The CSC looked awesome last night despite the moon phase, so I went out for another run at some targets… and practice. I arrived early enough to take flats while I unloaded the rest of my gear and then shot bias frames while I was balancing and doing my polar alignment. The sky was very clear and the visibility was far above average for where I image. The only issue was the moonlight from being about 70% full phase (waxing gibbous).
I was having some trouble finding targets bright enough to image. I blame my ignorance of the night sky for most of that, but the ambient light definitely was part of it. I even had a difficult time with star alignment due to the diminished relative brightness of the alignment stars. Eventually, I shot a few lights and darks of M92 – because it is very bright – just to have something to process, but over the course of a few hours, I tried several targets with no result. I even realigned my mount thinking I surely must be slewing off target. Nope and nope. The night grew colder and even though I was running my dew heaters, I didn’t have them set high enough to prevent moisture from forming on the front element. I will pack a hair dryer for times like this moving forward so I can do a quick recovery.
As the moon moved toward setting, the promise of amazing imaging was near, but I was cold, hungry, frustrated, and out of coffee… all with another hour and a half until moonset. I decided to just pack it in. It was a good learning experience and another night of practicing set up, balance, alignment, acquisition, and tear down of my gear. Practice is good.