Author Topic: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...  (Read 130 times)

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NoelC

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It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« on: Dec 01, 2019, 13:41:01 »
22/10- After a run of awful weather in which there have been few breaks (and those have been on evenings when I'm elsewhere engaged) the weather cleared a little after the last new moon in October.  At last- but as I carried kit and tea mug into the observatory I was greeted by swarms of house flies and lace wings which had taken up residence in my absence.  Much frantic sweeping and swatting later I settled down to an uncomfortable nights work, interspersed with fly swatting and capturing the odd blue bottle to keep them off the screen. The lacewings seemed to be attracted to the green lights on the usb hub, crawling into the ports beside the screen. I have a lot of sympathy with wildlife, but this was a bit much.  At 2 am I gave up as I was getting nowhere and flies kept appearing.

11/11 - Having thoroughly cleaned it out and completed some modifications to the observatory door to resist fly ingress I was pleased to find less lacewings in residence when the transit of Mercury occurred. A good chance to get the kit out, however the weather wasn't promising.  With a camera I rarely use (ASI 120MMC), I was completely unable to get good focus, and so unable to see Mercury on the disk of the Sun in the brief glimpses I had.  Packed up at 2:30 as the trees were starting to come into frame. 

29/11 At last a clear night! Mug of tea in hand, open up observatory at 6pm but unfortunately I had left the slot cover off after packing up on the 11th - not a problem as the slot is in the floor, but some little creature (wren or robin?) had been using it for it's temporary home - tiny little bird poops all over the camera and focusser- but NO lacewings anywhere!  Quick clean down of bird poops, off with the shed and away we go.  Temperature dropped radically, dew band on, all lined up, focusser bust (manual focus only) but focus seemed OK, guiding working sort of OK (±½px). M33, IC405, Plate solving first go, frames look OK but there is a dirty great dust spot... Getting very cold, frost on the kit, signal to noise started to drop around 1am (lens fogging up) - out with the hairdryer between exposures and turn up the dew band - when to my horror I noticed a lacewing cuddling up to the objective lens on the inside of the OTA!  Obviously I don't leave my tubes open between sessions, and normally I wrap them up in bin bags with desiccant inside, but on this occasion I hadn't wrapped it, a lacewing had clearly crawled through the gap left around the focussing tube on the W.O.'s Crayford focusser.  Nothing for it but to remove the lens cell and blow the lacewing out with the hairdryer - I hope it was all alone!  2 frames later, left the plan running, switched the system to remote and went to bed at 2 am, on waking after 2 hours the guide star had gone and the frames were blank (fog) - time to get up again and put it all away...  Oh well - at least I got some frames if not a complete image.
Synta mount, a bunch of telescopes and a shed (on wheels).

Apophis

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #1 on: Dec 01, 2019, 13:56:50 »
Very interesting listening to your imaging woes , one question seeing you couldnt get focused for the transit and wondered how you do focus for solar imaging?
Roger

NoelC

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #2 on: Dec 01, 2019, 17:53:19 »
I was just out for the fun of it, as I have a full aperture solar film and an ASI 120MMC - thought I would take some AVIs and see if I could extract an image.  Focussing manually on the limb.  No sunspots that I could find, so spent an unhappy 2 hours dodging between clouds and trying to get a closer focus - never did find Mercury with the camera.  I think I could just see it through the bins (10X50s) at about 15:00 just above dead center.  I have to say that in the 3 or 4 attempts I have made to use the ASI 120 I have never got a sharp focus with it.  Was using Sharpcap Pro to capture.
Synta mount, a bunch of telescopes and a shed (on wheels).

Carole

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #3 on: Dec 01, 2019, 18:56:15 »
What a catalogue of frustrations Noel.  Another few things to put on the list not to do again.

I can't really keep insects out of the obsy as there is a gap between the dome and the walls.  I normally fill the gap in the winter with pipe lagging so i don't dehumidify the whole of Bromley, but apart from spiders, which generally curl up and die either from overheating or because they don;t get any food, so far no other insects to speak of, the odd earwig maybe.

Carole

The Thing

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #4 on: Dec 03, 2019, 14:12:10 »
I was out last night for the first time on ages and we had a frost which only happened two nights last year - but no insects anywhere except in high summer. Maybe you need bats (the flying sort) Carole, they scoff the lot.

I only get the odd spider in my observatory, I put several big drops of loo cleaner in a spray bottle of water and liberally apply it to all points of ingress, nooks, crannies and holes (having covered equipment). Also eliminates mouldiness and limescale! Been doing this for five years now and it works in the outbuildings as well. Never noticed any residue or effect on the wood of the shed and it has a nice clean smell.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Gallic shrug :))
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Carole

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #5 on: Dec 03, 2019, 16:47:41 »
I have got some spider repellent, but I seem to find curled up corpses in the obsy.  I don't really want to kill them just deter them.

Carole

Apophis

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #6 on: Dec 03, 2019, 20:15:09 »
I have got some spider repellent, but I seem to find curled up corpses in the obsy.  I don't really want to kill them just deter them.

Carole
Apparently horse chestnuts(conkers) repell them realy well.
Roger

Hugh

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #7 on: Dec 03, 2019, 22:11:04 »
This is the sort of thing that one of you should highlight at the meetings, so that we get to understand the hardship(s) you go through to get those wonderful images!

We can all have a laugh as well (sorry Noel but I did chuckle at your report)!

Thanks

Hugh

Carole

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #8 on: Dec 04, 2019, 09:44:19 »
An article for Toast maybe?

Also there are all the wonderful mistakes you can make which upsets imaging and/or gives you a frustrating time.

Carole

NoelC

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #9 on: Dec 05, 2019, 11:13:28 »
It shouldn't happen - again!
Even though the lacewing was not alone in the OTA, had two reasonable nights of imaging. Chasing the last of the darkness as the moon re-appears for the month, I set out to capture a galaxy last night.  Setting up the gear in the moonlight at 9pm; kit balanced, everything came online first time, guider calibrated, focusser connected and focus achieved, no lacewings, spiders all evicted...  Shut down until moon-set.  Re started the kit at 11pm in readiness - mirrors all fogged up from prior shut down (due to warm air in shed) - hairdryer fixed that.  Focusser wouldn't connect; rebooted and unplugged it a few times - fixed.  Camera online, although mount was parked had lost pointing and plate solve wouldn't hack it - revert to viewfinder - sort of OK while fiddling with plate solve realised target was faintly on screen! - (Wahey - we're in business after only an hour!) - cool CCD while setting up guiding, back to APT and the camera's gone  :o.  I have an atik guide cam as well as an atik main cam, and the Atik ascom chooser was flip flopping the connection for the other camera (not done that before).  Nothing for it; shut down, re-boot try again, switch drivers in PHD, all to no avail at about 12:45 in desperation resorted to updating Atik Artemis (never update software in anger) - result; complete carnage. In live view camera defaults to 125X125 binning and you can't reach any sensible setting in drop down, cameras still flip flopping etc. etc.etc. :wall:  Finally went to bed angry and defeated 1:30 am on a moonless bright starlit frosty night - maybe the last for another month...
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Carole

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #10 on: Dec 05, 2019, 12:25:29 »
Oh No!!  You poor thing, and last night was NOT a good night to spend hours outside due to the cold and frost, (I know I was out there) though like me you are partially protected by the obsy.

I had a few problems of my own last night.
I was already set up in the obsy having spent a couple of nights already in the last few days imaging.
But I had people here until about 9.30 so could not start earlier, but as it was an unpredicted clear night (it said it would be cloudy on all Weather websites except for Sat24 which clearly showed  it was clear.
 (Oh dear pun not intended).

However, intended target I can only get an hour on it between appearing from behind the house to disappearing behind next door's tree, so I thought I'd get set up asap to try to fit the hour in.

Dome was VERY reluctant to open, presume it was stuck in Frost.  Dome would not rotate, presume stuck in Frost, took a lot of manhandling to get it to move.

Atik camera cooling was greyed out on the software??!!  closing down and re-starting the software did not improve the situation, so re-booted the laptop.  Still did not work (N.B laptop VERY slow booting up, presume due to the cold).  Disconnected the camera from power and plugged it in again and  finally it worked. 

Then the guiding would not recognise the camera, fiddled around and finally disconnected the USB extension lead and re-plugged in.  Finally everything is working. 

All this messing around, and I have lost my target to the tree.

Nearly 1am before my target finally looks as though it is clear of the trees.  Find target but first few subs ruined by fine branches I could not see, but finally got underway around 1.30am!!!  Managed to get around 2 hours imaging done even past the Meridian.

Closed the obsy, and shut everything down. Key won't go in the lock as it is frozen, so had to retrieve a hairdryer from the house to unfreeze it.

Finally got to bed around 3.30am.

Carole



« Last Edit: Dec 05, 2019, 12:33:45 by Carole »

Apophis

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #11 on: Dec 05, 2019, 12:36:13 »
re Noels shutdown after setup till moon set and probs switching on again, when i do setup and get everything working at about 6pm ish i would leave everything powered up untill imaging session started would recommend this method ,
Roger

NoelC

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #12 on: Dec 06, 2019, 12:41:52 »
Carole - it was very cold, my telescope probe said -2°C at midnight - I wonder if that contributed to the issues as the pc was out in the cold (under the table).  Poor you - having to unfreeze the lock, must have been really cold by then.  Well done for persevering, you were just starting as I went to bed!

Roger - you are right, but having had the camera on for most of the day previous to update my darks, I became sensitive to it's run hours (silly really - it gets so little use due to weather).

On a side note; what dithering settings do you have (and where are they)? As I get hot pixels coming through even though I'm dithering.
Synta mount, a bunch of telescopes and a shed (on wheels).

The Thing

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #13 on: Dec 06, 2019, 13:58:47 »
Hi Noel and Carole,

You really are having a time of it. My worst problem on Monday night was not having refined the balance of the scope after switching to my SharpStar 61EDPH and putting the ASI 294 on the end of it resulting in a long overhang at the back - Dec was very unbalanced and guiding suffered. Rotating the focuser so the knobs were 'up' meant I could move the dovetail up the clamp and redress the balance somewhat - but that was Tuesday after the clouds had rolled in so a bit after the fact. My next worst problem was intermittent power connection to the USB3 hub caused by using the wrong cable so I lost connection to everything after the unattended meridian flip (I was in bed at that point) - but somehow NINA recovered from that eventually, maybe as the mount rotated (hub is bolted to the ADM dovetail saddle) and the power reconnected. Anyway 600x30s subs of the Rosette to process as a result :)

Better luck next time you two!

Duncan
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Apophis

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Re: It shouldn't happen to an astronomer...
« Reply #14 on: Dec 06, 2019, 14:16:15 »
Carole - it was very cold, my telescope probe said -2°C at midnight - I wonder if that contributed to the issues as the pc was out in the cold (under the table).  Poor you - having to unfreeze the lock, must have been really cold by then.  Well done for persevering, you were just starting as I went to bed!

Roger - you are right, but having had the camera on for most of the day previous to update my darks, I became sensitive to it's run hours (silly really - it gets so little use due to weather).

On a side note; what dithering settings do you have (and where are they)? As I get hot pixels coming through even though I'm dithering.
i just dither using the default in APT i think 0.0.5.0 think thats right , you can take hot pixels out post processing, which i do as dont like to be too aggressive on dithering.
Roger