The beginning of a new era
It's been a few months since I migrated Urban Astronomer away from Google's free hosting service and onto my own dedicated server. I think it's gone well, but it's only today that I discovered the blogging feature and turned it on. So this is my first entry.
A few weeks ago, I realised that the current content model for UA just isn't good enough. I write a handful of info/educational articles about planets and stars and galaxies, but the bulk of my content is news items culled from press releases. I do my best to inject my own ideas into these articles, and try to find more than one resource on the same topic so as to avoid simply churning the press releases, and I think I do as good a job as possible short of actually interviewing the scientists who did whatever it is I'm writing about, but it's not good enough. The stories are a little different from what appears on hundreds of other astronomy sites, but they're not unique. This is not the way to get all the traffic.
Instead, I will begin posting my astrophotography, and writing new informational articles centering around the subjects of the images I create. This should make a difference, but there are two catches: One, I'm very new to astrophotography and am not producing many images that I'd be willing to show other people. And two, we're in the middle of the rainy season - weather reports indicate that I won't even be able to set up my rig for another week or two. This is frustrating, because I have some new equipment which I really need to practice using: A piggyback mount, and a T-ring plus adaptor.
Speaking of my rig, this is what I have: a Canon EOS 1100d SLR camera, with stock 18-55mm non-stabilised lens. A standard camera tripod. A surveyor's tripod, with equatorial wedge bolted to the top. A Celestron C8 (the PowerStar PEC edition). A piggyback mount for the C8. A T-ring for the Canon, and a T-ring adaptor for the C8. Various software packages for post-processing (Gimp, digikam) and stacking (Iris, Registax, DeepSkyStacker)
Of that lot, I've got many many hours of observational experience with the C8, and a fair bit of practice with the Canon on its regular tripod. But I've had the opportunity to mate the two instruments only once, and the results were about as good as you'd expect on a first outing. I've also played enough with all that software to at least have mastered the basic workflow. But once I know what I'm doing, you're going to see a new section appear on the Urban Astronomer menu bar, and the focus of this website will gradually change.