Getting back into the swing of things…

on

by yaska77

Who’d have thought it!?  I’ve actually been outside with my telescope and finally got some fresh images to share!  Now, in my defence the wet and sodden Winter caused my garage door to seize shut with my telescope mount inside, making it impossible to use my scope for months (and my wife refused to stand outside in the cold for hours on end holding a 3 foot long telescope steady) but a week of dry weather finally allowed me to get back outdoors!

If you’re planning a night of observing I always find it beneficial to scan some astro software beforehand (our favourite is Stellarium) so you can pick out some specific targets.  As I knew the Moon would be setting early morning I looked ahead to see what deep sky objects would be visible to the East after midnight, as that direction offers the darkest patch of sky visible from my garden.

Early Sunday 9th March there were two star clusters I was eager to image! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Early Sunday 9th March there were two star clusters I was eager to image, shown above at 00:30 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

My first port of call was M5 (also designated NGC 5904) which is a globular cluster in the constellation Serpens. Accurately aligning my telescope is pretty difficult due to Polaris not being visible from my garden (the house is in the way) but I can usually set it up well enough to avoid too much image drift.

Thankfully the sky was dark enough to locate the cluster through the finder scope, and once I had it centre of the camera frame it was fairly easy to keep it there!

This image is the result of stacking 150 individual shots, a method that always brings out clearer detail (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
This image of M5 is the result of stacking 150 individual shots, a method that always brings out clearer detail (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

I’d almost forgotten the tangible thrill you can experience when you first see the final result of the image stacking. There are far more stars visible in the image above than in the single photos alone.

With the morning wearing on it was time to locate my second target, another cluster this time located in the constellation Hercules.

Also known as the Hercules Globular Cluster, M13 contains around 300,000 stars (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Also known as the Hercules Globular Cluster, M13 contains around 300,000 stars. This image was created by stacking 120 individual shots (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

I’ve wanted to image the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules (M13) for years now, so I’m pleased to finally have captured it.  And given the above images were shot on an evening with slight haze I’m hoping another look on a completely clear evening may provide even better images!

Overall (considering how long it’s been since I had my scope set up and working properly) I’m very happy with the evening’s results.  It’s re-ignited my desire to both ogle and photograph similar beautiful astronomical objects at every opportunity, and with big plans afoot for Sky-Watching.co.uk you can rest assured the posts and photos will start appearing again with increasing regularity.

There, I’ve written it down on the internet now, so now we have to do it!

Keep watching the skies friends 🙂

Images captured using:

Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P EQ5 PRO SynScan 200mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope
Unmodified Canon EOS 550D (with T-Ring)
Intervalometer
DeepSkyStacker Software

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. tte-77 says:

    Nice work ;o) It’s been a great week for it and long may it continue! Big tree in my garden is not so big any more so hope to be posting some of my own images soon.

    Like

  2. beckyg1003 says:

    Very interesting photographs and very interesting work you do in capturing those images!! I have the Stellarium app on my kindle fire tablet and that has very interesting to use. It displays and names the stars and constellations that you could see in the night sky. it also seems to capture pics of distant planets when they’re in sight of earth. Now, I’m eager to check it out tonight when the stars are out!!

    Like

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