The sky tonight (Thursday, 7/30/09) seemed slightly improved over the previous few nights. There seemed to be less haze at times, although I have seen it much better.
"The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat". Tonight was a bit of both. I was determined to shoot IC 5146, the Cocoon Nebula. Because of it's size, I used my Orion 80mm ST f/4 cheapie refractor to get as wide a field as possible. I wasn't sure I had the object in the field of view until I aligned and stacked the images. Even a 60 second exposure showed only the faintest little wisp of something.....so faint I wasn't confident I had it at all. I ended up shooting 50 minutes: 50 exposures x 60 seconds. Even with bloated, semi-irregular stars, I am thrilled with the results. I like the detail. Turns out it is a very photogenic object. "The thrill of vistory". * see below
Unfortunately, the little 80mm and my camera are not adequate for small objects. I shot 50 minutes each of NGC 7331 & NGC 7318. I was able to capture these objects, but they are just too small for this setup. The stars come out larger than the galaxies. Research would have predicted this would be the case, but as usual I had to see for myself. I should have switched to my 130mm f/5 Newtonian for these objects, but I didn't. Another night. "The agony of defeat".
IC 5146: 50 minutes, Orion 80mm ST f/4 refractor, Celestron CG-5 GT goto mount, Orion StarShoot II color CCD, unguided. Processed in Paint Shop Pro Photo X1, Photo Shop Elements w/Carboni tools. Color enhanced!