Meanwhile, Miqaela got her scope set up and guiding pretty much without my help. Woot! She borrowed my Orion ST-80 again. However, her camera wasn't completely fastened into the eyepiece tube, so it slid out of focus a few times, and re-focusing at such a short focal length is difficult, since the stars always appear small and dim. Between this and my attempts to piggyback, neither one of us started acquiring images until well after 11 PM. Since it was a week night, my plan was to have us pack up around 12:30 AM, so that didn't leave us much time.
I managed to grab 14x7-minute subframes on the Western Veil Nebula, which I haven't imaged before. The subs looked very promising, but the first iteration out of DeepSkyStacker came out very noisy, so I ditched the flats and tried again (I don't have an exact position marked on the scope, since I don't own it, so I just align the accessory shoe with the piggyback mount on top of the telescope tube, but it is inexact). Maybe I can mark it with tape or something removable. The stack without flats came out a little cleaner, but not much. Trying out different debayering settings and stacking settings was still giving me very noisy images, although using "Auto Adaptive Weighted Average" in the "Lights" tab of the stacking parameters window seemed to do better, and I added the flats back in.
Date: 25 July 2017
Location: John Bryan State Park Observatory
Object: NGC 6960 Western Veil Nebula
Camera: Nikon D5300
Telescope: Vixen na140ssf
Accessories: Astronomik CLS filter
Mount: Losmandy Gemini II
Guide scope: Celestron 102mm
Guide camera: QHY5
Subframes: 13x420s (1h31m), ISO-1600
See on AstroBin
See on AstroBin
While my images were going, I also ran around with my D3100 and nabbed some Milky Way images, as well as the Big Dipper. One of the Green Bank attendees pointed out the "Green Bank Telescope" asterism in Ursa Major, and I was hoping to make a picture to show that. I'm still figuring out how to make constellation stars stand out, so I'll post it here when I finish it.
We did indeed pack up at 12:30 AM and I got to bed by 2:15 AM. Thank goodness for cheap office coffee to help me get through the afternoon!
Miqaela's image came out lacking the red, but that's to be expected from an achromatic refractor, it looks like. We didn't quite get the field-of-view moved up high enough to see the Pickering region in between the Eastern and Western Veil Nebulae, but you can kind of see some of it in the lower parts of both my and her images. Still pretty neat what you can capture with a cheap refractor! And she got some pretty neat star colors.
Western Veil Nebula, Nikon D5300, Orion ST-80
There was also a very nice ISS pass - almost straight overhead! As well as an Iridium flare. I misjudged where the flare was going to occur, so I only caught it in the side of the frame (and out of focus).
International Space Station, Nikon D3100, 18mm @ f/3.5, 30s, ISO-800
Iridium flare (on the right edge of the frame), Nikon D3100, 18mm @ f/3.5, 30s, ISO,400
(Now I know what some of those UFO pictures are.)
A short but productive evening!