Kim and I (and the dogs) went to the Ranch for Christmas. We spent about a week in the Hill Country and I was able to do a lot of astro imaging of course! In fact, I was able to test my new scope and give it "first light".
Christmas Eve was crystal clear and beautiful. I set up the new LX200 10" and Borg guide scope. I did not have too much time, since we were going to be getting up early on Christmas morning to drive to Austin for Christmas day to visit family. Anyway, I decided to go for Bode's Galaxy -- a classic spiral galaxy that is fairly large and bright.
Everything went surprisingly smooth for a first run with new gear. One thing I learned quickly -- everything is much more difficult at longer focal lengths! For the past few months I have been doing wide field imaging with the Takahashi FSQ 106 with a focal ratio of F/5. But the new LX200 is a much narrower field at a focal ratio of F/10. What does this mean? Well, it means that any slop or error is amplified and becomes a much bigger deal. It also means that the "seeing" (rippling atmosphere) plays a much bigger role.
One thing that became immediately clear is that my guiding needed to be REALLY spot on. This means you have to tweak it a lot to get it just right. This was a little difficult since I could not bring the Borg guide scope to exact focus (I need an additional spacer ring). So, I guided on soft focus stars -- but I got it to work.
So here is the first image from the new system -- Bode's Galaxy. It is just under 2 hours of exposure.
I still need to address a few things with this rig, but overall I am really pleased with my initial results. I can finally go after some "tiny" galaxies and planetary nebulae -- yea!