An eclipse – and a Hat?

I could have been a Jedi Knight on the evening of May 15, 2022 as my laser pointer cut green swaths though the thick, summer-like evening fog. The day’s thunderstorms finally gave way – just in time…to the soupy evening humidity as the sky eerily opened up a filtered view of the eclipsing moon.

Fortunate indeed, as the prior week’s worth of fantastic spring weather turned to an unstable airmass just as we approached the evening of this somewhat rare total lunar eclipse, threatening to ruin the event. But luck prevailed and I was able to catch some nice views of the blood-red moon as the evening progressed!

Lunar eclipse approaching the end of totality

And what hat? How about a sombrero, as in this shot of M104.

M104; The Sombrero Galaxy 31 million light-years away.

This shot of the Sombrero galaxy (M104) was taken about a week earlier, during the aforementioned period of fantastic spring weather. At about 31 million light-years distance, this 8th magnitude galaxy was just a dim smudge in the eyepiece of my 8″ telescope with the moon at about 1/2 waxing gibbous phase. We see prominent dust lanes in this edge-on spiral galaxy, giving the appearance of the rim of a hat!

I’m still using my Canon T5i camera – not the greatest for deep-sky. But I remain too cheap to buy a nice cooled, astrophotography camera. This is a stack of 19, two-minute long exposures at ISO 1600, and is my first attempt at processing deep sky images in the open-source Siril software. I had used Siril last year to good effect on Saturn and Jupiter, but here it’s used differently to process this galaxy.

This is a spring time object here in the northeast US. I think this shot could benefit from longer exposures. So, I’m putting this on my list to try again with maybe 5 minute exposures if we get a good night in the coming weeks before the new moon.

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