What? No Cloud? Best get my plan out.

What? No Cloud?  Can’t be right?

Finally a gap in the cloud.  4 clear nights had been upon us so I took the time, which is mandatory it seems when there is no cloud, to get outside with the scope and do some Astrophotography.

During cloudy periods (the whole of the Summer) I took some time to invest in some software to aid in planning which targets to observe and image.  I had plenty of time to research and ended up choosing Astroplanner http://www.astroplanner.net/ as it seemed to be a very good comprehensive tool with lots of features that will be useful in determining (more so checking) which targets will be visible from my location and when, including transit times so I know the best time to image it approx.  With this software I am able to set my location and my horizon as well as many other settings, including which telescope, camera, eye pieces and optical aids.  The list goes on.  It also has a neat little feature to show with my setup just how big the target will be in the FOV or imaging frame, which is very very useful in deciding which kit to use.  It also logs my observation sessions, allows print outs of observation forms, and many other things I can’t write about due to time, you need to go look.  If you are into Astrophotography and don’t have this tool, I recommend you go try a free trial.

Anyway, so I utilised my plan I created for the month of September and I managed to get through 3 targets, two of which I have posted the images in my Astrophotography gallery.  All images guided using PHD..

First up was M31, known as Andromeda Galaxy is located in the constellation Andromeda.  It’s about 12.5 million light years away, which is not far in astronomical terms.  Overall I took around 3 hours worth of data (lights), darks, flats, flat darks and bias calibration frames.  The scientists agree that The Andromeda Galaxy is hurtling towards the Milky Way Galaxy, which is where our Solar System is located, and one day will merge.  They also believe it could miss depending on its sideways trajectory.  I guess anything is possible!

I think I need a bit more data but I am happy with one of my very first real attempts as DSO imaging.  I also need to practise my post processing, but I’m happy with this for now.

Second up is M45, The Pleiades (Seven Sisters) which is an open star cluster located in the constellation Taurus.  According to Wiki (and I’m sure many other sources), the cluster is dominated by hot blue and very luminous stars which have formed within the last 100 million years.  I think this is reflected in the picture below which is 2 hours worth of exposure at ISO 800, taken with my Sky-Watcher 100ED DS-Pro with 0.85x FR and Modified Canon 40D.  And yes, I might have missed a bit out, c’mon though it’s all new to me.

Then came the cloud.  Well, nevermind, I am sure there will be plenty more opportunity during the Winter to get more imaging done.  Being new to this, I’m pretty optimistic still.