I Purchased the Starry Night program to help with star alignment and location of objects and found out that it is a big help but was still not getting to the objects as I expected. I thought that the problem might be with my polar alignment, so I started looking into ways to improve on that. I was quick to discover that there is a camera that would get excellent polar alignment. So, entering my world was the Orion StarShoot P1 polar alignment camera. More equipment and software to learn. Of course, there was a learning curve, not bad and after a few outings I got good at it. Although I found it took more time to get through the process than just doing a manual alignment, but the upside was it is more accurate, to the point that most times you only need to a one star alignment, that’s good news. Now that I was able to achieve good polar alignment, I thought I would get closer to the object(s) that I wanted to view, well not so much. Is there a problem with the mount not slewing properly, I really didn’t know? Maybe StarryNight might help with this issue. I tried but with limited success.Maybe I am using the program incorrectly, so I contacted their tech support folks and was quickly told that the software and the mount MUST be on the same date, time and coordinates or it would not be accurate. Once I got all that corrected, slewing to the object was better; now time to move on to the next phase of my adventure. Taking pictures!!!!
After much investigation into the picture taking process it became apparent that I needed to purchase more equipment, WHY I already have a camera, what more do need. First off, I discovered I needed an auto guider to improve on the mounts guiding accuracy. Go figure, and expensive mount and it needs help in guiding, so enter the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider package, a guide scope and camera and of course more software to learn (when will this end). Since I was using my Canon 70D and only taking single shot short exposure, guiding was not a big issue. Of course, if I wanted to venture into long multiple exposures then using the auto guider would be a must, not now, I was not quite ready for that process.
My pictures were coming out good but at times it was difficult to get good composure and focus. There must be something that could assist with this issue, of course there was, a software program for the camera (more software, go figure). I discovered a program just for that purpose, BackYard EOS. What a great program, but it was not freeware, had to make a one-time purchase to get the full feature program. I admit that the cost was well worth it. Not only did it help with composure and focus, but also with all camera controls. I could now set all my exposure settings, single or multiple, and length of exposure time not to mention may other useful functions. It took care of so many camera settings that I was now getting nice pictures, BUT WAIT, is there a better camera I should be using, of course there is, a dedicated astrophotopraphy camera. At this point I was getting overwhelmed with making decisions on what to purchase (and it is getting expensive) to achieve what I wanted to accomplish. Looking for help I started browsing the internet and came across many You Tube videos that proved to be beneficial. Armed with advice from folks like Dylan O’Donnell of “Star Stuff “and Trevor Jones of “Astro Backyard” along with many others I settled on the Orion StarShoot G4 Deep Space Imaging Camera.
This camera proved to be a real challenge and I started thinking I made a mistake in purchasing it. I kept working with it but was not having much success. It is a difficult camera to set up and focusing it can be troublesome. My whole purpose of this adventure was to take photos of the stars, plants and “DSO”, this camera was not accomplishing my goals. I purchased this camera last year and hardly used it. Although I have not given up on it, I needed to find another camera that would work better for me and accomplish the goals I was after. I come to find out for what I wanted to do; I really did not need this type of camera. I had to start looking for an alternative camera and I wanted to stay with a DSLR camera because I was used to how they work and felt extremely comfortable using them, especially the Canon cameras. I discovered there are DSLR cameras that are modified just for the purpose of astrophotography, now that seemed like a no-brainer to me but of course I would have to locate one (must be a Canon) and the cost might be prohibited.
More on the camera saga in part three of my series on the beginning of my adventure.