M20 – The Trifid Nebula

Publication: This picture was voted winner of the Cloudynight DSLR challenge for July 2012.

Just about two months after my last session I am (finally!) back in Anza! Forecast wasn’t super optimistic but it turned out to be a very good night. Not much change in equipment, actually the only change was a brand new OAG prism (Teleskop Service sent for free as the one that came with my OAG9 was cracked). I had to refocus the OAG but it went smoothly and fast which was good. Stars looked better although not perfectly round but as I said two months ago it worked just fine.

I experienced some difficulties calibrating PHD in Declination. I had to drop Pulse Guiding through ASCOM for the night and used the autoguider port instead. It worked just fine. After discussing the issue in the Gemini Yahoo group it seems like my G2 needs its CMOS cleared. I’ll make sure to do before next time, I need to do a firmware upgrade too.

I spent just about 3 hours on the Trifid Nebula which was the maximum I could do before hitting the San Diego light dome. I then went after a pretty uncommon target: Peg1 a galaxy cluster in Pegasus. It’s faint, small, so distant I am not sure I’ll be able to make a decent picture out of it. We’ll see.

This image of M20 took me quite some time to process. I had a set of data in 120s and another one in 300s. After chatting with Dan about the new calibration routine built-in PixInsight I decided to give it a shot! It turns out it gave me much better results that I ever had with DSS. Noise seemed much more controlled.

As usual image details under the picture:

  • Date: July 21st 2012
  • Camera: Canon 500D Baader Modified and CP30T-EOS Cooled (Sensor maintained at 10 C – Exif temperature: 10 C)
  • ISO: 1600
  • Exposures: ~ 3 hours of integration time (120 s and 300 s subs)
  • Mount: Losmandy G11 Gemini 2
  • Imaging Telescope: AT8RC w/ AP-CCDT67 @ .68x
  • Guiding: OAG9 w/ SX Lodestar
  • Calibration: Darks, Flats, Bias
  • Stacking: PixInsight 1.7
  • Final blending/processing: PixInsight 1.7 and Adobe Photoshop CS5
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