Guiding and Dumbbells

by naiveastrophotography

It’s been about 6 weeks since the last post. Clouds have been prevalent most nights, and the brief moments of clarity are short lived. Nights are getting longer however, so on a  good night, I’m able to start earlier and get more image integration time.

The full moon really does has a negative effect on trying to capture fainter objects, as I learnt whilst trying to capture the Heart Nebula. I’m considering buying a multiband filter to block out unwanted light sources.

I’m now the owner of a Guide Cam!

Guide cam is the red component, screwed into the guide scope.

Guide cam is the red component, screwed into the guide scope.

I learnt how to use PHD2 software and was soon reaping the benefits of exposures longer than 60 seconds.
The guide cam screws into the guide scope, and monitors the positions of a star. If the star shifts position slightly, the software sends a signal to the mount to make an adjustment, allowing for theoretically unlimited single exposure time.

View through the guidescope, and tiny movement fluctuations in declination and right ascension are graphed in blue and red.

View through the guidescope, and tiny movement fluctuations in declination and right ascension are graphed in blue and red.

My first test with this new ungodly power was to point the telescope to the center of the constellation of Cygnus. The Star Sadr, and it’s surrounding nebulosity.

4th October – Gamma Cygni Nebula

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Just 4 stacked images. Each 600 seconds (10 minutes). (40 minutes total).
There was barely any moon out, so there was fantastic contrast in the image.
i learnt that a 600 second image will produce a flair around a very bright star like Sadr however, so may dial this back slightly in the future.

9th Oct – Triangulum Galaxy

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9 x 600″ + 195 x 60″ sub frames
This was shot during the working week. I decided to make use of my software to automate all the shots I would need. possibly around 40 600″ shots.
The galaxy was due to cross the meridian at around 2am, so I set my alarm to come down and flip the telescope. I found that the guide scope had fogged up, and tracking was all messed up, resulting in a few hours of wasted imaging time. For some reason i never thought about needing a dew heater for the guide scope, but have since rectified this oversight! With guiding out of action, I decided to set the images going again, but this time only at 60 seconds – the longest I can image without seeing star trails. I gathered a further 195 images at 60 seconds, and combined them with the 9 usable 600 seconds shots.
Very happy with this one, as It’s a fairly faint object, despite it’s large size.

11th Nov – M27. Dumbbell Nebula

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11 x 500 second images.

Making use of the longer nights, this one was taken from around 6 to 8pm before work the next day.
This is a planetary nebula.  – A bit of a misnomer, as it’s just a well defined nebula formed after a star dies. They are pretty short lived. This one is around 9,800 years old.

 

I’ve tried to shoot Pleiades (the seven sisters) a couple of times in the past few weeks, however, it only comes into view from around 11, and cloud has started to creep in every time. The sky changes throughout the year however, and Pleiades will soon be in view earlier in the evening.
Orion is then my next target, but I expect it to be January before I’m able to get a good shot. Unfortunately, it’s all in the direction of a street light that washes out the image somewhat. I’m hoping an Optolong L-pro 2″ filter will help! But that’s a purchase for future me. There’s always something new to buy in this hobby…