Category Archives: Star Clusters

M71 Open Cluster – Sony IMX224

M71 Open Cluster. 75×8 sec Gain 1642, Sony IMX224, TV-85 at F/5.6, Sharpcap 2.9.

Right under the Dumbbell Nebula is is M71, a tight open cluster that looks like an arrowhead.   It has the tightly packed appearance of a globular, but it is not.  This is 10 minutes worth of exposure in 8 sec sub-images.

The image below is a shot with about 16 minutes of exposure (119 x 8 sec.)  I caught a few more background stars, I think.

M71 Open Cluster. 119×8 sec. Gain 1642, Sony IMX224, TV-85 at F/5.6, Sharpcap 2.9.

M15 & M2 Globular Clusters & NGC 7789 Open Cluster – Sony IMX224

M15 Globular – 181×1 sec, Sony IMX224, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M2 Globular Cluster. 75×4 sec, Sony IMX224, TV-85 at F/5.6.
NGC 7789 Open Cluster. 157×4 sec, Sony IMX224, TV-85 at F/5.6.

First appreciable cold front with clear skies came through, finally.  I managed to get some scope time to do a shake-down imaging session to test equipment.   This was on the night of Oct 11, 2018 and I was shooting from a Bortle Red zone in the city.    I shot a few things playing around and these were the best three pictures of the bunch.   Not the prettiest astro images , but at least I got to see what stuff still works and what did not after not imaging since March 2018.

My USB hub and some cables probably need replacing.  The hub has seen better days.  There is lots of corrosion inside the connectors.  These connection problems precipitated other problems with the laptop and my EQMOD settings got trashed.   I had to delete the AppData/Roaming/EQMOD  folder to fix it.  That required me to redo all the location settings, guide speeds, etc.   Could have been worse, I guess.

I managed to update drivers and the astro-related software on the laptop, which was a good thing.   My Toupcam IM224 had a batch of new drivers released the very same day as the imaging session.   I could not have timed it better.  lol

Oh, and my dew strap for the TV-85 was not working, either.   The wire broke inside the strip, so I just tossed it.   Oh, well.    Luckily, it was so dry this night I did not have to worry about any dew.

Omega Centauri – Two Data Sets

Omega Centauri. 3×300 sec @ ISO 1600, 42-180 sec @ ISO 400, TV-85 at F/5.6, Canon T3, Atlas EQ-G w/EQMOD.

My last two sessions of Omega Centauri were combined and reworked into one image and here are the results.   Both sets were taken with my TV-85.   One set was taken from a dark sky site and the other was taken from an LP polluted site during moonlight.

Two Globular Clusters with the 6 Inch, F/8 Newt

M13. 70×4 sec, Gain 3704, RT Sony IMX224, Orion 6 inch, F/8 Newtonian.

Here are two globular clusters, M13 and M4, that I took with an Orion 6 inch F/8 newt and a Rising Tech Sony IMX224 eyepiece cam.

M4 Globular Cluster. 27×4 sec, RT Sony IMX224, Orion 6in, F/8 Newtonian.

I reworked the first M13 image and tried for better color.   Here’s what I got:

M13. 70×4 sec, Gain 3704, RT Sony IMX224, Orion 6 inch, F/8 Newtonian. Version 5.

M67 Open Cluster – 6 Inch Newt at F/8, (1200 mm Focal Length)

M67 Open Cluster. Orion 6 inch, F/8 and RT Sony IMX224 eyepiece camera. 201 x 2 sec at gain 2650.  Up-scaled 200% in processing.

I purchased some rings and an extra-long dovetail bar for my Orion 6 inch, F/8 dobsonian and mounted it on the Atlas EQ-G.   It has a really narrow view with a Sony IMX224 chip camera, but its sharp and there was not much distortion throughout the entire field.

The newt lets you shoot with no filters and you pick up everything, including IR, with the standard clear filter that Rising Tech cameras ship with.    That’s great for galaxies.    Although this first test shot was not a galaxy, I hope to try it out on some, soon.

The rig is sensitive to balance and wind being the tube is so long and is also very sensitive to vibrations.   Since I was imaging next to a busy parking lot, I noticed lots of rejected frames in the SharpCap stacking program when the activity there increased.  Even loud noises would disturb it.   LoL.

Although conditions were not the best and the red zone light pollution I imaged through kept me from getting really deep, I did manage to do a few test shots before conditions deteriorated,

The above image was actually the second shot of the night, the first one being this unknown star field below that I shot to test the tracking.  It was a little difficult to dial-in a star to get a 3-star alignment on the mount, so I just went with seeing how long I could track with PHD2 Guiding at the same old settings I used with the TV-85 on a random star field.    8 sec exposures yielded too many rejected frames, so I went with 4 sec for this one.

Unknown star field. 70×4 sec @ Gain 2067, RT Sony IMX224 cam, 6″, F/8 newt, Atlas EQ-G w/EQMOD, PHD2 guiding w/Orion Ultra-mini and StarShoot.

Before the clouds came back and ruined my session, I was able to get 60×4 sec sub-images at the relatively high gain of 3108 of this open cluster in Gemini, called IC 2157:

IC 2157. 60×4 sec @ 3108 gain, RT Sony IMX224, 6 inch, F/8 Newt, Atlas EQ-G w/EQMOD.

Anyway, if I can get the tracking to get me up to 8 seconds of exposure, I will be able to shoot some of those tiny galaxies that my Televue TV-85 just can’t do justice to.