Monday, 23 July 2012

At last... a clear night!

I had to take the opportunity of a clear night to get a picture of this lovely object with my little 8" Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope. The Society's 20" newtonian is undergoing a hardware upgrade at the moment, and besides this huge nebula won't fit into it's field of view. I went back to doing what I used to do, find a dark field, as far from light pollution as I could. My telescope's (Meade LX10) Right Ascension motor was tracking well now due to a replacement Tantalum bead capacitor on the PCB and I had previously calibrated it to sidereal tracking rate by following a star and adjusting a replacement potentiometer. I went near Seething, an old hamlet and airfield near where Norwich Astronomical Society's observatory is based. I was (and still am) horrified by the brightness of a glaring blue white light in the middle of the rural darkness. The people who install these lights must have no awareness. Anyway, I carefully aligned my tripod, which gave me good tracking for 30 seconds, despite the gentle breeze. Focused on Antares, and got a few test shots while darkness was falling. I captured 50 or so frames of this obejct, the Lagoon nebula, M8 on my modified Canon EOS 1000D, attached to the 8" SCT via an f/6.3 focal reducer. I also got all the calibration frames, Flat-field frames were obtained rather crudely in the field, using a mobile phone to illuminate an A3 sheet of paper held in front of the scope. It's probably best to use twilight next time as they weren't brilliant, but did the job. So here you go, my first picture for a long while on my good old 8" SCT.

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