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M101 from last night.


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What a night last night turned out to be.

All my good intentions of taking 50 plus subs went down in flames in a cloud of glorious stupidity and confusion. :o

Fired up the obsy at just after 10 pm.

Did a quick alignment check -- OK

Swung the scope around and found a smallish star and spent an age minutely adjusting the focus until it was as good as I could get it.

Clicked on M51 and did a 30 second test shot.

There it was spot on and I thought 'great' this is going to go to plan so well.

Oh how wrong I was.

Fired up the guide scope in PHD and ---- Nothing.

Nothing ????? how the hell could there be nothing ??? There was a bright star there last night, I know there was I had spent 4 hours using it to guide with.

I rushed outside to check the sky and it was as clear as a bell.

Back inside I checked the camera adjustments, still nothing.

Several trips then followed back to the scope -- move the guide scope a fraction --- go and check the screen.

I could not believe it no matter where I pointed the guide scope I could not get a single star.

I even started slewing the main scope around the heavens trying to get the guide scope to pick up something.

Nothing absolutely nothing not a glimmer of a star on the screen just the two ever present hot pixels glaring at me through the gloom.

In pure frustration I decided there was nothing else for it but to switch on all the lights and try and find out what was going on.

That took all of about five seconds to discover,

I am stood in the obs staring in total disbelief at the bloody dust cap still sitting on the end of the guide scope. !!!!!!!!!!

By now Old father time had marched on into Saturday morning and I had lost hours of precious time over something so stupid it was beyond belief. I felt such an idiot. :unsure:

After a few choice words to myself I decided to salvage some thing from the session.

Clicked on M101 in CDC,waited for the scope to settle and took a 30 second test shot at ISO 1600.

Sure enough there she was so I centred her up and we were off.

50, 5 minuet subs at ISO 800 or so I thought.

Estimated time came up making the last subs to be taken in daylight.

Hit the abort button and rethink.

Decided on 30 subs at two and a half minuets still on ISO 800.

It was going to be a close run thing as dawn was approaching fast.

Started it up and running, went back into the living room to come on here to see who was doing what.

Periodic checks proved all was going well, the subs looked clean and the guiding was running perfectly.

Came back on here to see if anyone was around and fell asleep ????

Awoke to the sounds of my friendly Blackbird singing its heart out.

In a blind panic I rushed back into mission control to find the camera had disconnected itself because the battery had gone flat.

That was after sub 20 ???

I decided that I would see what I could do with what I had so I proceeded to take 20 darks to go with the lights.

I feed DSS with the subs and set it going with only one change. I decided to click on the 2 times drizzel .

I watched the screen as it went through the whole process. It created the master dark, added it to the lights ect ect ect.

At the very end whilst it was doing the final image production I get an 'Out of Memory' error.

Out of memory ????? how the hell can an empty 80 gig hard drive be out of memory.??????

So it was reload everything back into DSS again, unchecked the drizzel box and start again.

This time I figured sod watching it again so I went back and got my head down for another kip.

Work up to find all had been done so I set about trying to salvage something out of the disaster.

I have played with the adjustments in DSS and managed to produce the photos below.

What started out as a planned session turned into a suck it and see nightmare, but hey ho who said this was going to be easy.

And this is only the start of the journey ????

I had better order in some Valium or at the very least make a check list up so I don't do something so stupid again, mind knowing me I will.



Edited by Astrotec Limited
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