Some of the problems encountered when imaging and some solutions

Poor tracking showing as trailed star images in long exposures

  • Get an accurate polar alignment
  • Generally the better the mount the better the tracking accuracy, get the best mount you can afford
  • Use periodic error correction (PEC) training on your mount
  • Use shorter exposures and stack them
  • Use autoguiding

Dew or ice on cold or damp nights

  • Use a dew shield at all times
  • Dew heaters
  • Hair drier as a temporary measure but don't use directly at optics as there may be dust in the drier and this may get blown onto the optics

Light pollution

  • Light pollution filters
  • Try narrow band or emission line imaging
  • Use a dew shield to cut out some of the glare from the lights

Long cold nights

  • Wear warm clothes, work on the multiple layer principle
  • Have hot drinks periodically, and don't forget to eat
  • Don't sit for too long, get up and walk about

Images come out blurred

  • Check the focusing, spend a bit of time getting perfect focus as you can't compensate for poor focus in the processing
  • Check for dew or condensation in the optical and imaging train, you may have to use a dew heater by the camera as well as on the telescope
  • Check the tracking accuracy, you may need shorter exposures

Images appear noisy

  • Not all cameras are created equal, some handle noise better than others, take some dark frames and subtract from images

Limited imaging time especially in the Summer months

  • Plan your subjects before you go out
  • Decide which telescope camera combination is best suited and get it set up as early as possible

 Windy conditions

  • This depends on the mount you have, ie the heavier duty your mount the better it will be able to deal with wind
  • Cut down the surface area, take any unused equipment off
  • Use shorter exposures especially if there are occasional gusts
  • If you are able to erect a portable wind break
  • The best solution is to have your equipment mounted in an observatory
  • Ultimately if it is that bad give up for the night