June 2013: a sunflower in the sky

M63 is known as the “Sunflower galaxy”, … and it’s easy to see why.

This beautiful galaxy awards many fine details for astrophotographers. And for this target, I refined my guiding routine. I think it paid off!

m63

I had usually used a 3-second guiding cycle. I found that this cycle  was a good trade-off between not chasing the seeing and getting a guiding star bright enough. But as I’ve introduced a polar alignment step in my daily routine, using Pempro, I noticed that my Y-axis guiding had improved a lot (declination), but, due to imperfections in my LX200, the X-axis guiding was now the one to work on. This always happen in astrophotography: you work hard to fix one problem, and as soon as you get rid of it another problem, less important and which was somehow hidden by the former one, shows up. It’s what I’d call continous improving :-)

So, I decided to lower the cycle guiding time to 1 second, to catch and correct problems in the RA mechanism as soon as detected. And it worked!

guiding improved

This is a cropped version of M63, together with an inversed version to better see its structure.

m63 zoomm63 zoom inversed  

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