Night sky--get out and see it once in a while

September 28, 2019 - Reading time: 2 minutes

Sure, automating your astro systems is a wonderful thing--computers, programmable controllers, sensors tied to cameras, motorized telescope mounts, and other hardware were made for this. Bringing them all under a single application, or a set of applications and protocols, makes the process of scheduling imaging runs relatively easy--slewing to targets, focusing, plate solving, image capture sequences, auto-guiding--everything machines do very well. It's what they're good at. And yes, there's a lot of preparation, configuration, even tinkering involved in getting these systems to run smoothly through the night--and that goes for all of them. I don't know of an astronomical equipment or observatory control suite that just works out of the box. That doesn't exist yet. 

Back to "Sure, automating your astro systems is a wonderful thing..." because you know there's going to be a "but", or in this case, a "just".

Just don't forget to get out there and look at the sky--if you can. If you're shooting narrowband targets in a red zone, maybe there isn't much to look at above you but the pale glow of street lights. Sorry to hear that, but it's awesome to see you're persevering anyway. I've seen some kick-ass narrowband DSO images on Astrobin shot from the middle of LA. Technology will find a way--or rather, people will reconfigure or refine the technology to find a way. That's what we're good at. 

Anyway, I happen to be out in the backyard at 3 in the morning with my Nikon D750 and 24mm lens on a tripod. You know, like you do. I only took one shot--this one of the constellation Orion from a low angle with some of my equipment in the foreground. I spent the rest of the time just looking up, doing some honest to goodness stargazing. The universe really is awesome. I mean that in the true sense of the word, not the cool California sense, which it also is, of course.  

If you don't have clear skies tonight, I hope you will be blessed with several in a row very soon!