Mike's Astro Photos
Jul.19 2012

Messier 16 – The Eagle Nebula

by , under Nebula

Here’s a recent long exposure photo of the great Eagle Nebula.

Messier 16 – The Eagle Nebula – June 26, 2012

There’s a lot more detail in this picture compared to this wide field shot of the Eagle Nebula I took about the same time last year. A years experience and a big optics upgrade can make quite a difference in magnification and photo quality.

This is the first image I’ve taken since March and the first serious chunk of time spent on my scope since then as well. I attribute the astro-hiatus to a combination of bad weather and the new Sutters Mill Meteorite fall.  When I got back to the scope, I was feeling renewed and I wanted to tackle all of the tech problems I was having the last time around. I worked on this picture over a series of nights making corrections to the setup as I went along. I ended up throwing out multiple runs due to poor quality, but in the process was able fix quite a few glitches in my system. Over this period I

  • re-placed and re-setup my PC in order to fix a nasty crashing issue, upgrading from windows XP to a newer box and win7 in the process
  • re-installed/reconfigured all astronomy software
  • re-collimated primary mirror
  • fixed a sticking secondary focuser (hopefully for good)
  • tweaked the polar alignment
  • worked out all of the kinks in CCDAP except for one

So the last problem that plagues me is recovering a CCDAP session after the meridian flip. Once I figure that out, I will have completed my training with CCDAP and should be able to execute automated astrophotography runs while I am sleeping, which is an amazing feat and something I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. It will have taken me nearly a year to setup, learn to use, tweak and refine this hardware and software to get it to the point that it is working perfectly. In less than 1-2 months I will need to tear it all down, ship it across the country and set it all up again in a remote observatory in California. Fortunately, the setup the second time around won’t be as hard.

Photo Details
Messier 16 – The Eagle Nebula
RRGB 80X80X60X60 Minutes Each
Total exposure 3 hours 20 minutes
Camera: SBIG ST8300
Guider: SBIG 402 with MMOAG Off Axis Guider
Telescope: RCOS 14.5
Mount: Paramount ME
Location: Freeland MD
Date: 6/25, 6/26
Software: The SkyX, CCDSoft, FocusMax, CCDAutoPilot, CCDStack, Photoshop

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