight.

At 0135 I took a sky meter reading of 18.74 . The temp is 49 F with a dew point of 35 and there is a slight N wind. No noticeable clouds since 10 pm. I knocked out some Herschel objects in Cassiopeia but it was getting pretty low so I moved up to Perseus and checked off all the objects in that constellation and then moved on to Auriga. I snagged 16 objects in total, a good night. I shut down at 0225 after a very productive night.