Tonight was a bit of a laugh. The forecast was for very clear and steady skies despite the moon which was at around 36% illumination. I headed to the local, popular observing spot to explore my CGEM mount again. Well, I was joined by four others with their CGEMs! All had different scopes mounted on top of them, but it was certainly quite funny to see five CGEM mounts out under the stars together. It looked like a Celestron commercial!
Tonight I went through the entire setup procedure again, including the two-star alignment procedure, adding calibration stars, polar alignment and periodic error correction. Again, the CGEM mount left me speechless! I was done with the initial alignment process in a couple of minutes, the mount places the first and second alignment stars well within the field of view of my 12mm illuminated reticle eyepiece. Polar alignment was complete withing about five minutes, and I checked for drift and hardly noticed any over a two-to-three minute period. Then, I went into the Periodic Error Correction (PEC) menu and watched the playback, and it looked like it did indeed remember the PEC settings I made last time I was out, just like the manual said it would!
It really is an amazing mount to use, and you can be observing and taking relatively decent photos in very little time at all.
I took a quick snap of the moon. It looked gorgeous and beckoned to be imaged. The shot is below. It's quite nice and the AstroTelescopes ED80mm handled and resolved it quite well.
I took several images this evening. Despite the moon, I really wanted to see how well the mount tracked without guiding. I went to the Double Cluster, which is a useful object because it is bright and contains tons of stars, making it a good subject for mount testing, in my opinion! Anyway, I took a series of two minute exposures, and the result was very impressive (see below). Ignore the shoddy focusing job! The stars themselves are very sharp and rounded, showing little signs of polar drift. With guiding, this mount is going to be amazing!
- AstroTelescopes 80mm ED Refractor
- Celestron CGEM, unguided
- 6 * 2 minute light frames
- 4 * 2 minute dark frames
- 20 bias frames
- Processed in Deep Sky Stacker
- Tweaking in IRIS
Next week, or thereabouts, I'll write up a more detailed review of the CGEM mount and the AstroTelescopes 80mm ED OTA that I now own. Next month, I'll take this awesome rig out toe the dark sky site, where I hope to try my hand at guiding and capture some faint fuzzies!