Yesterday I finally got back into the astronomy groove. After dreading the thought that it might cost another couple hundred dollars to fix the mount on which I already spent hundreds of dollars, I took a closer look at the issue and found it was simply a gear on the RA motor that had been knocked slightly out of place. A few minor adjustments and everything was back in working order. After months of anxiety and doubt about whether or not to continue with this often frustrating hobby, finally a sigh of relief.
That led to a fun evening of public outreach with the astronomy club. Despite an unfortunate setup site location (we can't see through trees, folks) we had a good turnout for the event at Miami Whitewater Forest. Lots of kids and families with a lot of interest. A few gasps from those who stayed late enough to see Saturn. One family almost "bought" a member's telescope when their kid tried to yeet (as the young people say) the tube backwards off the mount. A friendly but stern talking-to settled anyone else who might have been too amped-up about the universe.
This means that tonight, weather permitting, I'll be able to setup the full rig with the camera and get back into EAA (electronically assisted astronomy - pictured above). The goal is to get the setup reliable enough that I can use it for public events. Polar alignment is the main issue as my process hasn't been very consistent so far. I should be able to pick up where I was and get some decent live images like below.
For those interested, this setup uses a SkyQuest EQ mount, Svbony 80mm doublet refractor, ASI planetary camera (non-cooled), and the ASI Air Plus to control and capture. These images are all live-stacks of 60 seconds or less under light-polluted skies.