It took me awhile, but I finally decided what to spend my Christmas and Birthday money on. I decided to get an Orion StarBlast Auto Tacker for my little telescope. Ever since taking an observational astronomy course, I’ve wanted to delve a little deeper into astrophotography, but I’ve been unwilling to drop lots of money on that side of my star gazing hobby.
The StarBlast tracker was the perfect answer. Not too expensive, portable and so far does a good job for an Alt. Az. tracking mount.
I’ve taken it out the last four days with my solar filter to track my favourite celestial target, the Sun. Some people have asked me why I like watching the Sun so much. They figure that I would be more interested in many of the beautiful night time targets (and there are a lot of them). The reasons are Three fold.
First, I am embarrassed to admit, is that I am actually pretty bad at finding those deep sky objects in the sky without some form of readout giving me celestial coordinates. The Sun on the other hand is much easier to find (though can be a challenge to get centred in the eyepiece some days). Secondly, observing the Sun can be quick if I need it to. I can set up, look through the eyepiece, take a few photos and take everything down in a half-hour. So it can fit nicely in between running from one thing to the next. Lastly, the Sun is dynamic, unlike night time targets that tend to be static until something literally goes nova.
The daily changes in the Sun are fun to watch and track, especially sunspots. The sunspots move with the rotation of the Sun changing their positions daily. They appear, multiply, grow, dim and disappear. It really is something to watch and the last four days the Sun has been putting on quite a show.
I’ve been wanting for some time to be able to put together a short sequence of images to show how the sunspots rotate with the motions of the Sun and taking this new mount out for a spin was as good an excuse as any to take another stab at it. So far I’m happy with the results and hope that I can get more images over the next month or so to make a longer sequence. We’ll see how time and the skies hold out.