It has been 2 years since me and my wife went to Oregon with mom to witness the great American solar eclipse where I had the chance to snap more photos through my telescopes. It was a beautiful night despite the fact I was very rusty in setting my equipment up before getting too dark. I succeeded doing somewhat good polar alignment but I forgot my laptop and I couldn’t use my auto-guider, leaving me with the old traditional manual cranking of adjusting against the drifting.
What was worse I forgot even my battery for powering the telescope but a fellow astronomer in my club lent me his 10 ft. extension cord so I could power myself off my truck.
I made an attempt with the American Nebula (NGC 7000/Caldwell 20) in constellation of Cygnus which relies some 1,500 light years away. My DSLR (Canon EOS 50D) is an unmodified version and on longer exposures it gets really hot and as a result adds some extra noise in the exposures. That made me lower my exposure time from 5 minutes down to 2.5 minutes (which also made the drifting less painful). The image below was just a test image of 5 minutes exposure in ISO 1600 to see how badly I was drifting.
A good thing with NGC 7000 this time of the year (or any other object in the region for that matter), it’s very high up in sky which eliminates the worse part from light pollution and atmospheric distortion due to temperature shifts. Deneb (the 19th brightest star in the night sky) is nearby allowing auto-guiders/guiding much easier in the process.
Unfortunately I couldn’t see the drifting accurately on site since I forgot to bring over my laptop (note some egg-formed stars in zoomed portion of the image to the right). But overall I was pleased with the results on my shorter exposure images and can’t wait to stack them together once I’ve gathered enough light.
Next time I’ll be more prepared of course since this is more of a long term project were I need to gather in total over 150 minutes of exposure in order to do this night sky object some justice. It is definitely one of the most beautiful nebulae out there!
- Date: 10/26/2019
- Start Time: 07:00 PM (PST)
- End Time: 11:10 PM (PST)
- Object: North America Nebula (NGC 7000, Caldwell 20)
- Constellation: Cygnus
- Guiding Star: Deneb
- Location: Henry Grieb Observatory (Blue Canyon Nyack Airfield) – 39°16’30.9″N 120°42’33.7″W
- Seeing: Poor 2/5
- Transparency: Above Average
- Wind (forecast report): NNW (6 m/s)
- Wind (actual): NNW (1 m/s)
- Temperature: 34 F
- Cloud cover: Clear
- Image: 5 minutes, ISO 1600, 5100 K
- Telescope/Equipment: SkyWatcher EQ6 Pro, Megrez 72 APO refractor, Canon EOS 50D (unmodified)