Kindrogan 2016, February
For me the highlight was another close encounter with M42, the Great Orion Nebula. Best effort yet I think and using both Christmas /birthday gifts from my boys (well men now I suppose). Stuart provided a brilliant Bahtinov Mask, specially designed and manufactured to fit my Sky-Watcher Maksutov 150mm exactly. With my Canon EOS-500D camera attached it is quite difficult to focus exactly but with the mask in place and a bright star in view I can confirm it is well focused with a few short exposures:
Then slew to M42 via the Messier Catalogue menu on the Synscan hand controller and set up the DSLR Controller app on my mobile phone to control the camera remotely:
This is enabled by the little TP-Link TL-MR3040, a low-cost portable wireless router – which Robbie provided. Then DSLR Controller appears to the phone as a newly available wi-fi source, and when connected, the Android app can control the camera. A couple of test shots later at ISO 3200 and 30s exposure I retired to the lounge, chatting with Jane and Anne and Andrew, while we experimented with increasing the exposure time. The final image was with a 140s exposure. That shows great clouds of nebula dust but the centre tends to be over exposed – the original 30s exposure was better for that but the extent of visible nebula dust is much less. I have taken Anne’s advice and Photoshopped (Gimped actually) the extreme images to reach an acceptable compromise.
Here is a screen-shot from Stellarium, with its ocular window set to show the frame I could expect with my Canon EOS 500D and my Sky-Watcher SkyMax-150.
And here is my actual result, with the image rotated a bit to match the screen-shot above.
I forgot to mention that I have had my camera tweaked for astrophotography by astronomiser –
In general terms, removing or replacing the colour correcting filter in a Canon dSLR increases it’s sensitivity to Hydrogen Alpha light by approximately 4 x, allowing upwards of 97% of this light through, where previously only up to 25% of this light passed the colour correcting filter, depending on the camera model. … The process improves results in astrophotography across the board – emission nebulae in galaxies come through more clearly and star colours are more true improving results in all areas of astroimaging.
I had intended to have a go at Jupiter again later on with my webcam, but after all that heavy button clicking I was soon exhausted so I retired to bed early leaving the real ASG experts to get on with it through the small hours.