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!

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It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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