New season approaches…

So with August looming, the nights are starting to draw in, so it’s time again to start getting the observatory ready for the new season….

This weekend I had a good tidy up, swept it out, hoovered it out – in the process, asking some of the arachnids holidaying in there if they wouldn’t mind moving on!

My good friend Kev has done a repair on my SteelDrive motor focuser (a stupid error on my part ripped the USB socket from the circuit board. One new circuit board later…) so that has been installed and is ready for action. In June I posted about running some cabling, but after the good tidy up, I re-routed some of the cables and it’s a lot less cluttered now.

I managed to get the USB feed and main power cable tucked under the high-density foam flooring so that has a double advantage – protects the cables and keeps them tidy and out of the way!

I have also acquired a Sky Quality Meter from Unihedron and an AAG Cloud Watcher, and these have been installed. I mounted the SQM on the underside of the scope with a view to record the values as the images are taken. It looks like I will have to do this manually, though, as my current software stack does not allow readings to be taken on a per-image basis.

The AAG has been installed in a suitable position and I now just need to install drivers, software and get it configured with SGP. All it does is provide a True/False value to the software – i.e. True means it’s clear and dry outside! I suspect it will need a bit of tweaking to the values….

So, still plenty that needs doing prepare for the new season:

  • Clean and re-stain the exterior decking boards
  • Re-panel the door and stain
  • Re-felt the roof
  • Update software stack (SGP, PHD2, EQASCOM) as required on both the Observatory PC and field laptop
  • Collimate the RC
  • Train the SteelDrive auto-focuser on SGP


And as the Perseids approach, I’m going to have a good go at capturing one or two – even though it’s on a school night!!

I’ll try and be a bit more sociable this year as well!!

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