Thursday, August 27, 2015

#13 - Thursday, August 27, 2015 - Don't image with the moon out

I decided to shelf Andromeda for now and try the Whirlpool Galaxy instead.  At first I wasn’t sure it was on the right spot, which it really needed to be because I could barely see it through the telescope, but sure enough, it showed up in a 30 second exposure!  Super exciting to see it. I played around with the telescope settings a bit, and decided to try much higher anti-backlash values.  At normal speeds, this causes a massive jump when I move the telescope, but at tracking speed, I thought this wouldn’t happen.  I think I got more of the stable pictures, but it wasn’t by much.  I took about 110 before the telescope got too dewy, which was early that night, only about 11:30 PM as opposed to the usual 1:30 AM or so.  I can’t remember how many DSS took, but not enough apparently, because I couldn’t even see it in the stacked image, even though I could just barely see it in the individual images.  This is because the moon was pretty full, bright, and high in the southern sky (which is what drove me to do the Whirlpool Galaxy in the first place, since it was one of the few objects in the northern sky).  Better luck next time.  I’ll just have to add the Moon as another discriminator against photo trips.  It’s fine for visual observing trips with my friends, since it looks so fantastic in the telescope view.

Single frame of M51 Whirlpool Galaxy taken on a moonlit night.
Tracking errors cause the stars to streak.
Nikon D3100 on my C8, 30s, ISO-12800

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