Astrophotography 2022

2022 was the year of the “Off-Axis Guider”. The ZWO OAG works very well for me. I found that I don’t need to refocus the guide camera as I switch configurations. I used 1 to 2 second exposures which always allowed me to find a suitable guide star. I always used the PHD2 multi-star approach. This is with focal lengths ranging from 2032mm down to 510mm. The OAG has also eliminated differential flexure in all configurations. Everyone considering upgrading to an OAG should “go for it”!

While PHD2 does not indicate that my guiding has improved, my astrophotos always have round stars that I believe are smaller. Some of this years astrophotos have pin-point stars with very good focus which is encouraging. This year was also the first time I noticed how star HFD was indicating issues with focus. I think this arises from two sources…

1)The OAG eliminates differential flexure and oval stars which makes star HFD a better indicator of focus

2)My implementation of Star Statistics in CaLIGHTs has switched my approach away from FWHM to HFD for star diameter calculations.

I used 2022 to log additional information regarding focus so that, over the 2022/2023 winter, I can develop a temperature compensation scheme for my Moonlite Focuser High Resolution Stepper Motor Controller. Near the end of 2022 I was finding myself re-focusing several times over the evening. This is common for advanced astrophotographers so I now feel the need to follow in their footsteps.

Overall, I think 2022 was a very good year for my astrophotography. I used my system a lot which was great. What wasn’t so great was the system crashing several times on multiple evenings. I think I know what is causing the crashes. I am sending too many ASCOM commands to the CGEM mount which is causing one piece of software to generate a fault which it cannot recover from without me rebooting my computer. Both my custom software and PHD2 Guiding are competing for the attention of my CGEM mount. It probably doesn’t help that I am using a very fast computer with 8 CPUs, 16 cores, 24Gb of RAM and 1.25 Tb of SSD storage and the CGEM mount is using technology from 2009 (i.e. 9,600 baud ASCII communications with 8-bit processors.) I will spend some of the winter months re-programming and testing. Hopefully 2023 with be a year of astrophotography with a reliable system. If I get a spare minute I will write a post about what I am up to.

Enjoy the photos…


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