Sad Astrophotography Update

On Saturday I posted a picture of my first try at photographing the sky with a tracking mount that allows long exposures. It came out great! “I wonder if I had beginner’s luck with my celestial pole centering?” I mused.

Ahem. As I mentioned on Saturday, the tracker has to be aimed precisely at the north celestial pole, which is offset slightly from Polaris. I thought I knew the correct offset, but I didn’t realize that it changes with the hour. Nor did I realize that everything is upside-down and backward in the polarscope. In other words, I was basically throwing darts when I lined up the scope and I just got lucky. So last night I bravely left my front yard and went out to an area that’s mildly dark to try again under more realistic conditions. This time I used an app to tell me the proper offset, and everything seemed fine when I sighted Polaris. But here’s what I got:

I tried again and got the same results. You don’t really need a pixel crop to see how bad this is, but here’s one anyway:

What happened? Did I miss Polaris completely? Maybe I mistakenly had the scope centered on that star just above Polaris (Delta in the Little Dipper?). That’s quite possible. More practice needed!

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate