Orion widefield: click to enlarge NGC 1981 open cluster and NGC 1977 running man reflection nebula: click to enlarge NGC 1977 running man reflection nebula: click to enlarge.
I have waited SO long for a clear night and at last it came! Orion is now low in the sky so this was my last chance to image these targets for this year. Set up as usual and wasn’t sure if I had a great polar alignment – also, the Orion nebula is so bright that long exposures burn out easily so I chose 2 minutes as a good compromise. I was keen to use “dithering” with my auto-guider as it is said to reduce noise and bring out subtle detail – seemed to work very well. Am also now using “Neat Image” anti-noise software which has made a big difference.
Although it doesn’t look like much, I am very fond of open cluster NGC 1981 as it is the first object I looked at in a star atlas then decided to try and find with my telescope (a 8.75 inch Dobsonian). My old sky diary from 2009 is here: http://www.johnapurvis.synology.me/sky_diary.html
480/80mm refractor. Canon 60Da at ISO 800, 14 x 2 min sub-exposures. Astro-Hutech LPS filter. Ioptron ZEQ25GT mount. SSAG/PHD auto-guiding/dithering (dithered: every sub at 2 pixels). Focusing and camera sequencing/control with BackYard EOS. 30 darks and 25 flats (white LED panel: 1/20s @ ISO 800).
Post-processed in PixInsight 1.8 and Photoshop CC 2014. Noise reduction with Neat Image.
After the fantastic weather – thunder and lightning. Looked outside about 11pm and saw that all the clouds had cleared so took the opportunity to get outside quick. By 12MN, it was surprisingly dark and I could even see the Milky Way – A rarity in Limavady!
Rather than haul out my heavy lead acid battery, I tried out my 22Ah Tracer light-weight lithium power pack. This performed impeccably for the 90 minutes or so I was out. Eventually the cloud closed in, but I managed to see 5 new Messier objects and 4 Herschel 400s in Perseus.
I used the iPAD app “DS Browser” to check that I was looking at the right open cluster – you just dial in the catalogue number and it produces a DSS image and some useful information about viewing times.
M22 GC Sagittarius* “Crackerjack cluster”
M28 GC Sagittarius*
M72 GC Aquarius
M73 Asterism Aquarius
M76 PN Perseus “Little dumbbell”
NGC 1513 OC Perseus
NGC 1528 OC Perseus*
NGC 1342 OC Perseus
NGC 1444 OC Perseus
After cloud all day, it cleared by 11pm so I set up and stayed out until around 0030 when it got windy and cloudy again. I used Capella, Procyon, various Ursa Major stars and Aldebaran as guide stars during the night and saw one shooting star through my scope!
I tried a few more Caldwell objects but seemed to have difficulty resolving objects at about Magnitude =10 or less. Whether this was my scope, my night vision or the viewing conditions, I’m not sure.
I know that diffuse objects are dimmer than stars of the same magnitude as all the light from an object is counted.
New objects: *=impressive
M51 whirlpool galaxy
A lovely open cluster M67
From about 10 to 11pm.
M44 Beehive cluster. Open cluster (Cancer)
M51 Whirlpool galaxy. Spiral galaxy (Canes Venatici)
M95 Barred spiral galaxy (Leo)
M96 Spiral galaxy (Leo)
M105 Elliptical galaxy (Leo)
M67 Open cluster (Cancer)
M65 Spiral galaxy (Leo)
M66 Spiral galaxy (Leo)
Oh, and Caldwell 39, Planetary nebula!
Then the cloud came and it rained but, Wow!
Beautiful moonless night and the sky cleared for about an hour at 7pm.
I worked through the string of open clusters, M35, M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga above Orion.
The Crab nebula, M1, was nearby. I thought it was a bit hazy and uninteresting so I checked focus by going back to M42 and M43 in the Orion nebula – this was very impressive with Trapezium stars at its heart. M43 was easily seen. M50 and M78 were nearby so I had a quick look before slewing right to the Pleiades (M45) and finally the oval of the Andomeda galaxy (M31).
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Image from Wikipedia
A short Go To run from M35 to M36, An open cluster in Auriga.
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