Yeah, that didn’t work…

Eighty four images representing four and a half hours of exposure on the target. In this case NGC2244, the Rosette Nebula. It takes a few minutes to setup the software to align all of the images, then it takes about half an hour for the software to digest everything and produce a result. At the end of this you get to see if the effort worked. Sometimes it does not.

Complicating the issue is that a number of the sub-frames are taken at different exposures. Finding the correct stars in the these different exposures gives the software fits.

Misaligned Rosette
The result when the alignment routines fail to align all 84 images of the Rosette Nebula.

The Hotech CT Laser Collimator

With Jupiter still near opposition and Mars opposition approaching I would like to do a little high resolution planetary imaging. For planetary I use our Nexstar 11″ telescope, with 2800mm of focal length is has the high magnification needed.

SCT Alignment
Aligning our Nexstar 11″ with a Hotech CT Collimation Tool
One lesson in high resolution imaging is that collimation matters. Having the optics in your telescope precisely aligned makes all the difference in the results. A small misalignment will result in mushy images that will not quite focus properly. No amount of fancy image processing will salvage the image.

The Nexstar has not been giving me the results I know it is capable of. I shot Venus just before inferior conjunction and noted that there was probably some issues in collimation that were not addressed in the quick star collimation I had performed.

Thus I borrowed a Hotech CT Laser Collimatior from a friend. The collimator is an interesting piece of kit, enabling the user to check more than simple the tip-tilt of the secondary.

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