What Challenges Did I Face in Capturing Images of the Andromeda Galaxy and Mars?

In summary, the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 or M31, is a spiral galaxy located 2.5 million light-years away from Earth. It was captured in a photo using a combination of ground-based and space telescopes, providing a wealth of information about its structure and composition. This photo is currently the most detailed image of the galaxy, but with advancing technology, we may be able to capture even more detailed images in the future. To see the Andromeda Galaxy for yourself, find a dark and clear sky and use binoculars or a telescope for a better view.
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russ_watters
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New pics. These are a month old, but I forgot to upload them. They are from Sept 29. That was the first night it got really cold and I drove to the Poconos to set up shop, so while the sky was very clear and very dark, it was also very windy.

First is another shot at the Andromeda Galaxy. The data actually isn't much better than the last time (though there are more pics), but I'm getting better at image processing - particularly with removing light pollution. So the result is considerably better than the last.

Next is Mars, obviously. I have a nice quality 5x barlow that I just started using for planetary work. That puts me waaay above the theoretical maximum magnification for my scope, but the results still look good. I'm pretty sure the haze to the bottom right is from the wind, not Mars' atmosphere.

Third is a shot I took with regular still-photo camera. I didn't realize until just now that the reason I can't see the Milky-Way is because I didn't point the camera at a very bright part of it! So I have an overexposed, noisy (even though that's a stack of 5x15s, unguided), and not altogether interesting photo. But I'm showing everything so people can learn from my mistakes. I think the ISO was 400, and I guess it needs to be more like 100 to reduce the noise. If you can't tell what the photo is, it's Cassiopeia, with the Andromeda Galaxy at the top, left of center, and the Perseus Double Cluster in the middle of the upper-right quadrant. I went once-through with Photoshop to remove light pollution and amp effects, which is the reason for the funny coloring at the top-left. If I feel like it, I'll see if I can improve it, but it may not be interesting enough to be worth the effort (except for practice).

Update on my tracking issues: I was told by a Meade rep that my problem (described in earlier posts) is periodic error. I'm not so sure because while it seems to be periodic, it is a very rapid shift (less than a second), not a smooth sine-wave-type error. But my scope has periodic error correction (with a firmware update), so I'll see if I can get it to work. So far, no success - I want the camera to guide the scope to make the corrections accurate and fast, but I can't get the camera to guide it. If anyone has any suggestions...

I have my DSI software interfacing with my scope and I can slew the scope manually using the software, but it won't guide. I have a suspicion that it's because of the orientation of the camera not matching what the software thinks the orientation of the camera is, but I'm not sure. See, the problem is that when the camera is looking through the top of the diagonal, they want it oriented to the right: which means taking off the finderscope, which I will not do. And when the camera is attached to the camera port in the back, they want it oriented facing down, which makes it hit the base and severely limits the range of motion. Next time I get the chance, I'll find a lower star to point at, but I'd really like to be able to look through a barlow lens - that would improve the accuracy, right? The software has a box where you enter the focal length, so it knows exactly how much tracking error it is seeing on the screen. But then, doesn't a Barlow cause the image to be mirrored? I can never keep these things straight...

One thing, the documentation on this stuff is terrible. I guess once I run the PEC training module on the scope and have the camera guide it, it should work.

Another issue, my scope got progressively sloppier over the summer as grease migrated from the gears to the clutches, to the point where no amount of tightening (short of breaking something) would keep the drives solidly locked.. I cleaned it up last night, and it feels a lot better. I can't imagine someone who is afraid of taking it apart being able to use it.
 

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Hello,

Thank you for sharing your recent astrophotography images and updates on your tracking issues. It's always exciting to see new images and hear about the progress being made in the field of astronomy.

Regarding your periodic error and guiding issues, it's possible that the rapid shift you are experiencing is due to a combination of factors, such as gear backlash and periodic error. It's great that you have periodic error correction available on your scope, but it may take some trial and error to find the right settings to get it working properly.

In terms of using a barlow lens for guiding, it can potentially improve accuracy but it may also introduce additional complexity in terms of orientation and mirroring. It's worth experimenting with to see if it improves your guiding results.

I agree that the documentation for these types of equipment can be lacking, but there are many online resources and forums where you can find helpful information and tips from other astrophotographers. It's also important to regularly maintain and clean your equipment to ensure optimal performance.

Overall, keep up the great work and don't be discouraged by challenges along the way. Astronomy and astrophotography are constantly evolving fields and there is always room for improvement and new discoveries. I look forward to seeing more of your images in the future.
 

Related to What Challenges Did I Face in Capturing Images of the Andromeda Galaxy and Mars?

1. What is the Andromeda Galaxy?

The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 or M31, is a spiral galaxy located 2.5 million light-years away from Earth. It is the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky.

2. How was the photo of the Andromeda Galaxy taken?

The photo of the Andromeda Galaxy was taken using a combination of ground-based telescopes and space telescopes. The main image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, while additional data was collected by various ground-based telescopes using different wavelengths of light.

3. What can we learn from the photo of the Andromeda Galaxy?

The photo of the Andromeda Galaxy provides a wealth of information about the structure and composition of the galaxy. It allows us to study its spiral arms, star clusters, and other features in great detail. It also helps us understand the evolution of galaxies and the universe as a whole.

4. Is this photo the most detailed image of the Andromeda Galaxy?

Yes, the photo of the Andromeda Galaxy taken by the Hubble Space Telescope is currently the most detailed image we have of the galaxy. However, as technology advances, we may be able to capture even more detailed images in the future.

5. How can I see the Andromeda Galaxy for myself?

The Andromeda Galaxy is visible to the naked eye in the night sky, but it may be difficult to see in areas with high light pollution. The best way to see it is to find a dark, clear sky and use a pair of binoculars or a telescope to get a better view.

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