It was a beautiful evening and I just had to shoot the Pleiades (M45) from my new dark sky site. They just looked too good from there.
I wanted see how much I could pick up with the unmodified Canon T3. It is definitely a camera that is sensitive to blues and cyan. It does comets and galaxies well enough. It is not as good as a modified camera on nebulae, unless its a reflection nebula like M45.
This is about 2.58 hours of integration – about the minimum needed to bring out that faint background nebulousity I’ve always tried to get. It is difficult to decern the true background if there are any gradients, unfortunately. There were a some here and I tried my best to minimize them. Towards the end of the set, M45 moved into the muck and a little LP from a small neighborhood to my northwest. Plus, the zodiacal light was contributing a gradient, too. It was interesting to see that, though. 🙂
Man, dark skies are the best! I have a better image here with just 6 subs than with my last attempt I did using 56 sub-images taken from the middle of a metro area. You just can’t beat a good dark place when it comes to astrophotography.
It is surprising that you could get the Merope nebulousity in the Pleiades to show up under severe light pollution (LP) with just 10 minutes of exposure. It was definitely transparent this night, so that helped. Processing was no fun, however. Nasty red LP took its toll.
Update Feb 5, 2017:
I did a guiding test on Feb 3rd and used M45 as my target. I shot lots of sub-images with 15 and 30 second exposures. I took the best 74 and combined those with the above data is this is what I got:
It certainly smoothed out that muddy-looking background LP remnant splotchy-ness appearance. Not too bad for shooting from a location next to shopping center parking lots. lol
I was doing a shakedown of new equipment and decided to post the results of my test shot of the Orion Nebula. The 11 sub-images were taken from a red zone on the LP map, probably a Bortle 7 to 8 sky with only the brightest stars visible.
I was trying out a freshly configured Windows 10 laptop, a new guiding camera and a new guide scope. Yep, I broke down and bought the new Orion Ultra-Mini guide scope, since it matched with my relatively new Aptina AR0130 color planetary/guider cam. I also used a new Shoestring Bluetooth wireless interface for the mount, which although it worked well enough towards the end, the first part of the session was not without issues.
This session was also the first one where everything actually worked since I replaced the two stepper motors in my Atlas mount. The last time I tried it I couldn’t get the little netbook I was using to stay connected to the mount. A different laptop with a more robust USB bus did the trick.
There are still kinks to work out with the new guiding camera arrangement and the newest version PHD2 Guiding. The last time I used PHD Guiding, it was Craig Stark’s original version. This is the first time I’ve used the new Open Source version. It will take time, but I’m sure the setup is capable of getting the job done. I got rid of the Meade SN-6 scope I was using as a guide scope and that reduced the weight and bulk of the imaging rig. A lighter payload should let me get better tracking once I have all the settings tuned, hopefully.
I’ve gotten behind in the last couple of years and now I can finally catch back up to all the new technology and software that is now available. Soon, I hope to transport my revamped imaging rig to a dark sky sight and churn out some new keeper comet and deep sky images before summer arrives. Wish me luck. 🙂
Images of Comets, Nebulae, Galaxies and Star Clusters