The cost of planetary imaging
Mars is almost at opposition... and it's been a long time since it's been so large in the sky. Naturally.. this is something I can't miss, like many other astrophotographers. There is a cost though: sleep. Mars is now appearing high in the night sky around 1-3 am. Oof.. that is brutal for a dad with two young kids. So I set my alarm and woke up at 1:45am, went out and lined everything up and started imaging. Mars looked fantastic and the seeing was excellent (a rarity in Northern California).
After about 2 hours of capture, went back to bed. The next morning, it felt like a truck had run over me. I got some nice images out.. but I'm not doing that again. I have a lot of respect for those who can do this night after night. It takes some getting used to. As for me, I'm mainly a deep sky imager. This also means my deep sky imaging rig is way more advanced than my planetary imaging rig. I set my deep sky imaging rig up at sunset, and turn it on, find my target, and let the automation take care of everything else. I go to sleep at a normal time and wake up with enough energy to deal with the various crises :D