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Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
 Not a great night, but it could have been a lot worse.  The conditions were fair....some light haze and spotty seeing.   I spent a long time focusing.....with limited success.  I never could get Nebulosity's 'fine focus' to stay consistently at a high number....kept bouncing around from 55,000 to 60,000 max.
 
Amazing:  I set up my scope at about 9:15pm....still unable to see Polaris.   At about 10:15pm when I went to polar align, I had to make almost no adjustments.   It was nearly spot on.  I must be a true star child.  Woot!
 
Tracking for my CG5 was spectacular.  3 minute subs with round stars...(except on the fringe).  I didn't even get around to turning on guiding.   Zero drift!  I am not sure what has gotten into the mount.   It never tracked this good before.  A bit spooky!  
 
I got 2 hours and 25 minutes of the Fireworks galaxy and it's small companion cluster.   That galaxy is faint....esspecially from my light-poluted driveway.  I could barely make out the hint of the galaxy in a 2 minute exposure.
 
By this time, approx 1:30am, I could see that M31 had cleared the roof of my house, so I thought I would get at least an hour of data or more.   DRAT!   After only 16 (two minute) subs, a cloud bank moved in from the northeast.  There was just no point in continuing.
 
Both images were shot with the same camera with almost identical light cropping.......provides a good idea of the comparative size of these objects as seen from earth.
 
Orion 6" f/5 imaging Newtonian
Celestron CG5 GT mount (not guided)
Canon 350D DSLR (unmodified)
 
Captured in Nebulosity
Aligned and stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
Processed in Photo Shop Elements with Carboni tools and Gradient Exterminator.
 
NGC 6946 & 6939:
35 subs @ 120 seconds per sub, none discarded
25 subs @ 180 seconds per sub, none discarded
ISO 1600
 
M31:
16 subs @ 120 seconds per sub
ISO 1600
 
I think I am regressing.   I am really unhappy with the star quality.....they don't have that fuzzy luminous quality at all, and I am at a loss how to fix it.   I know it's possible with this combination of equipment and software, because an image I took of the Double Cluster looked like this until Neil came over and helped with the processing......spectacular result!!!  I am doing something wrong.
 


Image Gallery For This Session
M31 16 x 120 sec  ISO 1600  7 20 10 sm3 NGC 6946  the Fireworks galaxy  35 x 120 sec  25 x 180 sec   ISO 1600  sm3
   

M31_16_x_120_sec__ISO_1600__7_20_10_sm3.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
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