Astrophotography 2020

In January of 2020 I purchased a QHY294C with a L-eNhance Narrowband filter. I spent the year learning how to, and how not to, use this new astro gear. I quickly settled on using GAIN=1600 which is where the camera switches to it’s low noise HGC mode. There are some fullwell saturation effects happening that affect bright stars and FLATs that have pixel values greater than 32,767(50%). I am chasing QHY to correct this. [As of March 2021 QHY has released an All-In-One driver/SDK release that fixes the fullwell saturation issue.] I also found that an OFFSET value of 0 is pretty much ideal. I have master libraries for this camera and the BIAS master at GAIN=1600 has a mean pixel value of 22 with a standard deviation of 2 so clipping at zero is virtually non-existent. For most of the year I set the camera temperature to 0C. In early November I experimented with a camera temperature of -10C. I will be regenerating my DARK library for -10C and trying to use this lower temperature for 2021.

Because I like to software tinker, I decided to tackle the QHYCCD SDK and wrote an application to access the QHY294C via it’s qhyccd.dll. I have been accessing the QHY5II-M guider camera via the qhyccd.dll for several years so I wasn’t starting from zero. I was able to write a basic sequencer for taking images and ramping up/down the camera temperature. which works well for me. I have a parameter screen where all of the settings for the QHY294C can be viewed and/or changed. I was also able to integrate the camera into my Search utility and my autofocus utility. In 2020 I also wrote a plate solving utility that uses Platesolver 2 and positions my CGEM mount. Platesolving really cuts down on the time required to compose an image.