The weather cooperated nicely this evening as did my Autostar controller (for a nice change) and I was able to get this image of Saturn 4 hours and 30 minutes past opposition.
This image is a stack of about 500 frames, pixel doubled and then light level correct in Photoshop CS2 (mainly to make space “black”).
This was the first time since I performed the “Train Drives” procedure on the Autostar that I carefully set up and aligned the scope. I had honestly never been super impressed with the GOTO abilities of the scope but tonight that all fell away. After my imaging runs of Saturn I decided to GOTO some obvious objects in order to see if my drive training had any effect. First I punched in the Orion Nebulaâ€¦ slewingâ€¦ oh my god, there it is in the (Meade 26mm PlÃ¶ssl) eyepiece with no help from me! A little off-center but I could definitely trust it to an object that was not visible to the naked eye. Then I entered Mars and again, spot on. Pleiadesâ€¦ how pretty. So needless to say, I have a renewed faith in the Autostar and I found that as with most mechanical problems, my inability to use it correctly had indeed been my inability to use it correctly, and not a limitation of my equipment. 🙂
On a side note, as I was moving through these objects it occurred to me that since I got back into astronomy last year, I’d spent so much time and energy concerned with imaging that I’d never really just LOOKED. This struck me the most when viewing the Orion Nebula. I stayed there for about 10 minutes taking it in and occurred to me that this might have been the first time in 20 years that I actually saw it’s light with my own eyes as opposed to an image in a book or on a computer screen.
Oh what I’d been missingâ€¦