(Click on the image to expand it — the default display size is difficult.)
Something completely different — just stars.
I have a new GEM — German Equatorial Mount — and I have to learn about it. It replaces a Sky Watcher camera mount that was overwhelmed by the additional weight of a small refractor telescope, and couldn’t track properly. This new mount is much steadier; the small background stars above are very crisp, though I’m not happy with the image processing — if you pixel-peep, you will see what I mean.
This is a stack of over 70-some 30 second exposures of the Whirlpool galaxy. While there is significant detail, the dynamic range is pathetic. I think this is because 1) the individual exposures are short, and 2) there was a nearly full moon.
However, I’ve seen beautiful photos from stacks of hundreds of 3 second exposures, and the cumulative time from my frames is larger. So undoubtedly my processing technique is faulty. OTOH, I’m not sure of the magnitude of the effect from the moon. Further investigation is required…
A chestnut. Taken with a small (61mm) low-power telescope from my light-polluted back yard. Heavily cropped, otherwise it would be too small to identify. I’m running into the limits of my equipment — this is about 200 individual one minute exposures stacked together, taken over two nights.
Actually there’s another nebula, making three all together. The Orion Nebula proper, also known as M42, is the large spread wings brightness in the lower center. Separated from M42 by a narrow dark lane is the tear drop shape in the slightly left upper dead center, M43, apparently also known as “Mairan’s Nebula”. And finally in the upper third is the dimmer”Running Man” Nebula, in the top.
I’m getting better at this, but it is an incremental process.
The standard image of the Rosette Nebula is a glorious swirl of red gas sprinkled with a multitude of glittering stars. This, on the other hand, is a dim, noisy, dirty smudge covered with a multitude of oddly distorted spots. Still, it represents progress. My first attempts yielded nothing.
The Horsehead Nebula is a difficult object for purely visual observation, and I have never managed to actually see it. But amateur astronomy has advanced tremendously over the 30 years since my first telescope, especially astrophotography. This photo only shows the faintest blurry image of the Horsehead, but, as you can verify from the screenshot below, it’s the real deal!
Below is a view from Stellarium (free planetarium software) of the same area. I’ve rotated and scaled the image to match the photo.
Interestingly, an inch or so to the left of the star Alnitak below is another fairly bright orange star. It is much dimmer in the photograph above than in the graphic below. It is, in fact, the variable star V1197 Ori. Apparently I caught it on a lower brightness phase.
Original color image — 15 second exposure at ISO 3200, 61mm Radian Raptor telescope, motorized mount, and an Olympus 4/3 camera:
The typical weather pattern lately has been very clear days with clouds rolling in at night. I was going to take a bunch of 15 second exposures and try stacking them, but I only got 4 before the view was obliterated. I may try stacking them later, just to see if there is any improvement, but no matter — this is pretty good for a 15 second exposure with a very small telescope.