Although I have captured this one a couple of times I found myself drawn to try something a bit different. There was a crescent of a moon in the sky and the evening started out rather more breezy than I would like so I thought I should try a brighter target in the dark portion of the sky I tend to gravitate toward. I reduced the exposure time to 200 seconds and this image is a stack of 43 frames. That is the most frames I have used so far with my simple DSLR camera prime setup still on the 6″ astrograph. The results are indeed better than my March 7th 2018 image.
Near New Moon on March 13th I was out again taking advantage of this rare string of clear nights. I made my longest run of 6 minute subs totaling nearly four hours of integration. A low aparent brightness target, NGC 4395 proved challenging to process even with the longer exposures and lots of them. This is a minimal crop so it presents my usual full field indicating a good sized object just rather dim in a dark patch of sky.
I stumbled onto this location on March 10th with some great dark sky conditions. The distant and faint group of four galaxies in close relationship (from our vantage point) is in the center but numerous other galaxies can be located in the larger field. I ran with 330 second subs for a total of 2 hours and 28 minutes (at ISO 800 as usual).
From ten days ago the California Nebula.
Well at least part of it! Around 28 good frames at 300 seconds each and for the first time initial integration thru the program Siril. I first was following a youtube video on using the program but felt the non linear functions were too harsh so I ran it again with the linear functions and then went to photoshop for the processing I am familiar with. This set used dithering on the light frames and a new flat frame set along with a bias set allowing Siril to do its thing with the whole bunch. Produced an initial integrated stack in just two minutes so that was impressive use of my main desktop running an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X Six-Core Processor 3.60 GHz and 16gig memory. The result seems superior to DSS images from the past, though I am now more convinced my coma corrector is lacking. The star spikes have a double edge to them which I am finding in the forums a weakness of the Baader 2″ MPCC Mark III along with the arrows near the edges.
Image from last night after a very long day that started by ordering a new solid state hard drive for the astroshed desktop computer. Yes the night before after attempting to do some updates and resolve a boot failure issue, the computer was toast. I tried to install windows but if failed to get it done twice, so I called it and decided the hard drive needed replacing.
We drove to Missoula and ran a couple of errands including picking up the new SSD I had ordered in the morning. After we got back home and I installed the drive and loaded windows. The system was running faster now but the afternoon was running short. I still had a ton of software to download and install before the setup was running again.
I went out around nine o-clock and began configuring ASCOM, Sharpcap, EQMOD, Stellarium, PHD and ATP and had it all working around ten o-clock. Thought I would start with just a starfield and 300 second exposures. Still have plate solving data to download and tweeks to the guiding software but I more than met my goal of a completed astrophotography run the same night after installing a new hard drive!
Shoe Buckle Cluster, AKA M35, is the larger open target and to the right is NGC 2158. They are located near the northern toe of Gemini. While M35 spans the sky nearly as large as the full moon, NGC 2158 is around 9,000 light years further away and looks much smaller which it is at 8 ly diameter vs 12 ly for M35.
At about 9,800,000 light-years’ distance, the Maffei 1 Galaxy (named after Paolo Maffei) is part of the nearest group of galaxies just outside of our “Local Group”. It is a massive elliptical galaxy (and may be the closest) in the constellation Cassiopeia but appears in our sky heavily obscured by the Milky Way’s stars and dust (known as the Zone of Avoidance because of the difficulty seeing what lies beyond). If it were not obscured, it would be one of the largest (about 3/4 the size of the full moon), brightest, and best-known galaxies in the sky.
To me it seems ghostly, glowing through the foreground stars which hints to an even more massive real size. Two hours and 48 minutes of good frames brought this dim galaxy to life on a calm warm September night with good visibility after the crescent moon set. The image presented here is near full frame for my current 600mm fl setup with a crop sensor stock DSLR.
Processed a bit more:
The sky is dark with just a sliver of a moon setting in the evening and our smokey skies fairly clear for a short time, so I set up to image and found the Dumbell Nebula a solid target for a little over 2 hours of 360 second frames. Each time revisiting a target like this is a small step forward in my experience and of course some great time under the night sky. On this occasion I had a pair of new 10×50 binoculars to scout the heavens and our human creations streaming by. Reminders of the eternal and the transient reality.
The Lagoon Nebula is a giant interstellar cloud in the constellation Sagittarius is classified as an emission nebula. Discovered by Giovanni Hodierna before 1654 it is one of only two star-forming nebulae faintly visible to the eye from mid-northern latitudes. This is rather low in the southern sky for me and not the best part of the sky to collect images most nights. I took a chance at getting enough clean frames and I am so impressed at the result!
One hour 25 minutes of 300 second frames at ISO800. Warm temperatures but near new moon and rather clear air for this time of year. Very little smoke or moisture interfering with the horizon.