Hobart Observing Night. At last!
God, it seemed like forever since there's been a night when you could actually go observing. Even though it got a bit dewy, I was determined to make a decent show of it. Wearing two shirts, two jumpers, tracky daks under jeans, hat, neck warmer, ear muffs, and a coat, I set up the 80 mm Megrez-Zenithstar FD mutant in the back yard. (Thank heavens astronomy takes place in the dark!)
First up I compared my two 5 mm EPs: a Vixen LVW and a Radian. Findings: the Vixen had noticably more annoying fireflies (eyeball reflections), slightly less CA, and provided a bit more detail/contrast. What I assume was the GRS was just disappearing from view, but was more obvious in the Vixen. Mind you, the magnification in the Megrez is only 111x. (Still can't make up my mind which one to keep... Next test will be Venus and the moon through my 1200mm FL dob. Then the ETX mak-cass, FL 1470mm.)
Then it came to testing the Argo Navis on the Panoramic mount. Initially aligned with Acrux and Canopus - maybe not the best pair, but it allowed me to find most things with the 30mm EP. I could actually see the Sombrero and the Small Pinwheel galaxies through an 80mm scope from my suburban backyard. Pretty good, I reckon. (That's one of the good things about Hobart. And I'm only 2 km from the CBD!) Mind you, I had a bit of help with Starry Night Pro, just to confirm I had the right star field. Only limited success with the Ghost of Jupiter and Eight Burst nebulae, unfortunately.
Alas, once again the AN's "Mode:Align" function failed to work. I tried to align on Spica, but got the usual message: "align_pick1, bug encountered". Anyone got any advice??? Am I doing something wrong?
Then all the Messier objects in the lobster, I mean, scorpio. Open clusters around Crux and Vela. (Obviously, I don't need an Argo Navis for things like Omega Centauri and the Jewel Box, but they were an easy test of its - or the encoder's - accuracy: passed with flying colours on these objects. Still, the AN was noticably less accurate far away from the initial alignment stars, so I would like to fix this "Mode:Align" problem, which I assume is much like the Align function in an Autostar, which creates better GOTO accuracy in a new patch of sky.) Finished up with some double stars from the Aitkins Double star list, then back to Jupiter until dew started to settle on the objective. My star charts were dripping.
A very satisfying night. I hope it isn't as long again before I can get back out.