Saturday, September 22, 2012

Missing Astro 2012-09-20

After weeks of cloudy sky, I started to sense that my interest in astronomy is fading. Then one night, I came home from work and found a clear sky waiting for me. I decided not to pass up the chance. I immediately gather my 15x70 Celestron bins, then run up the roof deck and started scanning the sky.

The first batch of stars I saw were unfamiliar to my eyes. I can't even remember the constellations I'm supposed to see during this time of the year. Next, I checked my starmap and found that Cygnus the swan and Pegasus the flying horse should be visible. After a few minutes enjoying the view through a binocular, I decided to try and photograph something.

I went back to my room and took out my EQ-1 mount, attached a ball head with my homemade adapter and attached a camera. I didn't bother getting a scope because a high magnification setup with a scope will require more time , effort and patience which I don't have at the moment. With a scoped setup, I also need to lift more weight due to the heavier EQ-3 mount that I have to use and my injured right wrist is still a bit painful when lifting weights.

Since I'll be using a wide field setup, accuracy in polar alignment is not that critical. I simply pointed the shaft north and proceed to image the starry field above. My first few shots targeted some cloudy portion of the sky and I have to discard the images. After several test shots, I obtained my target and fired away. However, before I could take the fourth exposure, my battery suddenly died. I tried to replace my battery but found out that my spare were also discharged after being left too long in the storage. I have no choice but to end my imaging session prematurely. Here's the only decent image I managed to get after processing the 3x32sec frames.

M29, the small and sparsely populated open cluster can be seen in the shot. The reference bright star, Gamma Cygni (Sadr) on the lower right of the frame is the only star visible with the naked eye.

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