First clear night for some considerable time last night! As we get into late April, the days are getting much longer and nights shorter and lighter. Despite the early start at work in the morning I was determined to get out and do some astronomy. My plan was to get some decent pictures of the Whirlpool Galaxy. That meant getting long exposures (ideally a few minutes each, or more) which meant setting the autoguider up with the laptop.
The autoguider is a CCD camera attached to the finderscope and the telescope mount which corrects tracking errors in realtime. I hadn't set this system up in over a year; I've mostly been imaging with a small, widefield telescope so haven't needed really precise guiding until last night. I'd hoped to get around 3 hours of imaging done on the Whirlpool. What ended up happening was two hours trying to get the CCD camera talking to the laptop (a new one...with various incompatibilities and the discovery that my CCD camera is not behaving well under Windows 10!). I then managed about half and hour of great tracking...but chose the globular cluster M13 because I really needed to get some sleep by that point.
So here it is; not a disastrous end to a frustrating night. The great Hercules Globular Cluster (M13).
Technical details: Nikon D90, ISO1600 at prime focus of the Mead LX10 (200mm / 8 inch). 3x3 minutes + 1x5 minute stacked exposures.
Dr Adrian Jannetta
Guitar strummin' explorer of the universe. Mild mannered maths teacher by day and astronomer by night.