My finished photo of the Trifid and Lagoon Nebulae with processing details.Well it's been some time since this blog was updated. Years in fact. I've been
inactive on the astro front for most of that time due to stiction issues with a
mount that I was never able to resolve. Unfortunate, but it happens in this
field when you try to make do on a budget.
In January last year I decided to bite the bullet and get a brand new Skywatcher
EQ6-R mount so I could get back on the horse. As you can imagine the pandemic
threw that through a loop shortly after and I didn't end up reI've been largely happy with my NexDome since setting it up at the start of this
year. It's not perfect but all the issues it can present are generally quite
manageable and at the end of the day it sells at a price point that can't be
beat. One of said issues is securing it against wind. I only have the dome part
of the NexDome rather than the full observatory so can't make use of their wind
lock. Instead my own solution has been to tie it down to the observatory
structure using multiple coiled After finishing the observatory and starting to shift my scope and gear into it,
I very quickly found that all my essential cables were not where I thought they
were... USB cables for my cameras, rj12 to db9 and usb to serial cables for
connecting the handcontroller to my laptop, even the RA and Dec motor cables
essential to control the mount - all missing. After turning the house upside
down searching for them without result, I've had no choice but to replace them.
The usb cables are no troubleWith the dome finally in place, the hard part of the project was complete.
Getting the observatory to a usable state still required a little more work
though. First up was the weatherproofing.
The NexDome is one of the cheapest astro domes out there but like everything in
astro, it's not actually 'cheap'. That's why the first instinct after installing
the damn thing is to make sure it isn't gonna blow away. When assembling the
dome I made sure to secure a few flat metal braces (although I did nAfter returning from a 3 month hiatus in Australia to a spell of fine weather,
the Dome is finally up and in place. There's still a little bit to be done
before the observatory will be fully functional but the hard part is done. It
certainly wasn't without it's challenges though and there may be a few more to
The final resultThe first step was removing the temporary plywood roof. To our
bemusement we found the boards wouldn't budge even after unscrewing them. Turns
out some of the sealantSo the pier is now complete and I'm happy with the final result. Pretty much
everything is to specification (with the exception of one minor niggle) and it's
extremely sturdy, which is something I was concerned about initially considering
how tall it is.
It passed its first test which was to slot the base over the bolts in the
central pillar. I was a bit worried about this as we did have to force down the
wooden template a little when we put that together and with steel you don't
really get tAfter just over 1 year the observatory is finally nearing completion! All that
remains is to install the dome and pier and it will be ready for observing.
The Nexdome finally arrived many months after ordering. The box came a bit
banged up (it came all the way from Canada via Australia!) but everything inside
appears to be intact and undamaged. It seems to have come short of a few
nuts/bolts but this shouldn't pose a major obstacle even if it is a bit
annoying. The instructions are also somewAfter a long hiatus through the winter I'm back in action on the astronomy
front. We've resumed work on the observatory installing the windows and door.
Next step is to put the roof on - the Colorsteel should be here in about a week.
I plan to power the building with solar so recently I've been investigating
solutions on that front. I've already got a couple of 75w panels lined up that I
can get for free. Later this week I'll be checking out a friends off-grid home
setup and after that I'll locAfter a long period with no new content I figure it's about time for an update.
Unfortunately ongoing tracking issues with my mount has put a stop to all
astrophotography activity in recent months. After many weeks of troubleshooting
without resolution I took the scope and mount back to the store. They've
evaluated it and haven't been able to find any obvious issue apart from an
under-lubricated gear. I'm doubtful this is the cause of the issue but I've
retrieved all my equipment and will be tesPart of the setup process when using a German Equatorial mount is getting both
it's right ascension and declination axes in balance. Failure to balance
properly will put additional strain on the mounts motors and gears at certain
points, potentially leading to poor guiding and excess wear and tear.
In practice a slight balance offset can actually be quite useful as it can help
keep the gear train pushing against the teeth of the gear instead of floating
about in the backlash. The mileage of thiPolar alignment (PA) is basically the alignment of a telescopes rotational axis
with that of the earth's. The mounts motor system can drive the telescope at a
rate that keeps it in sync with the earth's rotation, but if the mount isn't
pointing directly at the celestial pole then over time the target object will
drift in the scopes field of view. This type of drift is known as field rotation
and the less accurate PA is, the more pronounced it becomes. A bad PA is highly
detrimental to astrophoto