There are a couple of tools at your disposal that will
make acquisition as simple as any other image.
First, remember the mosaic objects that TheSky created. To align
you telescope with each panel of the mosaic, you can simply issue a Go
To each mosaic panel. Click on, or search for "Mosaic A1" and
issue a Go To operation. Not only will TheSky slew to the target
for you, but it will also mark this panel so you know you've been there
Try it out. Slew to the "A1" frame. You will see the "A1"
text change to "(A1)". TheSky updates this notation whenever you
slew to one of the mosaic panels. This can be especially useful
if the acquisition of the mosaic spans more then one night.
If your mount is not very accurate, you should do something about
it. If you cannot Go To each frame with enough accuracy you can
run into problems with the frames not overlapping enough. This
will result in gaps during your alignment phase. In order to
achieve better accuracy, you should perform a Plate Solve, or Image
Link, of your image. This function will give you the exact
coordinates the telescope is pointing at. A quick Sync operation
on the coordinates and then a Go To the mosaic frame again should give
you a high enough degree of accuracy for the mosaic.
It is not very difficult to completely automate the acquisition of a
mosaic, including these subjects discussed so far, by using my CCD Commander
Below is a screen shot of CCD Commander showing a portion of my plan
for the Virgo Cluster mosaic.
At the top of the list
is a "Move to" function (the same as a Go To) that moves the telescope
to a nearby bright star.
Next is a function to execute a Plate Solve, mount Sync, and a ReSlew
to the original coordinates. This ensures a high degree of
accuracy for each mosaic frame.
Then a Focus routine is initiated to ensure no focus shift occurred
since the last frame.
The next item in the list calls for the telescope to move to the
"Mosaic A2" location.
And finally, the frame is imaged 9 times at 300 seconds each
exposure. The exposures are auto-saved (AS), auto-guided (AG),
and the autoguider is dithered after every exposure.
This process is repeated for the additional frames.
allowed me to
image the 9 frames of the Virgo Cluster unattended. I slept
during the acquisition and had 81 images in the morning ready for
reduction, alignment, and processing.