On 3/26, I had the scope out on what appeared to be a pretty transparent sky. I have been having trouble polar aligning in the past, and on a whim, I did a google search on polar aligning the CG5. The manual says there is a polar align function in the utilities menu, but there is none in my menu. I did find a short mention on it in a forum online.
I went out, did a 2-star alignment, added 2 calibration stars, then when I was finished, I hit the align function. There it was, a polar align routine that calculated the polar alignment on the last star I was at. The scope skewed to where the scope calculated that the star should be, I adjusted the azimuth and elevation to center the star.
Let me say that the alignment was absolutely perfect. I snapped off an image of M51. A single 3-minute frame and it looked like this...
This is a lightly processed, 3 minute exposure- single frame, and is better than anything I've taken of this galaxy to date. I didnt do anything any different except the alignment. The focus might be better than before but I really cant explain why this 3 minute exposure turned out better than 1 hour exposures I've done in the past. This is a cropped 3 minute iso 800 exposure thru the C6.
After seeing that, I thought I'd photograph another object... but what should I photograph?
Well, I have never photographed M101 before, so that was the target. I skewed to M101, and without taking the camera off of the scope, I snapped an image. M101 was centered perfectly in the frame, so I shot 15 or so frames. In the past, I was going to shoot M101, but it was so dim, that I turned to another object. This night, M101 was plainly visible in a 3 minute sub. I did not try any 5 minute subs during this session, as I was not autoguiding. I actually didnt think that the 3 min subs would be that good with no autoguiding, but... the 15 stack image came out fantastic. Here it is:
This is an image where I used no calibration frames whatsoever... no darks, no flats. I did crop the image because there was a pretty nasty gradient.
Remembering that there is a supernova in this galaxy, I did an online lookup, looking for the SN and I did find it in my image in this picture....
I did not try to calculate the magnitude, but if I recall, its dimmer than mag 17, and I cant approximate lower than 17.
Notice how round the stars are. None of these images are guided - this is just the bare mount, and so far have been my best images, guided or not.