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11/30/-1
    
Thursday, July 20th, 2006
Another night of astrophotography. I'm experiencing greater success each time.
 
A lesson learned: How long to leave the shutter open?
Tonight I learned something new (though I've heard of folks doing it before). I was manually "guiding" so much as I can with a single axis equatorial platform.
 
For every other photo session, I've used 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 80 etc seconds for the time lapse duration. It has worked okay, but it's trial and error to know how long I can leave the shutter open as to whether the object and star field have drifted or not. 
 
Well, tonight I tried something different. Once I got the object I wanted to image in my field of view, I'd first spet some time observing te object. Then, I'd throw in the illuminated reticle eyepiece, make any adjustments necessary to the tracking, then open the camera shutter until I felt like the object was about to drift too far and it may affect the picture.
 
It worked pretty well. Here are some images I took tonight:
 
Ophiuchus 
IC4665 - Open Cluster 
A nice open cluster with a dozen or more bright stars. Overal triangular in shape. It looks like a beautiful jewel on the shoulder of Ophiuchus.
 
 
Scutum
M11 - Open Cluster
Far smaller then IC 4665, this open cluster has many many dim stars and 2 significantly bright stars. 
 
 
Cygnus
M29 & 34 Cygni Region
I just wanted a wider field section of Cygnus so I threw in a brightish star and an M object.
 
NGC7000 - North American Nebula
Probably the favorite o the evening on a couple of fronts. 1) I was surprised at how well the image came out. Far more nebulosity then I expected for a 88 second exposure with no filters. 2) The framing of it is perfect. I couldn't have set it up better. The reason why I'm so surprised about that part is because I couldn't see the nebula. I just pointed at where I knew it was. I also didn't realize that the FOV of the prime focus in the 102mm and the Digital Rebel XT could contain the massive nebula.
 
M39 - Open Cluster
There is an estry from last year saying that M39 is growing to be my favorite open cluster. That still remains true. This cluster framed inside of the vast strlight of the Milky Way is fantastic. A few less stars and more triangular than NGC4665, but it's stars are even brighter.
 
Cassiopeia 
M52 & NGC 7635 (The Bubble Nebula)
Don't get your hopes up for this image. It's okay, but there is only the slightest hint of the brightest part of the Bubble Nebula. Still, it is decent and I'm pleased with the image.
 
 
Ursa Major
M101 - Face on Spiral Galaxy
This image was taken before I figured out the guiding thing. I will shoot for another one on another day. One of the cool parts about this image is that you can also see NGC 5474 to the left and NGC5473 on the upper right (but it's very small).
 
 
Draco
* NGC 6503 - Edge on Spiral
* = New object for me. The coolest part about this image is that I have never seen this object before. Using Starry night Pro, I located it and went to observe it. it is a 10th magnitude 6 arcminute wide galaxy. So while I observed it, I took a shot at the same time. Then I can preserve the memory. Very cool.

 
My session was cut a little short by 2 deer who decided that the apples on my tree would make for a delicious midnight snack. So that's all for tonight. 
 
MORNING ADDENDUM
So I broke out the h-alpha scope and took my first pictures of the sun. Here is the best shot if the bunch. I'll try more of these later after I clean the lens. The spots on the sun are dust on the lens, not some kind of funky solar activity. This shot is 1/60 @ ISO 1600.
 
 





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