Tonight was not only surprisingly clear (the forecast did not call for clear sky until later), it was much darker then normal. I could see the Milky Way coming from Battle Ground across the sky and disappearing into Portland. On a clear dark night I can normally see a faint dusting of the Milky Way at the zenith in particular, but tonight I could see much more of it then normal. Sweet!
The problem is, there isn't much time in a June sky and because I didn't expect it to be this good I didn't even go out until about 11:30 and get set up by midnight. Of all nights to run into trouble I had some strange alignment issue with the scope (it turned out I didn't have the dovetail seated just right) and when I performed my first alignment star goto the RA didn't move. So it took til nearly 1am just to get a shot off. But I took 2 hours of the fireworks galaxy NGC 6946 and companion cluster NGC 6939.
NGC 6946 and NGC 6939 Image
I shot 2 hours of this group last night and was very pleased with how bright and detailed the galaxy turned. To my astonishment the stars have quite a bit of color in them. It must have been the darkness of the sky because I don't normally get color this good. With the exception of the dark patches under the objects (which is an artifact of Gradient XTerminator - I'm still trying to figure out how to get it not to do that) I'm very pleased with this image. This image is my second (and likely final) crack at processing.
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
Exposure: 120 minutes - (24 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image