Hi, all the forecasts said clear, the satellite pictures concurred, all the visitors had gone time to get out into the winter sky.
Set 9.25 Celestron SCT up on HEQ5 pro, aligned N, levelled and balanced early and waited for dark. Venus, moon and mars showed above the roof and a quick look at venus with 70mm celestron refractor showed beginning of crescent phase, looked with Binoculars for Comet 45P, but too low in relation to surrounding houses, will need to go further afield.
Powered up mount at 7:45 pm, attached Telrad and carried out 3 star alignment and went in search of some Messier favourites before reacquainting myself with the PD camera. M42 showed up nicely as did M31, M33 however did not show up, even with averted vision. M81 , M82 but not as bright as seen on other occasions, still somewhat low, noticeable also that could not get in to same field of view as possible with 8″ Newtonian, this highlighted the smaller field of view produced by the SCT ( focal length 2.35m), which had already made carrying out alignment, even with Telrad and 9×50 celestron right angled finder, a bit trying!
Then disaster, probably due to “finger trouble” and getting use to the SCT, handset managed to reset , this required another alignment set up, which having completed I then managed to rest again!!!, anyway, got going again, M1 showed as a very faint fuzz, back to M42 as I intended to try out PD camera with the SCT tonight.
Tonight was also the first real “test” of my “power box”, large plastic box with lid (weather-proof), with 3 x 12v cigar lighter plugs and internal 300W inverter, connected to 55AH leisure battery with clip on connectors. The inverter runs the laptop and the 12 v outlets ran Dew heater on Dew shield on SCT, power for PD camera and the 12V hairdryer when required on a couple of occasions to demist the Telrad.
Once reacquainted with PD camera, had a go at imaging M42, by this time 10:30 pm the camera showed definite atmospheric turbulence, very difficult to focus even using Bahtinov mask, looking around sky , there was a lot of “twinkling” stars! Using the sense up setting at x32 was the best compromise any higher image was far too bright and blew out all detail. The final image below was produced from a 20 sec .avi video , staked in Autostakkert, wavelets in Registax 6,final tweaking in Photoshop.6As always it’s bit of a compromise trying to get the detail in the nebulosity, vs the brightness of the stars. Even visually I couldn’t resolve any more than 4 of the trapezium stars. Now 11pm, the unstable conditions did not bode well in trying to pull out any other images, so time to pack up, made myself popular laying everything out on dining room table to defrost and dry out!!
Having previously used the SCT for imaging / viewing Jupiter, the advantage of adding a x.63 focal reducer when viewing deep sky objects has become obvious, as it will increase the field of view, making location easier and include more of the target, the smaller field of view being more appropriate for planetary imaging. The “power box” worked well and the battery had recharged by lunchtime today (on 2A trickle charge).
Meteor counts have been low over the first two days of January, a peek at the log showed a marked increase for today ( 3rd Jan), the Quadrantid peak is at 14:00 UT today , peak is not spread out as Earth enters stream at right angles, passing through quickly, so if you didn’t see any in the early hours this morning (thro’ the cloud) you will have unfortunately missed it!