Springtime is galaxy time! After a frustrating friday night with incorrect mount setup, iAstroHub not working properly, which resulted in badly focussed and guided images, saturday evening proved much more successful:
Leo Triplet, M65, M65 and NGC3628, 25x120s, Astro-Physics 127mm f/8, Nikon D750, BackyardNikon, PHD2, Regim, Photoshop, Lightroom
The Leo triplet is a trio of galaxies which are physically near each other, a faint tidal tail can be seen to the upper left of M66, the lower right galaxy.
The distance to this galaxy group is about 35 million lightyears.
In Autumn the Andromeda galaxy is conveniently placed in the darkes part of the sky for my home, the eastern sky.
Due to the vibration prone location of my telescope on the top of our house, I had to throw away 2/3rds of the individual exposures due to trailed stars, so I ended up with only 22,5 minutes of data. Another possibility is, that the guiding didn’t work properly, calibration was suspiciously short.
Anyways, here is the Andromeda galaxy at 1016mm focal length, Nikon D750, 45x30s, ISO 1600, Astro-Physics 127mm f/8, Meade LXD 650 mount.
45x30s, Astro-Physics 127mm f/8, Nikon D750, ISO 1600, preprocessed and stacked in Regim, developed in Photoshop and Lightroom.
In spite of bad seeing and strong gusts of wind I did set up the big refractor to do some astrophotography. I spent quite some time to get things running – in the end the spring galaxies were already too far west in the glare of the train station, so I switched my targets to two globulars and a planetary nebula. Here is a list of what went wrong:
I wasn’t aware that the D750 uses a non-standard USB port on the camera, I had to search for half an hour to find the original cable
the laptop I usually use has been upgraded to Windows 10, installing the drivers for the guiding camera did not work
on the backup laptop guiding with PHD worked, but Backyard Nikon crashed and/or got no connection to the camera, I tried many combinations of USB extension cables, USB ports, removing the SD card, formatting the SD card, upgrading to BackyardNikon 1.0.5, in the end I focused using live view of the camera and used the built-in interval timer of the camera to shoot 30 second exposures…
the seeing was really terrible, making focusing difficult, and bloating the stars during the exposure
for reasons unkown (user error?) the quality setting on the camera was changed to FINE, so I only took JPEG images instead of NEF( Raw)
After a long spell of clouds of rain, on sunday evening I took advantage of a few clear hours to get some more data on M51. This image is a combination of raw images from April 20th and May 10th. The total exposure time is now at 64 minutes.
After I acquired the 127mm refractor I was on the search for an affordable mount suitable for astrophotography, serendipitously I learned that my astronomy club is in the possession of an old but working Meade LXD 650 mount. It turns out, the LXD carries the refractor quite nicely, here are the first images shot with that combination:
NGC is a long time favourite of mine, the galaxy is beautiful in the eyepiece as well as in pictures:
NGC 4565, Astro-Physics 127mm f/8 refractor, Nikon D7000, Meade LXD650 mount, 14×120 sec., darks, flat, processed in Deep Sky Stacker, Lightroom and Photoshop