Imaging Report 12/11/14

I have been using my T3i DSLR camera and my Celestron C6-N Newtonian telescope for imaging. I have received a 75mm-300mm lens for my camera. I have seen some people do some imaging with just a camera and a lens with great results. Granted many of these have been done with very high end lenses. I was only able to afford the lowest end Canon lens. I was able to score it refurbished on a black Friday sale for $65! I took a few shots of the moon and attempted a timelapse the other day too.
I began to load my car to head out for a night of shooting DSOs with my DSLR piggy backed off the telescope. I was taking the mount off the tripod and forgot to take the counter weight…. CRASH! The DECĀ housing, made of plastic, took the brunt of the impact. It cracked in 3 places. I was SCREAMING a string of cuss words. Words not uncommon for me as I cuss a lot anyways. I thought I had just ruined my brand new mount. The AVX is $800 or so. Not very expensive by motorized GEM mount standards, but very expensive for my meeger bank account. I sold a lot of stuff to fund this. I nervously plugged it in and tested the motors. It seemed to move fine in RA and DEC. I thought about staying in and sulking and kicking holes in the walls. I decided what better way to deal with this than head out and put it through it’s paces. I secured the housing with duct tape and rolled out. Setup was pretty painless. It was cold with a steady strong breeze. I did my 2 star align, then 4 calibration stars, then polar align on Fomalhaut. Before I got to my site I went back and forth about what to shoot. I was thinking about the Heart and Soul nebula, but I have gathered it is hard to image without a modified camera. I decided on M31. It’s big and bright, comparatively. I slewed over to it, frame and focus. I tried 2 minute subs and got decent stars with just a hint of trailing. I decided to stick with 90 second subs. 120 was just pushing it and I figured I would have to toss out less subs if I stuck at 90. I got 42 usable subs. While I was imagining there was a huge meteor that flew overhead. It was a stunning sight. I had to toss a few out because a few cars came by. I think they were looking for a place to race. I dabbled with M42 for a moment, then called it a night. It was very very cold and I couldn’t feel my hands. All in all I would say it was a successful night. I took a look through the eyepiece before I took the scope off of the mount to see M42 again. M42 is special to me. It was the first DSO I ever saw. My Dad showed it to me when I got my telescope in April. I was thrilled at seeing this dust cloud. It was really cool. I hadn’t seen any of the pictures of it so my standards were low. Visual astronomy is a lot of fun, and I do enjoy it, but to be honest, through the eyepiece these objects are not very inspiring. Once the images are captured and processed, they can be stunning. It’s still enjoyable to put your eye to the eyepiece, and let those photons that have been traveling for hundreds of thousands, or millions of years bounce off your mirrors and into your eyes. It’s remarkable to think about it. Particles that have traveled for millions of years through the vacuum of space hitting your eye. M42 was a pretty glob of dust with bright stars in and around it. I remembered it being a little more impressive, though that was in my XT8 dobsonian vs a 6in. I’ll have to look again on Friday when I have the big scope out.
Here is a link to the image. WordPress isn’t letting me upload anything for some reason.

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