Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Great Orion Nebula...again...

I have two telescopes that I use at the Lost Pleiad Observatory: a 140mm apochromatic triplet refractor (my 40th birthday present to myself), and a 12 inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope (SCT).  The refractor is hands down the better instrument, as it excels in all aspects of visual and photographic astronomy.  It delivers top of the line contrast, sharpness, and by design has an unobstructed light path.  Having a central obstruction as well as two mirrors that must be collimated and that take a couple hours to reach ambient temperature, the SCT is a compromise of sorts.  The image quality is not as perfect as the refractor,  but it does gather a tremendous amount of light- making it much better for hunting down faint fuzzy galaxies and planetary nebula.  You can read more about my equipment by clicking the equipment link at the top of the page.

As I only have one pier in the observatory  I tend to leave one telescope mounted for about a month or so, and then switch to the other telescope for a month or so...this gives me opportunities to use both during each season.  I have had the refractor mounted for the past two months, so tonight I made the switch and moved the 12 inch SCT onto the mount.  I spent about 2 hours enjoying the crisp, clear night air and decided to snap an image of the Great Orion Nebula through the 12 inch.  The image below is a single 20 second exposure, taken with my Canon T2i at ISO 1600, and acquired using the program BackyardEOS.  In case you are curious, the telescope has a focal length of 3045mm and is f/10.  The only processing I did in Photoshop was to slightly sharpen the image, and to adjust the levels slightly.  Despite not checking the collimation of the telescope and  not polar aligning the mount, the result is pretty cool...and also reflective of the time and desire that I have to spend taking astrophotos.  Call me old fashioned, but I still enjoy looking through the eyepiece.

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