Sunday, September 24, 2017

coaching session

Geneviève joined me in the warm room.

8:57 PM, Saturday 23 September 2017. We discussed the plan.

She wanted to rerun the Dumbbell with longer exposures. Half the images were no good. Deep Sky Stacker only used 11. She had researched other photographers. 300 seconds, 100 seconds, someone did 60 seconds, ISO 1000, like us. We wondered if 90 seconds would be better with a higher ISO.

When was it transiting? I checked SkyTools. M27 was peaking right now.

9:01. Proposed that she run everything tonight. She agreed it would be good. It would take more time though to train on all the steps.

We would use the GBO computer to drive the mount and do focusing (unlike last night where it was only used for focus). I'd restart everything so she could go through the telescope/mount setup. Then, a supervisor would only need to open the building and off she could go.

We put the dark red film on her screen.

I parked the 'scope. Disconnected things.

9:15. Starting my training. Grab your notebook. And red flashlight. Had Geneviève do the work.

Went through the pier/mount/accessories connections and power up sequence with particular attention to the Optec focuser. Suggested turning on the computer before powering the mount.

Went through the laptop setup. Tonight we connected the old serial cable. Showed the LCD brightness controls and the red film frame. Logged her in. Launched TheSky 6, linked to the Paramount, and homed.

Discussed viewing the virtual sky, monitoring the meridian, selecting objects or searching and centring, slewing, checking the area is clear, confirming. Don't do sync. Verify the TPoint model is loaded.

Suggested a test slew to check the pointing. To Saturn.

9:56. Bull's eye! The pointing was good. We had a medium powered eyepiece and it was nearly centre. Yeh.

Reminded Geneviève that we needed to choose a star for focusing. Centre, with a high power eyepiece, and check it visually. Do that before installing the camera. We zoomed in and considered 13 Vul. Yesterday we used gamma in Sagitta.

We talked about making the Tele Vue 101 co-linear with the Celestron 14. Not critical but it could be helpful.

Went through the camera control hookup. I pointed out that the dark grey ethernet RJ-45 cable, unmarked, is the one to use. It runs between the warm room and pier. And then a USB-ethernet adapter needs to be used. Unfortunately the CAO kit is USB version 1.1. We'd use mine tonight. I drew a picture.

Did the camera install. She removed the optical accessories and installed her camera. Helped her secure it. She had a fresh battery loaded.

I suggested testing the camera control software. Launched Live View Shooting. Reminded her that we could use Exposure Simulation, assuming we could control the exposure, which meant, for her camera, Manual mode. We determined that the flashing Exp Sim meant it was beyond the normal limit. Bumped the monitor brightness. Could not see a donut. We reviewed zooming the Live View (assuming the Face Detection was off).

Discussed manual coarse focusing, with the SCT mirror. Had her do the first big clockwise turn. Recruited a helper: me. Similar to her work with probes.

Discussed fine focusing, with the temperature-controlled focuser. Tonight we remembered to set to 3500 in advance. Reviewed the cables needed. Passing it through the screen window. On this occasion, we needed the USB-serial adapter as the serial port was occupied with the Paramount control. Showed how to look up the assigned COM port number for the Prolific device. Ran the Optec focuser software. Adjusted as many people observed. Set to auto mode.

We talked about Backyard EOS and its ability to recognise a Bahtinov diffraction pattern. Ian W mentioned that FocusMax uses V-curve technology.

Richard reminded us that continuous Live View gets the camera hot. We closed the windows.

Time to get to the target finally. She slewed. Asked how to verify she was on target. We took a test shot while still in manual mode. A bit low. Showed the telescope motion control dialog box. Moved a bit. Listen for the note change. We went the wrong way. Shot again. She thought it pretty good.

Ready to image now! I popped out for a bit. She switched to Bulb and did some test shots.

12:13 AM, Sunday 24 September 2017. Geneviève and Richard reviewed the first few images. They discussed the ISO values. They decided on ISO 1600. They reviewed the exposure and interval times.

Tony dropped in.

They checked the 90 second shot and it looked good.

The next one they didn't think so good.

Just keep shooting! Just keep shooting! (Sung in Dory's voice.)

That's what you have to do without a guider.

12:41 AM. She started her run with 90 second subs.

I asked how long her run was. 60 shots at 90 seconds plus the interval gap minus the ones done so far. About an hour to go. You have to share. That reminded her of what she tells her kids. She wanted to do more targets.

2:04. Geneviève readied to shoot darks. I explained she'd need new ones for the unique exposure settings. Encouraged her to begin building a library.

She thought something was wrong, that 19 shots had been taken suddenly. She asked what was wrong. I suggested her to look again... Ah. 19 to go.

Geneviève asked what the plan was. I might shoot. But Rhonda wanted to view some objects.

2:24. I asked for focus control. Explained how to release control from the computer.

2:30. Told Geneviève I heard an alert from her computer. I noted the EOS software was showing a warning. The message however was in red text. When the film was removed, it was regarding a "lost connection." I suspected it was the battery power at the camera. She installed a new battery.

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