I used the new laser alignment tool last night and it took me about 2 minutes to achieve polar alignment for the EQ6-R. I then used a 1-star alignment to get the mount setup.
To test, I used my trusty Canon 600D (modified) with a Sigma APO 120-400mm at 400mm and f/5.6 for a single 3 minute exposure. This is not a lens that I would normally use for astrophotography but I wanted a long focal length to test the alignment and tracking.
Well, let’s say that I was not disappointed with the result.The following image of the Carina Nebula is an unguided 3 minutes exposure at 400mm and there is not a trace of star trials, even when zoomed in. Take a look….
Carina Nebula – Test Image
I had to test my new tracker with autoguiding and could not get away to a dark site so I decided to test it in the front garden where I could reach further south towards Carina Nebula. Unfortunately I have a bright streetlamp in front of my house. I tried to shield the light from falling on the camera and lens to avoid the worst effects of the light conditions. I use a modified Canon 350D and got 29 light frames of 30 seconds each, 7 dark frames and 18 bias frames at f/5.6, ISO 800 with a 250mm focal length. Ideally you would try to get longer exposures than 30 seconds but the sky was so bright that I had to limit the exposure time for each frame.
This is a wide field view of the Southern Cross area. On the left is the two pointers (Rigel Kentaurus and Hadar) , the Southern Cross (Crux) & the Coal Sack in the centre and Carina on the right. The pink nebula on the right is the Eta Carina Nebula. It is 9000 light years away and is a likely candidate for an outburst any time soon. It’s last large outburst was in 1841. In 1999 it doubled in brightness and in 2007 it was a naked eye star. It’s current magnitude is about 4.6. Watch this space….
The fuzzy ball on the top left is the Omega Centauri globular cluster, very likely the home of a black hole in it’s centre. This cluster contains millions of stars and is 15,800 light years from earth and is the apparent diameter of the full moon. It is easily visible in binoculars (10×50). Look at the Astronomy Picture of the Day for a great photo of Omega Centauri.
Photo taken last night with Canon 600D, Tokina 11-16mm at 14mm, f/2.8, ISO1600. Nine light frames of 20 seconds each stacked with Deep Sky Stacker and a little processing with IRIS and PS CS2. I cropped the image quite a bit.
Next time I will make the exposures shorter (~ 8 seconds) and take many more (~50). The camera is static on a tripod and 20 seconds are just starting to show oval stars. The final image will probably be much sharper with shorter exposures. It should also get rid of the overexposed bright stars.