Saturday Night, January 13th-14th, 2024

Comet 144P/Kushida. 5x180 sec, QHY294C at -10C, Antlia Triband filter, Astro-Tech AT60ED at F/4.8.
Comet 144P/Kushida. 5×180 sec, QHY294C at -10C, Antlia Triband filter, Astro-Tech AT60ED at F/4.8.
Comet 144P/Kushida. 5x180 sec, QHY294C at -10C, Antlia Triband filter, Astro-Tech AT60ED at F/4.8.
Comet 144P/Kushida. 5×180 sec, QHY294C at -10C, Antlia Triband filter, Astro-Tech AT60ED at F/4.8.

On this night, I was mainly going to try making adjustments to the new tilt plate gizmo for the AT60ED and see if I could get further improvements to its field.   Even though it was clear at first, the forecast was clouds coming in for a few hours, so I was not looking to take any keeper images and I wanted to get this testing done instead.

I had just completed star aligning and noticed a comet near Aldebaran in Taurus on the charts, which I had just used to sync the scope’s alignment with.   It wasn’t listed by SkyHound’s Comet Chasing website, so I took a few images to see what it looked like and how bright it was.    Only 15 minutes of exposure, so it’s not much, but it is what started the night.

I was really after the Comet 62P in Leo, and this runt comet was interesting, but I wanted to do more testing of the tilt plate thingy.   I was going to come back to it, but clouds invaded and stayed until 11:00 PM or so.   By that time, I still had about 2 hours for the comet in Leo to get to a good spot, so I took images of M81 and M82 to kill time.

M81 & M82. 36x180 sec, QHY294C, Antlia Triband filter, AT60ED at F/4.8.
M81 & M82. 36×180 sec, QHY294C, Antlia Triband filter, AT60ED at F/4.8.

I lost/missed focus for this dataset and the guiding for it was terrible.    Plus, it wasn’t quite as clear as it needed to be from lingering clouds and moisture.  I salvaged what I could.   I only include it here to remind me to focus before each object if I want a keeper image and remind me it takes 3 SharpCap polar alignments and not just 2 to get good tracking.

Finally, 62P Tsuchinshan is high enough to image, so I star taking images of it.   I realized the first few subs were not in focus, so I stopped and redid it.  But otherwise, I was able to let it take pictures on its own while I caught a few winks.   All in all, 68 images of it were taken or 3.4 hours worth:

Comet 62P Tsuchinshan on Jan 14, 2023. 68x180 sec, QHY294C at -10C, Antlia Triband filter, AT60ED at F/4.8
Comet 62P Tsuchinshan on Jan 14, 2023. 68×180 sec, QHY294C at -10C, Antlia Triband filter, AT60ED at F/4.8

Transparency was only average to slightly above at times for this night, so it wasn’t as clear as predictions.  But, I did notice what the focus was doing and I now have a better handle on it.  Plus, now that I know about it, I might have to try for more sub-images on that first comet and see what shakes out.

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