Home Comforts

When I first started to try astrophotography I used to view with envy the professionals who sat in a warm room peering at monitors with everything remotely controlled while the majority of amateurs were hunched over a guide eyepiece with freezing fingers trying to keep a star balanced on a cross hair on a windy winter night. I find it amazing that with todays technology and relatively little effort I can now sit in the warm to take my photos once the telescope has been centered on an object and the guider is up and running. The fact that my observatory is fairly close to the house means that with a couple of 5 metre USB booster cables I can reach the camera on the scope from my indoor computer. The remote operating software which came with the camera allows all the camera parameters to be adjusted apart from the focus when it is imaging through the scope. As this doesn't need changing once it is set it isn't a problem. The autoguider works through an old laptop in the observatory and emits a warning sound if it loses the guide star so I use a cheap baby alarm in the house to hear if this has happened. A search on the internet found a freebie piece of software that could be used to keep repeating a set of mouse actions. This needed a bit of setting up but the end result is that, once it is started, I can take a set of images while watching TV having a coffee and sandwiches. Purists might frown but with advancing years I'm very grateful!

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