Not too often does January have crystal clear nights here in the Quad Cities. Even more rare to get two back to back during the New Moon! A friend of mine has started to take an interest in Amateur Astronomy so I felt this was the perfect opportunity to let him see what it's like to use some real gear.
The first night went really well. After he arrived just before 11pm we were able to setup, polar align, 3-Star align fairly easily such that by midnight shots were being taken and a great time was had. Rather than taking the entire rig down when he left, I covered the mount, crossed my fingers, and hoped for another clear night despite a poor forecast.
Night two I got home around 8:30pm to be greeted outdoors by a high haze. Undeterred, I was soon taking test lights of M42 that were blowing my mind! I spent that entire night with a bottle of Woodford Reserve to keep me warm whilst falling back in love with backyard astrophotography.
The mount is an Orion Atlas that I ran from the hand controller. Since the QHYCCD PoleMaster was used to get an incredibly precise polar alignment there was no need to adjust the pointing of the mount once it found it’s target. Guiding is by an Orion Star Shoot Autoguider viewing through an Orion ST80 and controlled via PC and PHD2. For imaging I’m using my overworked Canon 60D with Astrnomik CLS Clip-In broadband filter along with a Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6L while capturing in Backyard EOS.
I haven’t had a chance to monkey with all the data from those glorious nights but I’ll leave you with a taste of what i’m playing with. Here is a stack of 3 light frames taken of M42 that was mentioned above. Each frame was 600 seconds @ f/5.6 ISO 400.