Darren Ball

Read the Digital Sky At Night Magazine for FREE!

I thought that I’d post this just in case it was of use to anyone.

Someone once said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but in this case there (pretty much) is.
All you need to do – if you haven’t already done it – is join your local library.

Of course, we all know that its possible to go to the library and pick a magazine off of the shelf and sit and read it, but in this high-tech world, they’ve taken it one step further.

If you have a library membership, and the RB Digital app installed on your preferred technology, you can “check out” many digital magazines, including the Sky At Night magazine.
I’ve provided a few links for some of the counties that surround Rosliston, but if yours is not listed, simply Google …   [County] Library RBDigital   i.e. Staffordshire Library RBDigital, and you should be able to find what you need.





Orion Nebula – 1st Time

So a combination of #lessimportantthings (clouds/illness/school days/a 6yo that refuses to go to bed/tiredness/clouds/family commitments/clouds/christmas/clouds) have resulted in no time outside since my Pleiades post way back when.

In the interim, my continued use of StellarMate to manage imaging has been tested to the max as the installation of “updates” have resulted in problems with wifi hotspots and GPS dongles refusing to work.  Out of frustration I reflashed the Raspberry Pi with Astroberry – a free version of StellarMate, basically – to great success.  The session on 20/01/2020 was flawless; no crashes or slowdowns at all.  I may just stick with it, you never know.

I also had a chance to test my DIY Flats box comprising of a 130mm square EL (electroluminescence) Panel and a butchered drawer from a kitchen island trolley that was being replaced.  Saved myself about £30, I reckon. 🙂

1st attempt at Orion Nebula.  Partially processed cropped image.

40 Lights 50secs @ 1600iso
25 Darks 50secs @ 1600iso
52 Flats
54 Bias

DeepSkyStacker & GIMP

Skywatcher 80ED+Red/Corr
Canon 450D – Modded (IR)
Skywatcher EQ3-2
Raspberry Pi 4b running Astroberry Server 2.0

My first (worth shouting about!) astrophotograph – Pleiades

So, a year since starting this hobby I can finally show something that I’m happy to post.   Hopefully it’s recognisable!

It’s a bit basic for all you battle-hardened astrophotographers, but it’s my baby, and I’m a proud father 😀
(Disclaimer: It’s only a 3.5Mb export from GIMP, so the quality here isn’t optimum; I tried uploading a slightly larger file, but got errors)

Whilst building up my kit I’ve aimed for a light(ish), portable, standalone setup, so I’ve gone through the educational tribulations of setting up and getting to grips with StellarMate on a Raspberry Pi simply because it appeared to be a one-stop-shop rather than a pick-and-mix of various applications and tools.  And us geeks like to tinker 🙂

In the past I’ve had problems with using its Polar Alignment tool, but it transpires that muddling by with the wrong cable, thereby under-amping the Pi, meant that for the price of a nail the battle was lost.  A 2 quid Amazon Basics cable meant that last night was my most successful ever.  The Polar Alignment tool worked a treat, and it was only at breakdown did I realise that the I’d left the Dec clutch locked all through the session, so the fact that I’ve not got any (overly noticable) star-trailing can only be down to the polar alignment (someone please correct me if I’m wrong).

Onwards and upwards.  Orion Nebula and Andromeda are – clouds notwithstanding – in my sights!

81 Lights & 15 Darks – 30secs @ 1600iso
DeepSkyStacker & GIMP

Skywatcher 80ED+Red/Corr
Canon 450D – Modded (IR)
Skywatcher EQ3-2
Raspberry Pi 4b running StellarMate 1.4.4 (beta)