Tuesday, May 19, 2015

First Light Catalpa POD Observatory (CPO) 5.18.2015

Last night was first light at CPO! It was more of a challenge than I anticipated. When I installed and leveled the scope, I aligned the mount using both the compass in the mount and a digital compass. The magnetic declination offset for Indiana is zero, so I thought I would at least be close to the pole star when I attempted polar alignment. Fat chance!  I was so far off, I had to rotate the mount about 15 degrees, throwing off my leveling. However, I finally got the mount level and polar aligned using a reticle eyepiece. My first slew to Arcturus for one-star alignment was not even in the FOV of the finder, but I manually centered the star and synched. My first GOTO object was M13--an easy choice. It was close to the center of the finder, but just outside the FOV of the scope with a 25mm eyepiece--I may have to realign the scope again (there are times when I am truly tempted to go back to ALT/AZ--lol).

I fired up the Xtreme + MFR-5, set the gain to 4 and took 3 images of M13 with exposures of 3,6,and 9 seconds. The results are interesting. The 3-second exposure shows a significant amount of color. The 9-second exposure shows little color. The core of the cluster is starting to "blow out," but more halo stars are visible.

As it does not get dark enough to align a scope until around 9:30 pm here, it was around 11:00 pm by the time I captured these images and I decided to pack up at that point as I had to work today. It's been about 6 months since the POD was delivered and it's good to have the observatory up and running at last!

3-Second Exposure
6-Second Exposure

9-Second Exposure