Monday, January 17, 2011

I Needs Me An Autoguider

I was looking through the 179 photos I took Sunday morning, thinking how I might get better pics. As I looked at this shot of the great globular cluster in the constellation Hercules, bemoaning its lack of crystal clarity, it suddenly dawned on me that the problem is not with focusing. It's the motors that track the scope. Over the 30 seconds it took to make this photo, my tracking motors didn't stay exactly on track. That's why the guys that get the great shots all have autoguiders. Shit! Another "accessory".

The "smudge" in the middle is an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. Another epiphany I just had is that, with an autoguider to pinpoint the motor tracking, I could not only get sharper shots, but also get more stars captured with the same 30 second shutter speed. 30 seconds is about the longest shot I can take at ISO 1600. Past 30 seconds the "noise" (graininess) is awful and makes the photo useless. Well, it's back to work I go.

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