Saturday, 25 January 2014

There's nothing like stargazing live

It's not live as we know it, Jim. It happened 11.4 million years ago. But - that's using our human concept of time. In reality time isn't a constant thing - there's no such thing as simultaneous. As far as I'm concerned, the recent supernova in the galaxy M82 has just happened, because all of us on Earth agree that its light has reached us in the last few days. That's good enough for me. Last night I was spurred on to get my 8 inch Meade LX10 SCT out of its box and onto its tripod positioned in my urban back yard. I popped in an eyepiece, focussed and swung it round to Ursa Major. After only 2 or 3 minutes of dark adaption I had seen the supernova with my own eyes. That was awesome but very quick. A near conversation on social media meant two other astronomers (whose blog links are here) had swung their kits round to image it. Thereafter I had a go at imaging it, with limited tracking and got a few 15 second exposures at f/6.3. I left it running and later did a stack of 75. A little blurry. Tonight I have selected the best 45 images out of 100 and used PIPP software to debayer and crop them around the galaxy. A quick stack in Deep Sky Stacker gave me a smooth image, and a DDP (digital development processing) gave this result. Much better than before, but only 11 minutes worth of data on a Canon 1000D is not gonna cut the mustard these days. Still I'm pleased to see it - so here it is. The society's telescope is currently unable to be used for photography, and we've been using it for stargazing live open nights, hence the lack of blog posts.

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