Saturday, April 7, 2012

Full moon observing

Observing during a full moon? Why bother, right?

Well... I bothered.  The sky was too clear to avoid.

With my D90 fitted with a beautiful (thank you Jim) William Optics Gran Turismo 81mm f9 (478mm FL) and mounted on the Meade RCX 400, I shot the Moon, Beehive Cluster (M44), M38 (in Auriga), and M13 (Great Globular Cluster in Hercules).

It was obviously a challenge to get anything worth showing due to the full moon washing out the entire sky, but I gave it a go anyway.  The practice of operating the big scope, finding different objects, working on focus and processing was well worth the time and effort even if viewing was poor.

I'm getting much better at processing in DeepSkyStacker and finally figured out Registax6!  Like I stated before, the problem was me, I'd suggest actually reading the tutorials and manuals online, it helps.  My problem was that my files were just too big.  I created a PhotoShop action to quickly run my RAW images through converting them to 2000x2000px BMP files and BINGO it works like a dream.  All images were also processed in Photoshop CS5 after stacking, just contrast and sharpening adjustments.

Here's last night's "Pink" Moon (no, it's not actually pink.  That's just the name for April's full Moon).
100 frames via Registax6 @ 81mm 1/1000sec f6 ISO100
And the Beehive Cluster, M44.
30 frames via DeepSkyStacker @ 81mm 60sec f6 ISO400

And M38 with it's tiny neighbor cluster NGC 1907 just below it.
30 frames via DeepSkyStacker @ 81mm 60sec f6 ISO400

And the grand finale, the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, M13.  I found a bonus galaxy in there too,  NGC 6207 is the tiny smudge at 11 o'clock.
30 frames via DeepSkyStacker @ 81mm 60sec f6 ISO500

Tonight I'll actually sleep.  Good night.

...Next: work on getting a bit of true color into these images.