Barnard 33… round two.

It’s been a quick minute since I’ve seen dark skies that weren’t on the way to sleepytime. Honestly, between weather and business┬átravel, I haven’t been out since October 26. It is only fitting that my first venture into the starlight since was last night… November 26. This past month, when I’ve had time to think about astrophotography, has been a lot of me reflecting on the simple mistake I made at my run at Barnard 33 (the Horsehead Nebula). I had adjusted the prime focus on the Crayford and didn’t tighten the tensioner well enough before slewing to Alnitak. It wasn’t until I’d captured a couple hours of data before I realized my mistake. I did get a few subs on a subsequent night to pad the error in integration, but the result was still soft. This past month, I visualized going back and doing it better… paying closer attention. In the last minutes before packing up my gear for the hour-ish drive to the dark site, I called an audible and left my APO at home. I thought (incorrectly) that if I re-tooled my setup back to the side-by-side saddle and shot through the 600mm native lens that I would be able to capture the great nebula in Orion and the Flame in the same frame. As it turns out, you need around 400mm of FoV to make that happen on my DSLR, so I had to choose. The choice was obvious and easy. I had to take another run at the Flame and try to make amends for my rookie fumble last month. I ended up without about 3.4 hours of data pre- and post- meridian transit… which cost me some edges because I didn’t compose well enough after the flip, so I trimmed the messy off before processing with a quick crop. There is some minor vignetting that I’m not 100% sure I understand given the imaging train (there should be no light loss at the edges), but I’m ok with leaving it because I didn’t want to lose any of the nebulosity exposed in the bottom center of the frame. Over all, I think this makes a good web redemption. I’m really looking forward to growing into narrowband acquisition and some improved full-spectrum sensitivity with a monochromatic CCD, but all things in time, right? I did place an order with Santa Barbara Instruments Group for an STF-8300M, but there has been no word in over a month on estimated ship date. I also have elected to start with The Sky X (w/camera plug-in) as I transition to CCD, but more on that later… after I make the switch. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. :)

Horsehead (Barnard 33) and Flame (NGC 2024)
Horsehead (Barnard 33) and Flame (NGC 2024)