Equipment Woes and a Crescent Moon

moon_20080210.jpgSo the weekend just gone has had fabulous weather here in the UK – sunny, warm (for February!) days, and cold clear nights – and so I thought I’d try to setup my imaging kit to have a go at some astronomy for the first time since April 2007, and also as a bit of a dry run before the Kelling Heath star party in April. I even managed an image of the moon – 30 images using the ST2000XM on the FLT110, processed in Registax – click the image above to view it!

Of course, nothing goes smoothly:

  1. CCD dessiccant had (long) expired and when bringing the chip of the CCD down to temperature (-25°C), ice formed all over the chip. Solution: Bake the dessiccant canister in the oven for 4 hours at 175°C and then reinsert and let it dry out – I’m still waiting for the dessiccant to do its thing – I may even have to bake it again tonight to get it dry.
  2. Focuser issues – This is so far unresolved – think it’s gonna need fixing as I can’t connect to it.

However, all was not completely lost. I adjusted the RA worm clearance on the Titan (much less backlash, but still loose enough not to bind and fry the motor), and I installed a demo version of PemPro to look at the periodic error on the mount. This measured out as about +7/-5 arcsec uncorrected, and with a very quick run through, I was able to get it down to +/- 2 arcsec. This is an excellent piece of software, and one I think I will be buying in the future – not to mention its ability to help polar alignment, and backlash correction settings.

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