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  • Writer's pictureTracey Snelus

Imaging, joys and frustrations

Don't let anyone tell you that astrophotography is easy, it just isn't. It takes a lot of time and effort and sheer determination at times. It doesn't help under UK skies where you have to wait months for clear skies and then acquisition time is often limited. I have spent many years refining my set up, automating the processes and testing it over and over in the knowledge that clear skies, when they come along I do not want to be troubleshooting and need to be set up and running as soon as possible to maximise imaging time. However, sometimes you really can't predict the technical issues. Such a night happened recently. Almost every aspect decided to throw a fault, be it connectivity, software crashes and odd guiding. On any other night I may have just gave up and conceded to the fact that I want going to get up and running. In sheer stubbornness I decided to try and resolve and recover what I could.

Several system resets, cables being plugged in and unplugged in different combos and several cups of teas later, I seemed to get the system back up and running. I knew then that I needed new cables and promptly ordered new ones.

I have wanted to get a great image of the horsehead nebula. My overall goal is a RGBHa composite mosaic of the region. So I thought I would set out to check framing and test Ha exposures. I set up to do a 2 panel mosaic. Each panel consisting of 2hrs 40 minutes of Ha exposures of 600s. Sky conditions were not great and now seeing was deteriorating but I captured the data. Leaving the scope to image through the night as I slept, I woke up at 3am to make sure it has completed the sequence and parked before I could shut it down and do a quick weather check to see if I could just stay in bed. ( I can operate the scope using TeamViewer on my phone- cheating!) After stacking the frames in Deep sky stacker. I stitched the panels together using Microsoft ICE and then edited in Photoshop and finally lightroom.

I was really happy with the workflow, that issues were resolved and that I was able to get an image. Someday I know when it is best to quit other days its worth pushing on. I just want everyone to know on those days when you feel like its all useless that it happens to all of us. It is frustrating and it takes patience and perseverance. For all I knew, at the time, my data could have been a load of rubbish but in the end it was worth ironing out the issues with the added bonus that I got an image and data to practice with - I learn another lesson and progress just that little bit further. One day.....I might get that Mosaic RGBHa ?

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