Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Back in the Observatory Again! M13 is beautiful !

It has been quite some time since I last did some astrophotography in my backyard observatory and I found that pine pollen had covered everything with a thin film of yellow dust. Good thing I keep most everything covered... still I had to "mop down" a lot to get things back to normal.

It is summer time and that means it gets dark late here at the 43rd parallel of central Oregon... even at 10:30 pm it isn't astronomically dark yet... and the nearly full Moon was threatening the eastern horizon!

Still the photo bug hit and I decided to spend what little time I had imaging M 13, the great globular star cluster in the Hercules constellation, which was nearly overhead.

Not knowing if the scope would remember when and where it was after "sleeping" for over a month I turned it on, waited for it to go through its calisthenics. I asked it then to go to Jupiter. It was off... but only in RA. I released the RA lock and manually moved the scope to Jupiter and relocked the RA.

Starting up the old XP laptop I connected to the scope using the Meade software, synced it to Jupiter and sent it to a bright star for Bahthinov mask for focusing.

I then commanded the scope to head to M 13. Good news! With the Canon t2i attached at prime focus, M 13 was fully in view, though up and to the right of the frame. Re-centering it, I began to make some test exposures. Most were at 30 seconds using ISO 1600. Eventually I pushed it up to ISO 3200 so that I could keep the exposures to 20 seconds to avoid star trailing (for the most part).

The camera connected to my Windows 10 laptop, starting the Canon utility program, I began to take exposures. After about 10 exposures I started Deep Sky Stacker and began to stack the images I had already taken and any more I created it would add to the image. I had to throw out about 25% of the images which showed too much trailing at 100% viewing.

In the end this was the result of a cumulative time of just short of 10 minutes. Enjoy!
NOTE: Click on images for a large view!

Here is a cropped image of M13:

The excessive blue-purpleishness of the stars is partly due to it not being quite dark when I began imaging. Will try again !

It was now about 11:30 pm and the Moon was well up over the eastern horizon and it was time to call it quits.

It was just good to see God's creation again in the heavens above and do some imaging!

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