A moonless night spent with M8

Cleardarksky.com predicted above average transparency tonight, a rarity for us here in the Adirondack mountains. So I decided head out on this night of the new moon and the day when a solar eclipse had been visible in South America!

The transparency was good, and so was the seeing. I was Joined by Jim and David, and we checked out Jupiter, Saturn, M13, Alberio, M57 and some of my other favorite objects.

David was interested in learning more about my astrophotography setup – despite it being somewhat rudimentary. So, I decided to take some impromptu 2-minute exposures of M8 – the Lagoon Nebula, another of my favorite objects. Here is the result after some crude processing:

A stack of five, 120 second exposures of M8
Canon 40D Parameter Notes
Lens CPC-800 telescope F6.3 with focal reducer
ISO 1600  
Exposure 120s Auto-guiding to 1-2 arc-seconds accuracy.
Exposures 5  
Binning 2×2 averaged  

Crude I say – because I took no dark frames and after midnight and I just wanted to retreat from the no-see-ums and go to bed. I would deal with my half-hearted imaging attempt later.

And in fact, after messing around with these images in Nebulocity – they weren’t much better than what I saw on the LCD of my 40D camera. Worse in fact, with less saturated colors. That Nebulocity seems to do a poor job of rendering colors from my Canon DSLR was no surprise, but it seemed rather strikingly bad in this image.

So I finally decided I would simply try combining the five .jpeg images as processed by the camera without all that raw image processing, and walla! There it is! I was pretty happy with the result after simply aligning, averaging, a little stretching, and 2×2 binning. Crude, I know. But it was pretty easy!

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