Trying not to waste time.

Maximising the time available for actually taking images is highly desirable especially with the shorter summer evenings. After too many sessions when time has been wasted by not being properly organised I have now evolved a consistent routine that gets things up and running quite quickly. Although everyone's equipment and situations vary I thought it might be of some interest to anyone looking to optimise their own method. I do have the benefit of a permanently mounted & aligned scope but don't have goto facilities and use conventional setting circles.

1. Decide on target(s) for the session and obtain the correct co-ordinates.
2. After checking that everything is working properly point the scope to approximate area of selected target and after finding a suitable star in the guidescope run the guiding software's calibration routine.
3. Point the scope at a bright star with known co-ordinates ( I am using Regulus at the moment) and centre it in the scope.
4. Optimise focus using this star.
5. Take test shots to make sure that the star is precisely centred in frame (this is important, not doing this can result in later frustration!)
6. Being careful not to nudge the scope adjust the setting circles to the star's co-ordinates.
7. Now the setting circles are calibrated use them to locate selected target for photography. If all has been done accurately the target should be somewhere in the field.
8. Find a suitable guidestar and make any adjustments required in positioning the photo target in the field (This is where the benefits of using a widefield scope for guiding become apparent). Hopefully imaging can now commence.

This all may sound very pedantic but I am now usually taking images within 20 minutes of starting. With clear skies at a premium it can be very frustrating not finding a target because the initial set up hasn't been done with care especially when using a relatively narrow field instrument.


arkturas said...

Great advice, your images are very inspiring. wish I had a permanent location for my EQ6, it's a beast to lug around & setup.

P said...

Thanks for the comment arkturas....a pity you can't get your EQ6 permanently set up.