After deciding to buy a proper equatorial mount (an SW EQ6-R Pro) with an astrograf , imaging has become much easier. I have also finally learned how to do collimation of mirrors well enough for it not to be a complete nightmare. It is still pretty nightmarish in the cold and dark, but what isn’t.
Guiding (using this camera in my finder scope to track stars) also has helped imaging a lot, since it partially compensates for polar align not being perfect, as well as allowing really long exposures if needed. From the city I do not see polaris, so I just do a very rough polar align and hope guiding deals with the tracking issues. I should probably learn to improve polar align based on mount tracking errors, but it seems like such tedious procedure. I have yet to find the energy to learn it.
The quality curse
One nice thing about lucky imaging DSOs is that most non tracking related image defects are not really a problem, since they are swamped by tracking issues. I was super happy if I got halfway decent data. Now with proper tracking I get really annoyed by tiny technical defects.
Anyway here are my best images from this year so far. I had a lot of fun taking these and editing them. They are all taken with only dark calibration frames, and either using fake flats or no flats. AstroPixelProcessor is magic, all the DSO images are stacked partly post processed using it.
I am bitten so hard by this hobby so expect more astrophotography related content. I will try and post other stuff as well, but this is way too much fun.
So I finally got to try to take astro photographies from somewhere with less light pollution. I still have trouble with movement from either my tracking lagging a bit, or me not having a remote control for the camera (so I cause movement in the telescope when I start the shot).
M42 – Orion Nebula again
M42 is so easy to find observe and shoot. I also finally got to see some of the Flame Nebula, by doing a 30 seconds exposure into what looked like nothing at all. It sadly did not turn out very well because of movement in the camera, but I finally saw something! Anyway, here is my M42 shot. Getting better at this!
M31 – Andromeda Galaxy
The moon would easily fit in this picture, but the Andromeda galaxy takes more space, so this is mostly the core and some of the arms. I think I could fit most of the galaxy if I had rotated the camera. I randomly also caught M32 (barely visible at the left edge) and M110 (in the lower right corner). Looking forward to try Andromeda with an even longer exposure, or many stacked images.
I have observed the Orion nebula under bad light pollution before, but this time I got to observe it with under better conditions. It was stunning. Very sharp.
The next day I took my first deep space photography ever from our apartment. The light pollution was really bad, and there was some smog as well. I also forgot that I could use a timed shot. So i think some blurring is due to the camera moving slightly after I started the exposure.
My original plan for the trip, was to observe M42 and the Andromeda Galaxy. I was also hoping to get to see the Flame Nebula since it was really dark. I sadly did not see any trace of the Flame Nebula so I started looking for some open clusters to look at in Taurus. While scanning for them I suddenly saw that the Crab Nebula was close, and I found it immediately. It is the first supernova remnant I have observed, and I think I saw some small amount of detail. Hoping to get a picture of it one of these days.
Andromeda is a not that interesting to visually observe since it is so hard to see anything beyond the core. I think I saw some more since it was really dark, but it was very faint. These two are prime targets for a photo some day, since that should bring out some more detail.