Orion Mosaic

December 11, 2018 - Reading time: ~1 minute

I've had the Orion Atlas EQ-G, William Optics GT81, and ZWO ASI071MC camera set up for the last three days. It's been cold--down around -10C in the early morning hours. With a new moon that's slowly waxing, but still mostly absent from the night sky, I've been using the color camera to capture some amazing targets, including this three panel mosaic of the Orion Nebula (M42), Running Man Nebula, Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33), Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), and the three giant stars in Orion's Belt, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. This is why the Orion Constellation is arguably the sky's most impressive constellation.  NOTES: 31 x 300 second exposures for each, with an additional set of 10 and 30 second exposures for the Trapezium in M42--that really bright triangular region. There's just so much fiery star forming action at the heart of the Orion Nebula that any exposure over a dozen seconds is going to blow out the whole area.

Here's my setup for the last few nights:

Orion at the southern Meridian:

 

 


Astro Session - April 5, 2018

April 5, 2018 - Reading time: ~1 minute

As the days become longer, as we swing around our sun, headed for aphelion in July (greatest distance from the sun), and our planet's 23.5 degree tilt is angled toward its rays, we'll be seeing less of the constellation Orion--in normal viewing hours. I took this 30 second exposure last night around 9PM, and Orion is already moving below the trees to the southwest. That's the Pleiades (M45) at the far right. I also happened to capture the headlights and brakelights of Alice's car as she's driving past to our driveway, almost home after picking up Christopher from work. 


Astro Session - March 11, 2018

March 11, 2018 - Reading time: 2 minutes

First test shots of M42, the Orion Nebula, M43 De Mairan’s Nebula, Sh2-279 Running Man with the ZWO ASI071MC cooled CMOS camera. No calibration frames, just 17 stacked 300 second light frames, with the sensor cooled to -10C. Last night was not very clear, scattered clouds, fairly poor seeing. I can't wait to test things out with some really clear and dark skies. I definitely need cal frames, because things ended up pretty noisy after processing. I will say, so far, with only a few hours of use, I'm impressed with this ZWO color camera. That doesn't surprise me. ZWO makes a solid camera--I've been using an ASI120MM-S for several years, as my guide camera. It's fast--USB 3, with a small but very sensitive monochrome sensor, and it just always works under any OS on a variety of hardware--Windows, Linux, MacOS. That's what I meant--it shouldn't surprise me that the ASI071MC (quite a bit more expensive and a far more capable camera) just works well. What did surprise me is how much this camera can pick up, bringing out some very faint nebulous areas. I know it has a very wide/high dynamic range. That's one of the things I was looking for in an OSC camera. For this M42 test I used a Gain of 0 and Offset of 8, the minimum recommended by ZWO for long exposure times and HDR (high dynamic range). We'll see how things go on the next clear night. I'd like to test out unity gain settings, and LRN (Lowest read noise) setting, which is high gain, high offset, used for short exposures. (William Optics GT-81 + 0.8x Field Flattener/Reducer f/4.7, ZWO ASI071MC cooled CMOS camera, iOptron CEM25P EQ mount, 30mm mini guide scope with ZWO ASI120MM-S guide cam, INDI/KStars/Ekos observatory control. Location: Stratham, New Hampshire, US. Bortle ~4). Astrobin 


Astro Session - January 10, 2018

January 10, 2018 - Reading time: ~1 minute

The temps are nice--downright warm compared to what we've been hit with over the last couple weeks. The clouds are the problem. They gave me two hours of clear skies, and I spent them taking a batch of five minute exposures of M42, the Orion Nebula. (Atik414Ex mono CCD, William Optics GT-81 + 0.8x Field Flattener/Reducer f/4.7, iOptron CEM25P EQ mount, Astronomik 12nm Ha filter, WO 50mm guidescope with ZWO ASI120S-MM guide cam, INDI/KStars/Ekos observatory control).


Astro Setup - September 23, 2017

September 23, 2017 - Reading time: ~1 minute

What the backyard looked like last night. Sort of an astronomy campout under the stars. It was a pretty clear night. I hope you had clear skies wherever you were last night! (Nikon D3100, 18mm, 13 sec. exp. ISO 1600 - I used my son's camera for these shots because mine was hooked up with the AstroTech scope) 

Here's one from last night's astro shoot: M42 - Orion Nebula (Yes, my favorite diffuse nebula). This time of year Orion doesn't start appearing over the horizon until the early morning hours. My Exposures started around 2am and ended around 5am. (Nikon D750, AstroTech AT6RC, William Optics field flattener/ 0.8x reducer; 162 light frames stacked in DSS, 140 dark frames). 

And another shot from last Saturday night--of the Orion Nebula (M42) and De Mairan's Nebula (M43). This was the view from my other scope, William Optics GT-81 with the Atik 414EX monochrome CCD camera--which is just going to pick up a lot more of that good old ionized interstellar hydrogen.